Canada’s spies expecting a budget boost
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Feb 23, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Canada’s spies expecting a budget boost

Canada’s two main intelligence agencies expecting $95 million boost in intelligence, cyber defence mandates


OTTAWA — Canada’s spies are expecting a budget boost when the Liberals table their first fiscal plan next month, documents released Tuesday show.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) have estimated an additional $95 million for intelligence and cyber defence operations next year.

The figures were released in the government’s main estimates document, a best-guess scenario for departments and agencies released a month before the Liberals table their first budget.

CSIS expects an additional $35.5 million “in support of Canada’s national security and the safety of Canadians.” A breakdown of CSIS budget — grouped vaguely into “intelligence” and “security screening” — shows most of the increase will go to intelligence operations.

CSE, the electronic spying and cyber defence agency, is expecting a net increase of $59.5 million “in support” of its mandate. Specifically, CSE expects to spend the money to increase its “capacity to address cyber threats and advancements in technology.”

Together, the two spy agencies estimate they’ll spend $1.2 billion in 2016-17, a slight increase compared to the 2015-16 estimates of $1.075 billion.

CSE spokesperson Lauri Sullivan said in a statement that the funding will go to addressing several “key vulnerabilities” in government networks, as well as moving forward with the national Cyber Security Strategy.

“CSE’s mandate, including our unique skills in areas like cyber defence, are critical in advancing Canada’s national security priorities,” Sullivan wrote.

CSIS could immediately provide comment.

The estimates are not a perfect picture of what department and agencies will spend in the next fiscal year. They’re more of a best guess that is subject to change when the Liberals table their first budget on March 22.

But it’s clear that the spy agencies would like more resources, particularly in a political and media climate focused on the threat of terrorism.

The RCMP, meanwhile, expect to spend another $21.6 million on counterterrorism operations. The money was announced as part of the Conservatives’ last budget, which booked $293 million for counterterrorism to be split between the RCMP, CSIS, and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Parliamentary Protective Service, a RCMP-led team created to oversee security on Parliament Hill after a gunman stormed Centre Block in October 2014, has budgeted $62 million for its first full year of operation.

The agencies tasked with reviewing the actions of Canada’s spies, however, do not appear to expect an influx of cash from the new Liberal administration.

The Office of the CSE Commissioner expects to spend just $2.1 million in 2016-17, with a $90,000-increase over last year to expand the office’s physical space. The Security Intelligence Review Committee, which reviews CSIS’s actions, estimates a budget of $2.8 million this year — essentially unchanged from the year before.

William Galbraith, a spokesperson for the CSE commissioner, said the office is not concerned with its existing resources.

“We have a risk-based approach to assessing priority areas and activities to review,” Galbraith wrote in a statement to the Star. “In this context, we will assess the budget increase of CSE and where it is applied.”

Galbraith noted the office intends to hire another full-time employee this fiscal year, bringing the full complement up to 12 permanent employees.

Toronto Star

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