Only one provincial leader received CSIS briefings

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Although foreign interference has grown in the country and manifested itself in many fields, only one provincial leader – British Columbia Premier David Eby – has requested and received a high security clearance from the federal government in recent months to gain access to highly confidential CSIS national security briefings.

The Prime Minister of Quebec, François Legault, did not take such action with the federal government, a spokesman for his office confirmed to The Press, even though Hydro-Québec was the target last year of industrial espionage for the benefit of China. Yueshang Wang, who was a researcher working for Hydro-Québec, was accused in November of passing industry secrets to China following an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The latter has access to the state-owned company’s research into batteries for electric cars.

According to some experts, such a situation is completely unthinkable at a time when malicious actors acting on behalf of authoritarian regimes are increasing their efforts to obtain industrial and technological secrets, etc. things. This puts at risk the political and economic interests of provinces such as Quebec and Ontario. Hydro-Québec is part of the country’s critical infrastructure and constitutes “a strategic interest to protect,” according to the RCMP.

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Currently, the Canadian Intelligence and Security Service (CSIS) sends confidential national security information it collects only to the federal government, as specified in CSIS Actadopted in 1985. This law has never been subject to deep reform since its adoption.

Access on demand

For several years, the Trudeau government has allowed a premier of a province, if he requests it, to obtain the security clearance necessary to obtain confidential warnings from CSIS. So far, only one provincial leader has made the request, David Eby of British Columbia, following revelations that China is using sophisticated methods to influence the results of the 2021 federal election in some constituencies. province The communist regime in Beijing also allegedly tried to influence the results of the Vancouver municipal election.

Mr. Eby submitted this request in the spring, according to documents obtained by The Press under the Access to Information Act.

According to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a security consultant and former CSIS executive, the premiers of all provinces should automatically have access to confidential information collected by CSIS. To do this, it is necessary to change the CSIS Act.

Yes, it should be something automatic. There is a huge gap between what the federal government knows about national security and what the provinces pass on.

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Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former CSIS executive

“The problem that we are facing and that is being exploited by foreign powers is that we have three levels of government, the federal, the provincial and the municipal. And if the right hand does not speak to the left hand, there are things that nothing was done,” explained Mr. Juneau-Katsuya.

He gave the example of significant amounts invested by provinces in research and development to attract businesses. Provinces are also taking steps to attract foreign students to participate in university research programs.

“But that’s where everything happens!” This is where the theft of intellectual property took place,” stressed the former CSIS executive, who also highlighted the theft of Hydro-Québec’s industrial secrets.

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“This is a madness that borders on madness. But it is because of the lack of communication that exists between the federal government and the provinces. There is a lack of knowledge. The provinces will take all kinds of initiatives and lose of industrial secrets because the federal government decided to limit the possibilities of communicating with others. (…) There SCR ActThe S is poorly put together, and it has been heavily criticized by many experts. »

Mr. Juneau-Katsuya also argued that provincial premiers should appoint a national security adviser within their offices, a position that has existed for years in the Office of the Prime Minister in Ottawa. “This person will be the bridge that connects the federal government and the province. He is also on the front line for national security issues.