Unfortunately, Canadian secret service is a myth. Meaning, it literally is nonexistent. There are no iconic spy names, few affairs worth a Hollywood movie, and no large international infiltration missions. Canada does not have a secret service to save its life. However, this is because it never needed one. Canada’s location, alliances, and international power have allowed it to thrive without. But don’t worry: Canada isn’t stupid. It understands the increasing necessity for intel as communications migrate onto the internet and out of tangible reach for the government. In addition, just because it doesn’t have an official office dedicated to intel, doesn’t mean Canadians don’t know how to spy.
The first activity of Canadian intelligence involvement can be traced back to the 1860s when they hindered the invasion of a rebellious Irish group. Then, in WW1, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were encouraged to provide law enforcement at a federal level. This meant, they gathered intelligence in the same way detectives would now. When the second World War broke out, Canadians partnered with Britain, working closely on the front lines in Europe. Together, they enjoyed small victories like tracking German U-boats, intercepting and decrypting German agent traffic, and growing the resistance war within Europe. Meanwhile, the RCMP conducted multiple successful domestic missions, capturing 3 German agents and infiltrating Canadian-Nazi groups. When the war ended, Canadians sought an agreement with the UK and USA which would share intelligence between the British Commonwealth and the United States. Today, this agreement goes by the name of the Communication Security Establishment.
Just because Canada does not have a spy agency, however, that doesn’t mean they haven’t had an espionage scandal. One of the most outrageous affairs to happen on Canadian soil goes by the name of the Gouzenko Affair. In 1945, a clerk in the Soviet embassy defected to the Canadian authorities, carrying a briefcase of scandalous information. He revealed to the RCMP that Soviet spies working undercover had infiltrated vital positions in Canadian government.
Until 1984, the RCMP still was responsible for most domestic espionage, until the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was created. They took over most of the domestic detective work that the RCMP had been doing.
Both the domestic agencies and international alliances aid Canada in their current spy wars they are fighting: terrorism, drugs, illegal immigration, and international espionage. We may not have to fight in international spy missions, but we have enough on our hand domestically: we fight the Cold War annually!
By Luise Sommer