Candice Malcolm: "Monsef case raises security concerns"

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(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

Canadians are still left wondering about key details in the Maryam Monsef controversy.

Unanswered questions go beyond the details of Monsef’s early life in Iran and Afghanistan.

When Monsef was selected as a Liberal candidate in Peterborough, when she was elected to Parliament and again, when she was appointed to cabinet, she would have been screened and vetted.

So her past was scrutinized by her party, the government and Canada’s intelligence agency, CSIS.

Obtaining security clearance from the government is no trivial process.

Monsef would have provided detailed records about her past, including her immigration file and documents from her time in the Middle East, according to a senior intelligence source.

Monsef was given security clearance by the government, meaning she, like all cabinet ministers, has access to secret and sensitive information.

But we now know that her security clearance was issued, at least in part, on incorrect information.

This is leaving some in the intelligence community concerned.

I spoke to a senior intelligence source with experience in immigration and security screening overseas.

He told me when CSIS does background checks for naturalized citizens, they rely heavily on the Department of Citizenship and Immigration for original documents.

“When you have an election, there is a really fast turnaround time required for all cabinet ministers to be cleared,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the political nature of the Monsef story.

“Some clearances can take months, depending on the person and the department, and cabinet ministers don’t have time to wait for clearances,” he said.

“All of them would have been on a rush, rush, rush basis,” said the source.

“Things were missed. And that can happen.”

It’s remarkable Monsef was able to obtain a high-ranking position in the government without...READ MORE