The pillorying of Richard Fadden, the head of CSIS, continues in the media. A number of issues are raised by his CBC evening news interview with Peter Mansbridge, in which, among other things, he spoke about the covert influence of foreign powers on Canadian politicians at both the provincial and municipal level. He mentioned China more or less in the same breath, but without explicitly naming them as the source of the improper influence. He stated that politicians are being influenced, but declined to name names. So the main questions are:
1) Is Fadden correct in his assertion that foreign powers are seeking to influence Canadian politicians and spying on Canada in order to damage our interests?
2) If so, should he have gone further and named names?
3) Even if the assertions are true, should Fadden, a civil servant advising politicians, be the one to make them?
4) And finally, should he now be trying to back away from his remarks if they are true?
This post deals with Question No. 1. Later posts will deal with the others.
The evidence is overwhelming that foreign powers and terrorist groups are all active in both spying on Canada and our allies, and attempting through covert means to influence policy. John Robson has already laid out some of it. We know that Guansheng Han, a security official who defected from China, told CP last year that Beijing cultivates sources in the Canadian Chinese community as a way of gleaning intelligence on key economic sectors, including the biopharmaceutical industry. Companies such as Deloitte and our very own Canadian Sec-Dev group have warned of cyber-espionage coming from East-Asia (mainly China) and Russia. Rafal Rohozinski, a Canadian who has achieved great fame in international circles by identifying cyber threats to Western countries, including the implanting of sleeper viruses on vital computer networks, has talked extensively about the threat, coming chiefly from places such as China and Russia. In the United States, in its April 30th 2009 report, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission quotes chapter and verse about the economic, military and security threat to the United States represented by Chinese espionage, including cyber-espionage. In June, 2005, then Opposition leader Stephen Harper, challenged the government of Paul Martin in parliament about the billions of dollars worth of damage done to the Canadian economy by Chinese espionage activities. Harper said “Today the former head of the CSIS Asia desk confirmed reports from defectors that close to 1000 Chinese government agent spies have infiltrated Canada,” quoting reports from defectors from China. Once in government, the Tories, in the person of then Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, continued to point out that the federal government is “concerned” that Chinese spies are stealing Canada’s industrial and high-technology secrets.
The famous Sidewinder Report, a joint effort of CSIS and the RCMP, declared in its preface: “This document does not present theories but indicators of a multifaceted threat to Canada’s national security based on concrete facts drawn from the databanks of the two agencies involved (RCMP and CSIS), classified reports from allied agencies and various open sources.” A few days after the Sidewinder team submitted its report, CSIS ordered all copies destroyed and the investigation disbanded. You can still, however, find some parts of the report on-line. It does not make pretty reading about the extent of the threat to Canada by foreign operations aimed at us.
So the long and short of it is that Mr. Fadden’s comments about the danger to Canada are no paranoid ravings, but based on solid evidence gathered from around the world.
In my next post: Should Fadden have named names?