"Russia and China, in particular, continue to target Canada's classified information and advanced technology, as well as government officials and systems."
Canadian Security Intelligence Service briefing note
A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa. Photo Credit: PC / Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
"Canada remains a target for the traditional espionage activities of a number of foreign states, which continue to gather political, economic and military information in Canada through clandestine means."
"States and other entities abroad have interests -- political, economic and territorial -- and will pursue those interests by a variety of means. Some will do so through espionage and interference, targeting the Canadian economy, strategic interests and assets, societal institutions and members of the diaspora."
Tahera Mufti, spokeswoman, CSIS
"Information gathering is a vital component of national security of any state."
"[The U.S. National Security Agency's capabilities are] unmatched in imposing surveillance on a global scale [through electronic devices and eavesdropping even on close allies]."
Kirill Kalinin, spokesman, Russian Embassy in Canada
"This position is firm [Beijing opposes all forms of cyberattacks and commercial espionage]."
"The Chinese government will neither encourage companies to carry out cybertheft for commercial secrets, nor take part in such activities."
Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman, China
Putting the lie to denials that foreign intelligence agencies attempt to use any means at their disposal for intelligence-gathering, in Canada three years ago Canadian navy officer Jeffrey Delisle was arrested and charged with passing classified intelligence to Russia for cash for a period of over four years. His reason for doing so was not political or ideological, but purely venal; he said he needed the money to pay his debts. Russia wouldn't care what he needed the money for.
|Canadian accused of trying to pass sensitive information to China|
For his troubles, he is no longer concerned about paying his debts. He pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for handling classified intelligence over to Russian agents. It was not only secret Canadian documents that found their way into Moscow's hands, but documents with a far wider sweep that might have had far-reaching consequences. This was material that was shared by the Five Eyes Intelligence community of nations.
Five Eyes is comprised of other Western countries that share Canada's values and commitments. The Five Eyes intelligence sharing network includes the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, Canada. The revelation that a Canadian spy handed over shared documents constituted a true embarrassment for Canada, along with the fear that much more than Canadian interests would be compromised.
But then it took someone like Edward Snowden to release damning data of immense proportions in the secret files of the American National Security Agency. A far larger, damaging embarrassment. And the irony is that this man, who felt entitled to betray his country on the "need to know" theorem that the agency was spying on its own population as well as its collegial political partners, and they should know all about it has eluded penalty.
Oh, the truly ironic part is that he found haven in Russia which generously permitted him to remain there, in safety from American prosecution of a man perceived to be a traitor by many, a hero by many more. The irritating and potentially dangerous issue of cyberspying and of suborning the patriotism and trustworthiness of foreign nationals does constitute a threat to national security.
A highly sophisticated intrusion into the network of the National Research Council in Ottawa, was traced by the federal government back to state-sponsored sources in China within the Chinese military. The upshot was that the information technology system of the NRC was forced to shut down for an extended period until it could be reliably secured, even while China vehemently denied charges it was involved.
Russia has used cyberattacks to shut down the entire Internet system in Estonia, interfered through the same means in Ukraine cutting off electricity to a large geographic swathe, and was furious when Latvia cut off Russian Internet connection, to put a halt to Russian propaganda. That's on its near-abroad. It went a lot further when it interfered with the Internet website of the U.S. Democratic Party during the recent U.S election campaign, releasing information inimical to Hillary Clinton's election for the presidency through WikiLeaks. Denials ensued.
All this, at a time when the world, and Canada as well, is immersed in the problems of threatened violence by Islamist terrorists and jihadist extremists setting the world on edge. Espionage from that source represents yet another worrying dilemma. In this era post-Cold War, relationships between countries are continuing to undergo freeze-and-thaw cycles. And into that melange of restoring relations and alternately placing them on ice, espionage continues its traditional role.
China’s ambassador to Canada said that Canadians’ concerns over spying are groundless and stem from a “cold war mentality.” The Globe and Mail
"I can assure you that our companies working in other countries, they are strictly doing business according to the local law."
"There's all this talk about so-called security concerns, but so far, all groundless."
Zhang Junsai, Chinese Ambassador to Canada