Canada’s top spy watchdog, Chuck Strahl, registered to lobby the Alberta government on Dec. 3, 2013 on behalf of a joint First Nations and Chinese-owned energy project, as well as registering as a lobbyist for Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, only 3 days later.
CSIS has expressed concerns in the recent past over China’s resource push. The agency published a paper in September 2013 that explored China’s acquisitions of resources abroad, including in Canada. The report was based on a conference hosted by CSIS and National Defence.
Yet the head of SIRC is working for a Chinese-controlled First Nations company at the same time that CSIS is actively investigating these kinds of companies in Canada.
“(Strahl) works for a First Nations owned company that has relationships with China and he also has a role on an investigative body,” Vancouver lawyer Merle Alexander told APTN National News yesterday. Alexander said he was approached by CSIS agents in 2010 and 2011 probing whether First Nations were being “manipulated” by the Chinese through their business deals.
Strahl was appointed as Chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) by Prime Minster Stephen Harper in 2012. SIRC is an independent and non-partisan federal agency which oversees the activities of Canada’s spy organization – the Canadian Intelligence Security Service (CSIS) – and investigates complaints against the agency.
CSIS has been monitoring opposition to national pipeline projects and is investigating links between Chinese investment and First Nations.
Strahl – who was Aboriginal Affairs minister from 2007 to 2010 – registered with Alberta’s lobbyist registry on Dec. 3, 2013, to represent the aboriginal owned Frog Lake Energy Resources Corp. The energy firm has partnered with Chinese-financed Windtalker Energy Corp to drill for oil on Frog Lake’s territory. Strahl’s registration states that he is “Contacting the Principal Secretary to the Premier (of Alberta) to seek assistance in setting up meetings with Minister of Energy and Minister of Aboriginal Relations”.
Sichuan Rui Investment Management Ltd. says on its website that it owns 90 per cent of Windtalker shares. According to the company, the seeds for the Windtalker deal found fertile ground during a meeting with a U.S.-Canada business delegation organized by the Sichuan province’s department of commerce in 2010.
Meanwhile, NDP Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen criticized Strahl, pointing out that: “All the while that CSIS has been spying, if any Canadian citizen complains about this, they are complaining to Mr. Strahl, who lobbies on behalf of Enbridge” he said.
“It was worrisome that the spy agency admitted that they were spying on Canadians, and they it got more worrisome when we found out that they were briefing Enbridge – And now we find out that the Chair of their watchdog is also being paid by that same company. What a web we weave,” said Cullen.
“If you don’t like the way our spy agency is operating, the watchdog that you phone is also a lobbyist for the company (Enbridge) that you’re a critic of” said Cullen.
“I don’t understand how Mr. Strahl, or Enbridge, or the Conservatives wouldn’t see this as a massive conflict of interest” he said.
With files from Jorge Barrera, APTN National News