PM says CSIS will ‘get to the bottom of this issue’ amid shocking harassment claims
By Josh Dehaas
CTV News | July 14, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to shocking claims about a toxic work environment at Canada’s spy agency on Friday, but stopped short of saying he would order an investigation.
Five employees at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) allege that a culture of homophobia, racism and anti-Muslim sentiment have caused them health problems and missed promotions.
The employees include a gay man who says supervisors repeatedly referenced his sexuality and ridiculed him for having a Muslim partner, a Muslim woman who says she was questioned about her hijab, a Muslim man who says Muslims were referred to as “sand monkeys” and “terrorists,” and a woman of African descent who says colleagues told her she was only promoted because she is a black woman.
The allegations are made in a 54-page document filed in federal court as part of court case seeking $35 million dollars in damages. None of the allegations has been tested in court.
During a press conference in Providence, R.I., Trudeau said that he is confident that CSIS director David Vigneault is “working hard to ensure that we get to the bottom of this issue.”
“Harassment, discrimination, toxic work environments are things that I, this government, find absolutely unacceptable and I can also assure you that the new director of CSIS, David Vigneault, also finds that to be unacceptable,” Trudeau said.
“We are committed to working as a government to ensure that this type of harassment does not happen and will not happen,” he added.
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Among those calling for immediate action are the National Council of Canadian Muslims, NDP public safety critic Matthew Dube and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.
NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee said that the NCCM plans to await the outcome “before drawing any conclusions.”
“At the same time, these serious allegations necessitate the government to take immediate preventative action,” Gardee added.
“Canadians need to be reassured that they can fully trust their national intelligence agency to fulfill its mandate professionally and without bias,” Gardee said.