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Qualicum Beach woman now supervising the spies

The new chair of the committee that provides civilian oversight for the nation’s spy agency is Qualicum Beach resident and motorcycle enthusiast Deborah Grey, left, pictured here with her husband Lew. - Photo submitted by Deb Grey
The new chair of the committee that provides civilian oversight for the nation’s spy agency is Qualicum Beach resident and motorcycle enthusiast Deborah Grey, left, pictured here with her husband Lew.
— image credit: Photo submitted by Deb Grey

Deborah Grey is now in charge of the committee that oversees the Canada's spy service.

She says she's happy she doesn't have to move away from her Qualicum Beach home to fulfill this duty.

"It's a part-time position so I just jump on a plane," said Grey. "I'm very happy to be still living at home."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Grey as the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) late last week after the resignation of Chuck Strahl. Harper made Grey a member of SIRC in April of last year. SIRC provides the civilian oversight for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS).

"We (SIRC)make sure they (CSIS) are abiding by the rules and regulations," said Grey. "We act basically like a civilian police commission."Grey became the Reform Party's first MP when she won a byelection in Alberta in 1989. Her first legislative assistant was a young Harper.

Grey became the Reform Party's first MP when she won a byelection in Alberta in 1989. Her first legislative assistant was a young Harper. Gray was an Alberta MP until 2004. She was also interim leader of the Canadian Alliance in 2000, the first woman in Canadian history to become the Leader of the Opposition.

She told The NEWS she did not gain experience working with SIRC or CSIS when she was an MP.

"I didn't have a background in it but that's the point — get some people (for SIRC) with common sense," said Grey. "And the prime minister obviously thought I have some credibility. And when you are called to serve, you serve."

According to the federal government's release, SIRC is an independent, external review body which reports to parliament on the operations of CSIS.

"We don't go and watch what they do," said Grey. "We watch what they've done. We can't say 'CSIS you do this or CSIS you do that'."

Grey was asked what she thought of the safety of athletes and others headed to Sochi, Russia within days for the Winter Olympics.

"I'm a sports nut and I'm cheering for our athletes over there," said Grey.

Is she worried for the safety of Canadians in Russia?

"Just as much as I was when the world was coming to Whistler (during the 2010 Olympics)," she said.

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