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United Way president to join CSIS watchdog

The head of United Way Toronto, Frances Lankin, is taking a side job as a member of the federal watchdog that oversees Canada's spy agency.

Ms. Lankin was sworn in to the Privy Council this week to start receiving top-secret data as a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

The former Ontario New Democratic MPP and provincial minister will work on SIRC's annual reports and help investigate complaints against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

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For example, SIRC is looking into the role of Canadian spies in Omar Khadr's detention in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. SIRC has previously looked at the role of CSIS in the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was deported to his native Syria by U.S. authorities.

"I'm honoured to be asked to play this role," Ms. Lankin said late yesterday.

Officials at United Way Toronto said Ms. Lankin will continue as the charity's president and chief executive officer, where she oversees a budget of slightly more than $100-million.

Each year, the charity offers funding to 200 agencies in the Toronto area.

Ms. Lankin's appointment was one of 45 the government made yesterday. They included 13 to the Immigration and Refugee Board, a number of citizenship judges and 10 appointments to the National Parole Board, including former Progressive Conservative MP Jean Dubé of New Brunswick.

SIRC is traditionally made up of people from various professional and partisan backgrounds. Nominations to the committee are made by the prime minister and his cabinet, in consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties.

Members receive five-year mandates.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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