CSIS LOGOThe Heritage Front Affair
A report to the Solicitor General of Canada

December 9th, 1995


In the course of our file review we learned that in 1989-90, CSIS conducted an investigation of "Unknown Contributor(s) to Preston Manning's Electoral Campaign".

8.1 The Tip

On November 2, 1988, an individual gave a CSIS Investigator some information about his relationship with a foreign mission in Canada.

He reported a conversation he had had with a member of the Board of Directors of an association which promoted links between the foreign government and Canada. He conveyed to the Board Member his concern over what he felt was unjust criticism by the foreign government of Canada's foreign policy towards the foreign country.

According to the individual, the Board Member apparently responded to this statement by telling him that everything had been taken care of, as they were giving money and support to Manning and his group in the upcoming Federal election. The individual advised CSIS that he thought that the Board Member's reference to giving money and support to Manning and his group, meant that the foreign government was contributing money and support to Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party, who was running against Joe Clark in the Alberta riding of Yellowhead.

The Regional Investigator commented in his report to CSIS Headquarters that if in fact true (i.e. the foreign government was providing money and support to Preston Manning and the Reform Party), this would appear to be a classic foreign interference operation.

The Regional investigator, however, cautioned CSIS HQ about the source and the veracity of the information. The individual was an unknown quantity, who was both self-serving and very opportunistic, particularly if it benefitted himself. However, notwithstanding the reliability of the above information and given that it may have had some, as yet unconfirmed, validity, it was reported for information purposes.

A few days later, on November 21, 1988, a CSIS' Regional office learned of another conversation the individual had had with a close associate of the Board Member's, who he would not identify. The individual learned that the foreign government may have contributed as much as $45,000 to Preston Manning and his Reform Party in trying to defeat Joe Clark in his riding of Yellowhead. The Investigator immediately provided CSIS HQ with the information.

CSIS Headquarters analyzed the information provided by its office later in December. In January 1989, the Desk at CSIS HQ provided the Regional office with HQ's analysis of the information

CSIS Headquarters also requested any new information the Region might have learned about the issue.

8.2 The International Environment

In 1988, Canada was a leading advocate on an important international issue. The foreign government particularly resented Canada's position and engaged in covert operations in this country and provided funds to support those operations.

8.3 The Targeting Decision

On October 17, 1989, the Service decided to formally investigate the alleged $45,000 contribution. CSIS said that they could not go back to the informant as all contacts had ended on December 31, 1988.

The Service authorized a three-month Level 1[1] investigation entitled: "LNU[2] FNU[3] (Unknown Contributor(s) to Preston Manning's Electoral Campaign)". The Service cited section 12 and paragraph 2(b) of the CSIS Act as the legal basis for the investigation.[4]

To support its investigation, the Desk Head cited the following facts:

The Unit Head remarked that the Level 1 authorization was requested in order to undertake a regional check of public records. He wanted to determine if indeed any sizeable monetary contribution was made to Preston Manning by either sympathetic groups or individuals, or the foreign government. To paraphrase, he wrote that:

Under the targeting policy at the time, the Service could not examine public records of the electoral candidate's financial election statements without TARC authority. The Unit Head had the authority to authorize the necessary Level 1 authority without further consultation. However, because of the sensitivity of the issue, he first discussed the matter with the Director General (Counter-Intelligence), CSIS Senior Legal Counsel, the Chief of the Counter-Intelligence - General Desk, and the TARC Coordinator for counter-intelligence. The Director General (Counter-Intelligence) stipulated, in a written note, that the investigation was not to "proceed beyond a search/review of public records without referral" back to him.

8.4 The Investigation

The Service did not use intrusive techniques, such as Federal Court warrant powers, physical surveillance, informants, etc., for this investigation. CSIS restricted its investigation solely to the collection of public documents from Elections Canada to ascertain if a sizeable contribution had in fact been made to Preston Manning's Electoral Campaign; it then checked the names of contributors against its databases. CSIS did not enter the names of the contributors into its databases.

8.4.1 Access to Elections Canada Public Information

On October 17, 1989, CSIS Headquarters tasked its Ottawa Regional Office to obtain a copy of Preston Manning's auditor's report: "... containing detailed statements of all election expenses, etc. and the amount of money or services provided for the use of the candidate by individuals, governments, businesses, etc...".

On October 26, 1989, an investigator met with a Legal Advisor at Elections Canada who provided the CSIS investigator with the following documents:

[Graphic in actual SIRC report]

These documents are all available to the general public.

The Ottawa Region investigator's report then added the following:

To paraphrase, the Investigator concluded that until they were able to obtain the returns for the Reform Party in July 1990, they would be unable to draw a conclusion as to whether Manning and/or the Reform Party may have received a financial contribution either directly or indirectly from the foreign government. It appeared from these records that a contribution of this size would have been a substantial addition to Manning's campaign. Since Manning was competing in Joe Clark's riding of Yellowhead, however, it would have certainly benefitted the foreign government to support any candidate who might have ousted Clark from his position.

The Head of the Counter-Intelligence General Desk in Ottawa Region added that, from the available evidence it was clear that Mr. Manning's election campaign did not receive any sizable sums of money from the foreign government through its intermediaries."

8.4.2 CSIS Checks Contributors' Names

The CSIS Ottawa Region Investigator checked the names of the contributing individuals and companies against the CSIS databases but found nothing. CSIS HQ sent hard copies of Preston Manning's return to three of its offices and all responses were similarly negative.

8.4.3 Interviews of Casual Sources and Community Contacts

In September 1990, a CSIS District office conducted an interview about the foreign embassy's dealings with the association and about the foreign mission's ties to the Reform Party. He answered that he "is not aware of any connections/contacts between the foreign Embassy and representatives of the Reform Party of Canada."

8.5 Findings

8.5.1 The Targeting Decision

First, we considered whether funding and support to a political party from a foreign government would constitute a threat to the security of Canada. In our opinion, the preliminary information and the foreign government's plans seemed to have all the ingredients of a foreign influence operation. We have not seen any political instruction regarding that investigation. There is no documentation on file to indicate that the Solicitor General's Office either had any knowledge of the investigation or provided direction to CSIS.

8.5.2 The Investigation

We assessed whether CSIS took the appropriate measures to minimize the potential impact that this investigation could have on the Reform Party.

CSIS did not investigate the Reform Party or its membership. In 1988 and 1989, CSIS had a Level 3 investigation against the activities of the foreign intelligence service and its agents in Canada. In the course of its investigation, CSIS collected some information about Reform Party contacts with that foreign country's embassy. The information collected on the Party's contacts with the Embassy was very limited.

Overall, we believe that CSIS had reasonable grounds to suspect a threat to national security from the foreign government's intelligence service, as defined by section 2(b) of the CSIS Act.


1 Level 1 investigations are the least intrusive. They are restricted to the use of public information and access to government and police records.

2 Abbreviation for "Last Name Unknown".

3 Abbreviation for "First Name Unknown".

4 Section 2(b) of the CSIS Act defines foreign influence activities.

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