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Overnight Security Guards Keep Finding Classified or ‘Protected’ Documents Around Parliament

Since the Liberals took office, there's been more than 10,000 incidents of agencies mishandling or improperly storing documents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on November 2, 2016. Photo by CP/Adrian Wyld

A number of federal departments, including Canada's spy agency, have been careless with classified or secure government documents.

Since the Liberals took office last November, there's been more than 10,000 incidents in which such documents were mishandled or improperly stored, according to a 93-page report tabled last week in the House of Commons in response to a question from Conservative MP Gord Brown. The Conservatives have been quick to condemn the government, but it's not clear how many similar incidents occurred when they were in power. The report, first cited by the CBC, provides few details about what the documents are or how exactly were mishandled. It's not clear whether any of the incidents compromised security or privacy. Public Services and Procurement Canada and Global Affairs are the worst offenders, reporting a combined 5,624 instances where employees didn't abide by the security protocols for the documents. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) reported 659 such instances, 12 of which "required further investigation." And the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's foreign intelligence agency, reported 491 incidents, although the agency notes that none of the documents ever left Parliament. Officials at the Canada Border Services Agency reported 77 incidents where protected documents were mishandled. A number of cabinet ministries also confessed to mishandling documents, including 11 such incidents reported by the office of Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef. READ MORE: Canada Has Spent More Than $17-Million to Protect Justin Trudeau Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office—which is responsible for national security—reported six instances of document carelessness. The department overall reported more than 270 incidents, many of which seem to have been discovered during the night shift by parliamentary security officials, including "where cabinets were found unlocked by security during evening patrols." "For all instances where a cabinet was left unlocked, it is impossible to confirm if the cabinet contained any Protected or Classified documents," the department states in the report. Dozens of other departments, including the Transportation Safety Board and the Public Prosecution Service, reported zero instances where secure or protected documents were mishandled. According to the report, no employee was stripped of their security clearance as a result of any of the incidents. Opposing MPs have expressed alarm over the reported incidents. "We're a G7 country, and when we do not handle these kinds of documents with the appropriate way it's amateur hour," Conservative public safety critic Tony Clement told the CBC. "It might be a signal to our allies and our partners that we cannot be trusted." Under the Conservative government in 2008, the foreign affairs minister at the time, Maxime Bernier, came under fire for leaving classified government documents at the Montreal home of his girlfriend, who reportedly had ties to a criminal biker gang. Bernier eventually resigned over the matter. At the time, MP Ralph Goodale, who now serves as the public safety minister, said former prime minister Stephen Harper had "a lot of explaining to do." Early in 2015, in response to the Bernier incident, the Conservatives imposed a revamped policy on secret federal cabinet documents to prevent leaks. It required all potential breaches, no matter how small, to be reported to the Prime Minister's Office or the Privy Council Office right away. Follow Rachel Browne on Twitter.