This is a transcript, prepared the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, of an interview that CBC reporter Brian Stewart conducted in April, 2010, with Richard Fadden, Director of CSIS.
Portions of the interview were broadcast as part of a CBC documentary, along with a separate follow-up interview. In the transcript below, Mr. Fadden talks generally about how he communicates with the Prime Minister's Office and makes the suggestion that foreign entities may be influencing Canadian politicians.
BRIAN STEWART: Director, first of all, thanks very much for giving us the time on a busy day. You don't often have film crews in here.
Secrecy has been so much a part of CSIS from the beginning, I wonder if you could talk a little about how you see the job, how you see the role of CSIS, and really some of the misconceptions that are out there?
RICHARD B. FADDEN: I think the main thing to remember is that CSIS is an organization that gathers information. I mean, we do this through a variety of means, mostly through talking to people. So we try and gather information to inform governments so that they can take better policy decisions. We also use some covert ways of doing it.
But essentially we, both in Canada and abroad, we seek to find out what's going on in respect of threats to the security of Canada. And these days, the main threat I think is counterterrorism.
When the Service was created 25 years ago, it was mostly counterespionage. We also worry about things like weapons of mass destruction, foreign interference, which is increasing, and a variety of more specific files.
But mostly we're out there to try and find out what's going on.
BRIAN STEWART: Give us a sense though of your day as the Director. You have to inform the Government of Canada of threats on a daily basis, presumably. I mean, how does that happen? Can you give us a little bit of a sense of the atmosphere? Do you talk to the Prime Minister? How does it run, that part of your job of informing people?
RICHARD B. FADDEN: Well, I think it's done in a variety of ways, and I guess I'd create two modules. One is the longer-term strategic stuff. You know, we have a lot of people here. There are a lot of other people in the Government of Canada. We get together. We talk about things. And that's like in any other business: you develop procedures and you do things.
And in that respect, most of the consultation and most of the information is conveyed on paper. You know, we have a series of papers that we pass on to government.
If there's a particular incident, you know, or a crisis or emergency, we usually set up some sort of ad-hoc arrangement, depending upon who's involved. It may be only us or five or six departments. We create little taskforces and we try and draw in on information throughout the system and from our allies around the world.
If it's very, very urgent, you know, we might call the National Security Advisor. I might talk to my Minister. But because of the sensitivity of a lot of this stuff, we try and put it on paper. I mean, it's important to get things right. So to a considerable degree, our lives are meetings and reading.
BRIAN STEWART: But what about, say, at the very top in Canada, you're concerned about an issue. For instance, you think it should be taken not just to the Minister but, say, to the Prime Minister. How does that relation work in terms of briefing the Prime Minister of Canada?
RICHARD B. FADDEN: Well, we do it in two ways in Canada. One, the Minister can talk to the Prime Minister and depending upon the Minister and depending upon the issue, that sometimes happens.
By and large, though, I think most of our information is conveyed through the National Security Advisor. You'll probably know that one of the big issues in this community is coordination. So the government has created the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister whose main role is to act as a funnel from the community to the Prime Minister.