The Heritage Front
A report to the Solicitor General of Canada
December 9th, 1995
XI. BRISTOW AND CSIS ALLEGED SPYING ON POSTAL WORKERS
On September 7, 1994, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Prime Time
News stated that:
CBC News has learned some of the most closely guarded secrets of
Canada's spy agency, CSIS. They are contained in documents retrieved by
the RCMP last week...The documents reveal operations that could seriously
damage the agency's reputation.
The CBC said that the papers were among those seized by the RCMP from Brian
McInnis, the press secretary to former Solicitor General Doug Lewis. The
material was among the several boxes of sensitive papers which contained
Top Secret information about CSIS operations.
CBC News has learned that a handful of the documents were in fact very sensitive.
In one, CSIS worries that people will find out that the security service
spied on postal workers and passed that information on to Canada Post managers
- all this during a labour dispute."
The program elicited an immediate reaction from CSIS, the Government, and
the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
The Director of CSIS stated unequivocally that "CSIS has not and
is not investigating the Canadian Union of Postal Workers".
Darryl Tingley, Head of the Canadian Postal Workers' Union called for a
judicial inquiry into the allegations, based on the television report.
On September 8, 1994, CSIS publicly denied the allegations. According to
CSIS, the CBC based its story on a November 1992 briefing note to then Solicitor
General Doug Lewis, informing him of the impending release by the National
Archives of old RCMP Security Service documents.
The CBC's Executive Producer, Tony Burman, admitted that the CBC story was
"put together quickly on Wednesday night on the basis of documents
and that CSIS had not been contacted."
The Ottawa Bureau Chief of CBC-TV News, was quoted as saying "that
CSIS is wrong in assuming the CBC report on Wednesday night was based on
the 1992 note to Lewis." He said the CBC story "was based
on a collection of documents."
A spokesman was quoted by the Toronto Sun as saying the CBC would:
"stand by the story although it won't release the document it
apparently used to make the allegations, which CSIS called 'without substance
and foundation.' The head of CBC News invited 'CSIS to make public the briefing
11.2 The Briefing Note
On September 9, 1994, CSIS took up the CBC challenge and released the Briefing
Note, which referred to the "Security Service Investigation of CUPW"
and was dated December 11, 1992.
The Briefing Note stated that in response to an Access to Information request:
"the National Archives released a number of records concerning
the RCMP Security Service investigation of the 70s, relating to 'subversive
activities' within CUPW."
The Note described the contents of the RCMP Security Service records and
"The released documents have been taken from the 'inherited
files' which CSIS took over from the RCMP Security Service in 1984.
The writer added:
CSIS established a unit to review the files and destroy information not
meeting the requirements of sections 2 and 12 of the CSIS Act. The review
of these files was completed in 1991, with the majority being destroyed
and others being provided to the National Archives of Canada for historical
"There is further concern that one document reveals the Security
Service was providing advice to the Post Office Management on the activities
of some CUPW members during contract negotiations."
It was clear from the Briefing Note, therefore, that the activities in question
took place in the Seventies, and were conducted by the former RCMP Security
Service. CSIS replaced the RCMP Security Service in 1984.
11.3 The CBC's Second Story
On October 3, 1994, the CBC broadcast new information:
"Now new evidence places Bristow inside Canada Post while he
was on the CSIS payroll.
Darryl Tingely, President of CUPW was quoted in the television newscast
as saying there would have been a lot of information of use to Canada Post
as the Union was absorbing another one at the time, and a "nasty
reorganization was going on." The CUPW President stated that the
CBC report would place Bristow in the plant at about the time they were
preparing for a strike and for amalgamation with another union. He accused
Bristow of spying on postal workers for the Tory government.
Now CBC News has learned that five years ago it (Gateways postal plant)
was also a target* for Grant Bristow. Sources say Bristow spent about three
weeks in 1989 in and around the plant, around postal workers, almost every
day for at least six hours. At the time Bristow was a security officer for
this Toronto shipping firm tracking missing packages. It was also the period
he was working for CSIS as a paid informant...sources say at the plant Bristow
would walk the mail sorting lines, weigh packages, watch workers handling
them." * (our emphasis)
On December 2, 1994, CBC Prime Time News said that:
"Since the original story CBC News has also conducted its own
investigation of a possible CSIS-Post Office connection, one that has found
no evidence to corroborate the suggestion of spying."
11.4 The SIRC Investigation
SIRC has investigated the allegations about CSIS spying on the postal workers
11.4.1 Spying on CUPW
We have conducted detailed reviews of all CSIS activities and of all its
targets for ten years. We were aware, therefore, that the CBC's story that
CSIS was spying on, or had spied on, the Postal Workers was not true. However,
we tried to find out how the CBC could have been led to make such an allegation.
The CBC's September story reflected, almost word-for-word, the briefing
card to the Minister concerning events which took place in the late Sixties
and early Seventies.
We can only conclude that it is more than probable that the original news
story was based entirely on a misreading of the briefing note to the former
11.4.2 Grant Bristow at the Post Office
Grant Bristow was sent to a Canada Post sorting plant by the shipping company
he worked for, Kuehne and Nagel. Bristow was an Investigator who worked
in the Loss Prevention Department, a section that handled theft, Workman's
Compensation claims, building inspections, and oil spills in the Brampton
The genesis of Bristow's activity took place when a Department Store bought
into the specialty catalogue business; in this case a high-fashion catalogue,
"La Redout". The Company negotiated an agreement with Kuehne
and Nagel whereby the latter would provide facilities for a telemarketing
operation. The Company received the orders and Kuehne and Nagel shipped
them. They decided to use the Post Office instead of a courier for the home
delivery service because it was less expensive and required less paper work.
The Head of the catalogue operation received complaints that customers were
not receiving the goods they had ordered, and she passed the complaints
on to Kuehne and Nagel. Without bills of lading (not available with items
sent via the Post Office), individual parcels could not be tracked, although
the company's records indicated that the material had been shipped.
In the late Spring of 1990, Kuehne and Nagel management instructed their
Loss Prevention Department to check whether items had been shipped properly
to the Post Office. The Security Manager at Canada Post was contacted and
arrangements were made to have Kuehne and Nagel security personnel at the
Gateway Plant to check the shipments as they arrived from the company warehouse.
Without letting their own shipping people know, the company sent the Head
of its Loss Prevention department, Bob Tye, and his subordinate, Grant Bristow,
down to the Post Office to verify that the parcels were actually shipped
The two mens' job was to ensure that the packages were not disappearing
at Kuehne and Nagel's end of the process.
Bristow and Tye or other staff went to the Gateway plant every day for two
weeks. When Kuehne and Nagel shipped a Monotainer of 1,000 parcels, Tye
and Bristow would go to the Gateway Plant prior to its arrival. They would
then check the contents of all the packages that had arrived at the Post
Office against an inventory list. They spent three to four hours a day doing
this. Their investigation revealed a computer error.
The procedure used by Tye and Bristow was explained by the former Security
Manager at the Canada Post Gateway facility. The Security Manager would
sign-in the Kuehne and Nagel employees at the start of the day, and he would
escort them to a locked room in the bulk mail facility, a room sealed off
from the Post Office proper. They would
then check the arriving parcels against the inventory list.
The former Security Manager at the plant said that he never saw Bristow
at the Terminal alone, he was always with someone. If Bristow had showed
up alone, said the Security Manager, then he would have had to help him
"because the volume of the packages to be checked was too large
for one person to do it."
Bristow's former Loss Prevention Supervisor at Kuehne and Nagel, Bob Tye,
described the Gateway Terminal operation. Tye frequently checked the parcels
with Bristow. Tye said they were restricted to one location and the only
"wandering around" possible was through one aisle to exit
and enter the facility, accompanied by postal security. He emphasized that
there was no access to any other location, save a bathroom.
The former Security Manager said "the union employees here (Gateway)
were the most self-protective and security conscious of the postal workers".
If Bristow had tried to obtain information from them, the workers would
never have answered his questions. If a stranger had appeared on the shop
floor, the Postal Workers would have called the Union immediately. In any
event, people on the floor did not have any knowledge that would have been
of use to management, and Bristow would have had to go to a union hall to
collect any useful information.
The Review Committee saw absolutely no evidence that Grant Bristow investigated
the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Neither did we see any evidence whatsoever
that CSIS investigated the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
In our other investigations concerning CSIS over the past ten years, involving
hundreds of thousands of pages, countless interviews, and constant cross-referencing
of the Service's material, we have seen no evidence whatsoever that CSIS
investigated CUPW. Whenever a person who worked in the Post Office may have
been peripheral to a CSIS investigation, that person's status as a postal
worker would have been irrelevant. In other words, such an investigation
would have taken place because of a lawful inquiry into terrorist or intelligence
activity, entirely unrelated to the person's vocation.
The CBC has now concluded, from its own investigation, that there is no
corroborating evidence to support the allegation that CSIS, or Grant Bristow,
spied on Postal Worker.
1 CBC Prime Time News, Transcript, "Information leak on CSIS",
September 7, 1994.
2 Rosemary Speirs and Derek Ferguson, "CSIS denies snooping on postal
workers", Toronto Star, September 10, 1994.
3 Jeff Sallot, "CBC accused of making mistake in saying agency spied
on CUPW", Globe & Mail, September 10, 1994.
4 Jeff Sallot, "CBC accused of making mistake in saying agency spied
on CUPW," Globe & Mail, September 10, 1994.
5 Rosemary Speirs and Derek Ferguson, "CSIS denies snooping on postal
workers", Toronto Star, September 10, 1994.
6 Robert Fife, "CSIS denies charge." Toronto Sun, September
7 David Pugliese, Postal spy worked for shipping firm, not CSIS, Ottawa
Citizen, November 4, 1994,
8 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Vice-President, Kuehne and Nagel.
9 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution,
Kuehne and Nagel.
10 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution,
Kuehne and Nagel.
11 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution,
Kuehne and Nagel.
12 SIRC interview with Don Wallace, Vice-President of Kuehne and Nagel.
13 SIRC interview of Don Wallace, Executive Vice-President, Distribution
at Kuehne and Nagel.
14 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
15 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
16 SIRC interview of Bob Tye, former Loss Prevention Supervisor at Kuehne
17 SIRC interview of Former Security Manager, Canada Post.
18 Prime Time News, December 2, 1994.
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