Canada needs more spies abroad, McLellan says

Deputy Prime Mister Anne McLellan

Deputy Prime Mister Anne McLellan

CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Sun. Dec. 19 2004 11:30 PM ET

There's a pressing need to send more Canadian spies abroad, Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said.

McLellan told Sun Media that she and Prime Minister Paul Martin believe Canada should be collecting more intelligence overseas to defend itself from potential terrorist threats.

"We may want to redefine the existing section of the CSIS legislation to give them broader powers abroad, and perhaps to gather different kinds of intelligence," McLellan said in the Edmonton Sun.

"That's something we would need to discuss. But it's also a question of resources. If you want to do more abroad, it costs money."

Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents have traditionally held domestic posts, but their role may need to expand in a world with increased terrorist activity, McLellan said.

"Intelligence is the lifeblood of preventing further terrorist acts. Intelligence is the lifeblood of destroying organized crime which funds, in turn, terrorism, or at least some terrorism offshore," she said.

Intelligence gathering would enable the government to make decisions on terrorist activity, she said.

This type of information would be shared with "like-minded" countries such as the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

Jim Judd, former secretary of Treasury Board and former deputy minister of defence recently took over the post of CSIS director.

In a June 2004 report obtained by the Canadian Press, CSIS reviewed concerns that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda had briefcase-sized nuclear weapons in its possession.

"Al Qaeda is interested in acquiring nuclear capabilities in order to expand its attack arsenal," the report said. The Bush administration has expressed concerns about the Canadian anti-terrorist strategy.

With files from The Edmonton Sun and Canadian Press

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