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At Home and Abroad
CSIS is a true national service, and, as such, its resources and personnel are geographically dispersed across Canada. The CSIS National Headquarters is located in Ottawa, with Regional Offices in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Burnaby. CSIS also has District Offices in St. John’s, Fredericton, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, Windsor, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.
The geographic configuration allows the Service to closely liaise with its numerous federal, provincial and municipal partners on security issues of mutual interest.
Additionally, CSIS has several Airport District Offices, including those at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and at Vancouver’s International Airport. These offices support aviation security, and assist CIC and CBSA on national security issues. The CSIS Airport District Offices also provide information to their respective CSIS Regional Offices and to CSIS Headquarters, and liaise with other federal government departments and agencies that have a presence within Canada’s airports.
CSIS continues to share information on security issues with a wide variety of domestic partners. A key component of CSIS cooperation with its domestic partners remains the production and dissemination of intelligence reports and assessments such as those drafted by the Service’s Intelligence Assessments Branch and Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, which is housed within CSIS headquarters.
One of CSIS’s most important domestic partners is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Because CSIS is a civilian agency without the powers of arrest, it will alert the RCMP to security threats that rise to the level of criminality, whereupon the RCMP can initiate their own investigation and lay charges if appropriate. CSIS collects intelligence whereas law enforcement–the RCMP–collect evidence for criminal prosecution.
Over the past few years, CSIS and the RCMP continued to develop a series of protocols on information-sharing. There is a growing body of Canadian jurisprudence in this area, which the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada have helped interpret for CSIS and the RCMP. The goal is to ensure that both organizations work together in a way that enhances the national security of Canada while at the same time respecting their respective legislative mandates.
To ensure that CSIS is in both practice and spirit a national service, intelligence officers get to live and work in different regions of the country during the course of their careers. One benefit of a CSIS career is the opportunity it provides to see Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
Foreign Operations and International Cooperation
Over the past decade, world events have demonstrated that the threats of terrorism and espionage are not restricted by national borders. Many of the national security challenges facing Canada originate from or have a strong nexus to events, foreign governments, individuals and groups overseas.
Globalization has led to enhanced and more complex security threats from terrorism, other unlawful and violent extremist activity, espionage, weapons proliferation, illegal immigration, cyber-attacks and other acts targeting Canadians domestically and abroad. Canada’s global presence in industry, diplomacy and as travellers of the world further compounds these threats and often results in its citizens and interests being targeted or threatened by terrorist groups and hostile foreign intelligence agencies.
The international dimension of terrorism manifested in Canada is continuously demonstrated by the fact that foreign terrorists continue to inspire and provide direction to individuals and groups in Canada. Some Canadians and residents of Canada have left the country to seek training in terrorist camps in Somalia, Pakistan and elsewhere in an attempt to support or conduct terrorist operations within Canada or abroad. Additionally, over the past several years, Canadians have been kidnapped in places such as Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan, Niger, and Sudan. Numerous Canadian businesses, their workers and Canadian diplomats abroad have also been targeted or threatened.
The intent of the CSIS Act and, indeed, the expectations of Canadians, necessitates that CSIS is vigorously pursuing the collection of security intelligence wherever that intelligence can be obtained, be it in Canada or overseas. As a result, CSIS has enhanced and continues to maintain an international presence. In today’s global environment, CSIS liaison and cooperation with its international partners remains a crucial component of our country’s ability to effectively investigate, assess and counter threats to Canada and its interests.
CSIS has officers stationed in cities and capitals around the world. Their primary function is to collect and, where appropriate, share security intelligence information related to threats to Canada, its interests and its allies with partner agencies. CSIS officers stationed abroad also provide security screening support to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada IRCC) offices and to the security programs of the Global Affairs Canada ( GAC).
Occasionally, the Service is required to send Canada-based officers abroad to respond to certain extraordinary situations. For instance, CSIS efforts have provided assistance in the evacuations of Canadians from regions in turmoil. CSIS officers, at considerable personal risk, have been dispatched to unstable countries and dangerous situations around the globe. The training, expertise and commitment of CSIS personnel is well-known in the global intelligence community.
The intelligence collected by CSIS has assisted Canadian government agencies to restrict entry to Canada of individuals who represent threats to Canadian security interests. CSIS’s efforts have also cast light on the intentions and capabilities of terrorist groups and hostile intelligence agencies that seek to target Canadians, Canadian interests and the interests of our allies.
CSIS has more than 280 arrangements with foreign agencies or international organizations in some 150 countries and territories. Of those arrangements, some 60 were defined as ‘Dormant’ by CSIS (meaning there have been no exchanges for a period of one year or more). Additionally, CSIS continued to restrict contact with eleven foreign entities due to ongoing concerns over the reliability or human rights reputations of the agencies in question, while two arrangements remained in abeyance pending an assessment of the agency’s future. Finally, one arrangement was terminated following the dissolution of the foreign agency.
For reasons of security and privacy, the Service does not publicly divulge details of the information it exchanges nor does it identify all the foreign agencies in question. CSIS must protect its foreign arrangements in order to keep the relationships viable and secure. Foreign agencies expect that the information they provide to CSIS will remain confidential, just as the Service expects that any information it provides to foreign agencies will not be divulged or disseminated to a third party without the Service’s prior consent.
Canada is a global entity with interests and equities at risk from terrorism, criminality and hostile intelligence agencies. The international mosaic which helps sustain Canada as a strong, healthy nation has, at times, revealed direct associations between international terrorist groups and Canadian-based citizens and residents. These represent national security concerns which require an international response, both in terms of information sharing and collection of intelligence outside of Canada. CSIS is positioned and committed to pursuing its mandate to collect security intelligence, in Canada or overseas, in support of protecting Canadians, Canadian interests and the interests of our international partners.
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