Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will waive cabinet confidence so that both a committee made up of parliamentarians from all parties and a federal agency investigating foreign election interference can review classified documents that special rapporteur David Johnston used to inform his recent report.
This means that both the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) will have access to previously confidential cabinet documents.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told CBC News on May 25 that cabinet confidence would be waived “as soon as possible.” The Epoch Times contacted the PMO to confirm, but didn’t hear back before press time.
Both NSICOP and NSIRA have been tasked with reviewing matters of national security and intelligence as well as reports sent by intelligence agencies to the prime minister.
NSICOP is made up of four Liberal MPs, two Conservatives, one Bloc Québécois MP, one NDP MP, and one independent senator.
NSIRA, the national intelligence watchdog agency, is also independently examining foreign election interference. NSIRA is chaired by former Supreme Court judge Marie Deschamps, while other members include a law professor, a law dean, a former national security and intelligence adviser who served under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a practising lawyer.
Former governor general David Johnston, whom Trudeau appointed special rapporteur on foreign election interference in March, also informs the work of both NSICOP and NSIRA.
In his report published on May 23, Johnston said that all NSICOP members have “sufficient security clearances to view a comprehensive range of material and are bound, by law, to maintain its secrecy.”
He also said NSIRA members have “relevant security clearances,” adding that he provided it and NSICOP with a “confidential annex that provides additional detail for those with the relevant clearances.”
Trudeau’s planned waiving of cabinet confidence for both NSICOP and NSIRA follows a recommendation from Johnston to do so.
“I recommend the government disclose to NSICOP and NSIRA those cabinet confidential documents provided to me. They were instructive and, in my opinion, reflect careful consideration of difficult issues by the federal cabinet,” Johnston wrote.
“NSIRA and NSICOP would benefit from reviewing them to ensure these review bodies have access to the same information I gathered and reviewed.”
Johnston said all federal opposition party leaders should seek top-secret security clearances so they can review the confidential annex he provided to NSIRA and NSICOP and observe NSICOP’s proceedings.
He also recommended that Trudeau and his cabinet “fully cooperate with NSICOP, including appearing at NSICOP to respond to questions and provide information if invited to do so.”