We found that CSIS had placed a human source in the Heritage Front and
its associated organizations. We concluded, furthermore, that CSIS was
correct to investigate the leadership of the extreme right and we were
satisfied with the level of targeting which the Service approved.
We believe that CSIS made the right decision when it re-directed its Source to the extreme right from the investigation of a foreign Government's attempts to influence domestic activities in Canada. The Service, in our view, used the investigative technique which offered the best value for money when it instructed the Source to report on the white supremacist targets. Consequently, we agree with the decision to place a human source in the white supremacist movement to investigate what we conclude was and is a threat to the security of Canada.
We concluded too that the data shows that Wolfgang Walter Droege founded the Heritage Front. We have no doubt that whether Droege's acolytes, Gerald Lincoln, James Scott Dawson, and Grant Bristow, were present or not it was Droege who had conceptualized the plan, and he would have acted to form the new organization; he told us that he would have done so with or without their support.
The record shows that prior to, during, and after the trip to Libya, Droege wanted to establish a new group - a group to be more public and to appeal to a wider population than previous organizations. His new group would be designed to appeal, as do other white supremacist groups, to the meanest and basest sentiments of Canadians.
We noted that the Heritage Front was not the first organization which Droege managed successfully. His Ku Klux Klan group thrived fourteen years ago, before Droege's exploits in conspiracy, drugs and weapons landed him in American prisons (see chapter I).
Although Droege seemed to operate on a more consensual, or at least
stable, basis than Don Andrews and the Nationalist Party of Canada, Droege
ran, nevertheless, an authoritarian top-down organization.
We observed that Grant Bristow, Gerald Lincoln and James Dawson actively supported Droege's initiatives. Grant Bristow as the confidante of Droege, was part of the inner leadership of the Heritage Front.
We concluded that Bristow instructed Heritage Front members about security and counter intelligence methods. The instruction was given at the direction of Droege and took the form of techniques which either represented simple common sense or were ineffectual.
For the most part, we think that the Source which CSIS infiltrated into the Heritage Front did not initiate programs, though he would suggest alternatives or refinements. In the early years, he was involved in counter intelligence, and was often given other tasks by Droege. Eric Fischer, formerly of the Airborne Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces, assumed the physical security responsibilities. We learned that the Source often provided misleading information to his Heritage Front associates, whether in terms of his conduct in harassing opponents, or when he was directed by Droege to pass on information on these Heritage Front "enemies."
Although he first tried to avoid appearing in public meetings as a speaker or master of ceremonies, we noted that the Source was obligated to do so in order to maintain his credibility within the movement. The speeches he gave, however, involved reporting information rather than inciting the audience to violence. At the meetings of which we are aware, he did not make racist statements. We acknowledge that he made crude, abrasive, and probably racist statements in the presence of his racist associates in order to maintain his position in the group.
We concluded that statements which portray Bristow as an excellent recruiter
and fundraiser for the Heritage Front are exaggerated or, when asserted
by extremists, deceptive.
Bristow exhibited a manifestly abrasive and offensive attitude towards most of his extremist colleagues, especially the younger ones. This approach was both a reflection of his personality and was also purposely enacted to discourage younger racists from staying in the group, we were told. We found no evidence that Bristow recruited anyone into the Heritage Front.
Much media attention has focused on the funds which Grant Bristow provided to the Heritage Front and to white supremacists in the United States. We have shown in chapter VIII that the allegations that Bristow provided funds to US white supremacists Tom and John Metzger are false, and represent a successful attempt to mislead the media.
The funding which Bristow did provide to the Heritage Front was not significant and represented his share of the expenses incurred, which were divided between all executive members of that group. We noted too that from 1989 through to the end of 1992, Bristow earned a modest salary from his full time employment and this, supplemented in a minor way by the jobs he carried out for Droege and others, did not allow for lavish spending.
We concluded that Grant Bristow made some direct and indirect contributions to the movement over a seven year period. But we also ascertained that these contributions had no substantial impact on the viability of the Heritage Front, a group that had no office, no staff, and no capital costs.
The CSIS Source, on the other hand, received little money for most of his reporting career and it was only for one year that the Service provided major funding. In this case, as well, the cost of living in Toronto, and supporting a family, make a mockery of the allegations that CSIS supported the extremist group in any significant manner. The majority of the group's funds, we were informed, came from membership and magazine subscription revenues. During the heyday of the Heritage Front, Droege was earning substantial income from his bailiff work and Gerald Lincoln was said to be the major financial contributor to the magazine.
The CSIS Source played a major role in the Heritage Front's harassment
campaign. This commenced with the racists and the anti-racists gaining
access to the messages on each other's answering machines.
We accept the premise that the Source's activities in this area began on the instructions of Wolfgang Droege. As described in chapter V, the harassment campaign against the anti-racists in particular was, at one point in early 1993, rapidly escalating out of control and threatened to result in physical violence between the two groups. The Source, with the permission of his handler, redirected the previously uncoordinated threats of the Heritage Front members into an information collection program. This approach had several results. The Source became the repository for the information which the Heritage Front collected. After learning the technique from Droege, the Source would instruct Heritage Front members on how to collect the information from the answering machines and then he told them how to deal with the targets in order to collect information about other anti-racists. The Source told others that he had harassed some opponents when, in fact, he had not; the threats to a school principal being a case in point. The Source would also alter some of the information on Heritage Front opponents when Droege told him to share it with other persons or groups.
We have described in chapter V how we understand the process worked. The information which we received indicates that the decisions concerning the "IT" campaign were made by the handler and the Source. If the program had been limited to a minor level of harassment, we would not take issue with it. But we consider that the campaign did have a substantial detrimental impact on those who were its targets.
The conflicts between the racists and the anti-racists in the streets of Toronto were well known. The media gave considerable attention to these events and CSIS senior management should have been sufficiently alert to ask what was going on behind the scenes; the harassment program would then have been brought to their attention. We saw no evidence that this was the case.
We are mindful of the mutual harassment between racists and anti-racists which characterized this period. Nevertheless, the Source was involved in a campaign which tested the limits of what we believe Canadian society considers to be acceptable and appropriate behaviour from someone acting on behalf of the government. We concluded, for example, that the around-the-clock harassment of individuals, at least one of them a woman, tested the bounds of appropriate behaviour. We similarly believe that calling an employer to discredit an employee, the alleged stalking of targets, and the other examples that we describe in chapter V required a higher level of decision making from CSIS than was evident in this situation. Though CSIS management should have taken the initiative on this issue, it would have been useful if a fuller account of the complexity of the situation had been forwarded to Ottawa from the Toronto Region.
We do not hold the Source responsible for the omission. He did the best he could under the circumstances to transform a situation clearly headed towards violent confrontation by transforming it into a less vicious program. Had CSIS management been engaged in assessing the best possible options, less harassment and intimidation might have occurred. We do not believe that senior management was sufficiently involved in what was obviously a very difficult situation.
In any event, CSIS senior management at Headquarters in Ottawa apparently knew little or nothing, at the time, of the harassment program that occurred in late 1992 and early 1993.
Jewish organizations and individuals experienced considerably less harassment than the anti-racist activists. When asked to collect and provide information on Jewish leaders and groups, the Source obtained the information from publicly available sources such as telephone books. When asked to provide information on residences or other personal data, the Source either equivocated or again gave open source material.
When information on the Jewish community was provided to the Heritage Front by other white supremacists and the Source had access to it, the material was handed to CSIS. If required, police agencies were alerted. We are convinced that if he had wanted to, he could have collected personal information on Jewish leaders. But he did not want to and, to the best of our knowledge, he did not.
The Source did engage in individual acts of intimidation or harassment, as we described in chapter V. They elicited concern or fear from those who experienced the oral attacks. The Source said that these episodes were necessary, at the time, to support the role he was playing with the racists. When the handler was informed about the incidents, he told the Source to desist and he did so.
We concluded that the Source should not have intimidated members of the Jewish community. We are also of the opinion that in handing over information to CSIS, which in several cases was then communicated to law enforcement agencies, he may have prevented physical violence.
Overall, our analysis of the "balance sheet" is that the Source's efforts ultimately worked to enhance the protection of the Jewish community against the racists.
Though we did not conduct an intrusive investigation of people unconnected
to CSIS, Bristow, or the Heritage Front, we did follow every lead we discovered
regarding the infiltration of the Reform Party.
We concluded that CSIS did not spy on the Reform Party. Further, we saw no evidence that the Progressive Conservative Government instructed CSIS to investigate the Reform Party of Canada.
An issue was whether Grant Bristow signed up Heritage Front members and other undesirables for the Reform Party. Those persons who are closely associated with the fringe right or the extreme right have stated that Bristow actively encouraged Heritage Front people to join the Reform Party. Private information exchanged between Droege and his trusted cohorts clearly shows that Droege and Overfield wanted their associates to join the Reform Party as a means to encourage white supremacist policies (Overfield) or to effectively discredit the Party (Droege).
The statements made by Droege and his associates to the media and to the Review Committee that Grant Bristow signed people up, whether at Paul Fromm's C-FAR meeting or elsewhere, are contradicted by reliable information we obtained.
As regards Grant Bristow and the Conservative Party, he did work for David Crombie in the mid-1980s. As a favour to his supervisor, Bristow worked for several hours in the 1988 election campaign for Otto Jelinek. His activities on behalf of Jelinek were marginal at best, according to people who worked on Jelinek's campaign.
The initiative to establish a security team to provide protection for major Reform Party rallies and small constituency association meetings in Ontario was developed and carried out by Alan Overfield. His objective was to increase his influence within the Reform Party in pursuit of a racist agenda. His intention was to take over, if possible, some twelve constituency associations in order to persuade the Party to implement white supremacist policies. Overfield was elected to the Beaches Woodbine riding executive. The President of the constituency association, knowingly or otherwise, permitted Overfield to exercise considerable influence over him; to the extent that other Heritage Front members or associates also joined or tried to join the executive.
Overfield has been involved with racist groups since the 1970s and he and some of his associates were determined that they would not repeat the mistakes which previously resulted in their being expelled from the national Social Credit Party of Ernest Manning. Overfield enlisted the support of his long-time friend and employee, Wolfgang Droege, to staff the security team. Among those Droege asked to participate were key members of the Heritage Front including the Source. But the Source was not instrumental in forming the group; on the contrary, we have seen evidence that he objected to the involvement of Heritage Front members in this activity. The Source said that he attended four Reform Party meetings or rallies in total.
Toronto Region was advised by the Source that Bristow was involved with the security group after the first Beaches-Woodbine constituency information meeting in 1991. At the large rally in Mississauga, Grant Bristow provided protection for Preston Manning but he was not privy to sensitive Party discussions. Mr. Manning's Press Secretary and others have confirmed this categorically. Mr. Manning himself does not remember meeting Bristow.
Our review of the documentation at CSIS and our interviews of employees have established beyond a reasonable doubt that the CSIS Source did not report on any Reform Party activities. There was absolutely no credible evidence that CSIS was acting on the basis of political direction when its Source reported on the activities of the Overfield security group. This is not to say there were no politically oriented plots at work by others.
We concluded that Wolfgang Droege had a plan which differed from Al Overfield's. Droege saw the Reform Party as his competition and his statements and actions, right from the inception of the security group, were directed toward eventually discrediting that Party before the 1993 federal election.
It was early August 1991 before Service Headquarters instructed Toronto Region that the Source was to have nothing more to do with the Reform Party. In our opinion, the two month time lag was too long. We think that the Source should have been instructed to cease all such activity during the same month that Headquarters learned of it.
As mentioned above, the Source was instructed to cease all activity with the Reform Party in early August. Yet he participated with Overfield's group at the January 1992 Pickering rally. Both the Source and the handler stated, convincingly, that such activity immediately stopped when the instruction arrived to that effect.
We concluded that the August instruction from Headquarters was not sufficiently precise. The message reiterated that there was to be no reporting on the Reform Party, but it did not explicitly state that the Source was to leave the security group. The managers at CSIS HQ and Toronto Region all interpreted the August communication to mean security group activity was to stop, but the Source read his instructions differently, and we can see why.
We examined the reasons why CSIS did not inform the Minister that Heritage Front members had infiltrated the Reform Party. We took into account the fact that the period in which the decision was made was one of transition for the executive level of the Service, and that the Deputy Director of Operations was the Acting Director for most of the Summer and Fall of 1991.
The Acting Director at the time believed that there was no obvious threat to the security of Canada. However, our view is that the decision was of major importance, and should have been taken by the Director himself, not his second-in-command. We are not prepared to second guess what the Director's decision should have been; he may well have come to the same conclusion as his Deputy Director Operations and Analysis.
In any event, the Solicitor General of the day was not informed about the infiltration issue.
Our investigation revealed that in the Summer of 1991, a person known to some Reform Party officials as a CSIS employee raised doubts about Wolfgang Droege's participation in the Overfield security team. In addition, Wolfgang Droege was identified as a supporter of the Reform Party on June 19, 1991, in the "Toronto Star". The information that Droege was a white supremacist was brought to the attention of at least two Ontario Reform Party officials. Overfield was apparently confronted about the information and confirmed Droege's white supremacist credentials. We think it is likely that the Executive Council of the Reform Party was not given the information by its Ontario officials. Some members of the Party started to investigate infiltration by racists in early 1992, but an investigative committee was not established until the media exposÈ of February 1992.
In the course of our review, we investigated the many questions posed by the Heritage Front's activities in relation to the Reform Party. We learned that lawyer and former Reform Party member Louis Allore paid Droege $500 to try to enter an Oshawa meeting at which Preston Manning appeared, in order to embarrass him. Michael Lublin, a former Reform Party member, probably was involved in and definitely knew of the transaction.
We believe that Michael Lublin suggested to Droege that he attend John Gamble's Reform Party nomination meeting in the Don Valley West riding to demonstrate support. That gesture would again serve to discredit the Reform Party. Lublin informed us that he alerted the media in advance of the event.
We believe that Lublin and Droege communicated on a number of occasions in order to enhance their credibility in their respective communities.
We conclude that Conservative Party officials were certainly interested in what the Reform Party was doing and, further, that a number of Reform dissidents were formerly associated with the Conservatives. We saw no evidence, however, of a Conservative Party conspiracy, with or without CSIS' participation, to discredit the Reform Party through the use of the Heritage Front. Nor did we see any evidence that the Reform Party used the Heritage Front to discredit Reform dissidents who were previously associated with the Conservative Party.
During our investigation of the Service's actions in relation to the
Reform Party of Canada, we learned of a CSIS investigation which took place
from October 1989 to January 1990. See chapter VII.
We concluded that the Service had an obligation to investigate whether the Government of the foreign country was involved in attempting to influence the outcome of a Canadian election.
In the wake of the allegations in August 1994 that CSIS had an informant
in the Heritage Front, considerable attention was paid by the media to
alleged CSIS interference in the police arrests of Sean Maguire and of
Tom and John Metzger, all notorious American white supremacists.
In the arrest of Sean Maguire, we concluded that CSIS did not intervene to protect Grant Bristow. A CSIS Source had informed the Service that Maguire was in Bristow's car and that there were guns in his car trunk. When the police arrested Maguire, they found the guns and they detained Bristow. He was subsequently released when the police concluded that he had not broken the law. After talking to the Police of jurisdiction, we are convinced that had Bristow's possession of the firearms proved to be illegal, he would have been arrested and charged. No infractions were associated with the properly stored firearms in his car. The Toronto police file on the incident is thin because Maguire was arrested on a federal Immigration warrant which did not involve a local police investigation.
We concluded that the media's allegation of CSIS interference in the arrest was wrong. We also noted that the arrest of Maguire took place on the basis of CSIS information.
The arrest of John and Tom Metzger is a more complex case. Neither CSIS nor the Source had details of their illegal entry into Canada. When the Service learned that they had arrived, the police were informed and a joint Police-Immigration task force arrested them after a Heritage Front meeting. As in the Maguire arrest, the persons found in the car with the Metzgers were released, Wolfgang Droege prominent among them.
The Metzgers were the subject of an Immigration alert in advance of their arrival, but they slipped across the border from the United States. After their arrest, they appeared before an adjudicator and, ninety minutes later, they were deported. The Source informed CSIS that Bristow took their luggage to them in Buffalo, New York, prior to their departure for California. The Source stated that Bristow, who had to work the next day, spent approximately thirty minutes with them.
The intense media interest following the "Toronto Sun" story on August 14, 1994 led to Tom Metzger appearing on "The Fifth Estate" television program. He stated that Grant Bristow came to California to give him money and the names of leftists and Jewish community leaders. The broadcast provided an uncritical forum for Metzger and other white supremacists to freely publicize their activities and to seriously frighten the Jewish community in Canada.
We learned of discussions that took place between Droege and Tom Metzger prior to the CBC interviews. We concluded that, as a result of Droege's instructions, Tom Metzger lied about receiving money and information on Jewish groups from Grant Bristow. The broadcast aired uncorroborated information from notoriously violent and unreliable sources. Metzger's statements were prepared in consultation with his neo-Nazi associate in Canada, Droege, and the comments were designed to - and had the effect of - increasing the climate of fear within the Canadian Jewish community.
Despite allegations to the contrary, the Service had no advance notice that synagogues in the Toronto area would be defaced after the Metzgers were arrested. As we mentioned in chapter IX, CSIS issued a Threat Assessment which warned of vandalism, but this is standard practice after the extreme right suffers a blow, and police forces are well aware of the risk to Jewish and other institutions in such cases.
We further believe that most of the other comments aired during the CBC broadcast were provided by a former Immigration Officer who provided confused and ultimately misleading information. This approach discredited CSIS, the Government of Canada, and the various Police Forces and other agencies involved in opposing the racist groups in Canada. Not incidentally, the television program provided an unprecedented opportunity for violent racists in both the United States and Canada to be portrayed as credible, honest, and truthful witnesses.
We concluded that the information which the Service collected concerning
the CBC was obtained in a lawful investigation. Of greater importance,
CSIS did not spy on the CBC, its journalists, or any of its other staff.
The information reported to the Solicitor General was not obtained by the
Taking into consideration all of the extenuating circumstances concerning the information requirements of the Minister and the nature of the information collected, we are of the opinion that some of the information collected and reported was not "strictly necessary." If the Service wanted to update the Minister on the threat to national security presented by white supremacists in the Canadian Armed Forces, it could have done so without reference to a CBC program.
We reviewed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation exposÈs of
CSIS spying on postal workers or the Canadian Union of Postal Workers which
aired in September and October 1994. We concluded that the allegations
were completely without foundation.
We believe that one or more CBC journalists misread a leaked Housebook Card to the Minister.
Following the completion of its own investigation, the CBC has, in effect, withdrawn its allegation that CSIS spied on the Postal Workers.
We could not fail to notice the intense media interest in the wake of
allegations that a CSIS informant infiltrated the Heritage Front. We have
taken all the allegations seriously, because we have a responsibility to
the people of Canada to do so. In several cases where the print and broadcast
media have made mistakes and we have asked for corrections, we were pleased
to find them responsive to our requests.
In some cases, the media have produced stories about "The Heritage Front Affair" which attempted to place issues in context and they clearly sought to corroborate the sources they used. We acknowledge the considerable obstacles attendant on any story which involves the intelligence community. Nevertheless, most journalists have, in our opinion, behaved responsibly in producing their stories, despite the disadvantages imposed by the secrecy associated with the case.
That said, we feel obligated to point out that one edition of "The Fifth Estate" about the Heritage Front Affair was not balanced.
This edition of "The Fifth Estate" broadcast presented the testimony of violent racists without any serious attempt, that we could determine, to corroborate the statements.
All human source activities are governed by the limits of the CSIS Act
and direction issued by the Solicitor General under section 6(2) of the
CSIS Act. It is also governed by CSIS internal direction in the CSIS Operational
Manual. In their directions to sources, CSIS officers are bound by the
limits of sections 2 and 12 of the CSIS Act.
Under the CSIS Act, the Minister can provide written direction to the Service. On October 30, 1989, the then Solicitor General released comprehensive guidelines for the use of Human Sources. In the direction, the Minister notes that "a special responsibility rests with the Service to do everything reasonable to ensure that its confidential sources operate within the law, and do not behave so as to bring discredit on the Service or the Government".
The Minister further stated that confidential sources shall be instructed not to engage in illegal activities in carrying out their work on behalf of the Service and that they should be instructed not to act as 'agents provocateurs' or in any way incite or encourage illegal activity.
However, the level of policy guidance available to CSIS officers is, we believe, seriously deficient.
We believe Direction and Policy in this area should be re-examined. It should at a minimum provide full assistance to CSIS staff by providing thoughtful answers to a number of important questions. Among them:
We recognize that the answers to these questions are not simple. As
we have stated in our report, the members of racist groups, for example,
go from one organization to another for a variety of reasons and the groups
form and re-form under different names. Today's Heritage Front member is
tomorrow's Nationalist Party of Canada member or a follower of Ernst Zundel
or, more likely in view of recent court cases in North America, an aggressive
racist who claims that he belongs to no particular group in order to avoid
If CSIS were to use only "passive" sources in the racist right, then the quality of the information available to the intelligence community and to police forces would be considerably less useful at best or useless at worst. Most good sources are active. In the case of the present Source, the information he provided contributed to eighty Threat Assessments over five years, hundreds of reports, the deportation of no fewer than five foreign white supremacists, and the weakening of some racist efforts against Jewish groups, anti-racists, and minority groups.
We note too, in response to the question of "countering" or eliminating extremist groups, that the 1981 Royal Commission under Mr. Justice D.C. McDonald took a dim view of RCMP Security Service practices.
While the Commission referred specifically to direct actions by employees of the old Security Service, we are not inclined to support such activities if performed by a source of the CSIS. We are also cognizant of the danger that in destroying one group, as opposed to watching it, another one which is worse may be created.
Our investigation of the Heritage Front Affair made us aware of the fact that there was insufficient policy direction available. For example, we observed no clear direction concerning what was taking place in relation to the harassment campaign; there was no "global picture" of what was going on.
We consider that the Service should regularly draw up a "balance sheet" on the benefits of a particular source operation. In other words, the management and staff associated with a high level source should regularly stand back from day-to-day transactions to assess the operation in its totality. To a certain extent this takes place during the application process for the renewal of targeting authorizations. But in the current case, a major activity of the Source, the "IT" campaign, was not brought before Senior Management and so was not discussed; we think that this was an important oversight. Our conclusion is that current directions from the Solicitor General and the Director should be expanded and improved to deal with some of the issues we have described.
We realize that the best way to avoid criticism is to do nothing. Therefore, we do not advocate detailed rules that would unduly limit CSIS in its duty to protect the Canadian public and State. We recommend, rather, Ministerial guidelines that require CSIS management to carefully weigh the benefits and the dangers of each human source operation on a regular basis; taking due account of the special circumstances of each case.
We believe that the actions of sources should not bring discredit to the Service, nor the Government, nor the society in which we live. That said, we understand that, for the most part, targets of CSIS or of the Police are not generally among the highest moral levels of our society. Employing any source, whether among drug dealers or terrorists, becomes a risk management situation in which the intelligence benefits must be weighed against the risk of disclosure and any inappropriate activities of the source.
There is some direct or indirect criticism in this report about elements
of the Heritage Front Affair, but
there is one aspect of the operation that deserves praise. That is the
work of the Source in close cooperation with the Toronto Investigator who
was his contact with CSIS.
The work of sources is important and sometimes vital to the well being of Canadian Society. We are satisfied that both the Source and his handlers in this "affair" discharged their duties in a competent and responsible manner.
Both men, throughout this period, believed that they were doing valuable work helping to protect Canadian society from a cancer growing within. They deserve our thanks.
Finally, we would like to put on the record our unshakeable conviction that the Government of Canada, through all means at its disposal, should continue to ensure that it is always aware of what is going on within extreme right wing racist and Neo-Nazi groups. Canadians should never again repeat the mistakes of the past by underestimating the potential for harm embodied in hate-driven organizations.
1 A Fifth Estate producer said: "the implication that we just
accepted their (white supremacists') statements is false - we did everything
humanly possible ... but we don't want to make any further comment on anything
that will affect the outcome of the report."
2 Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (McDonald Commission). Second report - Volume 1, Freedom and Security Under the Law, August 1981, page 270.