Strained Relationship and Resistance Between Canadian Intelligence Community and Watchdog

Released documents show a tense relationship between Canadian Intelligence agencies and their government-appointed watchdog organization.

Liam Hall
6 min readJun 5


Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

According to recently disclosed documents, there has been a notable strain in the relationship between the intelligence community and its primary oversight body over the past year, resulting from significant resistance to scrutiny.

The findings were revealed in briefing materials that were prepared for Canada’s highest-ranking public servant ahead of a late January meeting with the chair of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA).

These documents were made available to The Canadian Press in response to a request submitted to the Privy Council Office under the Access to Information Act.

This latest revelation serves as yet another indication of the serious tensions that have emerged between the spy watchdog and the federal intelligence agencies that it monitors. It comes on the heels of the recent release of records by the intelligence review agency, which expressed concerns about a prevailing culture within the Communications Security Establishment. This culture is characterized by resistance and hindrance to independent review, which in turn frustrates efforts to ensure compliance with the law by the cyberspy service.

Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash

These newly surfaced notes have come to light amidst an ongoing investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) into leaks of classified information to the media. These leaks include details from reports by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, alleging foreign interference by China in Canadian political affairs.

In January, Jody Thomas, the national security adviser, sent a memo to Janice Charette, the Privy Council Clerk, to provide her with background information before she met with the chair of the intelligence review agency, known as NSIRA. The memo states that the chair believes that there continues…



Liam Hall

I like to write about crime, among other things. Studying computer security. Join Medium using my referral link