According to reports, Canada is downplaying the espionage case against Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle for fear of upsetting relations with Russia.
We've been there before in the bad, old days of the Cold War, only it was "Soviet" spies then, not "Russian" spies that captured headlines. Canada was ever sensitive about tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats over red hands caught in the cookie jar.
A junior officer in Naval Intelligence, Delisle was arrested last January. Not much has been heard about him since then, though U.S. sources are quoted saying the amount of secret information he turned over to the Russians rivals the volume of U.S. data lost to WikiLeaks.
Delisle's case has been postponed to mid-June, pending sanitized documents being released to his lawyers.
It taxes credulity to think that the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be fearful of annoying or upsetting relations with the Russians over us catching an alleged traitor working for them.
Like the Beijing regime, Moscow is without shame in certain areas.
Espionage has always been one of Russia's fixations, only now it's more commercial and industrial spying than military. The threat of nuclear war has diminished, and Russia has abandoned its previous policy of undermining, subverting and corrupting various countries in efforts to be the world's dominant power.
It lost that struggle, and has refocused its efforts. The Kremlin's greatest challenge is harnessing and channeling its own people, not influencing or intimidating the world.
Still, the successors to the KGB and GRU have a Pavlovian urge to spy.
We are told there is concern within Harper's inner-cabinet (assuming there is such a thing) about how to deal with the Delisle spy case. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is said to be cautious, fearing that Russia might take offence if there is undue publicity. Baloney.
We have Arctic boundary issues with Russia, Arctic gas and oil concerns, plus Russian flights over what we view as our air space. There are also areas of potential cooperation (search-and-rescue) plus shared exploration and development.
It's typical of politicians to put these interests ahead of national security.
As the CP puts it: "The Harper government had a host of military and possibly commercial reasons for not blaming or shaming Russia in the wake of a spy scandal..."
Come off it, fellas! "Shaming" Russia? There is no shame in either spying or being caught spying. It's what regimes like Moscow do. When caught, they roll with the punch and try again. If we are embarrassed at catching spies, they'll exploit the sentiment.
The "shame" is all on Delisle -- assuming he's guilty, which as yet is unproven.
And there may be shame in the Royal Canadian Navy if he's proved to be a traitor.
In the 1950s through the 1970s, when Soviet espionage was rampant, relations with the U.S.S.R. were cordial. Even while we were catching (or at least identifying) their spies, they were buying our wheat -- the first $1 billion sale in 1966.
Prime Minister Trudeau refused to see Soviet espionage as a threat, and even proclaimed "friendship" with the country that coerced some Canadians into treason.
So the Harper gang can relax. Soviet President Vladimr Putin is a former KGB honcho who understands espionage. Relations with Russia will be as harmonious as ever -- even if we scream to high heaven at the perfidy of spying on us, and if we kicked out a Russian diplomat or two, and had a couple of our embassy guys bounced in reprisal.