Mariam Monsef was born in Iran, not in Afghanistan. She was born in 1984, not 1985. These are things we have learned about the Minister of Democratic Reform in the last week, things that you would think we should have known before.
Beyond Monsef’s personal story, (I’ll let others deal with that) these revelations raise questions about the vetting done on cabinet ministers.
These revelations show either a spectacular failure of our security agencies or a spectacular failure by Justin Trudeau and his team.
This never should have happened if the security agencies were doing their jobs, but then again, maybe they did their job and Trudeau and team ignored it.
Knowing the answer does matter from a security point of view.
Cabinet ministers have what essentially amounts to a top secret clearance meaning they deal with some of the most sensitive information that governments hold.
Any of this can be discussed around the cabinet table and that is why cabinet ministers are put through a vetting process that includes security checks, tax and financial checks and more.
Do we want people that can be bribed due to crushing debt around the cabinet table? No, that is why financial checks are done. Do we want people around the cabinet table that have questionable ties to Canada’s enemies? No, that is why we do security checks.
I’m not suggesting that Minister Monsef has any of these but my question is, if we can’t have a security vetting that picks up that a candidate’s birthplace and birth date are wrong, how could we possibly pick up on a real problem?
If CSIS and the RCMP and other security agencies that were consulted missed this, then can we really expect them to find that a potential candidate is hiding ties to a foreign government for example, and are selling information or secrets?
This should be worrisome to everyone if that is what happened.
Why did it a take a reporter doing a profile for a newspaper to uncover this, especially since it was apparently talked about in the Peterborough area.
When military members are checked for a security clearance, investigators speak to people that have known them for years, they claw through their past, sometimes they visit references in person.
Did none of this happen with Monsef?
If this is a security failure then there is something worrisome there.
But the other possibility is that our national security agencies did pick these things up and flagged them to team Trudeau who then ignored the information because it would look bad and would chip away at Monsef’s story line that helped get her elected.
I’d love to know the truth.
Trudeau’s office claims they didn’t know until they were approached by the Globe and Mail. If we take them at their word, then this is only an intelligence failure but I’ve been around politicians long enough to be sceptical.
We may not be able to find out.
This is not the first problem with cabinet vetting. When Hunter Tootoo was caught dating a young staffer and her mother, he did what many celebrities do; claimed addiction and headed for rehab.
He says the alcoholism wasn’t picked up in the cabinet vetting. We submitted an Access to Information and Privacy request for his cabinet vetting documents and received blank pages that tell us nothing about whether this is true.
It’s likely we’ll receive the same on Monsef’s documents.
The Trudeau government promised to be open and transparent, they should come clean.
Did they know about Tootoo and ignore the warnings? Did they know about Monsef and ignore that too so they could focus on building up her narrative, one even lauded from the floor of the House of Commons by President Barack Obama?
Team Trudeau has to tell us the truth and I’d be willing to bet the security agencies warned them about both of these cases.
But if that is not the case then maybe it’s time to review the capabilities of the people charged with keeping us safe.