Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 16, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
50 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Wednesday, May 16, MPs look with concern at Ottawa security force By VICTOK MACKIE Herald Ottawa Bureau OTTAWA With the Water- gate scandal in Washington looming before them members of Parliament are probing the Police and Security Planning and Analysis Group which re- ports to Solicitor General War- ren Allmand. The existence of this new group has caused .con- cern among many members of Allmaiicl the opposition and some of the government backbenchers. Mr. Allmand appeared last week before the Commons jus- tice and legal affairs com- mittee. Opposition members showed their concern that the mysterious police and security analysis group might be suscep- tible to be used by the political party in power to strengthen its position and weaken the opposi- tion. With the backdrop of the Wa- tergate mess the M.P.'s ques- tions have taken on added em- phasis as they prodded the min- ister for more information. He explained that the group had been formed to study security matters but early this year its role was extended to include general police activities of a na- tional nature including such tilings as air hijacking, gun con- trol and reasons for prison riots. John Diefenbaker, former prime minister and Progressive Conservative M.P. for Prince Albert, said in an interview that he was confident that no Water- gate could happen in Canada. He explained that it was pos- sible for such a scandal to oc- cur in Washington because of the separation of the executive and legislative branches of gov- ernment. "But here in Canada such a situation would be raised in Parliament during the question period. The prime minister would be required to make statements in the house and make a report almost daily which if it developed there was a scandal could lead to the fall of the government. But in the United States with the separa- tion of the executive and legis- lative branches the president is not called to account for the ac- tions of his administration as the prime minister is in Ot- the veteran parlia- mentarian. However he is concerned over the provision in the proposed wiretapping legislation now be- fore the House that would per- mit "emergency" wiretaps for 36 hours without judicial ap- proval. He warned that in 36 hours much could be done that would endanger or destroy the rights of an individual. Other M.P.s are alarmed over wiretapping and its impli- cations, in the light of dis- closures in Washington. Mr. All- mand has endeavoured to allay the concern of the members over the operations of the new security group. He stressed it has no security files of its own and cannot order up Royal Ca- nadian Mounted Police files at will. Conservative committee members wanted to know if the group has access to information gathered by police through wiretapping. At first the solic- itor general replied flatly "no." But when he was asked if that was "categorical denial" he hesitated and said he would have to reconsider the point. To the best of his knowledge, he said, the group does not have access to such information. Committee members indicated they would pursue that line of questioning at later meetings. Mr. Allmand proposed an in- camera briefing on the activi- ties of the 17-member "snooper- group" as it has been labelled by opposition critics. What has the opposition wor- ried is that it may become the nucleus of a "political police force." The government says no such purpose is planned. Object of the new group is to analyze and interpret information from investigative agencies such as the RCMP, military intelligence and external affairs so that it can be analyzed, boiled down and presented in a short but comprehensive memorandum to members of the cabinet. Mr. Allmand has emphasized that the new group has no oper- ational activity. However it is required to study, analyse and give advice. He has rejected as without foundation, any sugges- tion that it compiled or kept se- curity files on M.P.s or any other Canadians. Opposition members are aware however that the new group has access to security services of the RCMP. It also has access to the facilities of the armed forces' intelligence. Through the armed forces it is linked to NATO and NORAD in- telligence. Through the RCMP it has connections with police forces around the world. The opposition was not wor- ried so long as the RCMP had these links and was in charge of security. But nowth e opposition M.P.'s are disturbed at the subtle shift that has taken place with the new politically inspired group being created. They say bluntly that they trusted the RCMP, but they are not so sure tfeat they would rust this new group set up by the cab! 3t and reporting to the solicitor gen- eral. The creation of the new group can be traced back to the crisis in Quebec in 1970. The Mounted Police had advance information that political kidnappings were being planned as part of the general unrest and upheavals in that province. The RCMP made their reports at length to the Privy Council, but the cabinet busy with many other problems paid little heed, if indeed it ever received the warnings directly, of which there is some doubt. The decision was made that in future there should be a spe- cial security group charged with alerting the cabinet to such possible dangerous devel- opments affecting the welfare of the state. Col. Robin Bourne, a military career officer, was placed in charge. He started or- ganizing in the spring of 1971 and had the research group functioning by the fall of that year. Word of the formation of the security analysis group leaked out in advance, before the gov- ernment was prepared to make its formal announcement. 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