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Liberal MP wants RCMP to look into leak about Brison

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:10 p.m. March 8, 2006]

OTTAWA  — EXCLUSIVE:  A Liberal MP says he is "extremely concerned" about a leak to the Globe and Mail that Liberal MP Scott Brison was interviewed as part of the RCMP's income trust investigation. 

Wayne Easter, a Solicitor-General in the Chretien government, is now saying the RCMP should look into how that information got out to the media, whether it was politically motivated or if it came from the office of Public Security Minister Stockwell Day. 

The RCMP is one of six agencies that reports to Day's department.

"The real issue here now is how could the minister of public security allow either out of his office or the RCMP's offices a leak that could undermine the credibility of a potential leadership contender," Easter said in an interview with PoliticsWatch.com.

The Globe first broke the story on Tuesday, saying it learned of the e-mails and Brison's interview with the RCMP from "sources." However, it is not clear whether or not the sources were from government, the police or outside.

The paper's sources said the CIBC conducted an internal review of trading after learning about the e-mail and found nothing irregular. 

Easter said he does not know where the leak came from either, but it is a matter of ministerial responsibility.

"All I know is the facts. And the facts are there was a leak. And the fact is the minister of public security is responsible during an investigation that leaks not occur," said Easter. "So ultimately Stockwell Day is responsible at the end of the day here.

"I think the RCMP maybe should be investigating Stockwell Day's office to determine whether or not there was a leak that came out of that office for political motives."

In response to Easter's comments, Day released a statement to PoliticsWatch through his communications director denying any access to details of the investigation. 

"As a former Solicitor-General of Canada, Wayne Easter should know that the minister of public safety doesn't have access to information related to ongoing investigations. The RCMP is an arm's-length organization and conducts its operations without interference from elected officials."

Pundits in Ottawa are saying that the revelations that Brison was interviewed by the RCMP in January about an e-mail exchange he had with an employee at CIBC the day before the controversial income trust announcement could be fatal to his expected bid to lead the party. 

In an e-mail exchange, a CIBC employee, who is an acquaintance of Brison's, complains about the government bringing the stock market to a standstill. This was at the time when there was much anxiety over the income trust issue.

Brison replied, "I think you will be happier very soon … this week probably." Brison's friend at the bank responds, "I cannot express my joy properly."

The RCMP announced during the election campaign that it was probing whether there was a leak of sensitive information regarding the government's November decision not to tax income trusts. 

A large spike in the volume of trading in income trusts and high dividend yielding stocks hours before then finance minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement sparked concerns on Bay Street that some people may have been tipped off in advance. 

Goodale said only a limited number of people in government knew in advance and they were in his office, the PMO, the Government House Leader's office and the revenue minister's office. 

Although he was in cabinet, Brison was minister of public works at the time and would not be part of the loop, according to Goodale. 

On Tuesday, Brison held a press conference on Parliament Hill to express regret for having made the comment in the e-mail, but said his comment was based on "public speculation" not on any inside knowledge he may have received from being in cabinet or in the government.

"I did not communicate any information that was privileged because I did not have any information that was privileged," he said. 

Brison is considered one of the stronger candidates in the field to replace Paul Martin as Liberal leader. 

He was a former Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate, but left the party when they merged with the Canadian Alliance in 2003. He has been in the Liberal caucus since then.

"What we have here is a leak that … could undermine the credibility of a potential leadership contender," said Easter. "This almost goes back to Watergate."

"We know that some people in the Conservative party are still quite upset about Mr. Brison coming across to the Liberal party. Did this leak come out of Stockwell Day's office? There really should be some kind of investigation into that by the RCMP itself."

: Related Links

> Read Scott Brison's e-mails

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