CIPS Policy Brief No. 3, February 2009

  • Creating a foreign intelligence agency for Canada would increase the expenses and risks of information collection by the federal government. Before giving this option serious consideration, Ottawa should conduct a rigorous assessment of its information requirements.
  • Without such an assessment, the case for creating such an agency is weak: Canada already meets most of its intelligence needs from “open” sources, reports from Canadian diplomatic missions, and information provided by friendly countries.
  • If there were a demonstrated need for a foreign intelligence agency, crucially important but difficult issues of management, oversight and accountability would still need to be addressed.
  • All things considered, the status quo option of preserving Canada’s existing intelligence structures appears to be the best option.

Full text (pdf)

Daniel Livermore is a Senior Fellow in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He recently retired from Canada’s public service where he had a distinguished career as a diplomat and specialist of international affairs, including as Director General of Security and Intelligence in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade from 2002 to 2006.