When you open the computer and visit the Web, has it crossed your mind that someone with hostile intentions is looking at every action you make and accessing every important data you enter there? Is your regular talk mate at work, school or the coffee house a foreign agent? Does every word you carelessly blurt out in conversation a valuable gem of information worth recording?
Given how significant we average, normal folks are in the spying order of things, it’s most likely all of these things haven’t happened to you. Nevertheless, the awareness that someone out there is gathering secret information for the employer’s gain and the target’s loss has never been more important. In Brian Stewart’s February 1 report for the CBC, in the aftermath of Canadian naval officer Jeffrey Delisle’s arrest for selling intelligence to Russia, he states that espionage has vastly increased since the end of the Cold War. More countries are now involved, technological advances have greatly aided intelligence-gathering, and economic as well as military intelligence is the most sought-after treasure. The primary beneficiaries of these are Putin and the Chinese Communist Party, and Western governments and businesses are in a worried, costly scramble over securing their precious secrets against this aggressive, cyber-aided spying campaign.
Through all this, Canada has been at the receiving end of the outcries and sobs by Western intelligence, especially in the aftermath of the Delisle affair. The country is now the “soft underbelly,” the weakest link in the otherwise strong security fence against enemies of the Western capitalist world – never mind that the US and our other so-called allies have also suffered intelligence leaks. What this article concerns itself, however, aren’t the problems Canada and its allies face regarding this threat and the solutions in dealing with the latter, but rather a contemplation of it in connection to Canadian security and sovereignty. In short, this espionage threat in relation to Canada alone.
Canada has lived in a dependent relationship with other countries, specifically from the east and south of us, for most of its history. The French and British empires were replaced by the U.S. Empire. Uncle Sam has replaced Louis XIV and Queen Victoria as our objects of deference and genuflection. We now export more natural resources southward than eastward. When before the fashionable things in London are the fashionable things here, now the coolest stuff from New York is the coolest stuff here. We’re now apparently facing a threat from our west. Such a deferential history must be taken to account regarding grumbles and disapprovals from our security partners about our intelligence capabilities. The most important thing here is how this threat affects us solely. If our so-called partners tell us that a national approach to our security is narrow-minded and threatens to split the alliance, we must tell them back on how they expect Canada to perform well in the alliance when it’s treated as a subordinate member there. An effective alliance can only happen when all of its members and their opinions are treated equally, and right now this isn’t happening especially in regards to Canada.
In fact Canada can’t be too trusting of its allies, given that they’re also spying on this country. If we believe the argument that in this world, countries are only here for themselves, that acts of generosity to other nations are only for the country’s benefit, then Canada must be too wary in joining alliances that might not be beneficial to it. The autonomy and sovereignty of this country must be the basic pillars of Canadian security policy. The protection of national interests, namely the defence of domestic development and the promotion of a more independent position globally, must be its guiding principles. If this would involve leaving the Western alliance and going alone, so be it. One of the documentary’s interviewees was right when he said that the popular belief of being Canadian equals no outside threats is “wrong” and dangerous. Anyone interested in ensuring our independence must be prepared to do what’s needed to keep it as such.
EDIT: Added links to the web article and video of Mr Stewart’s report (07-12-2013).