Good Sunday Morning – June 16

Good Sunday Morning!

This Sunday finds me on a family weekend- first full weekend OFF since Mother’s Day. And this is another version of Mother’s Day being my family celebration for my 70th birthday! My kids and step kids from Vancouver, Toronto and Haliburton have gathered with John and me at an ideal little cabin we found on-line. It is on the Gatineau River in deep Carolinian forest, outside Chelsea Quebec.

It was, as you likely noticed a very busy week of media coverage about foreign interference. First, the really great news that has not yet been in the news. On Thursday June 13, my private members bill confronting environmental racism, C-226, cleared its final hurdle, passing Third Reading in the Senate! It is likely to receive Royal Assent over the next few days. This is my third bill to become Canadian law! But in many ways the work is just beginning.  Along with an amazing effort of grassroots mobilization from Professor Ingrid Waldron and film actor and director, Elliot Page whose documentary “There’s something in the water” boosted Dr. Waldron’s research, to First Nations communities, racialized communities and environmental groups, we will have to continue pressuring the Minister of Environment to develop a meaningful and effective, properly funded, strategy to promote environmental justice. Thanks to support from the Liberals and NDP we got the bill through!  Thanks to everyone who read this Sunday letter for help along the way!

I have heard from quite a few people this week about my reading of the top secret, unredacted version of the report of the parliamentary committee dealing with security and intelligence matters. And a few wondering what the impact of the apparent contradiction of what I read with the NDP leader’s comments. So let me dive into all of that straight away.

Since the June 5th release of the report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the media has been consumed with the few sentences which suggested some Parliamentarians were “witting or semi-witting” participants in helping foreign governments influence or interfere with Canada’s democracy.  Like many Canadians, I was outraged that something totally unacceptable, bordering on treason, had occurred in Canada.

That part of this story is well-known. Going back over the media between June 5 and my June 10 press conference, I have tried to conduct a bit of forensic tracking of how and when MPs are traitors version of events took off. Certainly, CBC Front Burner host Jayme Poisson interviewing CBC’s Rosemarie Barton (  and  the CBC National At Issue Panel picked up the narrative. MPs in the national security committee grilled Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc as to why he refused to release “the names.” Conservative MPs told media the Liberals were keeping the names secret because the suspect MPs must be Liberals. Not surprisingly, the impression was now created that it was a fact that names were being withheld of current MPs  –   who might be disloyal to Canada.  Like Topsy one assumption built on another and morphed into a new “truth.”   “Why won’t they release the names?”  National security experts say it could meet the threshold of “traitors.”

Party leaders began a hypothetical exercise in announcing what they would do if they knew.  Declarations that, as leader, they would jettison the hypothetical MPs out of caucus. All echoing MacBeth, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

So how did I end up in this story?  Many constituents contacted me asking what was I going to do about it?! I was asking myself the same thing. I already had the top secret security clearance to allow me to read the full unredacted (uncensored) report of the NSICOP. Returning to Ottawa Monday morning after a weekend on the road, primarily in Alberta for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, I emailed Minister Leblanc asking for same-day access. I had the strong sense that the damage being done, as Canadians and media imagined the worst, required urgent action. Canadians were thrown off balance by the idea that unnamed MPs were traitors.   I was not sure what I could do, but I have always had an impulse to seek more rather than less information. One of my law professors decades ago, the late Graham Murray used to whack his cane across the front row desks and bellow “develop the habit of thoroughness.” I think that was well and truly drilled into me.  Monday, I also asked the PCO contacts who had offered more information related to the Hogue report on Foreign Interference if they could arrange for me to read the report that same day, June 10.

The Security channels in PCO got back to me. Yes, they could organize access by 5 pm Monday. In August 2023 I had been through the exercise of reading a top secret document accessing the unredacted version of David Johnson’s report as Special Rapporteur. It is not your average “access” experience.

Some media reports refer to this as a “briefing.” Reading documents is not a briefing. Reading is reading. The Top-secret experience involves going to a “Secure location.” Limited access, security precautions, all electronic devises locked away, a windowless room and a “minder,” although the PCO security and intelligence analysts are too professional to be described by such a lowly term as “minder.”

Also not allowed are any staff or such verboten materials as a pad of paper and a pen. No note taking.

It does concentrate the mind to be reading highly sensitive information and trying to retain all of it in the one device allowed in the room, me, my mind.

I started slowly and carefully. Reading a page at a time, before turning the page, not skimming. I read for three and a half hours. Helpfully I was given a copy of the document I had left in my office, the redacted (i.e. public) version of the NSICOP report. I frequently stopped to compare the two. What paragraph or sentence had been redacted and could I imagine why? Sometimes it was clear the information redacted was pretty sensitive spy-like stuff. Other times it seemed like an editor had been looking for a synonym, but why? It did not matter.  All that mattered was staying calm so that when I got to the names of MPs who might be serving foreign interests, even potentially, traitors, I would not have rushed to get there. Staying methodical was my method.

The strangest thing was as I got closer and closer to the last page I realized I was not seeing any names of current MPs… at least no currently sitting MPs who had arranged to hand off sensitive information to foreign agents.  I was shocked by the extent of tactics and strategies of foreign countries, seeking to co-opt community associations, political staffers, even journalists, and yes, candidates for office at all levels  – federal, provincial and local.  Then I did start skimming. With fewer and fewer pages to go, where were the names of the currently sitting current disloyal MPs? The whole furor and speculation about why the names could not be revealed, fear of lawsuits? concern for reputations?, but if there were no such names why were we all chasing our tails in parliament?

As I left, I asked if I could be in touch with PCO experts to make sure that the things I chose to disclose would not violate my obligations and limitations of the top-secret clearance.  Then I rushed back to Parliament for a late speech I still had to give on C20 (legislation to create a public complaints process for the CBSA). Home to my Ottawa apartment after 10 pm, I hardly slept. Waking up at 6 am I pulled my thoughts together and wrote some things down.  I asked the PCO contacts if I would be staying on the safe side of intelligence and security lines sharing the following… once I got the okay, I shared these thoughts at a noon press conference on June 11.

I wanted to start by recognizing the incredible work of the MPs and Senators who serve on the NSICOP. Below in bold read my vetted opening remarks:

“MPs whose names should be known- members of this committee, across party lines, have done stellar work on a very difficult set of issues. They should be better known and THANKED.

This report focuses on a critical issue about which Canadians should know more- the extent to which foreign governments seek to influence Canadian political life, hoping to impact domestic policies while advancing their own country’s reputation. Foreign governments also attempt to interfere with our democratic processes across national and sub national electoral politics. “Influence” and “interference” are related but different. We need to know more about tactics and strategies used by foreign actors in both categories, especially when actual interference is involved. The threat of foreign governments working against Canada’s interests, attempting to impact Canada, must be a specific and more deeply understood threat, especially for people seeking elected office.

Unfortunately, that important work has been eclipsed by a totally understandable media firestorm which – in my view – is overblown.   I have been asked many times in slightly different ways, how it feels to sit in a Parliament knowing that there are potential traitors among us?? Shouldn’t the public have a right to know which MPs have sold out their country for benefit or favour from a foreign government? 

Having read the full unredacted NSICOP report, for myself I can say, I have no worries about anyone in the House of Commons.

There is no “list of MPs who have shown disloyalty to Canada.”

So, I am very glad I read the report. I am very comfortable sitting with my colleagues. We will disagree on policy and many issues, but I am vastly relieved.

The most worrying case (found at page 26 of the publicly available report) is the one referenced instance of an MP “proactively” sharing privileged information with a foreign operative. That person now a former MP should be fully investigated and prosecuted.

There were a few people named, potentially compromised by receiving favours from foreign governments, but it was unclear that they knew they had received such benefits.. They have been beneficiaries of foreign governments interfering in nomination contests.

Saying I am relieved does not mean that there is nothing to see here folks, let’s forget about the whole thing.

There are clearly threats to Canadian democracy from foreign governments.

I would like to suggest to all colleagues in parliament, particularly leaders of other parties, that we re-focus our public statements and parliamentary debates on what steps need to be taken to better protect our democracy.

It is clear some foreign governments see Canada as a pretty vulnerable, soft target. All recommendations of the hard-working NSICOP should be implemented. They have worked harder and have more deep background than any other MP.  I suggest we fortify the binding nature of our oath at our swearing in. The Ethics Commissioner should be mandated to work with our intelligence community and specifically be prepared to issue reports where on investigation it is clear the MP has failed to put their loyalty to Canada above any other interest, particularly above personal benefit. This must be extended to the influence of foreign transnational corporations.”

The hardest point of the press conference was what followed, fielding questions. I stopped each time a question was asked, trying to recall exactly what I had read and weighing whether I could share any additional details.

I expressed the hope all opposition leaders will read the report. And then I think we could really do a service by working with the NSICOP members, all with top secret clearance, and with relevant agencies in one of the secure windowless rooms to come up with a shared plan of action to ensure Canada’s democracy is far better protected.  I was very relieved when the first knowledgeable parliamentarian agreed with what I had said. NSICOP committee chair, MP David McGuinty, said it was not productive to concentrate on the naming of names of individual MPs but instead focus on having an adult conversation as parliamentarians about how better to confront the threat of foreign interference.

On Thursday another opposition leader read the report and held a press conference. On the surface, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared to contradict what I said. But as I reviewed his comments and especially after his office issued a clarification, we really only differed in our tone of voice.  According to the CBC, “Singh’s office says leader’s comments should not be taken as confirming or denying if current MPs are involved.”

“Singh said he’s “more convinced than ever” that some parliamentarians are “willing participants” in foreign states’ efforts to interfere in Canadian politics after reading an unredacted version of a bombshell report from one of Canada’s intelligence oversight bodies.

But after a raucous half-hour scrum with reporters, he would not confirm whether he was referring to serving MPs.”

So far Pierre Poilievre is the only party leader steadfastly refusing to obtain top secret security clearance and read the report. In this, strangely, he is supported by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair who does not think any leader should read the report. I still believe it is possible to put partisanship to the side and engage in that adult conversation about what we should do. As some of the highest points of vulnerability to foreign interference are found in internal party rules around leadership races and nomination contests, it would be ideal if we could agree to ensure changes in internal party rules codified in law before the next election. Amazingly it may only be the Green Party that ensures the only people who can vote in nomination races are Canadian citizens, party members and living in the Electoral District. I also note the NSICOP report had examples of elected people in provincial and municipal elections with possible links and unacceptable influence of foreign governments.

I will keep working on this issue with a press conference tomorrow sharing with media what I just shared with you. Dueling press conferences will not help. We need to agree on the facts and share those with Canadians within the strictures of protecting Canada’s intelligence sources and operations around the world.

Partisan sniping will not help.

Wishing you all a lovely June weekend wherever you are. Please join me tomorrow and Tuesday campaigning in Toronto St. Pauls for Christian Cullis with the by-election vote June 24!

One more week to go before the parliamentary summer recess! Looking forward to summer events and Pride parades and a bit more time off!

Much love,


Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens