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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

We need to get real about spies

The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Richard Fadden, should be given top marks for calling a spade a spade, albeit in a gentle and diplomatic manner. He was painting a realistic picture for a naive audience that has little or no understanding of the world of political and economic espionage or foreign interference.

It is interesting to note that those who cry foul the loudest are usually those in business or public office who see themselves in the limelight and on the "cutting edge" of international relations and understanding. At least that is how they like themselves to be seen, and they are mortified when someone suggests that their activities may not be in Canada's best interests. There are cases in which those kinds of relationships, when closely examined, are shown to be instances of Canadians being manipulated and groomed by foreigners to support long-term political or economic initiatives, which in the end "give away the farm."

A number of local politicians in Metro Vancouver accepted an all-expense paid junket to China in the spring of 2007 without, it seems, giving any consideration to the appropriateness of their actions. This is a classic example of the kind of influence Fadden was talking about.

CSIS is an agency of the Government of Canada with a mandate to protect the interests of all Canadians. It is not a sinister organization aiming to harass Canadians in their legitimate day-to-day activities. People do unwittingly or willingly come under the influence of a foreign power. It is a fact of life and Canadians need to be attuned to that reality.


Giles spent 27 years in the RCMP and CSIS.

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