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Spy watchdog’s foreign meddling review finds ‘unacceptable gaps’ in accountability

Written by on May 27, 2024

OTTAWA — The national spy watchdog says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Public Safety Canada lacked a system for tracking who received and read specific intelligence on foreign interference, creating “unacceptable gaps in accountability.”

In a report made public late today, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency also says CSIS’s dissemination of intelligence on political foreign interference was inconsistent during the last two general elections.

In addition, those who received the intelligence did not always understand its significance or how to integrate the findings into their policy analysis and decision-making.

There was also disagreement between intelligence units and senior public servants as to whether activities described in intelligence briefs amounted to foreign interference or legitimate diplomatic activity.

Senior public servants and the national security and intelligence adviser sometimes did not agree on whether intelligence assessments should be shared with the political executive, resulting in two products not reaching politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The watchdog recommends the security adviser’s role, including with respect to decisions about the circulation of intelligence, be spelled out in law.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024.

The Canadian Press