Canadian Spies

Here’s an interesting editorial speculating on the impact of extending the mandate of CSIS to include “foreign intelligence”. Yes, we have a spy agency yet it only spies within our own borders (think RCMP). In fact, the best method of being recruited by the agency is by excelling in Her Majesty’s Canadian mounted regiment. Canada remains the only G8 country which does not conduct foreign intelligence abroad and the Times Colonist columnist erroneously speculates, to the degree of misguided buffoonery, that if we got into the foreign spy business, our agents would be off to “Washington to rifle through the filing cabinets of unfriendly senators”.


Allow me to speculate. An extended CSIS mandate would create a foreign division which would focus primarily upon coordinating with the agency’s existent domestic wing to identify and prevent likely terrorists from entering the country. At first, Canadian agents would coordinate with DFAIT’s foreign service to establish a working network and to train agents in the field. The most difficult transition would be to facilitate the operation of our agents on foreign soil without a base of operations just around the block, or within the foreign state.

I always had somewhat of a childhood fantasy where Canada was indeed a global force in international espionage and the very fact that “nobody suspects the Canadians!” was our primary strength. I guess this was never true:

“When our secret service sent one of its ‘human sources’ off to spy on drug lords in a Far Eastern country in the 1980s, he ended up in jail because CSIS had reserved his hotel room under a ‘government of Canada’ account.”