House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates

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Opening Statement by Kevin G. Lynch
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service

June 19, 2008

Madam Chair,

I am pleased to appear before this Committee on the subject of the investigation the Privy Council Office (PCO) recently conducted into unauthorized disclosures of sensitive diplomatic information.  I am joined today by Mr. Marc Tardif, Director of Security Operations, Mr. Yvan Roy, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Machinery of Government) and Counsel and Mr. Gary Pinder, Executive Director, Informatics and Technical Services Division.  I would also note that Mr. Pat Cummins and Mr. Allan Bird, the two investigators from BMCI Investigations & Security Ltd. are also present this morning at the request of the Committee.

On March 5, 2008, the Prime Minister asked me to launch an internal security investigation into allegations of unauthorized verbal disclosures by Mr. Brodie and Ambassador Wilson regarding the purported position of U.S. Democratic presidential candidates in relation to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the unauthorized disclosure of the diplomatic report sent from the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago on February 13, 2008.

On May 22, 2008 I delivered to the Prime Minister the Report on the Investigation into Unauthorized Disclosure of Sensitive Diplomatic Information, which contains our findings and conclusions.  This report was made public the next day and is available on the PCO website.

The purpose of the investigation was to determine the timeline of relevant events leading up to and following the disclosures of information; determine, to the extent possible, the source, or sources, of the disclosures; report on the findings of the investigation; and make recommendations to minimize the likelihood of a reoccurrence of similar incidents in the future. 

The investigation was led by the Director of Security Operations at PCO.  Independent, professional services were contracted from BMCI Investigations & Security Ltd. due to the scope and complexity of the investigation and the volume of information to be examined.  As the report describes, the investigation was carried out in a comprehensive, systematic and impartial manner, and in accordance with established investigative standards. 

The investigative process that was followed included examining documentation; conducting comprehensive interviews of 36 individuals; compiling and analysing reliable source data; and examining salient comments received from various secondary sources during meetings and briefings. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Security and Intelligence Bureau, PCO's Informatics and Technical Services, PCO's Telecommunications Services, and departmental security officers of four other federal departments also provided assistance in this investigation. 

The investigation was extensive and independent.  It involved obtaining and analyzing a vast amount of information in a relatively short period of time.  The 36 public servants and political staff interviewed consisted of officials from the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Headquarters in Ottawa, the Embassy in Washington, the Consulate General in Chicago, and the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Several officials were interviewed twice.

In addition to interviews, the investigation involved checking logs of telephone calls placed by officials of interest from their office land-line and cellular telephones for the relevant time period.  These were examined to determine if any contact had been made to the media or to other numbers of interest, both in Canada and the U.S.  Transmission logs from fax machines used by officials of interest during the same time frame were similarly examined.  All emails of these same officials were checked to determine who had knowledge of the information and at what point in time, the extent of that knowledge, and whether any inappropriate transmission of information had occurred.  Finally, unclassified, classified and BlackBerry™ electronic mailboxes of federal officials and ministerial staff who received the original diplomatic report from Chicago were examined to determine whether the report was retransmitted to others, and if so, who those addressees were, and whether it was inappropriate for them to receive the report. 

During the course of the investigation, the names of a few U.S. citizens surfaced as possibly having been in contact with Canadian officials with access to the report.  This fact was clearly outlined in the report (page 8).  As no Canadian government investigator, including the RCMP, has jurisdiction on U.S. territory without the consent of the U.S. government or U.S. law enforcement agencies, the approach of the investigators was to focus on ministerial staff and officials employed by the Government of Canada who may have been in contact with them.  This approach included extensive interviews with these Canadian individuals and an examination of telephone, fax and email logs, as well as email correspondence. 

The report of the investigation describes the methodology and process employed by the investigators, establishes a timeline of significant events, summarizes the investigators' analysis and findings, and makes recommendations for further strengthening the safeguards for the protection of information.
The conclusions of the report are based entirely on the findings of the independent investigative team, working with the PCO Director of Security Operations.  Section 5 of the report (pages 9-10) provides the conclusions of the investigation, namely:

  • Any comments Mr. Brodie may have made during the Budget 2008 lock-up on February 26 did not reveal any information tied to the diplomatic report, of which he was made aware only on February 28. There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any classified information.
  • There is no evidence that Ambassador Wilson revealed any information tied to the diplomatic report or to any U.S. presidential candidate's position with respect to NAFTA, though his comments likely helped lead the reporter to the Senator Obama campaign. There is no evidence that Ambassador Wilson disclosed any classified information.
  • The investigation was unable to determine who leaked the report, to whom it was leaked or whether there was only one leak.
  • The original diplomatic report from Chicago was incorrectly classified (it was unclassified) and had an inappropriately broad distribution list (232 addresses).
With this overview, I would be pleased to take questions from the honourable members of the Committee.