CSIS warns of security concerns linked to foreign investment in Canada

Canada's spy agency has issued a warning about the national security risk posed by some foreign investment – but it is not saying which state companies and foreign state actors it is particularly concerned about.

The message was delivered to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service 2019 annual public report, presented today in Parliament.

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"Economic espionage activities in Canada continue to increase in breadth, depth and potential economic impact. Hostile foreign intelligence services or people working with the tacit or explicit support of foreign states try to bring together political, economic, commercial, academic, scientific issues. or military information by clandestine means in Canada, "says the report.

"As difficult as it is to measure, this damage to our collective prosperity is very real."

The report says that while most foreign investment in Canada is over the limit, "several state-owned companies and private firms with close ties to their government and / or intelligence services may make offers for corporate takeovers in Canada or in other economic activities. ".

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"The corporate acquisitions of these entities present potential risks related to vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, control over strategic sectors, espionage activities and foreign influences and illegal transfer of technology and knowledge," says the annual report.

"CSIS expects that national security concerns related to foreign investments or other economic activities in Canada will continue."

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The report is only CSIS's last word of caution about increasing economic espionage in Canada. Director David Vigneault called state-sponsored commercial espionage as the "biggest threat" to Canada's economy.

The 34-page report warns of foreign economic espionage several times, but does not cite the state actors involved. Earlier this year, however, the National Committee for Security and Intelligence of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), a review body made up of parliamentarians and senators, released a report specifically asking China and Russia to carry out significant and "foreign" interference activities. sustained "in Canada.

CSIS report signals movement & # 39; incel & # 39;

The identified CSIS annual report also addressed the threat posed in Canada by violent, ideologically motivated individuals, including those associated with the so-called "incel" online movement.

Toronto police say they are treating the murder of a woman in a massage parlor in Toronto in February as an act of terrorism after discovering what they say is evidence suggesting it was inspired by incel ideology.

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Supporters of this misogynist online movement often express frustration towards women because of their own lack of sexual success and sometimes threaten violence against them. Toronto police and the RCMP classify it as an "ideologically motivated violent extremist" movement.

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Alek Minassian, the driver accused in the Toronto van attack in 2018 that killed 10 people and injured 16 others, said in a police interview that he was inspired by incel ideology.

Minassian told the police shortly after the attack that his actions were retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. His trial for judges only was scheduled to start in early 2020, but has not yet started.

CSIS says that actors' reliance on threats to encrypted online technology remains an obstacle for intelligence agencies.

"They can avoid detection by police and intelligence officials, which often presents a significant challenge when governments investigate and seek to prosecute threat actors," says the report.

"Terrorist entities use cyberspace to increase the security of their activities. Radicalization, both offline and online, remains a significant concern for Canada and its allies."

Wednesday's report also looked at the number of security checks that CSIS performed in the last fiscal year as part of its mandate. Security assessments help to signal security concerns related to terrorism and espionage and help departments and agencies decide whether to grant, deny or revoke security clearances.

Through the Immigration and Citizenship program, it examined 217,400 requests from citizens and 41,000 refugees last year.

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