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Jack Hooper, deputy director of CSIS, waits to testify at the Maher Arar inquiry in Ottawa in August, 2005. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
Jack Hooper, deputy director of CSIS, waits to testify at the Maher Arar inquiry in Ottawa in August, 2005. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Jack Hooper, former CSIS deputy director, dies at 57 Add to ...

Canada's most memorable spy of the post-9/11 era has died of a heart attack. Jack Hooper was 57.

Mr. Hooper had been a popular deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service until his retirement a few years ago.

He had spent his career with CSIS, joining the intelligence service as it was created in 1984 from the ruins of the discredited RCMP security service.

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An ex-Mountie, Mr. Hooper emerged as an unabashed and outspoken terrorism fighter over the past decade. It was through some of Mr. Hooper's initiatives that CSIS began its more assertive role in launching international operations, a move that blunted criticisms from allied spy services that CSIS operatives were often merely passive "postboxes" for intelligence when stationed abroad.

He rose through spy service's executive ranks in the aftermath of Sept. 11. He had a hand in some of Canada's most sensitive and controversial spy-service files, including CSIS's reaction to the Maher Arar affair and the security agency's interviews of Omar Khadr while the Canadian teenager was detained in Guantanamo Bay.

CSIS reacted to his death with a brief statement, lauding him for helping to keep the country safe.

"We offer his family and friends our sincerest condolences during this sad time," read the message. "Jack dedicated his career at CSIS and the RCMP, to his country and to the protection of Canadians. He will be missed."

Inside the service, Mr. Hooper was known for his colourful, blunt language - "Jackisms" to his fellow CSIS spies - that cut through standard bureaucratic verbiage but more than occasionally landed him in hot water. For example, when Canadian telecommunications engineer Maher Arar was arrested passing through the United States, and CSIS officials were scrambling to figure out what the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency might do to him, Mr. Hooper opined in an internal memo, "I think the United States would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him."

The remark was prescient: Mr. Arar was rendered by the CIA to Jordan, and then Syria, for interrogation, before returning to Canada. Mr. Arar won a $10-million legal settlement for his wrongful arrest and overseas torture. Judges faulted RCMP officials for investigative bungles in the Arar affair and related cases, while making more muted criticisms against CSIS - but they found the security agencies didn't sign off on any rendition.

When the wider war on terror was at its most heated, it was Mr. Hooper who emerged as the public face of Canada's counterterrorism efforts at many hearings. He was charismatic, often outshining Privy Council Office bureaucrats Ward Elcock and, then, Jim Judd, who were appointed as CSIS bosses. Mr. Hooper sometimes veered off message from the official government line - claiming at a Parliamentary committee in 2006, for example, that Canada wasn't doing nearly enough security checks of Afghans and Pakistanis coming to Canada.

Mr. Hooper retired from the spy service in 2007, and went to work for a Toronto telecommunications company. Earlier this week, he attended the True Patriot Love fundraiser gala in Toronto, a party that raised more than $2-million for Canada's war wounded in Afghanistan.

With files from Adrian Morrow

Follow on Twitter: @colinfreeze

 

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