Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

Dec 12, 2007 08:00 ET

Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute: Canada Needs to Use Spies to Collect Foreign Intelligence

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Dec. 12, 2007) - Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute released a report today, CFIS: A Foreign Intelligence Service for Canada.

In this report Dr. Barry Cooper, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary, argues that unless the Canadian government begins using spies to collect foreign intelligence, Canada will continue to have to rely on its allies for intelligence that may be misleading or biased and is in any case collected by them for their own reasons, not Canada's. This risks undermining Canadian sovereignty, helps ensure that Canadian foreign policy remains reactive, and that Canada remains a soft target for espionage and terrorist activity.

Currently Canada is the only G8 nation unable to gather foreign intelligence using human agents. In the post-9/11 world of unconventional warfare, however, Canada needs to collect "timely intelligence regarding the intentions and capabilities of foreign states, corporations, and non-state political and religious actors." Otherwise, argues Cooper, "Canada's ability to meet both its international obligations and possible espionage threats to its national security is impaired." While Canada does collect domestic security and signals intelligence, the best way to meet its obligations, the report states, is to develop a Canadian Foreign Intelligence Service (CFIS) that utilizes human agents, or spies, to collect secret foreign intelligence because "clandestine human intelligence is the most valuable commodity, yet it is in the shortest supply."

The report details the history of Canadian intelligence capabilities, current Canadian capabilities and their limitations, the arguments and issues around the creation of a CFIS, and how CFIS, as a separate entity from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), could overcome the current Canadian intelligence deficit.

Cooper concludes that the creation of CFIS is both feasible and necessary: "an accurate, responsive, and comprehensive intelligence capability is a fundamental cornerstone of Canada's sovereignty."

The complete report, CFIS: A Foreign Intelligence Service for Canada, is available online at

CDFAI is a "think tank" pursuing authoritative research and new ideas aimed at ensuring Canada has a respected and influential voice in the international arena.

For more information, please contact

University of Calgary
Barry Cooper
Professor of Political Science
(403) 220-5764
(403) 282-4773 (FAX)


David Bercuson
Director of Programs
(403) 220-4038
(403) 282-0594 (FAX)