Better know a Canadian functionary: the Director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service

For a very long time in Canada, the RCMP (and the Dominion Police before them) ran Canada’s spy service. But they went crazy stamping out separatism in the 1970s, spying on FLQ and PQ members, forging documents, intercepting mail and wiretapping without a warrant, and setting fire to a barn and blaming the FLQ. These accusations reached a fever pitch in 1977, when judge David Cargill McDonald was appointed to head the euphemistically-named Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP. The McDonald Commission published a report in 1981 recommending how to deal with these problems: form an agency separate from the RCMP to handle Canada’s intelligence service. In 1984, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) was established to do so. CSIS is headed by a director, who is overseen by five Privy Councillors known as the Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

The directors of CSIS have been:

Thomas D’Arcy Finn, 1984-87. Ted Finn was a criminal lawyer and Crown prosecutor from Ottawa who was a secretary to the Cabinet for intelligence matters in the 1970s, and appointed the first CSIS director in 1984. He was in charge during the investigation into the extremists responsible for the Air India bombing of 1985. He resigned in disgrace as director in 1987 when it was revealed that some wiretap recordings in the Air India case were illegally erased. Finn returned to private law practice, and died in 2007.

Reid Morden CM, 1988-92. Morden was a career diplomat, and defended Ted Finn’s actions as director. Morden went on to serve as Deputy Minister of External Affairs (1992-94) and President of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (1994-98), and now runs a security analysis firm. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil.

Raymond Protti, 1992-94. Ray Protti came to CSIS after serving as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, then left CSIS to serve as Deputy Minister of Labour, then was President of the Canadian Bankers’ Association from 1996 to 2006. He now sits on the board of Ryerson University and is an avid opera fan.

Ward P.D. Elcock, 1994-2004. The nephew of Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Pitfield, Elcock served in the Privy Council Office before going to CSIS. Elcock was then Deputy Minister of National Defence from 2004 to 2007.

Dale Neufeld, May-November 2004 (acting)

James Judd, 2004-2009. Jim Judd spent 23 years in the Department of External Affairs, then was Deputy Minister of Finance (1996-98), Deputy Minister of National Defence (1998-2002), and Secretary to the Treasury Board (2002-04). He now works for the Trudeau Foundation.

Richard Fadden, 2009-2013. Fadden was previously in a number of minor government roles, then was President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (2002-05) and Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (2006-09). He made headlines in 2010 by declaring the Chinese were committing industrial espionage in Canada. He is now the Deputy Minister of National Defence.

Michel Coulombe, 2013-now. Coulombe was the first member of CSIS to be promoted to director, joining as an agent in 1986 and rising to Deputy Director of Operations from 2010 to 2013, then was appointed acting director in May 2013 before becoming permanent director that October.


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