|Border traffic is seen here at the peace bridge as Canada customs "work the rule" affecting Canadians returning from the civic holiday. (QMI Agency/HARRY ROSETTANI)
TORONTO - Federal investigators are probing whether national security rules were breached during a boozy dinner in which Canadian border services brass were allegedly wined and dined by members of the Chinese embassy and their public-security agents.
A complaint was filed to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner following an Aug. 3 party at a Mississauga restaurant that was attended by five officials of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and a delegation from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Ottawa and visiting Ministry of Public Security agents.
Edith Lachapelle, of the commissioner’s office, could not confirm what complaints were received nor could she speak about the specifics of any case.
Officials of the CBSA were asked for a comment and did not provide one by press time.
“Reports from this ‘meeting’ suggest that it was nothing more than a drunk fest,” read the complaint, which was obtained by QMI Agency. “The drinking was so extreme that some (officials) were totally incoherent and unable to operate their vehicle while others were puking in Canadian-government vehicles.”
The complaint alleged one senior CBSA official had to be driven home.
The name of the complainant has been withheld due to fears of reprisals by CBSA management officials.
The document claimed CBSA staff are concerned about possible leaks that may have taken place of classified information on Chinese immigrants, fugitives or deportees.
“It is well known that Chinese officials are generous hosts and push alcohol and other incentives as a means of co-opting and influencing Canadian government officials,” the commissioner was told. “Such ‘tactics’ on the part of Chinese officials have been widely reported.”
“It is shocking that CBSA officials would not have been more aware and sensitive to the situation,” the complaint said. “How do we know that information sensitive to Canadian national interests were not divulged to the Peoples’ Republic of China or other sensitive information compromised?”
The complainant called the dinner a “frat party.”
“This sort of behaviour is unbecoming of public servants representing Canada and certainly not what you would expect from our more senior officials,” the complaint said.
Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), told a House of Commons committee in 2010 that foreign influence “is more common here and elsewhere than many think and it is desirable that this threat should be known and discussed.”
Fadden said cabinet ministers in at least two provinces were being influenced by foreign governments.
He said CSIS has ongoing investigations into politicians at the provincial and municipal level who are agents of influence for foreign governments in Canada.
Just last year Tory MP Bob Dechert, then parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, came under fire and had to undergo fresh cabinet security checks after it was revealed he sent flirtatious e-mails to a journalist working for the state-run agency linked to China’s intelligence services.
Dechert, the MP for Mississauga-Erindale, is now a parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.