April 6, 2016 5:40 pm
Updated: April 6, 2016 9:13 pm

Former CSIS head Richard Fadden says Canada could someday carry out cyber attacks

WATCH: Richard McFadden has held some of the most secretive jobs in the public service. But now that the former head of Canada's spy agency is retiring, he's lifting the lid a bit on the state of our intelligence agencies. Tom Clark has the details.

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Former national security advisor and CSIS director Richard Fadden thinks Canada might someday want to carry out cyber attacks on other countries.

“It may well be that in some circumstances it’s something that we’d want to do,” he told The West Block’s Tom Clark in an interview. Fadden only retired from the post of national security advisor on March 31.

“If we have Canadian troops somewhere around the world, Iraq as an example, and they can use somewhat offensive cyber initiatives in order to reduce the threat that they and allies are facing, I would say that’s not an unreasonable thing for the public service to pull together and ask the government if they want to do.”

With that said, he thinks it would be expensive and dangerous, and would prefer that resources in that area be directed elsewhere. “Personally I think we should be better at defensive. Really develop our capacity to resist these attacks and to make sure that people understand the level of threat that we’re under,” he said.

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Fadden also discussed whether Canada’s security agencies were striking the right balance between allocating resources to combat terrorism rather than tackling other activities like organized crime.

“I think the RCMP, CSIS, CBSA have all over the last two years redirected resources. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why,” he said.

“They’ve all said, I think, to the new government, ‘We can’t keep this up much longer. We’re really on the cusp.’ But terror terrorizes, and I think people had to reallocate.”

Fighting terrorism is very labour-intensive, he said. And he thinks that CSIS doesn’t have enough Arabic-speaking individuals to do things like infiltrate terrorist organizations.

WATCH: Former national security advisor on whether the government is focusing too much on terrorism

“I was at CSIS for a while as I think you know and I tried to encourage additional language training,” he said. “My former colleague at foreign affairs would say the same thing: we simply do not do enough. We’re doing better than we were ten years ago but no we don’t have enough.”

He also wondered whether Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s planned anti-radicalization program is the right approach. “I think the government has a role. I think it’s hard to argue there’s no role,” he said. “But in truth when you’re dealing with individual human beings, the federal government is not always the ideal level to work with.”

He thinks that although federal guidelines are helpful, the police and communities are better-suited to combat radicalization at the individual level.

You can watch Tom Clark’s full interview with former national security advisor and CSIS director Richard Fadden on The West Block, Sunday at 10 a.m. PT and 11 a.m. ET.

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