Mission Focused: Addressing the Threat Environment
Duties and Functions
- Investigate activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada and report on these to the Government of Canada.
- Take measures to reduce threats if there are reasonable grounds to believe the security of Canada is at risk.
- Provide security assessments on individuals who require access to classified information or sensitive sites within the Government of Canada.
- Provide security advice relevant to the exercise of the Citizenship Act or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- Conduct foreign intelligence collection within Canada at the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister of National Defence.
- Provide assessments by the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) that inform the Government of Canada’s decisions and actions relating to the terrorism threat.
In an increasingly dangerous and polarized world, Canada faces multiple threats to our security, sovereignty, national interests, and values. CSIS is committed to keeping Canada and Canadians safe from all threats to our national security.
In doing so, CSIS investigates activities that fall within the definition of threats to the security of Canada, as outlined in the CSIS Act. Specifically, CSIS is authorized to investigate espionage and sabotage, foreign interference, terrorism and extremism, and subversion. Importantly, CSIS is prohibited from investigating lawful advocacy, protest or dissent – except when it is carried out in conjunction with activities that constitute a threat to the security of Canada.
In undertaking its work, CSIS reports on these threats by providing advice to the Government of Canada, including through the production of intelligence assessments and reports. In 2022, CSIS produced over 2,500 intelligence products. These assessments and reports are relied upon by Departments and Agencies to help inform policy making and to support evidence-based decisions. Separately, CSIS may also take measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada.
In addition, CSIS may collect foreign intelligence; that is, intelligence relating to the intentions, capabilities and activities of a foreign state. However, foreign intelligence may only be collected from within Canada at the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister of National Defence, and with the consent of the Minister of Public Safety.
CSIS also provides security assessments in support of Canada’s ambitious immigration targets and to ensure the security of sensitive Government information, assets and sites. This security screening function and CSIS advice is vital to protecting Canada’s national security.
All of CSIS’s activities and operations must comply with Ministerial Direction and Canadian law, including the CSIS Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The new, ever-evolving and persistent threat environment requires a nimble and dynamic operational approach. Canadians can be confident that when CSIS carries out its duties and functions, it acts in a manner consistent with fundamental Canadian rights and freedoms and in line with our democratic values.
|16 Non-Warranted TRMs||CSIS was granted authority to undertake threat reduction measures (TRMs) under the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. A TRM is an operational measure undertaken by CSIS, whose principal purpose is to reduce a threat to the security of Canada. CSIS identifies three broad categories of TRMs: messaging, leveraging, and interference. CSIS has not undertaken any warranted TRMs in 2022.|
The CSIS Act defines foreign influenced activities as activities that are “detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive, or involve a threat to any person.” These activities are also commonly referred to as foreign interference and are almost always conducted to further the interests of a foreign state, to Canada’s detriment. Malicious interference undermines Canada’s democratic institutions and public discourse; and it is used to intimidate or coerce diaspora communities in Canada. That is why it constitutes a threat to Canada’s social cohesion, sovereignty, and national security.
To achieve their objectives, these foreign state actors engage in hostile activities such as clandestinely spreading misinformation and disinformation to undermine confidence in fundamental government institutions or electoral processes. They do so by cultivating witting or unwitting individuals to assist them, which enables them to operate with plausible deniability on Canadian soil.
In addition, foreign state actors monitor, intimidate and harass diaspora communities in Canada. They also attempt to silence dissidents and promote favourable narratives. Often, individuals fleeing repression or seeking a better life in Canada are discovering that sanctuary is hard to find. In a globalized world where no one is out of reach, states may exploit cyber capabilities to target individuals and institutions in Canada.
In 2022, it was reported that sub-national affiliates of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Ministry of Public Security (MPS) had set up three overseas “police stations” in Canada, without permission from the Government of Canada. CSIS has observed instances where representatives from various investigatory bodies in the PRC have come to Canada, often without notifying local law enforcement agencies, and used threats and intimidation in attempting to force “fugitive” Chinese-Canadians and Permanent Residents to return to the PRC.
Foreign interference directed at Canada’s democratic institutions and processes, at all levels of government, can be an effective way for a foreign state to achieve its immediate, medium, and long term strategic objectives. Foreign states – again, directly and via proxies – may seek to influence electoral nomination processes, shape public discourse or influence policy positions of elected officials using covert tactics. The purpose is to advance issues or policies that favour the foreign state, or quell dissent.
These threat actors must be held accountable for their clandestine activities. CSIS will continue to investigate, identify and reduce the threats that foreign interference pose to Canada’s national interests and sovereignty, and will work closely with domestic and international partners in this effort to advise government. We will also continue to inform national security stakeholders and all Canadians about foreign interference to the fullest extent possible under the CSIS Act, in order to build our national resilience to this pernicious threat.
Hostile intelligence services continue to target Canadians for intelligence collection and asset recruitment. In addition to traditional espionage operations, countries such as the PRC and the Russian Federation rely on non-traditional collectors to facilitate intangible technology transfer (ITT).
Individuals without formal intelligence training who have relevant subject matter expertise (i.e. scientists, business people)
Intangible technology transfer (ITT)
A pervasive, persistent, and often undetectable method to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology from Western countries, including Canada. ITT is ubiquitous in nature and difficult to detect, thereby posing a significant threat to Canada's economic and national security.
As a global leader in research and innovation, Canada is a prime target for the PRC’s intangible technology transfer efforts. China targets research through legal, illegal and other unregulated means in order to augment its science and technology sector.
The PRC government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have established policies and strategic plans to encourage Chinese citizens, the diaspora, foreign scientists, and entrepreneurs to contribute to the development of the PRC’s science and technology sector. These policies and plans aim to exploit the collaborative, transparent, and open nature of Canada’s research and innovation sector in order to serve the PRC’s economic, intelligence, and military interests. To achieve this, the PRC utilises talent plans such as the Thousand Talents Plan, talent recruitment stations, and state-funded scholarship programs such as the China Scholarship Council.
Economic and Research Security
In a world marked by economic competition and confrontation, some states seek to advance their strategic political, economic and military objectives by exploiting investment and trade with Canada. Foreign states seek to acquire access or control over sensitive technologies, data, and critical infrastructure to advance their own military and intelligence capabilities, deprive Canada of access to economic gains, employ economic coercion against Canada, and support other intelligence operations against Canadians and Canadian interests. Such activities pose a threat to Canada’s national security and long-term economic prosperity.
Investigating and assessing the use of hostile economic activities by state actors is a priority for CSIS. In the context of COVID-19, advances in medical and health research have underscored the strategic importance of protecting the bio-health landscape (from early stage research and development (R&D) all the way through to patient administration) from threats like cyber attacks and espionage. The high value target of these threats are data and intellectual property. State-sponsored threat actors will use fundamental research data, personally identifiable health data and aggregate pools of medical and health data to advance their own biotechnology, intelligence and military objectives. In addition to protecting Canadian data, the bio-health landscape will also need to develop and maintain reliable supply chains for basic medical supplies, equipment, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals.
In 2022, CSIS continued to support Canada’s research, health, and supply chain sectors’ pandemic related efforts. To help protect Canadian innovation, intellectual property, and the valuable data that support them, CSIS provided dozens of briefings in academic forums. These briefings were delivered to individual universities and to research institutions, in support of the wider Government of Canada effort, led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). In 2022, CSIS also screened 1,255 ICA notifications for national security concerns.
CSIS is proud to contribute to the Government of Canada’s agenda on research security, and will continue to provide national security intelligence and advice to help secure Canadian intellectual property and innovation. CSIS engaged a number of associations and companies in the emerging and deep technology sectors. The aim of CSIS’s engagement was to increase awareness of state-sponsored espionage threats targeting these sectors, and lay the groundwork for reciprocal partnerships that will help protect Canadian research and development and ensure Canadians and the Government of Canada have access to leading edge and trusted technology. This vibrant and growing sector has ongoing research in areas as diverse as agri-tech, smart cities, and clean-tech.
In 2021, the Government of Canada published the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships to better position researchers, research organizations, and Government funders to undertake consistent, risk-targeted due diligence of potential risks to research security. Under these Guidelines, which are currently being phased in, CSIS is working closely with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Public Safety Canada, and other national security partners to assess certain applications for federally-funded research partnership grants for national security threats, as part of a risk assessment. These efforts aim to protect Canada’s research ecosystem from foreign interference, espionage, and unwanted knowledge transfer that could pose a threat to Canada and against Canada’s national security interests.
Canada remains a target for cyber-enabled espionage, sabotage, and foreign activities that pose significant threats to its national security and advance the interests of hostile actors. In 2022, malicious cyber activity continued to increase in scale and complexity, illustrating the need for a high level of cooperation throughout the whole of government and with private industry.
Cyber threat actors include state-sponsored actors operating at the behest of nation-state intelligence services. They also include non-state actors, whose activities such as ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure, pose threats to the security of Canada, due in part to the disruptive impacts that they cause.
PRC state cyber actors continue to target a wide range of key sectors in Canada, including governments, academic institutions, defence contractors and civil society organizations. For example, there are multiple open source reports of PRC actors stealing the intellectual property and research data of targets, as well as stealing user account credentials and customer data to enable future cyberattacks.
Russian cyber actors continue to pose a significant threat to Canada. In April 2022, Canada and its allies issued a joint cyber security advisory warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could expose organizations in the immediate region—and beyond—to increased malicious cyber activity. In May 2022, Canada issued a statement condemning the destructive cyber activity by Russia targeting the European telecommunications sector on February 24, 2022, and joined its partners and allies in attributing this activity to Russia.
Certain types of cybercriminal activity are considered national security threats because of their impact. State actors increasingly use and benefit from cybercrime tactics that advance their objectives. Critical infrastructure will continue to be at high risk from these activities, as entities within these sectors continue to be perceived as having deep pockets and, therefore, more likely to pay as a result of their requirement to provide uninterrupted service.
A few hostile states such as Iran are expanding their cognitive warfare capability. These actors are integrating cyber operations and technologies with psychological operations to enhance their ability to influence targeted individuals and societies. The objective of cognitive warfare operations is to alter the worldview of the target group.
Foreign states that lack sophisticated cyber capabilities can now purchase increasingly available tools and services from commercial providers. Foreign governments with abysmal human rights records are leveraging these commercial software applications, to monitor dissidents, activists, journalists and community groups.
Violent extremism, whether it is religiously, politically or ideologically motivated, continues to represent a significant threat to public safety. The persistent threats of extremist violence and terrorist violence must be taken seriously. It is important to understand that extremism can stem from a range of motivations and personal grievances, driven by hatred and fear, and includes a complex range of threat actors.
Extremists draw inspiration from a variety of sources including, books, music, and of course, online discussions, videos, propaganda and foreign conflicts. Those holding extremist views often attempt to create a culture of fear, hatred and mistrust by leveraging an online audience in an attempt to legitimize their beliefs and move from the fringes of society to the mainstream.
While only a small number of Canadians are actually willing to engage in serious violence in support of their extremist views, the impact of their actions can be devastating. Canada is not immune to acts of violent extremism.
Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE)
Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism poses a significant national security threat and is on par with the religiously motivated violent extremism (RMVE) threat in Canada. A range of grievances motivate IMVE extremists’ willingness to incite, enable, and/or mobilize to violence. These ideologies can be xenophobic and linked to neo-Nazism; anti-authority; identity and gender-driven; or based on other grievances without clear affiliation or external guidance.
Traditional IMVE groups with more structured leadership and defined objectives have been largely—although not completely—replaced by loosely networked, transnational movements with vague goals that co-exist across the IMVE milieu.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated xenophobic and anti-authority narratives, many of which may directly or indirectly impact national security considerations. Violent extremists continue to exploit the pandemic by amplifying false information about government measures, the COVID-19 vaccine and the virus itself on the internet. These narratives have contributed to efforts to undermine trust in the integrity of government and confidence in scientific expertise. Some violent extremists view COVID-19 as a real but welcome crisis that could hasten the collapse of Western society (known as accelerationism).
IMVE threat actors often target equity-deserving groups including racialized individuals, religious minorities, the 2SLGBTQI+ community and women. In addition, CSIS has observed a marked increase in violent threats directed towards elected officials, government representatives and journalists. As a result of the accelerating IMVE threat environment, CSIS now dedicates 50% of its counter terrorism resources to investigating this threat.
Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE)
Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) remains an investigative priority for CSIS and a threat to Canadian national security. CSIS will continue to work with community stakeholders in order to address it in partnership. Canadians and Canadian interests abroad have been and continue to be the targets of RMVE acts in an ever-evolving global threat landscape.
The ongoing RMVE threat in Canada comes primarily from individuals or small groups informally aligned to, or inspired by, DAESH and Al Qaeda (AQ). Their ideologies can be fluid and the threat increasingly originates from youth, primarily online. There is a propensity to mobilize to violence quickly, using low-tech means to take action against soft targets.
In 2022, DAESH was under pressure on multiple fronts but it still seeks to re-establish a Caliphate by continuing to conduct insurgent attacks. DAESH affiliates have also demonstrated increased activities, expansion and operational reach, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Canadians who work or travel near the Horn of Africa and West Africa continue to face significant threat such as kidnap-for-ransom operations by Al Qaeda-aligned Al-Shabaab (AS) and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM).
The proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and their associated delivery vehicles constitutes a global challenge and a significant threat to the security of Canada and its allies.
Several foreign states continue clandestine efforts to procure a range of sensitive, restricted, and dual-use goods and technologies in Canada, as well as expertise they may use to further their own weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and delivery vehicles. For example, Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones used by Russia against Ukrainian civilians consist almost entirely of foreign-made parts, including Canadian technology.
CSIS continues to work closely with domestic and foreign partners to uphold the Government of Canada’s commitment to counter-proliferation. This entails efforts to detect, investigate, prevent and disrupt activities in or through Canada involving the illicit acquisition, export or diversion of goods that may enable WMD programs. These efforts also extend to intangible technology transfers.
CSIS continues to provide ongoing support to a range of Government of Canada sanctions and related measures against a number of countries, including Russia and Iran, under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA). These sanctions include asset freezes and the prohibition of certain activities—for example, financial assets, property, and trade in certain technologies and dual-use goods subject to export control—with designated persons and entities of the sanctioned countries. Furthermore, as senior officials of the Iranian regime are now inadmissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), CSIS works closely with its immigration partners to enforce this designation.
Immigration programs enable the Government of Canada’s economic, prosperity and post-COVID recovery agenda. Immigration accounts for a big part of labour force growth in Canada, including specific labour market needs. It also builds a more diverse Canada, which is a stronger Canada. Through its Government Security Screening (GSS), and Immigration and Citizenship Screening (ICS) programs, CSIS serves as the first line of defence against violent extremism, espionage, and other threats to national security by preventing exploitation by a small number of nefarious actors.
The GSS program conducts investigations and provides security assessments to departments and agencies in order to prevent individuals of security concern from gaining access to classified or sensitive information, assets, sites and major events. Security assessments are part of an overall evaluation to assist federal government departments and agencies in deciding to grant, deny, or revoke security clearances based on national security concerns. These decisions rest with each department or agency, and not with CSIS. Additionally, CSIS plays a key role in ensuring that sensitive Canadian information, research and data is properly protected, for the benefit of all Canadians.
GSS also conducts screening to protect sensitive sites – including airports, marine, and nuclear facilities – from national security threats. Furthermore, it assists the RCMP in vetting Canadians and foreign nationals who seek to participate in major events in Canada. Finally, GSS provides security assessments to provincial and foreign governments, and international organizations, when Canadians seek employment requiring access to sensitive information or sites in another country. In 2022, CSIS received 149,620 requests for GSS.
The CSIS ICS program provides security advice to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regarding persons who may represent a threat to national security and are attempting to obtain entry to or status in Canada. IRCC officers assess applications, and if admissibility concerns are flagged, the application may be referred to CBSA and CSIS for comprehensive security screening. Through this risk-based program, CSIS provides security advice on permanent resident and citizenship applicants; persons applying for temporary resident visas; and persons applying for refugee status in Canada. CSIS received 343,700 referrals in 2022.
As part of this, CSIS continues to screen applicants from Afghanistan, referred by IRCC, as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of 2023. The completion of inadmissibility screening is a regular part of the review process for resettlement applications.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, the Government of Canada committed to providing safe haven to Ukrainians and their families fleeing Russian aggression. By late December 2022, Canada had received over 755,000 Temporary Residency Visa applications under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) and had welcomed over 100,000 Ukrainian citizens. Timely security advice was critical in making this happen. CSIS will remain ready to assist as long as Russian aggression continues and civilian populations face displacement.
Immigration and Citizenship Screening Programs
Immigration and Citizenship Screening Programs [Infographic]
|Permanent Residents Inside and Outside Canada||15,300|
|Refugees (Front-End Screening**)||55,500|
Government Screening Programs
Government Screening Programs [Inforgraphic]
|Federal Government Departments||56,100|
|Free and Secure Trade (FAST)||8,600|
|Transport Canada (Marine and Airport)||63,500|
|Special Events Accreditation||4,000|
* Figures have been rounded
** Individuals claiming refugee status in Canada or at ports of entry (i.e. asylum claims)
Threat Challenges Ahead
Increasingly Polarized World and Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism
In 2022, Canadians were exposed to more sophisticated conspiracy theories and alternative information. Doctored evidence and manipulated audio and visual files such as deep fakes have become commonplace.
- Demonize out-groups
- Victimize in-groups
- Delegitimize dissent
- Counter official/established narratives
- Encourage individuals to turn to violence for ‘self-defence’
IMVE actors who have mobilized to violence commonly cite conspiracies, combined with personal grievances and ongoing national debates, as a source of motivation. The rapid spread of IMVE narratives online adds to the national security challenge.
The ‘weaponization’ of conspiracy theories continues to be widespread in the IMVE milieu. The emergence of Canadian “influencers” who have gained significant followings have done so through their promotion of conspiracy theories and have been enabled to push their messaging via a variety of social media platforms, encrypted messenger applications, and foreign state-affiliated media. While much of today’s IMVE activity occurs in the online sphere, the Canadian landscape reveals an increase in face-to-face activity, which will most likely increase post-pandemic.
Misinformation / Disinformation
CSIS observed the continued spread of misinformation and disinformation by state and non-state actors in 2022. Threat actors are aware of the impact the proliferation of information manipulation has on open democratic societies, and continue to target Canadians. As more Canadians transition from conventional media to a digital news environment, malicious state actors have exploited this transition via proxy amplifiers on social media to support their messaging. Users’ ability to engage with content through “likes” and “shares” adds to social media’s potency to boost disinformation and impact audiences that would otherwise be beyond reach. Social media’s ability to bring fringe views into the mainstream public discourse enables state actors to polarize Canadian public opinion through repeated exposure to conspiratorial messaging. Online platforms can serve as echo chambers of hate where like-minded individuals are able to connect and communicate anonymously and mobilization to violence can occur rapidly.
Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread regardless of intent to mislead.
Disinformation is false or innaccurate information created deliberately with a malicious intent to manipulate a narrative. Misinformation becomes disinformation when hostile actors weaponize it for political influence and interference.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has unresolved territorial disputes in several areas on its periphery. In parallel with the PRC’s growing economic and military power, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) units and government entities have been seeking to solidify territorial claims. They do so by using a strategy of taking a series of measures that are below the threshold of armed conflict and small enough to avoid provoking a violent response. However, these measures cumulatively create difficult-to-reverse “facts on the ground”, serving to alter the status quo and normalize a situation where PRC claims are strengthened and related interests are advanced.
On November 27, 2022, the federal government publicly announced Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). The IPS is a clear-eyed approach to the risks and opportunities of the region, and its strategic importance. It serves both to reap its potential economic rewards, and to meet the national security challenges in the region. This is a landmark strategy with significant implications for our country, and CSIS will play a key role in supporting its implementation.
Under the IPS, CSIS will make critical investments and improve capabilities to help protect the safety, security and prosperity of Canada and Canadian interests. CSIS will work alongside its security and intelligence partners to deliver on the IPS. CSIS’s objectives include:
- Grow CSIS’ partnerships and engagements with the region.
- Increase capacity to counter threats and hostile activities emanating from the region.
- Counter domestic threats resulting from increased engagement with the region, such as informing Canadian stakeholders of risks relevant to their increased involvement in the region.
Ukraine - Protracted Conflict
The year 2022 saw growing challenges to the rules-based and open international order. These challenges came from shifting centres of global influence and from actors willing to exploit uncertainty to advance their own interests, culminating in an explosive and potentially devastating blow to the global security framework. The Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has directly threatened world security, while also affording Russia and its supporters worldwide an opportunity to step up their disinformation-based propaganda campaigns in the West, including in Canada. Sharply exaggerated narratives aim to discredit Ukraine and undermine public support for the continuing military aid to Ukraine. These narratives are targeting both Russian and Ukrainian communities in Canada with misinformation and disinformation through increasingly powerful social media platforms.
Arctic and Northern Canada
The Arctic must be protected as an important part of Canada’s sovereignty and in the interest of North American continental and maritime security. For a number of reasons, the economic and strategic importance of the Arctic has been steadily growing over the past 15 years. Along with growing commercial and international interests, the variety of threats to Canada’s security and sovereignty has also grown. In this context, security threats to the Arctic do not come only in conventional military form or from climate change, but also in the form of espionage, foreign interference (FI) activities and economic initiatives, which all can represent national security threats to Canada. CSIS is proud to work with Inuit partners and lend our support to the Government’s overall strategy to ensure safety and security in the region.
The Taliban faces significant challenges governing Afghanistan, which is in an economic and humanitarian crisis that will likely continue to 2023 and beyond. The Taliban has implemented statewide repression, denying human rights to women and religious and ethnic minorities with the objective of creating a ‘pure’ Islamic system.
The Taliban has continued to allow transnational terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda (AQ) to remain in country. While AQ activities in Afghanistan remain limited, there is a possibility that it will once again view Afghanistan as a safe training ground.
Notwithstanding some degree of opposition by the Taliban, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has had the opportunity in 2022 to position itself as a local, regional, and possibly international threat. ISKP could gain momentum in 2023 by regaining basing areas in eastern Afghanistan, thereby entrenching itself in a manner previously prevented by the presence of international forces.
Russian Private Military Contractor - Wagner
Anti-Western sentiment in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has increased notably. France withdrew its military force from Mali in 2022 and from Burkina Faso in February 2023. The influence of Russian private military contractor (PMC) Wagner in Mali and Burkina Fasi has increased, and Wagner continues to expand Russian influence and undermine Western interests.
Wagner is likely applying known strategies such the use of disinformation campaigns to target any perceived rivals or Western interference. CSIS assesses that Wagner will continue to leverage the security void and the reduced participation of Western countries in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Security Implications of Returning Canadian Extremist Travellers (CETs)
Almost a decade after their initial mobilization, DAESH affiliated Canadian Extremist Travellers are returning to Canada from camps in Syria and Iraq. Although CET returnees may not immediately or directly engage in extremist violence, they may still pose a national security risk. They have been exposed to radical influences, violence, repression and many have received weapons and explosive training. In time, CETs may engage in extremist activities such as fundraising, maintenance of domestic and international networks, radicalization and/or recruitment. CSIS is committed to working closely with its domestic and international partners to protect Canadians against threats to our security from returning CETs.
Engaging with Canadians
CSIS continues to seek out opportunities to engage directly with Canadians on issues of national security to build awareness, trust and resilience to threats. CSIS is proud of its strong relationships with many Canadian communities that have developed over many years and are based on mutual trust and respect. This is in addition to the 92 briefings of elected officials at all levels of Government that CSIS provided in 2022.
CSIS Briefings to Elected Officials in 2022
CSIS Briefings to Elected Officials in 2022
Outreach in 2022
One focus of engagement in 2022 was on building relationships with communities to help ensure they have the information and support needed to deal with threat related activities, particularly involving foreign interference and extremism. CSIS shared information and resources with members of Asian Canadian communities in Canada to raise awareness about foreign interference activities in Canada, including those targeting diaspora communities. CSIS also released a new guidance document in 2022 focused on a whole-of-society approach to combatting extremism entitled, Protecting National Security in Partnership with All Canadians. This document is available on CSIS’s website and is currently being translated into additional languages to ensure wide accessibility. In 2022, CSIS also issued a public report entitled Foreign Interference and You to increase awareness and build resilience among Canadians on this important threat to the security of our country. This was published in six languages, so that as many Canadians as possible can be reached. In addition, CSIS increased engagement with Indigenous communities.
In 2022, CSIS hosted 14 virtual expert briefings, produced 14 commissioned reports, facilitated two expert roundtables, and provided feedback from a national security lens on two Government of Canada funding advisory boards. In addition to mobilizing knowledge from a wide variety of academic experts, CSIS also continued to mentor university students including a cohort of graduate-level students at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. CSIS officials also participated in class and seminar discussions at universities across Canada to support healthy debate with students on national security-related issues.
In 2022, CSIS conducted 113 stakeholder engagement activities and met with representatives of academia; community organizations; civil society and advocacy associations; research and innovation institutes; Indigenous leaders; as well as representatives of provincial and municipal governments. Now more than ever, national security is not the exclusive remit of the Government of Canada. As it continues to engage stakeholders in dialogue on national security matters, the limits on CSIS’s ability to share classified information and advice are having an impact.
Summary of Engagements by Sector
Summary of Engagements by Sector Infographic
|Non Government Organization (NGO)||6.1|
|Transport and Logistics||3.3|
CSIS across Canada
CSIS Across Canada
CSIS Across Canada
- British Columbia Region - Burnaby, BC
- Prairie Region - Edmonton, AB
- Toronto Region - Toronto, ON
- National Headquarters - Ottawa, ON
- Capital Region - Gatineau, QC
- Quebec Region - Montreal, QC
- Atlantic Region - Halifax, NS
Advancing Truth and Reconciliation
CSIS’s evolving work in developing relationships with Indigenous partners is part of its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. As part of its priority engagement with Indigenous partners in 2022, senior-level CSIS delegations travelled to Inuit Nunangat to establish relationships with local and regional organizations. These meetings represented unique opportunities for CSIS to learn first-hand about the culture and traditional livelihood of Inuit, and most importantly, to lay the foundations for long term relationships between Inuit and CSIS. Territorial stakeholders were also engaged during these visits, allowing CSIS to further strengthen existing operational relationships.
CSIS raised internal awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Indigenous history and cultures. To enable land acknowledgements wherever employees meet or gather, CSIS encourages employees to make land acknowledgements in all of its offices. An Indigenous Elder visited CSIS to bless the Orange Flag when it was hoisted to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) Profile
The Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), created in 2004, was established to independently produce comprehensive threat assessments using a wide range of classified and unclassified sources. ITAC serves as a “community resource” to support government decision-making and provide timely analyses to security partners.
ITAC is co-located within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) headquarters and operates under the provisions and authorities of the CSIS Act. The Centre does not collect intelligence, and instead relies on intelligence collected by domestic and international partners, including CSIS, and openly available information, to produce its assessments.
Specifically, ITAC has three main program areas:
- Assessing and reporting on terrorism threats, trends and events;
- Assessing and recommending the National Terrorism Threat Level (NTTL) for Canada;
- Assessing and setting terrorism threat levels for Canadian interests worldwide, including for special events.
ITAC’s threat assessments are based on a rigorous methodology that analyzes quantitative and qualitative indicators pertaining to the intent, capability and opportunity of potential threat actors to conduct an act of terrorism. These assessments serve several functions, including raising awareness of the threat environment and informing security mitigation measures.
Threat Assessment [Infographic]
The threat assessment takes into account the convergence of threat actors, the targets and the methods coupled with the capabilities, opportunities and intent.
ITAC has a very broad dissemination mandate. Beyond senior government officials and federal security partners, it disseminates reports to provincial, territorial and municipal law enforcement agencies, as well as to critical infrastructure stakeholders.
The National Terrorism Threat Level (NTTL)
The NTTL, which is reassessed at least every four months, provides a common understanding of the general terrorism threat facing the country. It represents the likelihood of a violent act of terrorism occurring in Canada. The comprehensive analysis that supports the NTTL provides detailed insights on the evolving threat landscape, and on where and how particular threats could materialize.
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