Tag Archives: Intelligence

PM Trudeau’s Government Still Trying to Up-Suck to the Dragon, Ace of Compradors Dominic Barton Section (cont’d)

(Video of foreign minister Joly noted in image at top of the post here, for compradors see here and here.)

Further to this post with two extremely well-informed hard-nose views,

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

it would appear the Liberal government remains blinded by the Celestial Empire’s light–and the lure of the filthy yuan. From an excellent and clear-eyed Globe and Mail columnist:

Ottawa may want to go back to business as usual with Beijing. But that’s not possible

Konrad Yakabuski

Canadians hoping for a reset in how this country approaches an increasingly assertive China were likely disappointed to learn that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had tapped Dominic Barton to sit on a new committee to advise Ottawa on its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mr. Barton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China until December, is a self-confessed “bull on China” who now chairs the board of directors for the British-Australian mining colossus Rio Tinto after overseeing the global operations of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co. Like McKinsey, Rio Tinto’s fortunes are deeply tied to the Chinese economy. China accounted for fully 57 per cent of the company’s US$64-billion in revenue in 2021 [see this post: “Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)“].

The 17 members of the Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee will be required to divulge any conflicts of interest, and “will be expected to recuse themselves from participating in discussions or activities of the committee should any potential, perceived or real conflicts of interest arise,” Global Affairs Canada said in a June 9 press release announcing the committee’s creation.

Even so, Mr. Barton’s past and present business activities are impossible to ignore. He has long advocated for deeper economic relations between China and the West. His decision to accept the Rio Tinto gig even after witnessing firsthand China’s hostage diplomacy in the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig suggests a willingness to look past Beijing’s increasing authoritarianism, militarism and human rights abuses in the name of business [emphasis added].

Mr. Barton’s seat on the new committee along with other notable China doves has left many observers wondering whether Ottawa’s much-vaunted Indo-Pacific strategy, originally pitched as a foreign-policy pivot away from China in the aftermath of the Meng Wanzhou affair, is shaping up to be a cover for a return to business as usual [emphasis added].

“We want to make sure we have a relationship with China,” Ms. Joly told Politico last month. “It is a difficult one – there were arbitrary detentions of the two Michaels … I’m glad that this issue is now over and we’re moving on … My goal is to make sure that we re-establish ties.”

This will no doubt delight many Canadian business leaders eager to seize on the opportunity to sell to a market of more than 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for this country’s natural resources and agricultural products. But as Canada moves to reset its relations with Beijing, many of our biggest allies are teaming up to take on the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century as China seeks to cement its world power status.

Western hopes that integrating China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 would lead to its democratization were perhaps always faint. But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved in the opposite direction, and has become a threat to the very rules-based international order that enabled it to become the world’s second-largest economy…

“Beijing wants to put itself at the centre of global innovation and manufacturing, increase other countries’ technological dependence, and then use that dependence to impose its foreign policy preferences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month in a major speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden’s China policy. “And Beijing is going to great lengths to win this contest – for example, taking advantage of the openness of our economies to spy, to hack, to steal technology and know-how to advance its military innovation and entrench its surveillance state [see this post: “FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?“].”

The Trudeau government is surely not blind to China’s designs. It did – albeit belatedly – decide to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in Canadian 5G networks last month [more here]. But its long delay in making that decision [OVER THREE FLIPPING YEARS] suggests that it did so only reluctantly. And it has not stopped Canadian universities from continuing to accept research funding from Huawei, raising questions about the potential transfer of intellectual property developed here to a company with deep ties to the Chinese military and state [note this post: “Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“].

This week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson conceded that Ottawa may need to take a tougher stand on investments by Chinese entities in this country’s critical minerals. But again, you don’t get a sense that the move is being made with any gusto. Ottawa’s latest discussion paper on developing a critical minerals strategy does not even mention China, despite that country’s dominance in the global electric-battery supply chain [emphasis added].

No wonder Washington has largely left Canada out of the loop as it builds new security relationships with Australia, Britain, Japan, India and several Indo-Pacific countries with the express aim of containing and countering China’s geopolitical ambitions…

As much as Ottawa seems to wish otherwise, there will be no going back to business as usual with Beijing.

One certainly hopes so. And much as this government wishes otherwise.

A telling paragraph from Terrible Terry Glavin on the reach of our comprador rot:

There’s the intimate connections between the Liberal old guard and the China-trade lobby, notable in former prime minister Jean Chretien’s son-in-law, the Power Corporation’s Andre Desmarais, the Canada-China Business Council’s honorary chairman [the council is Comprador Central, website here]. And of course there’s the daughter of Jean (“I am not a Liberal!”) Charest, currently contending for the job of Conservative Party leader. Amelie Dionne-Charest is the chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong [another nest of compradors, website here].

Earlier on Mr Barton:

Canadian Ambassador to PRC Dominic Barton, an Ace of Compradors, still Up-Sucking to the Dragon [2020]

Ace of Compradors Ambassador Dominic Barton gives up Selling the PRC to Canada [Dec. 2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

Interviews with two serious Canadian experts on the PRC–text from an e-mail from the first-rate Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

1) Canada’s Huawei Ban Comes Amid Heightened Tensions with China

Charles Burton, MLI

The Canadian government punted its Huawei decision for three years to avoid potential retaliation from the Chinese government, and resultingly, argues Burton, Canada is now perceived as an unreliable partner by our allies regarding our engagement with China. QUAD, AUKUS, the IPEF—we haven’t been offered a seat at the table. The CCP will retaliate and its retaliation toolkit is broad-based. Whatever they employ, they will make sure we understand it is because we insulted the Chinese state by not accepting Huawei.

The invasion of Ukraine, which China seemingly supports, as well as sustained tensions, and the potential for conflict over Taiwan, means that Canada must act in concert with other like-minded allies to counter the rise of authoritarian states. There has been mounting pressure for Canada to define its stances on China and Russia. We cannot continue our policies under present circumstances, which amount to appeasement, Burton Says. Canada needs an Indo-Pacific strategy consistent with our allies, make up for decades of policies that are no longer viable, increase our defence allocation, and, most importantly, prepare for conflict.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Charles Burton is a Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy. Department of Political Science at Brock University specializing in Comparative Politics, Government and Politics of China, Canada-China Relations and Human Rights, 1989-2020. Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy to China between 1991-1993 and 1998-2000. Previously worked at the Communications Security Establishment of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

2) What to Expect Following Canada’s Huawei Ban

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
ISSP, University of Ottawa

Last month, the federal government announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless network (5G), citing national security concerns. Despite encouragement from Canada’s Five Eyes partners, the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE still faced significant delays after the two Micheals were released. While the ban has been welcomed by many, there are still significant security concerns to consider in the near-term.

McCuiag-Johnston places particular emphasis on the challenges created by allowing companies and carriers until June 2024 to replace their 5G equipment. Telus has installed a large amount of Huawei software and hardware over the past two years, which means that Canada will have four years of exposure to the national security risk that we have been concerned about all along. Ultimately, de-installing Huawei will require constant updates and fixes to installed 5G equipment via backdoors. These are the very backdoors that could potentially be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Johnston applauds the Huawei decision but emphasizes that the government must not budge on removal deadline it has given to Canadian telecoms.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston  is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Senior Fellow with the University of Alberta’s China Institute and Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Formerly, she was Executive Vice-President at NSERC where she was responsible for strategic operations, including research policy and international relations. She was also a member for seven years of the Steering Committee for the Canada-China Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative.

These two are hard-nosed types about the PRC’s realities and dealing with the CCP. Do have a look.

Related posts:

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canadians Basically Don’t Care About National Security–So Neither Do Our Politicians…

…and our federal government can be very ineffective anyway these days.

Further to this May 24 post,

Major New Report by Real National Security Experts: Big Threats to Canada–PRC, Russia and…the US

excerpts from a blog post by Adam Chapnick (tweets here), a Canadian academic who knows this stuff:

On public trust and Canadian national security…

Last week, the University of Ottawa’s Task Force on National Security released its much anticipated report: A National Security Strategy for the 2020s.

The Task Force was directed by the recently-retired former national security and intelligence advisor to the prime minister, Vincent Rigby, and one of the most credible analysts of security and defence in this country, Thomas Juneau.
They were joined by a veritable who’s who of Canadian national security experts.
In other words, it’s hard to imagine a more qualified group to make recommendations on “How Canada can adapt to a deteriorating security environment.”
The majority of the report’s recommendations are entirely reasonable, in particular in terms of how Ottawa should organize the public service to analyze and counter threats to the state, to national institutions, and to individual Canadians.

…I am not hopeful that it will effect transformative change in Ottawa.

The authors all but explain why on page 10:

“Collectively, we have neglected national security for decades, largely because we could afford to do so. Shielded from major threats, we generally suffered little or no cost for our complacency. Whenever we dealt with national security issues, it was largely in a reactive way, in response to events, and not through a more proactive, structured approach.”..

Barring a genuine catastrophe, the national security apparatus is unlikely to touch a sufficient number of Canadians directly, and sustainably, so as to effect the necessary change in public perception.

On the other hand, who hasn’t heard of someone with a problem renewing their passport, or with the status of their immigration paperwork recently? Are there any Canadians left that aren’t aware that long-term drinking water advisories are still a reality on almost 30 [First Nations] reserves?  

If public trust is key to changing Canada’s national security culture (which it might well be), perhaps Ottawa should focus on getting the little things right. Do that, and I suspect that the Canadian public will be much more amenable to tackling the big challenges down the road.

Hopefully, we can reach that point before it’s too late.

If you do read the report, why not compare it to a similar one produced by the Centre for International Governance Innovation back in December. I’d be fascinated to learn more about any differences between the two.

In other news, I originally intended to post to this blog once or twice per month. Somehow, I seem to have ended up posting weekly. While I enjoy doing so, this pace is not sustainable, especially as I prepare to return to the classroom in August. I therefore anticipate cutting back a bit going forward. If there are things you’d like me to write about, you can reach me here.


To be notified of my next post, follow me on Twitter @achapnick

You can subscribe to my newsletter at https://buttondown.email/achapnick.

I would simply add that PM Trudeau’s government effectively has zero serious interest in, or concern for, these matters.

Relevant post from a year ago:

The PRC vs Canada’s National Security, or, “Justin Trudeau is not a serious man”

And one this January:

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Major New Report by Real National Security Experts: Big Threats to Canada–PRC, Russia and…the US

Note 4 PM May 24 online event on the report mentioned in tweet by Thomas Juneau towards bottom of this post–registration here.

Further to this January 2022 post,

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

now that message, and several others–but how seriously if PM Trudeau’s government likely to take them, and then act on them. Fairly slim chance I would think unless our Five Eyes allies (that is the three save New Zealand) put some really heavy pressure on us. From a Globe and Mail Story:

Canada urged to conduct major national security review to deal with China, Russia and rise of right-wing extremism

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief

Canada has become complacent and neglectful of national security and urgently needs to revamp its thinking to counter Russia’s aggression, China’s growing influence and the rise of right-wing extremism in Canada and the United States, according to a major new report.“We are living in a time of intense global instability when the security of Canada and other liberal democracies is under growing threat,” says the report, A National Security Strategy for the 2020s, released Tuesday [May 24, available via this link]. “Canada is not ready to face this world. As a country, we need to urgently rethink national security.”

It was prepared by the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs with input from four former national security advisers, two Canadian Security Intelligence Service directors, academics and retired ambassadors and deputy ministers [see list of members at end of the post].

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the direct threat to Western interests, while China is potentially an even more serious, long-term challenge, the report says.

China and Russia will continue to pose a significant threat to Canada through foreign interference, disinformation, espionage, hostage diplomacy and cyberattacks [emphasis added],” it says. “Our lack of a firm response, moreover presents a serious risk for our allies, and could affect security and intelligence relations with them.”

Canada needs to crack down on university research collaboration with China in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and quantum computing, the report urges [see this post: “Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“]

A far-ranging national security review must also examine the rise of the far right in Canada and the U.S. The truck convoy protests that led to border blockades and the closure of much of downtown Ottawa had direct links to U.S. extremists but also support from conservative media outlet Fox News and some Republican politicians, the report notes.

“This may not have represented foreign interference in the conventional sense since it was not the result of a foreign government. But it did represent, arguably, a greater threat to Canadian democracy than actions of any state other than the United States,” it says. “It will be a significant challenge for our national security and intelligence agencies to monitor this threat since it emanates from the same country that is by far our great source of intelligence.”

The report was put together under the direction of Vincent Rigby, who was recently a national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Juneau, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affaiirs.

Both warned that Canada needs to figure out how it should respond to democratic backsliding in the U.S. and how it should deal with the possible re-election of Donald Trump.

“If Trump comes back or someone like Trump comes to power in 2024, which is not far-fetched,” Prof. Juneau said in an interview, “does the U.S. stay in NATO? Does it become more unilateral and unpredictable?”

Mr. Rigby said political polarization in the U.S. is “something Canada must watch extremely closely [emphasis added, see this October 2020 post– note my comments towards end and following tweets: ”US Presidential Election Unrest (if not more)–What might Happen to Canada? PM Trudeau says Government Preparing“]

The report calls for a thorough public review of national security policy, including the CSIS Act, Emergencies Act and Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. It says Canada needs to embrace modern spy tools being used by many of its Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

It calls for the creation of a standalone unit to collect and analyze open-source intelligence [emphasis added–how would its product be incorporated into national level all-source intelligence assessments? won’t current contributing organizations still want to do their own open-source analysis as part of their report drafting?], set up a national counter foreign interference co-ordinator, as Australia has done, and establish a financial crimes agency to handle sophisticated digital crimes and money laundering [see this post, note one on hapless RCMP listed at end: “PM Trudeau’s Government vs Financial Crime/Money Laundering: “Kid- Glove Treatment”].

Parliamentarians should be given more classified briefings on files such as foreign interference operations, and cabinet should set up a national security committee, chaired by the Prime Minister. The report also recommends that the intelligence assessment secretariat in the Privy Council Office be merged with CSIS’s Terrorism Assessment Centre under the Prime Minister’s national security and intelligence adviser…

Follow Robert Fife on Twitter: @RobertFife

Whole lot of sensible and serious things to consider. But such matters are just not the, er, bag of progressive PM Trudeau and his ministers (nor of our chattering class). But one can hope.

Tweet by a co-chair of the task force:

Quite the group:

Task Force Members

Thomas Juneau – Co-chair, Associate Professor, GSPIA

Vincent Rigby – Co-chair, former National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister; Senior Fellow, Norman Paterson School of Public and International Affairs, Carleton University

Margaret Bloodworth – Honorary Senior Fellow, GSPIA, former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Kerry Buck – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to NATO

Madelaine Drohan – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Economist correspondent in Canada

Ward Elcock – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Richard Fadden – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former Deputy Minister of National Defence

Masud Husain – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Daniel Jean – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Executive Vice-President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

John McNee – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Ambassador to the United Nations

Roland Paris –Director, GSPIA; former Senior Advisor on Global Affairs and Defence to the Prime Minister

Morris Rosenberg – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Nada Semaan – Senior Fellow, GSPIA; former Director and Chief Executive Officer of FINTRAC

Research Assistant: Fernando Aguilar

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

When BBQ spareribs fly, one supposes. Excerpts from a story at the Globe and Mail:

Toronto Star’s Joanna Chiu wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Ian Bailey

Toronto Star journalist Joanna Chiu has won this year’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing [website here].

Ms. Chiu, who is based in Vancouver, was honoured for her first book, China Unbound: A New World Disorder, which is about China’s influence in Canada and around the world [more here].

“The rise of China is the geopolitical story of the twentieth-first century, and Joanna Chiu has expertly charted the country’s efforts to extend its power around the globe,” the judges said in a statement…

The judges said Ms. Chiu had done a masterful job of reporting the story of modern China in her book, which was published by House of Anansi Press.

“From meeting displaced Uyghurs in Istanbul and China-curious entrepreneurs in Sicily, to witnessing street protests in Hong Kong and Xi Jinping’s wooing of Vladimir Putin in Beijing, Chiu does on-the-ground reporting and adds brisk, smart analysis of China’s creeping influence in Canada and around the world. The result: China Unbound is a sweeping portrait of a rising superpower that is essential reading for any follower of Canadian politics [emphasis added].”..

The award recognizes a book of literary nonfiction on a political subject relevant to Canadian readers that has the potential to influence thinking on Canadian political life…

One can but hope…and sigh. An earlier post based on a story by Ms Chiu (tweets here):

Two Followers on Twitter and the PRC Persecutes a Chinese in Canada

UPDATE:This sort of thing is certainly going on in Canada yet oddly no-one ever gets charged. One furiously wonders why. At Defense One’s “D Brief“:

Four alleged Chinese intelligence officers were charged Wednesday [May 18], along with a U.S. citizen, for spying on activists critical of China who lived in or around Queens, New York. This operation stretched out over a decade going back to at least 2011.
How it happened: The American, 73-year-old Wang Shujun, “helped start a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes the current communist regime in China,” the Justice Department said Wednesday. During this time, Wang “used his position and status within the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities to covertly collect information about prominent activists and human rights leaders,” and sent that information back to officers in China’s Ministry of State Security. Sometimes the information was passed in person during visits to China; but he also used encrypted messaging apps as well as 163 email “diaries” the MSS accessed in mainland China.
“The Chinese government’s aggressive tactics were once confined to its borders. Now, the PRC is targeting people in the United States and around the world,” said Alan Kohler Jr., who works in the FBI’s National Security Branch.
Those targeted included “Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, advocates for Taiwanese independence, and Uyghur and Tibetan activists,” the Justice Department said. When asked about his role in the process, Wang allegedly lied to federal officials, which only yielded still more charges. He has since been arrested and will be arraigned sometime later; the other four officers remain at large.

And a related recent post:

Look, Ma! In the US They Arrest People for Interfering in Elections for the PRC

More images of the book and Ms Chiu:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canadian Armed Forces Readying for Cyberwar

Further to these tweets last year,

now we get a look at our military’s “cyber playbook”. From a Global News story:

Canada directs military to take more ‘assertive’ stance in cyberspace

By Marc-André Cossette & Alex Boutilier

The Canadian government has directed its military to take a more “assertive” stance in cyberspace in anticipation of electronic warfare becoming a more central component in conflict, documents obtained by Global News suggest.

A “cyber playbook” prepared by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence comes as Ottawa pushes for international rules and norms around cyber espionage and warfare.

The playbook, provided to Defence Minister Anita Anand earlier this year, noted that the threats facing Canada’s networks have “evolved significantly” since the government released its 2010 cyber strategy.

The document also makes clear that Canada is under increasing pressure from allies to be able to conduct joint cyber operations, either as standalone operations or as support for “conventional” military conflict [emphasis added].

Anand’s office “clearly recognizes” cyberspace as a domain for warfare and operations that Canada must grapple with, the document read.

Speaking at a conference of defence experts hosted by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute on Tuesday [May 10], Anand singled out cyberattacks as one of several pressing national security threats…

Since 2016, NATO has recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which the alliance must defend itself just as effectively as it does on land, at sea and in the air.

But Russia’s war in Ukraine has given new urgency to allied co-operation in cyberspace, with western governments having issued repeated warnings this year about the threat of Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

“It may not be as upfront as some of the other military operations, but absolutely, cyber is a part of this conflict and in fact, all conflicts,” said Stephanie Carvin, a former CSIS analyst who now teaches at Carleton University.

The department’s playbook notes that Canada’s allies are increasingly calling for operational co-operation, including as part of missions that would include “robust cyber responses [emphasis added].”

In particular, the playbook highlights the U.S. concept of “deterrence through resilience,” noting that it has seen “a major thrust within Canada” and could be reflected in Canada’s cyber priorities.

“Basically, it means being able to deny actors access because of good cybersecurity practices,” Carvin explained. “But also, if they are able to get in, to ensure that we have a quick response, that government systems or private sector systems can come back online quickly.”..

Carvin also noted that the Department of National Defence’s playbook mirrors another concept that has been promoted by Canada’s allies, particularly the U.S.

I’m thinking of the concept of ‘defending forward’: the idea that you need to take a more aggressive stance in cyberspace,” Carvin said. “Not necessarily for offensive purposes, but for defensive purposes — perhaps to preempt any kind of threat that may be coming to your country [emphasis added, see this post on “defending forward” in the bigger NORAD context: “NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat“].”

Just last month, western governments warned that Russia might ramp up its malicious cyber activity against critical infrastructure in response to sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

It wasn’t the first such warning. In January of this year, Canada’s cyber defence agency urged those tasked with defending the country’s critical infrastructure to be on guard against Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

According to the defence department’s playbook, the need to better gather, use and share intelligence extends beyond the federal government and should engage industry, internet service providers and academia. That’s been a priority for the Communications Security Establishment – Canada’s main cyber defence and espionage agency, which also reports to Anand – particularly during the global pandemic.

Similarly, industry representatives have recently called on the federal government to make it easier for businesses to report cyber incidents — possibly through so-called safe harbour legislation, which would shield businesses that report a cyber breach from legal liability provided certain conditions are met.

Read more: Cyber defence agency gets significant boost in Liberals’ Budget 2022

Last month, the Canadian government published the country’s position on cyber warfare and international law. The document hints at what Canada is willing to do in both cyber espionage and warfare, but also when the government would consider a cyberattack to violate Canadian sovereignty.

“The scope, scale, impact or severity of disruption caused, including the disruption of economic and societal activities, essential services, inherently governmental functions, public order or public safety must be assessed to determine whether a violation of the territorial sovereignty of the affected state has taken place,” the document read.

In plain language, Carvin said, “not every action that crosses or affects a state is a violation” of sovereignty.

“So probing a system may not constitute a violation of state sovereignty, even if the action might be considered illegal,” Carvin said.

“If, for example, another country sent a spy to collect the same information, only in person, Canada’s state sovereignty wouldn’t be violated, but the action would be illegal – something like breaking and entering.”..

[DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande wrote in a statement to Global News that] “Though we cannot release any further information on actual or alleged cyber operations, our Cyber Force is well positioned to plan and conduct cyber operations to defend military systems and infrastructure, and deliver effects outside of Canada, as authorized, in support of Canadian interests abroad.”..

Now here’s what the CAF say about this newish “trade“:

Cyber Operator

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time


Cyber Operators conduct defensive cyber operations, and when required and where feasible, active cyber operations [emphasis added]. They liaise and work collaboratively with other government departments and agencies, as well as with Canada’s allies to enhance the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ability to provide a secure cyber environment. They monitor CAF communication networks to detect and respond to unauthorized network access attempts and provide cyber support to meet the operational requirements of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and joint enablers.

A Cyber Operator has the following responsibilities:

*Collect, process and analyze network data

*Identify network vulnerabilities

*Manage a computer network environment

*Conduct defensive and active cyber operations [emphasis added]

*Apply security and communications knowledge in the field of information technology…

And a 2016 post–it seems progress is being made but I believe that comparatively we spend a lot less on cybersecurity etc. matters than the US, UK or Australia (typical, eh?):

Offensive Cyber Capability for Canadian Forces? Is the New Government Cyber Serious?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

OSINT IMINT: Commercial Space Eyes over Ukraine and Russia

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “BlackSky has been publishing its satellite imagery and analysis of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. This April 10 image details damage to Dnipro International Airport, with algorithms highlighting aircraft on the airfield. Credit: Maxar Technologies”.)

All those images we’ve been seeing on television. First from Defense One:

As Satellite Images Reshape Conflict, Worries Mount About Keeping Them Safe

Radio data collected from space is the next frontier.

By Patrick Tucker

Technology Editor

If Russia is defeated in its war against Ukraine, it will be thanks in no small part to publicly available satellite images. Pictures of Russian military movements and actions have helped mount defenses, expose Russian falsehoods and war crimes, and galvanize Ukrainian allies. But precisely because the recent explosion in space-generated intelligence is proving so valuable, industry and military officials are concerned about potential adversaries’ growing abilities to target satellites [emphasis added].

In the leadup to the invasion, images bolstered leaders’ credibility as they issued increasingly dire warnings. After it happened, the photos helped policy makers in Washington, Brussels, and elsewhere marshal support for sanctions on Russia.

“You’re in the middle of a war where a new piece of technology changes the calculus of decision,” Planet co-founder and CSO Robbie Schingler told Defense One. “It wasn’t just ‘Trust us, this is happening.’ Everyone could see it. You’re on a common operating picture” that enabled leaders around the world to “come up with their own decision making processes internally in their countries and then be able to act in unison when it matters.”.. 

Unlike military satellites that produce largely classified imagery, private-sector providers have much more freedom to release anything they like. 

“The shareability of commercial imagery has always been one of the key features,” Tony Frazier, Maxar’s executive vice president and general manager of public sector earth intelligence, said at the GEOINT conference here this week.

The availability of satellite imagery they could share and talk about made it easier for the Biden administration to rapidly declassify their analysis of Russia’s intentions and actions, said Robert Moultrie, the defense undersecretary for intelligence [emphasis added]

The U.S. intelligence community is entering a new era in which publicly available intelligence is given more weight and in which the U.S. government is more transparent about what it sees, particularly about Russia and China. Moultrie called the U.S. effort to warn the public about the impending invasion “a case study for us. And it really is one that’s going to really pave the way for the future.”

Some military leaders want to move even faster. Gen. Richard Clark, who leads U.S. Special Operations Command, said too much information remains classified, in part because it’s too easy for the national-security community to reflexively mark it as secret [emphasis added]

But declassification and the wide availability of satellite imagery also present a new challenge: how do you gain an edge if everyone has the same picture? That’s where officials hope that artificial intelligence and new forms of space-collected intelligence, such as radio-frequency data, will create new advantages.

Frazier highlighted work that Maxar has been doing with the Army’s 82nd Airborne, as part of their Scarlet Dragon events, which occur every 90 to 100 days. Over the past 18 months, he said, they learned how to move images to troops on the battlefield in one-tenth of the time.

The company is also putting up more satellites, which “is going to allow us to continue to collect imagery at very high resolution, so 30 to 50-centimeter resolution, but then also be able to dramatically increase revisit over areas of the world that matter [emphasis added].” Over the mid-latitudes, the region between the tropics and the polar circles that includes much of Asia, “We’ll have the ability to collect up to 15 times a day and then also be able to interweave that with other sources to just get persistence.”

In the years ahead, expect an explosion in other kinds of satellite-gathered data—for example,  unencrypted radio chatter from military units that are broadcasting their location via global positioning. At the conference, Annie Glassie, a mission analyst with HawkEye 360, a satellite company that specializes in gathering radio signals, showed how her firm could identify ships that had turned off their AIS receiver— in effect, trying to go dark.

Kari A. Bingen, HawkEye 360’s chief strategy officer, said, “What we are able to detect is effectively.. those electronic warfare, those indicators, emitters, jamming GPS radars, other things that are a leading indicator of, frankly, where Russia forces are and where they’re moving [emphasis added].”

Artificial intelligence is also adding value by combining satellite imagery with new forms of data, including in U.S. European Command’s activities near the Ukrainian border, said one senior executive with a satellite imagery company.

“The feedback we’ve received is that the capabilities both for the role of commercial imagery, the ability to apply AI machine learning against that data, and the things you can do with 3-D are playing a big role in supporting current missions,” he said. He declined to be named out of sensitivity to current operations.

But some officials and representatives from industry are increasingly worried that commercial intelligence satellites will soon become key targets for adversaries who want to return to the days when the world couldn’t easily track their military formations. [emphasis added].

“Both Chinese and Russian military doctrine now capture their view of space as critical to modern warfare. And they consider the use of space and counter space capabilities as a means of reducing U.S. military effectiveness and for winning future wars,” said Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, the chief operations officer for the U.S. Space Force. “We’ve seen destructive debris generated by anti-satellite missile tests, [radio-frequency] interference, cyber attacks on terrestrial space nodes and provocative on-orbit anti-satellite demonstrations, such as firing projectiles.”

They have also developed advanced ways to target U.S. government and commercial satellites, Saltzman said…

The industry executive said the government is beginning to have better discussions with satellite companies about protecting private assets… 

And earlier at Aviation Week and Space Technology (full text subscriber only–note Canadian company MDA):

U.S. Government And Space Companies Collaborate To Support Ukraine

Brian Everstine Jen DiMascio Joe Anselmo Garrett Reim April 12, 2022

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces surged to the border with Ukraine in a massive buildup of Russian military force before the February invasion, the U.S. intelligence community reached out to several commercial space companies and asked for a favor.

The secretive intelligence agencies wanted those imagery, sensing and analysis companies to go public with what they could collect over Ukraine, and do it fast. “Help us rapidly make available imagery” to show the buildup of troops, to help shape international outrage and pressure, Stacey Dixon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, recalled imploring companies before Russia invaded Ukraine. She was speaking at the Space Symposium April 5 in Colorado Springs.

As the violent invasion continues, companies are continuing to release their imagery tracking Russian movements on their own. The outreach from the intelligence community to the companies has not only helped shape the global outrage toward Russia [emphasis added]

“We’re telling the story that needs to be told,” says Daniel Jablonsky, the CEO of Maxar Technologies. “And I think, as the narrative of this conflict is written, we will look at space and space capabilities as a component of that. . . . This is probably the first time our imagery has been this prominent or relevant to a wartime situation.”

For the U.S. military and intelligence community, the capabilities of these companies have also had direct impacts on readiness. Commander of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson says that with commercial sensors collecting surveillance, he can shift some national assets to focus on other missions [emphasis added].

Maxar, which has been one of the most public contributors—with its images of a miles-long Russian convoy that have gone viral, for example—says it has ramped up its efforts to collect data from above Ukraine. Jablonsky says it is increasing its 3D capability as well, processing “more situationally relevant” data for U.S. European Command and NATO allies…

BlackSky uses artificial intelligence, cloud computing, sensor data fusion and autonomous satellite tasking to bring imagery to customers within 90 min [emphasis added].

“Many of the things that used to be so labor-intensive are now being automated and moving from humans to machines and artificial intelligence to solve the problem,” Wegner says.

The export of imagery still faces red tape for some. MDA, an Ontario-based synthetic aperture radar satellite company [website here], needed an export license from the Canadian government to sell its imagery [emphasis added]. Maxar is in contact with the U.S. government to make sure it keeps Washington happy. Florida-based Terran Orbital, a synthetic aperture radar satellite company, has been sharing its imagery with Ukraine for free.

Since commercial satellite images often are not classified,  some companies can be more nimble in distributing this imagery if they choose…

While much of the focus has been on imagery of military operations—dramatic photos of Russian convoys north of Kyiv or swaths of destroyed buildings in Mariupol—other data sets are proving their worth as well…

…The National Reconnaissance Office is not just buying services from Maxar. It is also releasing solicitations to bring in others with more capabilities such as synthetic aperture radar, an industry official says.

Commercial space companies have proven to be faster in adopting new, emerging technologies even as the government is trying to keep pace. The software and networks on which commercial products operate is more rapid and agile and able to quickly serve customers, but this does make the industry more susceptible to cyberattacks [emphasis added].

The government is evolving to develop a military or intelligence-community-specific capability from scratch only when it is needed. Increasingly, there is more of an opportunity to buy services or adapt what already exists. While this evolution is not new, the situation in Ukraine has shown its potential…

Keep your eyes on your TVs. Now for commercial plain text SIGINT…ain’t capitalism wonderful once in a while.

UPDATE: Now note this almost real-time intelligence from Maxar:

Related earlier post:

How US Got Intelligence on Russia vs Ukraine Right (cf. Iraq failure 2003 and collapse of USSR)–and the USSR, now Russia, as an Intelligence Target

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Kissinger, or, the Fons et Origo of Compradors as PRC Assets? And Note that United Front Work Department

Canadian suspects at the end of this post–mainly, but not exclusively, Liberal. At The Spectator on Henry the K.:

Isaac Stone Fish

How Kissinger became an asset of China

It started with Henry Kissinger. Before Intel apologised to China for attempting to remove forced labor from the company’s supply chains in December, before Disney thanked a Chinese public security bureau that rounded up Muslims and sent them to concentration camps, before LeBron James criticised the Houston Rockets’ general manager for supporting democracy in Hong Kong, before Marriott fired an employee for supporting Tibet, before Sheldon Adelson personally lobbied to kill a bill condemning China’s human rights record, even before Ronald Reagan called China a ‘so-called Communist country,’ the men whose relationship became a blueprint for everything that came after sat with Premier Zhou Enlai in a Chinese government guesthouse in July 1971, discussing philosophy.

By his flattery, persistence, and charm over dozens of hours of conversation over five years, Zhou initiated US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger as a friend of China. The friendship wasn’t merely diplomatic, or coldly strategic. The former assistant secretary of state Richard H. Solomon, in a formerly classified study about Chinese negotiating behavior, described Kissinger’s memoirs of the time as ‘replete with almost awestruck recollections of the personal escorts, elaborate tours, and lavish banquets meticulously arranged by his Chinese hosts during his nine visits between 1971 and 1976,’ the year that Chairman Mao Zedong and Zhou died. It was during these years that Kissinger helped bring isolated China back into the world order, and it’s when he became known as a friend by Zhou. Kissinger’s admiration persisted. ‘In some 60 years of public life,’ Kissinger writes in his 2011 book On China, ‘I have encountered no more compelling figure’ than Zhou.

Kissinger’s trips to China in the early 1970s were monumental not only for reestablishing a relationship between the two countries. They also inaugurated two distinct but interrelated phenomena that still shape America – and the United Kingdom, among other countries – today. The first is how Beijing employed tactics of the United Front – a Leninist concept of cultivating friends and weakening enemies of Communism – to shape American politics and business. The second is the rise of what could be called diplomat consultants – like former US secretaries of state Alexander Haig Jr. and Madeleine Albright, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair – who fit into the long-standing Chinese tradition of trading access for accommodation [emphasis added]. Increasing exposure to China did bring immense benefits to America’s economy and helped encourage millions of Americans to spend time in China. These are very real upsides, and they should not be ignored.

At the same time, these diplomat consultants are like field agents of Party influence, especially in the business world, where they help global firms compete and cohere to Party standards while instructing these same firms on how to chill anti-Party speech. And in the years since Kissinger established his consulting firm Kissinger Associates in 1982, Kissinger began to open doors for American companies in China – while actively dampening criticism of the Party amongst his massive network [emphasis added]. Starting in the early 1980s, Kissinger would frequently adopt a reverential and sentimental tone towards China, out of character for the textbook realist. From the George HW Bush administration, where he argued for a lighter response to the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, to the Trump administration, which he reportedly convinced not to meet with the Dalai Lama – Trump was the first president since Reagan to not meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader – Kissinger used his considerable government influence to weaken policies that targeted Beijing. Kissinger declined multiple interview requests. One of his representatives denied that Kissinger was an agent of Chinese influence, and called the allegation libellous. Kissinger’s relationship with China, he said, ‘is in the highest and best tradition of American statesmanship.’

All intelligence agencies recruit foreign agents. But the Party’s relationship with its American friends, Kissinger included, is different, because of the Party’s expansive attitude toward espionage {emphasis added]. There are two major differences between Washington’s and Beijing’s views on intelligence gathering. The first involves the deeply political nature of the Party’s intelligence and security services. In China’s intelligence agencies, like in many branches of its government, political commissars and Party secretaries work with their more technocratic counterparts to ensure the agency and its staff follow the correct political lines. ‘The Ministry of State Security People’s Police are red troops loyal to the Party,’ a ministry spokesperson said in January 2021, in reference to an internal Chinese police force.

The second is Beijing’s reliance on a wide range of nontraditional allies – including students, academics, businesspeople, and employees of nonprofits, both Chinese and foreign – to further its intelligence goals {emphasis added]. During the Cold War, the CIA helped fund the literary magazine Encounter co-founded by the influential neoconservative Irving Kristol. Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations showed some of the links between the National Security Agency and American companies like Verizon. In China, these links are the rule, not the exception.

Beijing still conducts normal espionage and spycraft: infiltrating enemy organisations, hacking into rival governments, and cultivating foreign agents—sometimes by sending them messages on LinkedIn. But it does a whole lot else, too.

In 2018 the Party History Research Center, an important institution that helps drive and reflect the Party’s view on history, published an essay on Zhou’s views on spying. Zhou believed the Party had a ‘remarkably’ different stance toward espionage from that of other countries, because it linked espionage with United Front work. ‘Zhou advocated making many friends, using United Front work to drive intelligence work, and nestling United Front work within intelligence work [emphasis added],’ the essay said. Before running the Chinese government as its premier, Zhou founded the Party’s intelligence unit and built its first espionage cells. Zhou, in other words, was the Party’s first spymaster. And in this Chinese sense of ‘espionage’, Kissinger was Zhou’s most important American asset. In Chinese parlance: a friend.

The annals of spycraft are replete with people who likely had no idea they were being fooled. ‘Any unwitting agent is more effective when left in the belief that they are genuinely holding the moral high ground, not representing an authoritarian intelligence agency,’ Thomas Rid, a professor of security studies at King’s College London, testified to Congress in March 2017. The best agents, in other words, are the ones who don’t know they are agents [emphasis added][

Because of the mismatch between the Party’s expansive view of espionage (that includes what American targets often perceive simply as friendship) and the more constrained Western view, Americans often don’t understand the deal they are taking when they ‘accept’ the friendship. Indeed, few friends have ever expressed any public awareness of what friendship actually means: support not of China but of the Party. The Party expects friends to silence their criticism, so as not to ‘embarrass’ or ‘offend’ China, and to praise and advance the Party’s policies. ‘Being a “friend” of China means you’re politically in tune with the Communist Party,’ said the longtime China scholar Perry Link, ‘whether you know it or not [emphasis added]...

… the most accurate way to describe Kissinger, from the time he started his consulting company in 1982 to the present, is as an agent of Chinese influence. He may be one of the most brilliant Americans of the twentieth century—and a former intelligence agent himself—but he should have been more vigilant.

Isaac Stone Fish is the founder and CEO of Strategy Risks. He is a former Asia Editor of Foreign Policy magazine and Beijing correspondent for Newsweek. His book ‘America Second: How America’s Elites Are Making China Stronger’ is out in the UK.

Some Canadian suspects: Jean Chrétien, Paul Desmarais, Maurice Strong, André Desmarais (preceding three all Power Corp.), Peter Harder, John McCallum, Dominic Barton, et al., et al., et al. See the board of directors of the Canada China Business Council, our Comprador Central:

See this 2020 piece by the indispensable Terry Glavin for more on some of those suspects:

The Liberal legacy comes with baggage

Plus this March 26 from Terrible Terry:

Weekend Newsletter Special: The Comprador in the Conservative leadership race keeps digging. Here’s the bedrock Jean Charest is about to hit.

I’ve done some digging of my own. It turns out the whole thing is greasier than I thought, and I thought it was pretty greasy to begin with. . . (Mr Glavin’s newsletter is well worth the subscription–disclosure: he’s a good friend).

Related posts:

Did PM Trudeau Pay Heed to what Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said about PRC Interference in Canada?

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Look, Ma! In the US They Arrest People for Interfering in Elections for the PRC

And for other nefarious actions on behalf of the Chicoms. Further to this September 2021 post (there indeed appear to have been no sanctions of any sort vs the PRC),

Don’t Bet on a PM Trudeau Government Investigating PRC Interference in Canada’s Election (note UPDATE)

one does wish PM Trudeau’s government would follow the lead of President Biden’s Justice Department on this sort of thing, but one has minimal expectations–need those Chinese Canadian votes in certain ridings (electoral districts), eh? From the BBC:

Chinese plot to smear US Congress hopeful unveiled

Unsealed files have revealed a plot by five people working on behalf of Chinese secret police to stalk and harass a US military veteran running for Congress, and to spy on an artist.

It is the first time, they say, a federal election campaign has been undermined in this way in America.

The perpetrators went to “outrageous and dangerous” lengths to do so, the Department of Justice said.

Three of the accused have been arrested, but two are at large.

According to court documents, they are accused of “transnational repression schemes” to target American residents whose political views and actions were “disfavoured by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government .

The co-conspirators allegedly tried to “interfere with federal elections” by orchestrating a campaign to undermine the US congressional candidacy of a military veteran who was once a leader of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing [emphasis added–he is very likely Xiong Yan, a Democrat].

In another plot, they planned to destroy the work of a Chinese artist, living in Los Angeles, who had been critical of his home government, and allegedly planted spy equipment in the artist’s workplace and car.

Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis and Shujun Wang were all arrested in the Eastern District of New York earlier this week.

Two other suspects, Qiang “Jason” Sun and Qiming Lin are at large.

Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the plots had involved campaigns to “silence, harass, discredit and spy” on US residents for “simply exercising their freedom of speech”.

He added: “The United States will not tolerate blatantly illegal actions that target US residents, on US soil, and undermine our treasured American values and rights [BUT PM TRUDEAU’S GOVERNMENT BASICALLY DOES DIDDLY].

The details of the allegations revealed on Wednesday, allege Mr Lin hired a private investigator in New York to disrupt the Brooklyn man’s congressional campaign, including “by physically attacking” him.

The man had been a student leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, who had escaped to America, become a citizen and served in the US military,

In 2021, he announced his intention to run for a US congressional seat on Long Island in the November 2022 general election.

Matthew Olsen, an assistant attorney general for the Justice department said the case represented “a conspiracy to derail the congressional candidacy of an American citizen” and warned that it and the others unveiled today were examples of the “alarming rise in trans-national repression… authoritarian states around the world feel emboldened to reach beyond their borders to intimidate or exact reprisals against individuals who dare to speak out against oppression and corruption”.

Mr Liu, 62, of Long Island, New York, and Mr Ziburis, 49, of Oyster Bay New York, are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government, conspiring to commit interstate harassment and the illegal use of a means of identification.

Mr Liu, the president of a media company in New York, and Mr Sun are charged with conspiring to bribe a federal official in connection with a scheme to obtain the tax returns of a pro-democracy activist residing in the United States.

Mr Lin, 59, of the PRC, is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment, as well as conspiring and attempting to use a means of identification.

Mr Lin, it is alleged, works on behalf of the PRC’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), the Chinese intelligence and secret police agency [emphasis added].

Sigh for Canada. Very relevant posts:

Did PM Trudeau Pay Heed to what Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said about PRC Interference in Canada?

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

Little-Known Component of Canadian Intel Community Blows the Gaff on Organ of PRC/CCP Interference

And consider this wide-open medium for PRC/CCP influence activities within the Chinese Canadian community:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

PRC vs Canada: Seems to Take Years to Bring Espionage-Related Charges; When Will we See an Actual Spying Case?

At last it appears PM Trudeau’s government is allowing legal action against an alleged agent on behalf of PRC interests; now how about some actual charges for espionage? The US has successfully prosecuted these over several years; does anyone believe the PRC’s intelligence arms are also not very active in Canada? Which would seem a much, er, softer target. Further to this twitter thread on the bringing of charges in this case,

now the latest at the CBC, with video–it sure took a perishingly long time before he was charged:

CSIS warned space agency about ex-engineer now facing charges: court documents

Wanping Zheng is accused of using his space agency status to negotiate contracts for a Chinese company

Catharine Tunney, Nick Boisvert ·

Canada’s spy agency sent multiple warnings to the Canadian Space Agency about Wanping Zheng, a former engineer now accused of negotiating on behalf of a Chinese aerospace company — and even refused to give a presentation at the CSA because it knew Zheng would be there, according to new court documents.

The RCMP charged 61-year-old Zheng last December with breach of trust in a case police say is tied to foreign interference.

According to an affidavit used to obtain search warrants on his phone and email, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service sent three warnings to the space agency about Zheng’s “reliability status.”

Reliability status is a personnel security status within the federal government that is required before an employee can gain access to certain protected information, assets or work sites.

The first CSIS warning came in 2015, although at the time the agency didn’t offer many details about its concerns. CSIS also asked the space agency that year if Zheng would have had access to information related to an anti-vibration table — intellectual property belonging to CSA.

*Ottawa seeks to hide ‘sensitive’ details of foreign interference case from public view

*Former space agency engineer charged by Mounties claimed to have overseen major Canadian projects

CSIS sent two follow-up warnings in March and May of 2016 [emphasis added].

The next year, CSA renewed Zheng’s security clearance for two years instead of the usual 10 — an effort to monitor Zheng’s compliance with CSA internal policies, the documents say.

A spokesperson for the CSA wouldn’t comment on the timing of the renewal.

“When concerns about this individual’s private activities outside of their employment arose, the CSA took actions, including an internal inquiry and restricting access to information,” said CSA spokesperson Andrea Matte.

“We cannot comment further on a matter before the court.”

CSIS didn’t want Zheng in the room

In September of 2017, CSIS refused to make a presentation to the agency because it knew that Zheng was going to attend [emphasis added].

The documents say CSIS routinely reports on anomalies or irregularities without passing on specific details.

“The purpose of this procedure is to trigger an internal or police investigation without revealing or compromising their intelligence gathering techniques,” says the French affidavit.

A spokesperson for CSIS said they would not confirm or deny the specifics of investigations.

“What I can say is that CSIS routinely engages with a variety of stakeholders, including in the private sector, government partners and universities,” said Keira Lawson.

“Through these briefings, CSIS advises of potential threats to the security and interests of Canada, and provides unclassified briefings regarding the nature of specific threats.”

CSIS’s refusal to provide a briefing to CSA with Zheng in the room eventually helped to trigger an internal investigation into Zheng in 2018.

While Zheng was working at the agency, CSA technicians noted the presence of unauthorized software by a foreign company [emphasis added], say the recently filed court documents.

At least one secure file transfer service and a messaging application were identified on the computer, violating internal policy, the documents say.

Zheng was told of the CSA internal review on Dec. 17, 2018 and went on sick leave a few days later. 

The space agency went to the RCMP in September 2019 to report that it suspected Zheng had transmitted secret information to a third party.

[Emphasis added–unlike the FBI, CSIS has no law enforcement powers (cf. MI 5); but why did not CSIS itself get the RCMP on the case earlier? Co-ordination between the two organizations has long been a problem, see this 2021 report by our National Security and Intelligence Review Agency: “Review of the CSIS-RCMP relationship in a region of Canada through the lens of an ongoing investigation”.]

*Quebec man accused of using space agency status to negotiate contracts for Chinese company

*Lawyer for RCMP official accused of leaking secrets seeks a stay of proceedings

Zheng resigned in December of that year after 26 years with the agency.

While requesting a search warrant to access Zheng’s BlackBerry, police said he communicated with five private companies while at CSA dating back to 2007 [emphasis added, Chinese or PRC-linked companies one assumes].

None of the allegations against Zheng have been proved in court. 

The search warrant request notes that foreign states are known to target officials with access to privileged information in order to steal intellectual property.

Last month, the federal government filed an application seeking to shield some details of the case from public view.

Under the Canada Evidence Act, a judge can decide whether certain details in a case should be disclosed in open court or protected for national security reasons.

According to documents filed in Federal Court, the government is concerned that “sensitive information or potentially injurious information” will come out during Zheng’s criminal trial [this possible release of intelligence sources and methods has hindered CSIS/RCMP cooperation on cases for years].

He is scheduled to make an appearance in court next week.

PREDATE: Plus our legal processes go on forever–Cameron Ortis was arrested in 2019, trial not scheduled to start until this fall:

Very relevant recent post, note others listed at bottom”

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds