POLITICS

Opposition presses government to explain lapses in Delisle spy case

05/28/2013 05:46 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - Opposition MPs are still pressing for answers on the Jeffrey Delisle spy case, but Public Safety Minister Vic Toews continues to say he can't provide them.

In the House of Commons, New Democrat MP Randall Garrison demanded to know Tuesday what Toews would do to improve Canada's standing with its allies following Delisle's theft of western secrets.

He cited a Canadian Press report this week that Canada's spy agency left it to the U.S. FBI to brief the RCMP on the case, and a followup story describing how American officials were looking over Canadian shoulders to ensure security remedies were in place at key military intelligence centres.

"After the damage this has done to Canada's reputation, what is the minister going to do to restore our credibility with our allies?" Garrison said.

Fellow New Democrat Rosane Dore Lefebvre asked why the government had failed to patch security weaknesses that allowed Delisle to pilfer the secrets in the first place.

Toews read the same talking points he did the previous day, saying he could not comment on national security matters and that conclusions in the reports were inaccurate.

Toews' office again refused to make him available for an interview, nor would officials elaborate on his comments.

Delisle was sentenced earlier this year to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to passing classified intelligence to Russia for cash on a regular basis for more than four years.

Liberal MP Bob Rae, who once led a probe of the Air India bombing, has called for an inquiry into the Delisle case.

Both CSIS and the RCMP declined to provide comment for the initial Canadian Press story, which revealed Sunday that the spy service decided not to share its Delisle dossier with the Mounties for fear of spilling sensitive secrets in open court.

However, CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti said late Monday in a statement that "national security investigations, from espionage to terrorism, are often team efforts involving domestic and international partners."

"The Service works with many trusted partners in different places and in different ways to protect Canada's security interests," she added.

"CSIS and the RCMP have specific protocols to ensure the appropriate transfer of information and intelligence between the two agencies and allowing each agency to fulfil its mandate."

Mufti said Delisle's conviction was an indication of the case's success.