OTTAWA – Chuck Strahl has quit as chairman of Canada’s federal spy watchdog following accusations of inappropriate lobbying activity.
In a letter to the prime minister, Strahl says while he has done nothing wrong, he does not want to be a distraction from the important work of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
The NDP recently criticized Strahl for registering to lobby on behalf of Northern Gateway Pipelines.
As the federally appointed chairman of the committee, Strahl helps keep an eye on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The New Democrats said it should be common sense that Strahl — someone on the federal payroll — should not lobby for a pipeline seeking federal government approval.
Strahl’s Dec. 6 registration with the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists says he intends to arrange a meeting between the pipeline concern and B.C. Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman.
Strahl, an MP from 1993 to 2011, served in several cabinet portfolios in Stephen Harper’s cabinet, most recently as transport minister.
The review committee’s last chairman, medical doctor Arthur Porter, resigned in November 2011 amid questions about his private business dealings.
Strahl did not immediately return a phone call Friday.
Regulators have conditionally approved Enbridge’s proposed $8-billion Northern Gateway pipeline, which would see Alberta crude flow to westward to Kitimat, B.C.
The federal government has not yet said whether it will allow the project to go ahead.
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