04/26/2012 01:03 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT

CSIS Inspector General Cut In Tory Budget Bill

OTTAWA - The Harper government is using its massive budget bill to quietly scrap a key official overseeing Canada's spy agency.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the surprise move to axe the inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will save taxpayers almost $1 million a year.

Julie Carmichael said the unannounced decision to cut the office — known as the minister's eyes and ears on CSIS — will actually strengthen independent oversight of the agency.

But independent experts say pushing more duties onto the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is currently without a chairman, won't improve oversight.

When Toews announced the reappointment of inspector general Eva Plunkett in 2010, he said her office helps ensure that CSIS operates within the law and follows current policies.

Plunkett's annual reports to the minister have been frank and often highly critical, including a warning last year that the spy agency was failing to follow new accountability standards set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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