Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA)

Table of Contents

  1. Opening Remarks
  2. Key Messages

General Issues

  1. Foreign Interference in Canada - General
  2. Foreign Interference in Canada– Democratic Institutions
  3. Russian Federation and foreign interference
  4. Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement
  5. Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism
  6. Canadian Extremist Travellers
  7. Afghanistan
  8. Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE)
  9. CSIS Screening
  10. Modernizing CSIS Authorities
  11. Intelligence and Evidence
  12. CSIS Federal Court Decision (En Banc)
  13. Workplace Culture and Diversity & Inclusion

Senate Standing Committee

October 6, 2022

Appearance before Senate Standing Committee

for Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA)

CSIS Opening Remarks


Good morning, Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee. My name is Newton Shortliffe and I am the Acting Deputy Director, Operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

I would like to thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and to respond to your questions on this topic.


To begin this morning, I would like to speak briefly to the mandate of the Service in order to help situate our activities and presence abroad. Everything we do at CSIS is grounded in the CSIS Act which clearly articulates our mandate and authorities. First and foremost, we investigate threats to the security of Canada. Our Act clearly defines the threats we are authorized to investigate: espionage, sabotage, foreign interference, terrorism and extremism, and subversion.

We provide advice to government on these threats including through the production of intelligence assessments and reports. CSIS may also take measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada.

Lastly, 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 may collect foreign intelligence, only within Canada, including in relation to the intentions, capabilities or activities of a foreign state.


The increasingly interconnected and global nature of security threats means that CSIS cannot fulfill its mandate in isolation. Information sharing has been and remains fundamental to the Government of Canada’s national security requirements.

Cooperation with domestic federal partners and foreign agencies provides CSIS access to timely information linked to any number of potential or specific threats to Canada, which might otherwise not be available.

Relationships with federal partners are essential to active CSIS investigations and facilitate both lawful sharing of information and provision of advice, as well as operational deconfliction.

CSIS officers stationed in various countries around the world, including France, the UK and the United States, collect and share security intelligence information related to threats to Canada, its interests with its allies. Under section 12 of the CSIS Act, the Service may investigate threats to the security of Canada both within and outside of Canada. This international work often relies on the support of our domestic partners such as GAC, the RCMP and the Department of Defense.

CSIS has more than 300 foreign relationships in 150 countries and territories, each authorized by the Minister of Public Safety, and supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in accordance with the CSIS Act. The process to establish arrangements with foreign agencies is stringent and takes into consideration a wide range of issues, including Canadian security requirements, respect for human rights, and the reliability of the agency. Prior to seeking the Minister’s approval for new arrangements, CSIS proactively consults with GAC in instances where there are specific human rights or foreign policy considerations.

CSIS engagement with foreign entities must align with Canada’s laws and legal obligations. This includes ensuring CSIS remains fully compliant with the requirements outlined in the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities (ACMFE) Act. CSIS provides an annual report to the Minister of Public Safety outlining CSIS’s implementation of those requirements during the previous calendar year and publishes public information on that implementation process.

CSIS, working alongside its GC partners including Global Affairs Canada (GAC), plays an integral supporting role in helping to advance Canada’s broader foreign policy priorities. The Service does so principally by leveraging its overseas footprint and intelligence partnerships. When synchronized with other GC efforts, and augmented by the Service’s other intelligence capabilities, these additional channels of communication and coordination can have a “force-multiplier” effect in the protection of Canadians and Canadian interests.

Recent global crises, including the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the illegal invasion of Ukraine, have reinforced the importance of cooperation with international partners. As global tensions and conflicts continue to shape geo-political dynamics, CSIS remains committed to working with our Canadian partners, including the RCMP and GAC, and our global partners to ensure CSIS is delivering on its mandate to protect Canadians at home and abroad.

With that, I am happy to take your questions. Thank you.

Key Messages

Postings and human resources

Co-location at diplomatic missions

Secondment arrangements

CSIS Status as Separate Employer

Information sharing

CSIS works closely with GAC and the Canadian Foreign Service to ensure information is shared in a timely and effective manner, for the betterment of both our organizations and mandates.

Working Relationship with GAC

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Recent media reporting concerning CSIS operations

Listing of terrorist entities

Modernizing CSIS authorities

Foreign Interference in Canada - General

Issue: What is CSIS’ understanding of this threat?

Key Messages

Foreign Interference Manifestations

Democratic institutions



Targeting of Canadian Communities

Harassment on university campuses


FI in Canada – Democratic Institutions

Issue: What is CSIS’ role in protecting Canada’s democracy?

On CSIS’ role in protecting Canada’s democratic institutions

General Election 44

Threat reduction measures

Foreign Agents Registry

Russian Federation and foreign interference

Key Messages

Targeting of Ukrainian–Canadian Community


Use of chemical weapons

Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement

Issue: How is CSIS engaging with external stakeholders, including on cyber threats?

Key Messages

Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism

Issue: is CSIS still concerned about religiously motivated violent extremism?

Key Messages

Canadian Extremist Travellers

Key Messages

If pressed on children in the camps:


Issue: What is CSIS’ role in supporting the humanitarian effort with regards to Afghanistan?

Key Messages

Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE)

Issue: What is ideologically motivated violent extremism? What is CSIS’ role and assessment of this threat?

Key Messages

Threat Landscape

Rise of IMVE threat in Canada

Online threat environment

CSIS Screening

Issue: What is CSIS’ security screening mandate? What are the different screening authorities under the CSIS Act? What is CSIS’ role in advising Government on security assessments?

Key Messages

On Government security screening

On recourse when a clearance is denied or revoked

If pressed on specific complaints:

Modernizing CSIS Authorities

Issue: What changes are necessary to CSIS’ authorities, and why?

Key messages

On specific amendments

Intelligence and Evidence

Key Messages

CSIS Federal Court Decision (En Banc)

Issue: The Federal Court released its third ruling on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) duty of candour obligation on February 4, 2022.

Key Messages

Workplace Culture and Diversity & Inclusion

Issue: Is CSIS willing to recognize there is systemic racism in our society?

Key Messages

Workplace Climate

Promotion of diversity and inclusion

Actions taken

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