Csis Essay Research Paper CSISThe Canadian Security

Csis Essay, Research Paper


The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was established in 1984 due to an Act of Parliament. At this time the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service was disbanded. This Act of Parliament recognized the differences between law enforcement work and security intelligence. After 120 years of the Mounted Police acting in part with the federal police as Canada’s security intelligence service, this partnership was brought to a close and CSIS took over.

The first signs of a Canadian Intelligence Service began when Sir John A. Macdonald started the Western Frontier Constabulary (WFC) in the year 1864. The WFC was to be a detective and preventive police force, for the purpose of watching and patrolling the whole frontier from Toronto to Sarnia. The Constabulary worked along the Upper Canada borders and along the rail lines. The Constabulary was to report any activities that related to the American Civil War. The Eastern section of Canada was patrolled by The Montreal Water Police, which was started by William Ermatinger. Later on he was replaced by a man named Joseph Coursol. After Joseph gained control both forces reported Macdonald.

By 1868 the government had set up a 12-member Dominion Police force which was in charge of keeping watch over public buildings and doing the previous jobs that the Western Frontier Constabulary tended to. This police force led by Gilbert McMicken and Coursol was in charge of assigning people to a security intelligence function when it was necessary. They would be returned to their regular duties after they where done. By the beginning of the First World War, there were about 140 members.

The Act that created CSIS also wanted to make sure that the Service would continue to grow as an effective and responsible organization. In 1992 a review was completed. In this review it stated that the Service was essentially well structured to the changing security intelligence environment.

CSIS provides any advance warning to government departments and agencies about activities which may be suspected as a threat to the country’s security. CSIS is not responsible for taking direct action to counter the activities that are considered a threat. Other government departments and agencies are responsible for taking direct action. CSIS does not have law enforcement powers. That means that all law enforcement work is the responsibility of police authorities. Although CSIS does not have any law enforcement powers they are still held under close control and closely watched by the federal government. In the early years of CSIS much of it’s energy and resources were devoted to countering the spying activities of foreign governments. Time has passed, and the world has changed, and so has CSIS.

Over the past couple of years, CSIS has made public safety it’s first priority due to heightened terrorism worldwide and the end of the Cold War. Throughout the years CSIS has also assigned more of it’s counter-intelligence resources to investigate the activities of foreign governments that decide to conduct economic surveillance in Canada in order to gain an economic advantage or try to obtain technology in Canada that can be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

The way of life in Canada is founded upon a respect of the rights and freedoms of the individual. CSIS carries out it’s role of protecting that way of life with respect to those values. To guarantee this approach, the CSIS Act strictly limits the type of activity that may be investigated, the ways that the information is collected, and who may view the information. The Act also provides many controls to ensure that these conditions are followed. Information may be gathered, primarily under the authority of section 12 of the CSIS Act, only on those individuals or organizations suspected of engaging in one of the following types of activities that threaten the security of Canada.

There are four groups of activities that are considered threats to Canada. 1) Espionage and Sabotage, 2) Foreign-influenced Activities, 3) Political Violence and Terrorism and 4) Subversion.

1) Espionage is the activities conducted for the purpose of acquiring by unlawful or unauthorized means of information or assets relating to sensitive political, economic, scientific or military matters, or for the purpose of their unauthorized communication to a foreign state or a foreign political organization. Sabotage are the activities conducted for the purpose of endangering the safety, security or defense of vital public or private property, such as installations, structures, equipment or systems.

2) Foreign-influenced activities are activities which are harmful to the interests of Canada, and which are directed, controlled, financed or otherwise significantly affected by a foreign state or organization, their agents or others working on their behalf. For example foreign governments or groups which interfere with or direct the affairs of ethnic communities within Canada by pressuring members of those communities. Threats may also be made against relatives living out of the country.

3) Political Violence and Terrorism is the threats or use of acts of serious violence me be attempted to force the Canadian government to act in certain ways. Acts of serious violence are those that cause bodily harm or death to persons, or serious damage to or the destruction of public or private property and are opposing to Canadian law or would be committed in Canada. Hostage-taking, bomb threats and assassination attempts are just a few examples of acts of serious violence that cause danger to the lives of Canadians. Such actions have been used in an attempt to force particular political responses and change in this country. Such actions compromise the safety of people living in Canada and the freedom of the Canadian government to perform its domestic and external affairs.

4) Subversion is the activities intended to weaken or remove Canada’s constitutionally established system of government by violence. Subversive activities seek to intervene with or ultimately destroy the electoral, legislative, executive, administrative or judicial processes or institutions of Canada.

The CSIS act prohibits the Service from investigating acts of advocacy, protest or dissent that are conducted lawfully. CSIS may investigate these types of actions only if they are carried out in coincidence with one of the four previously identified types of activities. CSIS is especially sensitive in distinguishing lawful protest and advocacy from potentially subversive actions. Even when an investigation is warranted, it is carried out with careful concern for the civil rights of those whose actions are being investigated.

As well as investigating the four types of threats to Canadian security, CSIS provides security assessments, on request, to all federal departments and agencies with exceptions to the RCMP which accomplish their own. These assessments are made with respect to applicants for positions in the Public Service of Canada requiring a security clearance and for immigration and citizenship applicants.

The initial mandate of CSIS is to collect and study information and subsequently to provide reports, in the form of security intelligence, to the government. CSIS produces intelligence in order to provide advanced warning to government departments and agencies about activities which may responsibly be suspected of constituting threats to Canada’s security. One of the primary values of intelligence-gathering is the timely delivery of fragile information to policy-makers in government. The five phases of the process that produces these results is known as the security intelligence cycle, 1) Government Direction, 2) Planning, 3) Collection, 4) Analysis and 5) Dissemination. They will be described below.

1) Government Direction is when CSIS responds to the direction from the federal government. This is the central attribute of the relationship envisioned in the CSIS Act. The Act ensures that the Solicitor General has the responsibility to provide direction to the Director of CSIS on matters regarding the policies, operations and management of CSIS. Policy guidelines for Service activities are established through these directives. Direction of this kind covers many areas of Service activity, including guidance in the use of investigative methods and techniques. It also ensures that the Solicitor General is a key decision-maker within the Service’s legal and policy structure.

2) Planning encompasses the entire intelligence process. The process begins with the threat assessment phase and culminates in the delivery of the final intelligence products. Plans are geared to meeting the government’s security intelligence requirements. In response to client needs and ministerial direction, CSIS determines a coordinated strategic approach. In this way resources are allocated for investigations on the basis of government-approved criteria.

3) Collection is the initial phase of the Service’s advisory role to government. Information from members of the public, foreign governments and technical interception of communications is combined with information from open sources including newspapers, periodicals, academic journals, foreign and domestic broadcasts, official documents and other published material.

4) The analysis stage relies on security intelligence prepared by analysts following the information collection stage. Analysts in all operational programs use their knowledge of regional, national global trends to assess the quality of all types of information gathered, and organize it into useful security intelligence.

5) In the fifth and final stage Dissemination is the stage where the CSIS Act designates the Government of Canada as the main recipient of CSIS intelligence. In section 19 of the CSIS Act, the Service distributes a variety of reports, including threat assessments, to various departments of the federal government and law enforcement authorities. The RCMP depends on threat assessments to determine the level of security required to protect foreign diplomatic missions and Canadian VIPs.

Below is the complete cycle put together.



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