A new group is pushing for full disclosure about extra-terrestrials, and they've enlisted a former Canadian cabinet minister to help make their case

"I have no intention of convincing anybody of anything," said Viggiani, 59, director of media relations for Exopolitics Toronto, a non-profit educational group pushing for full disclosure of the truth about off-world beings.

"What I do is point them to the evidence."

Exopolitics is a field of study that has moved far beyond the question of whether we are alone in the universe. Its supporters believe there is enough evidence out there that they can state as fact that a) intelligent, sentient, ethical extra-terrestrials exist; b) they have made contact; and c) they probably have light years of lessons to teach us about sustainable energy sources and countless other matters of global importance.

"This has nothing to do with lights in the sky," Viggiani said. "... We are attempting to put together a civilian diplomacy movement that will verse people in these kinds of things so that we can develop a relationship with these extra-terrestrials and become part of that community.

"But we are not ready yet," said Viggiani, who lives with his wife in Mississauga. "As a species, we are not ready yet."

A large part of getting ready to deal with diplomacy on such a high level involves lifting what exopoliticians often refer to as the "truth embargo" on government information about the subject.

Viggiani does his part by collecting reams of documents, such as thick files he obtained from the Canadian Department of National Defence under the Access to Information Act on what pilots talk about when they are scrambled to track "non-correlated targets," also known as UFOs.

But in order to get to the point where a team of investigative reporters would be willing to dive into what Viggiani calls a "cosmic Watergate," he faces what is arguably an even greater hurdle: "the ridicule factor."

Ridicule is a potent weapon that ensures newspapers actually willing to mention extra-terrestrials in their pages usually add throwaway lines about little green men.

Viggiani believes this is part of a deliberate government plan to keep this stuff under wraps because it inhibits potential witnesses from coming forward.

"The ridicule factor is extremely powerful," said Viggiani.

As any public relations guru would know, it helps to have a credible celebrity to champion your cause.

Viggiani found his champion in Paul Hellyer, who was federal defence minister in Lester B. Pearson's cabinet and then ran for the Liberal leadership against Pierre Trudeau in 1968.

"I think the significance - and they are probably exaggerating it - but the significance is that I'm the first person of cabinet rank in the G8 to have come out openly and unequivocally and said the extra-terrestrial presence is real," said Hellyer, who explained that his interest does not derive from anything he learned while he was defence minister. He said he is currently reviewing the file he had while in cabinet, "but it doesn't really tell me very much" except that most sightings can be explained by natural phenomena while others cannot.

It also helps to make the most out of any step in the right direction.

In May, Exopolitics Toronto, on behalf of the Canadian Exopolitics Initiative, sent a letter to the governor general of Canada that outlined much of the documented material and requested she meet with credible experts to discuss disclosure and diplomacy.

Her secretary's office responded two weeks later, suggesting their "concerns would be best addressed by the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service."

In a press kit he hands out to reporters and other media people, Viggiani called the response a "major breakthrough in Canada's disclosure initiatives."

"It's an admission that she now knows, or her office knows, that we are concerned about this and gives us the opportunity within the Canadian government to find out more," Viggiani said in an interview, while at the same time conceding: "It's a generic response - there's no doubt about it."

Stephen Bassett, executive director of the Paradigm Research Group in Washington, D.C., said he has noticed a change in the way extra-terrestrial topics are covered in the media of late.

"They still have to apply the same sort of phraseologies and some of the lightness and the humour and - I guess you could call it ridicule - but they get all the information in," said Bassett, referring in particular to three recent stories published in the Washington Post.

But the dearth of serious coverage has Bassett suspecting whether publishers and national security forces are working together to keep things quiet.

"The failure of the major media in the United States to cover the ET issue is one of the great failures of all journalism," he said.