Role of CSIS

CSIS is at the forefront of Canada's national security establishment, employing some of the country's most dedicated and capable men and women.

The Service's role is to investigate activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada, and to report on these to the Government of Canada. CSIS may also take measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada in accordance with well-defined legal requirements and Ministerial Direction.

CSIS collects and analyzes threat-related information, which is typically disseminated to government partners through intelligence reports and other intelligence products. Key threats include terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, espionage, foreign interference and cyber-tampering affecting critical infrastructure. CSIS programs are proactive and pre-emptive.

Through its Security Screening Program, CSIS prevents non-Canadians who pose security concerns from entering Canada or receiving permanent resident status or citizenship. The Service also safeguards the confidential information of the Government of Canada from foreign governments and other entities that may present a risk.

However, countering terrorist violence is the top priority for CSIS. Terrorism, which has become a global phenomenon, is a very real threat to our national security. Terrorists and their supporters come from a variety of countries, cultures, political systems and socio-economic backgrounds. They include both highly educated elites and more humble "foot soldiers." Followers are recruited from around the world, including our own country. CSIS strives to prevent terrorist acts from being planned in Canada, from occurring on Canadian territory and from affecting Canadian citizens and assets abroad.

CSIS activities and services can be grouped in the following categories:

Role of Other Departments and Agencies

While CSIS is at the forefront of Canada's national security system, several Canadian government departments and agencies also provide services that, taken together, help to ensure the safety and protection of Canadians.

Key Federal Government Departments

Key departments of the Government of Canada involved in the Canadian security and intelligence community include the following:

  • Public Safety Canada: Provides national leadership in assuring the viability and resilience of Canada's critical infrastructure and for ensuring national civil emergency preparedness. Together with partners in criminal justice and security, the department is also responsible for protecting the public and maintaining a just, peaceful and safe society. Partner agencies include the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Firearms Centre, the Correctional Services of Canada and the National Parole Board.
  • Department of National Defence: Assesses foreign political and military information, and scientific and technical information. It provides the government with an around-the-clock intelligence watch on developments abroad that could affect Canada or Canadians. The Canadian Forces also maintain at high readiness a counter-terrorism unit prepared to rescue hostages or undertake other action in response to a counter-terrorist incident.
  • Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada: Manages Canada's day-to-day relations with the governments and people of other nations. The department leads the country's efforts in developing effective international responses to security issues in forums such as the United Nations and the G-8. Its security and intelligence responsibilities include helping protect Canadians and Canadian government facilities abroad, supporting Canadians abroad who are victims of terrorism, managing such issues as the expulsion of foreign diplomats from Canada for security reasons and can denying passports to those who represent a security risk.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Oversees the federal government's immigration and citizenship policies and programs. As such, it helps to ensure that immigrants, refugees, and visitors who come to Canada do not represent a risk. It has the authority to deny access to this country to those coming from abroad, revoke Canadian citizenship, and deport people from Canada.
  • Department of Justice Canada: Provides legal advice and services to federal government departments and agencies. In CSIS' case, on-site legal counsels ensure the legality of its security and intelligence activities. Senior Justice counsels also serve on various committees that guide and coordinate the security and intelligence community's activities.
  • Transport Canada: Sets and enforces security standards for Canada's air, land, and water transportation systems, and directs the transportation industry to take appropriate security measures to deal with threats.

Key Federal Government Agencies

Key agencies of the Government of Canada involved in the Canadian security and intelligence community include the following:

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Enforces federal laws, investigates criminal offences related to espionage and terrorism and collects and analyzes evidence to support prosecutions in court.
  • Communications Security Establishment: Provides the government with foreign intelligence by collecting and analyzing information captured on foreign radio, radar, and other electronic signals, and reporting its findings to the appropriate authorities. The CSE also helps to ensure that the Canadian government's telecommunications are secure from interception, disruption, manipulation, or sabotage.
  • Canada Border Services Agency: Manages Canada's borders by administering and enforcing the regulations that govern trade and travel as well as international agreements and conventions. The agency provides the first line of defence in preventing inadmissible people, such as terrorists, undeclared foreign Intelligence Officers, and criminals, from entering Canada. The agency plays a key role in detecting attempts by foreigners to smuggle weapons/bomb elements (conventional or weapons of mass destruction) into Canada.
  • Privy Council Office: Coordinates the Government of Canada's policies relating to the security and intelligence activities of all federal departments and agencies, and promotes international intelligence relationships.
  • National Security Advisor: Advises the Prime Minister on security matters and strengthens the capacity of the Privy Council Office to develop and implement an integrated policy on national security and emergencies. The Advisor supports the Security, Public Health, and Emergency Committee to Cabinet, and coordinates integrated threat assessments and inter-agency cooperation among security organizations through the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre.
  • Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada: (FINTRAC) Receives, analyzes, assesses and discloses financial intelligence on suspected money laundering, terrorist financing, and threats to the security of Canada.
  • Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: Protects the public by securing critical areas of the Canadian air transportation system.
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