CSIS replaced the security service of the ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE. Many of its first members transferred directly to the civilian agency from the federal police force. Although CSIS members are not police officers, the agency can obtain judicial warrants to conduct searches and electronic surveillance, such as telephone wiretapping. CSIS does not conduct regular intelligence operations in foreign countries, but its members share intelligence and work closely with other security services abroad under various agreements. Former "enemy" or adversary services, such as the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, became allies in the fight against global terrorism after the end of the Cold War. But traditional adversaries also continued to run intelligence operations within Canada well into the 1990s, as was evidenced by the 1996 discovery by CSIS of 2 Russian intelligence officers, Yelena B. Olshanskaya and Dmitriy V. Olshanskiy, living in Toronto under the assumed names of Laurie and Ian Lambert.
CSIS was the result of a reform of the RCMP after officers in the force were discovered to have used illegal investigative techniques such as mail-opening operations and break-ins. A federal royal commission (the McDonald Commission) recommended the creation of a new civilian agency. In an effort to prevent similar abuses by the new agency, Parliament set up 2 review mechanisms. The 5-member Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) and the CSIS inspector general can examine all aspects of CSIS's operations and can report any irregularities directly to the solicitor general, who is a minister in the federal Cabinet. The SIRC also presents an annual report to Parliament. Nevertheless, in late 1987 director T.D. Finn resigned over allegations of improper activities. CSIS was accused of violating civil liberties and spying on the labour movement, and the government announced a major reorganization.
CSIS maintains headquarters in Ottawa, has field offices in major Canadian cities and posts liaison officers to the capitals of allied countries. With the end of the Cold War and the subsequent decrease in the relative importance of counter-intelligence operations, CSIS went from a peak of 2760 employees in 1992 to about 2000 employees 5 years later. The agency recruits its members from other areas of the public service and from the general population. Lawyer Ron Atkey was the first chairman of the SIRC, Richard Grosse the first CSIS inspector general. New members are given extensive specialized secret training at their headquarters in Ottawa.
Author JEFFREY SALLOT
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
The Official website of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service provides information about security issues in Canada. Check out the "History" section and the intriguing online "Technological Artifacts Collection from the Cold War."