National Post: Opposition parties decry Liberals’ approach to parliamentary security committee

The following is an excerpt from a National Post article, which can be found in it's entirety here. The image is courtesy of Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press

Opposition parties say they deserve a seat at the table as the Liberals put together a watchdog committee on national security and intelligence.

The Conservatives say the government is politicizing a process that the New Democrats say requires a transparent and independent approach.

While the opposition parties say they are united in their belief that all parties must work together on the establishment of the committee, they sent individual letters this week to the prime minister and public safety minister.

In a letter Tuesday, Conservative public safety critic Erin O’Toole said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale should know from his consultations in the United Kingdom the importance of ensuring the committee’s work is entirely non-partisan.

“The appointment of a chair before the committee is structured and your public pronouncements on the committee without any all-party discussion suggests to both official opposition parties that the government intends to foist upon Parliament a committee that is immediately politicized because of a lack of collaboration and information-sharing,” O’Toole said in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

The Conservatives presented 18 ideas for the mandate, structure and duties of the committee, including a requirement that it publish an annual report and that all its members should have had some exposure to security, intelligence or defence issues.

Both parties single out NDP MP and lawyer Murray Rankin as someone who should play a major role in forming the body. Before being elected in 2012, Rankin served as legal counsel for the Security and Intelligence Review Committee, the independent body that oversees Canada’s spy agency.