Enbridge lobbyist Chuck Strahl resigns from CSIS watchdog

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Former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl has resigned as chair of Canada's spy agency watchdog after drawing criticism over his work as a lobbyist for Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project.

On December 6, Strahl registered to lobby the B.C. government on behalf of Northern Gateway Pipelines LP. His filing said he planned to arrange a meeting between the company and Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman.

In his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Strahl maintained that any claims that his lobbying activities were inappropriate are "entirely spurious and unfounded".

"Despite the fact that my compliance with all relevant rules and regulations has been clearly demonstrated, I retired from politics three years ago and do not wish to be in the centre of the political fray," Strahl said.

In a statement today (January 24), Harper said former Conservative MP and current Security Intelligence Review Committee member Deborah Grey would act as chair of the watchdog until a permanent replacement is appointed.

"I would like to extend my personal best wishes to Chuck in all of his future endeavours," Harper said.

Strahl joined the SIRC in 2012 after serving as an MP from 1993 to 2011.

The SIRC reviews the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and reports to Parliament.

In response to Strahl's resignation, an open Internet activist called for a "total overhaul of our spy agency oversight mechanisms".

"Today’s news is welcome, because all of us can agree that publicly funded government watchdogs should not be employed by those connected to the agencies they are overseeing. In this case, there was a clear conflict of interest given that CSIS has been asked to aid the oil industry in monitoring environmentalists," OpenMedia.ca executive director Steve Anderson said in a news release.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
What can I say?
but Sleaze-Bags Galore!
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Earl Richards
Strahl should have never applied for the position of chairmen in the first place, because he knows it was a conflict of interest.
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bruther
If there's hadn't been all this fuss about corrupt senators, Chuckie baby would probably have sat tight. The fact that he did resign shows how sensitive Harper is becoming (finally) to public scandal. Not that he actually thinks Strahl did anything wrong.
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keith cummings
Enbridge is very interested in what those that are opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline and will do whatever Harper allows them to, to get that info. Thus, Strahl. As long as Harper is PM, we must be vigilant watching Enbridge "consultant" hiring and actions that involve current and past Conservative people.
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