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Quick Hits 140 – Can someone please tell me why Canada does not have a foreign intelligence service?

Judge denies CSIS request to collect foreign intelligence

Every major Western power has a foreign intelligence service that collects information on the intents and capabilities of foreign states. Except Canada.

A court has put the brakes on a Canadian Security Intelligence Service request to collect foreign information, ruling a proposed technique would stray beyond the spy service’s legal mandate. The service was seeking court warrants so it could gather intelligence in other countries, from a location inside Canada, to at the request of an unnamed federal minister.

We do allow CSIS to collect Foreign Intelligence as it is called, but in a very constrained way – why? In this Quick Hits episode, Borealis looks at a recent court ruling and comments on this silliness.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

4 replies on “Quick Hits 140 – Can someone please tell me why Canada does not have a foreign intelligence service?”

Thank you Phil Gurski

This is the danger for any country in an alliance is to become overly dependent on the information of a third-party. 90% of what they provided is accurate, the other 10% is murky.

In 2003, Colin Powell came to UN Security Council to present “evidences” on Irak. Saddam Hussein didn’t have the Nuke or Chemicals WMDs so the motives presented by the United States used to start the 2nd Gulf War were fallacious.

In reality the manipulation was total. Both The CIA director George Tenet and the British Intelligence manifestly knew that these informations were not true but Vice-President Cheney needed to move forward anyway.

At that time the U.S was increasingly concerned about a Saudi regime implosion so it needed to do a move on Irak for its energy security.

During this moment countries like Canada were asked to do a leap faith on the evidences provided by the U.S to join the War.

Canada didn’t join the War.
Ottawa was chilled and bullied by Washington but was right.
Premier Jean Chretien followed his instinct. It was his call, it came with risks and opportunities and it was a defining moment shaping the next decade.

But in the future it is preferable that a country such Canada also possesses its own foreign intelligence capabilities, not over-relying in its allies or anybody. This side of the equation counts, in non-normal time, perhaps only 10% of the time, but can be crucial.

We have seen many cases American services can be sloppy and the firewalls between the intelligence and political partisanship are blurred ( in particular the Russian 2016 conspiracy).

Merci Jacques de votre reponse! I am 100% in agreement. I was at CSIS when the decision to invade Iraq was made and we advised the then Chretien gvt not to follow the US lead as we disagreed with the US intelligence assessment

I viewed your podcast, Quick Hits – Can someone please tell me why Canada does not have a foreign intelligence service?: Phil Gurski. It was sent via the Pillar Society. I would have thought that the Politicians would have addressed this issue by now.
Very interesting.

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