Foreign Interference (NCSB)


To provide an update on Canada’s security and intelligence community’s efforts to counter foreign interference.



Foreign interference is a hostile activity undertaken by foreign states that is purposely covert, malign, clandestine and deceptive. It can include threats, harassment and intimidation. These activities can be directed at Canadians, or residents of Canada, or against Canadian institutions to advance their strategic interests at the expense of our national interest and values.

Several reports have highlighted the threat of foreign interference in Canada. In its 2020 Public Report, CSIS stated that espionage and foreign interference activity observed over the past year had reached levels not seen since the Cold War. Furthermore, the 2019 and 2020 Annual Reports of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) both outlined foreign interference activities. The reports pointed to China and Russia as being particularly active in Canada. While these states may attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals in order to pursue anti-corruption measures, these tactics can also be used as a cover for silencing dissent, pressuring political opponents and instilling a general fear of state power no matter where the individual is located.

When foreign states target members of Canadian communities, these individuals may not know that they can report these activities. The fear of retribution can force these individuals to submit to foreign interference. These activities constitute a threat to Canada’s sovereignty and to the safety of Canadians. When CSIS is informed of any allegations of foreign interference, it uses the full mandate of the CSIS Act to investigate and respond to the threat. Furthermore, criminal foreign interference activity with a suspected nexus to national security is investigated by the RCMP.

Your predecessor, Minister Bill Blair, tabled an open letter to all Members of Parliament, outlining the threat of foreign interference, and what the Government is doing to address it, was sent on December 18, 2020 in response to the motion introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. Michael Chong (Wellington—Halton Hills) that was passed on November 18, 2020. The motion reads: That, given that (i) the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada’s national interest and our values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada’s borders, (ii) it is essential that Canada have a strong and principled foreign policy backed by action in concert with its allies, the House call upon the government to: (a) make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion; and (b) develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.

Election interference

In an effort to counter foreign interference against the 2019 Federal Election, the Government created the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force, composed of officials from CSE, CSIS, RCMP, and GAC. As members of the SITE Task Force, CSIS was involved in efforts to raise awareness and assess foreign interference threats against the 2019 and 2021 Federal Elections, and the RCMP provided law enforcement expertise. The SITE Task Force continues their work as threats to democratic institutions, such as foreign interference and disinformation, have not abated.

Date modified: