On September 7, 1994, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Prime
Time News stated that:
CBC News has learned some of the most closely guarded secrets of
Canada's spy agency, CSIS. They are contained in documents retrieved by
the RCMP last week...The documents reveal operations that could seriously
damage the agency's reputation.
CBC News has learned that a handful of the documents were in fact very sensitive.
In one, CSIS worries that people will find out that the security service spied on postal workers and passed that information on to Canada Post managers - all this during a labour dispute."
The CBC said that the papers were among those seized by the RCMP from
Brian McInnis, the press secretary to former Solicitor General Doug Lewis.
The material was among the several boxes of sensitive papers which contained
Top Secret information about CSIS operations.
The program elicited an immediate reaction from CSIS, the Government, and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
The Director of CSIS stated unequivocally that "CSIS has not and is not investigating the Canadian Union of Postal Workers".
Darryl Tingley, Head of the Canadian Postal Workers' Union called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations, based on the television report.
On September 8, 1994, CSIS publicly denied the allegations. According to CSIS, the CBC based its story on a November 1992 briefing note to then Solicitor General Doug Lewis, informing him of the impending release by the National Archives of old RCMP Security Service documents.
The CBC's Executive Producer, Tony Burman, admitted that the CBC story was "put together quickly on Wednesday night on the basis of documents and that CSIS had not been contacted."
The Ottawa Bureau Chief of CBC-TV News, was quoted as saying "that CSIS is wrong in assuming the CBC report on Wednesday night was based on the 1992 note to Lewis." He said the CBC story "was based on a collection of documents." A spokesman was quoted by the Toronto Sun as saying the CBC would:
"stand by the story although it won't release the document it
apparently used to make the allegations, which CSIS called 'without substance
and foundation.' The head of CBC News invited 'CSIS to make public the
On September 9, 1994, CSIS took up the CBC challenge and released the
Briefing Note, which referred to the "Security Service Investigation
of CUPW" and was dated December 11, 1992.
The Briefing Note stated that in response to an Access to Information request:
"the National Archives released a number of records concerning
the RCMP Security Service investigation of the 70s, relating to 'subversive
activities' within CUPW."
The Note described the contents of the RCMP Security Service records
"The released documents have been taken from the 'inherited
files' which CSIS took over from the RCMP Security Service in 1984.
CSIS established a unit to review the files and destroy information not meeting the requirements of sections 2 and 12 of the CSIS Act. The review of these files was completed in 1991, with the majority being destroyed and others being provided to the National Archives of Canada for historical purposes."
The writer added:
"There is further concern that one document reveals the Security
Service was providing advice to the Post Office Management on the activities
of some CUPW members during contract negotiations."
It was clear from the Briefing Note, therefore, that the activities
in question took place in the Seventies, and were conducted by the former
RCMP Security Service. CSIS replaced the RCMP Security Service in 1984.
On October 3, 1994, the CBC broadcast new information:
"Now new evidence places Bristow inside Canada Post while he
was on the CSIS payroll.
Now CBC News has learned that five years ago it (Gateways postal plant) was also a target* for Grant Bristow. Sources say Bristow spent about three weeks in 1989 in and around the plant, around postal workers, almost every day for at least six hours. At the time Bristow was a security officer for this Toronto shipping firm tracking missing packages. It was also the period he was working for CSIS as a paid informant...sources say at the plant Bristow would walk the mail sorting lines, weigh packages, watch workers handling them." * (our emphasis)
Darryl Tingely, President of CUPW was quoted in the television newscast
as saying there would have been a lot of information of use to Canada Post
as the Union was absorbing another one at the time, and a "nasty
reorganization was going on." The CUPW President stated that the
CBC report would place Bristow in the plant at about the time they were
preparing for a strike and for amalgamation with another union. He accused
Bristow of spying on postal workers for the Tory government.
On December 2, 1994, CBC Prime Time News said that:
"Since the original story CBC News has also conducted its own
investigation of a possible CSIS-Post Office connection, one that has found
no evidence to corroborate the suggestion of spying."
SIRC has investigated the allegations about CSIS spying on the postal
workers and CUPW.
We have conducted detailed reviews of all CSIS activities and of all
its targets for ten years. We were aware, therefore, that the CBC's story
that CSIS was spying on, or had spied on, the Postal Workers was not true.
However, we tried to find out how the CBC could have been led to make such
The CBC's September story reflected, almost word-for-word, the briefing card to the Minister concerning events which took place in the late Sixties and early Seventies.
We can only conclude that it is more than probable that the original news story was based entirely on a misreading of the briefing note to the former Solicitor General.
Grant Bristow was sent to a Canada Post sorting plant by the shipping
company he worked for, Kuehne and Nagel. Bristow was an Investigator who
worked in the Loss Prevention Department, a section that handled theft,
Workman's Compensation claims, building inspections, and oil spills in
the Brampton area.
The genesis of Bristow's activity took place when a Department Store bought into the specialty catalogue business; in this case a high-fashion catalogue, "La Redout". The Company negotiated an agreement with Kuehne and Nagel whereby the latter would provide facilities for a telemarketing operation. The Company received the orders and Kuehne and Nagel shipped them. They decided to use the Post Office instead of a courier for the home delivery service because it was less expensive and required less paper work.
The Head of the catalogue operation received complaints that customers were not receiving the goods they had ordered, and she passed the complaints on to Kuehne and Nagel. Without bills of lading (not available with items sent via the Post Office), individual parcels could not be tracked, although the company's records indicated that the material had been shipped.
In the late Spring of 1990, Kuehne and Nagel management instructed their Loss Prevention Department to check whether items had been shipped properly to the Post Office. The Security Manager at Canada Post was contacted and arrangements were made to have Kuehne and Nagel security personnel at the Gateway Plant to check the shipments as they arrived from the company warehouse. Without letting their own shipping people know, the company sent the Head of its Loss Prevention department, Bob Tye, and his subordinate, Grant Bristow, down to the Post Office to verify that the parcels were actually shipped as ordered.
The two mens' job was to ensure that the packages were not disappearing at Kuehne and Nagel's end of the process.
Bristow and Tye or other staff went to the Gateway plant every day for two weeks. When Kuehne and Nagel shipped a Monotainer of 1,000 parcels, Tye and Bristow would go to the Gateway Plant prior to its arrival. They would then check the contents of all the packages that had arrived at the Post Office against an inventory list. They spent three to four hours a day doing this. Their investigation revealed a computer error.
The procedure used by Tye and Bristow was explained by the former Security Manager at the Canada Post Gateway facility. The Security Manager would sign-in the Kuehne and Nagel employees at the start of the day, and he would escort them to a locked room in the bulk mail facility, a room sealed off from the Post Office proper. They would then check the arriving parcels against the inventory list.
The former Security Manager at the plant said that he never saw Bristow at the Terminal alone, he was always with someone. If Bristow had showed up alone, said the Security Manager, then he would have had to help him "because the volume of the packages to be checked was too large for one person to do it."
Bristow's former Loss Prevention Supervisor at Kuehne and Nagel, Bob Tye, described the Gateway Terminal operation. Tye frequently checked the parcels with Bristow. Tye said they were restricted to one location and the only "wandering around" possible was through one aisle to exit and enter the facility, accompanied by postal security. He emphasized that there was no access to any other location, save a bathroom.
The former Security Manager said "the union employees here (Gateway) were the most self-protective and security conscious of the postal workers". If Bristow had tried to obtain information from them, the workers would never have answered his questions. If a stranger had appeared on the shop floor, the Postal Workers would have called the Union immediately. In any event, people on the floor did not have any knowledge that would have been of use to management, and Bristow would have had to go to a union hall to collect any useful information.
The Review Committee saw absolutely no evidence that Grant Bristow investigated
the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Neither did we see any evidence whatsoever
that CSIS investigated the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
In our other investigations concerning CSIS over the past ten years, involving hundreds of thousands of pages, countless interviews, and constant cross-referencing of the Service's material, we have seen no evidence whatsoever that CSIS investigated CUPW. Whenever a person who worked in the Post Office may have been peripheral to a CSIS investigation, that person's status as a postal worker would have been irrelevant. In other words, such an investigation would have taken place because of a lawful inquiry into terrorist or intelligence activity, entirely unrelated to the person's vocation.
The CBC has now concluded, from its own investigation, that there is no corroborating evidence to support the allegation that CSIS, or Grant Bristow, spied on Postal Worker.
1 CBC Prime Time News, Transcript, "Information leak on
CSIS", September 7, 1994.
2 Rosemary Speirs and Derek Ferguson, "CSIS denies snooping on postal workers", Toronto Star, September 10, 1994.
3 Jeff Sallot, "CBC accused of making mistake in saying agency spied on CUPW", Globe & Mail, September 10, 1994.
4 Jeff Sallot, "CBC accused of making mistake in saying agency spied on CUPW," Globe & Mail, September 10, 1994.
5 Rosemary Speirs and Derek Ferguson, "CSIS denies snooping on postal workers", Toronto Star, September 10, 1994.
6 Robert Fife, "CSIS denies charge." Toronto Sun, September 9, 1994.
7 David Pugliese, Postal spy worked for shipping firm, not CSIS, Ottawa Citizen, November 4, 1994,
8 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Vice-President, Kuehne and Nagel.
9 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution, Kuehne and Nagel.
10 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution, Kuehne and Nagel.
11 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution, Kuehne and Nagel.
12 SIRC interview with Don Wallace, Vice-President of Kuehne and Nagel.
13 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution at Kuehne and Nagel.
14 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
15 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
16 SIRC interview of Bob Tye, former Loss Prevention Supervisor at Kuehne and Nagel.
17 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
18 Prime Time News, December 2, 1994.