In the past few weeks, there have been a handful of high-profile scandals based on leaks from within the Department of Citizenship and Immigration which have reflected poorly upon the Conservative Party. Yesterday, we found out that the RCMP has launched a criminal investigation into the leaks.
Before I dig into how profoundly frightening that is, let’s take a look at the leaks in question.
Although it’s unclear which stories precisely the investigation is focussing on, two major investigative reports are likely candidates.
The first is a CBC story from September 23 which revealed that a new passport design system had led to at least 1,500 flawed passports being issued, and that political pressure led to that system’s implementation ahead of schedule:
Internal records from Citizenship and Immigration Canada reveal the processing program was rushed into operation on May 9, 2015, despite dire warnings from senior officials that it was not ready and could present new security risks.
One government source told CBC/Radio-Canada there are concerns that passports produced under the new system could wind up in the wrong hands.
The report was a major downer for the Conservatives, who have made making Canadians more safe a centrepiece of their campaign. They spent the day in damage-control mode. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, still reeling from his early-September embarrassment at the hands of Rosie Barton on Power and Politics, hid behind his spokesperson, who issued a vaguely worded statement insistently saying nothing much in particular. (‘”The Canadian passport is, and will remain, one of the most secure travel documents in the world,” said Nancy Caron in an emailed response. “CIC has been moving towards an increasingly integrated, modernized and centralized working environment across many of its business lines, including the passport program.”‘) Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson was also deployed to make reassuring noises without specifically commenting on the allegations. After weeks of being relentlessly attacked over their handling of the refugee crisis, the Conservative Party was no doubt frustrated to have to respond to yet another scandal on the immigration file.
Their frustration must have been compounded earlier this week when the refugee issue returned to the forefront of campaign coverage on the strength of a Globe and Mail article detailing interference by the Prime Minister’s Office into the refugee application process: Continue Reading