By DANIEL LIVERMORE
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.
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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.