After the Mounties; Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

After the Mounties

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigates terrorism, foreign espionage, and hate groups. It also conducts background investigations of public officials, as well as security checks for those emigrating to Canada.


CSIS was created in 1984 to replace the security service of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP), which had been accused of illegal actions in the 1970s.


CSIS does not conduct regular intelligence operations but rather, shares intelligence with allied services abroad. CSIS employees are not police officers.


The RMCP was implicated in the torture of Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was subject to CIA rendition in 2002. He was taken to a prison in Syria and tortured. A Canadian government inquiry found that the RCMP,  in its communication with the U.S. officials, falsely characterized both Arar and his wife, as “Islamic extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist movement.”  In 2007, Arar received a $10-million settlement and an official apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


Canadian intelligence agencies have detected “overt and covert” attempts to interfere with the country’s October 2019 elections, according to a joint Toronto Star and Buzzfeed News investigation.


”Threat actors are seeking to influence the Canadian public and interfere with Canada’s democratic institutions and processes….For example, over the years (CSIS) has seen multiple instances of foreign states targeting specific communities here in Canada, both in person and through the use of online campaigns,” said Tahera Mufti, a spokesperson for Canadian Security Intelligence Service.


The Canadian Security Intelligence Service budget in  2017-18 was $577 million.