Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is calling on Canada's top security watchdog to elaborate on his assertions that at least two provincial cabinet ministers and other government officials are under the control of foreign countries as part of espionage schemes.
"I think that in fairness what Canadians are owed right now is some more information," Mr. McGuinty told reporters on Wednesday. "If there are some real concerns, let's get more information so we can properly address them."
CSIS director Richard Fadden said in an exclusive interview on CBC's The National on Tuesday evening that foreign powers are infiltrating Canadian political circles and influencing public servants, fuelling a growing concern about economic espionage in Canada.
Economic espionage - the trading, sharing or theft of federal secrets - can be considered a crime. He would not name the provinces the cabinet ministers are from.
"We're in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication there are some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries," he told CBC.
Mr. McGuinty said this was the first he had heard of the CSIS director's concerns. He also said he is confident that that none of the unnamed cabinet ministers reside within his government.
It is his understanding, he said, that CSIS was to contact federal government officials who, in turn, would notify the relevant provinces.
"We have not been contacted," Mr. McGuinty said. "So from our perspective, no news is good news."
The Prime Minister's Office says it knows nothing of the espionage allegations and referred inquiries to the intelligence agency.
"We have no knowledge of these matters," said Dimitri Soudas, Stephen Harper's spokesman. "CSIS directs its own operations. Questions should be directed to CSIS."
Mr. McGuinty said the CSIS director's comments serve as a cautionary tale for Ontario and any other province that is seeking to do more international business.
"Obviously, it's an opportunity for all us to remember, especially as we open our doors to the world and seek to do more business with the rest of the world..., that we keep in mind at all times that we are ultimately accountable to the people of Ontario and nobody else."