Canada spy boss grilled over "foreign influence"

Mon Jul 5, 2010 3:10pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Angry Canadian legislators accused the country's spy chief on Monday of making a huge mistake by alleging some politicians were under the influence of foreign governments, with one parliamentarian demanding he name the "traitors to the nation".

Richard Fadden, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), prompted an uproar last month when he said in televised remarks that ministers in two of the 10 provinces were under "the general influence of a foreign government".

Fadden also suggested China was one of the nations involved. The comments were widely seen as controversial as Canada encourages large-scale immigration and has a substantial ethnic and foreign-born population.

The House of Commons public security committee convened a special two-hour session to grill Fadden, who said that while he regretted his remarks had become public, he stood by them.

Legislators variously told Fadden he was incompetent and irresponsible, saying his words had triggered suspicions about countless politicians across Canada.

"Who are the traitors in the current political class, Mr Fadden?" demanded an incandescent Maria Mourani, a legislator of Lebanese descent from the opposition Bloc Quebecois.

Fadden described her words as totally inappropriate, saying there was no question of treason.

"You don't use the word 'traitor' but I'll say it ... I'm giving you a chance to tell us. Who are these ministers who are traitors to the nation?" Mourani fired back.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director Richard Fadden arrives to testify before the Commons public safety and national security committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa July 5, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>