COVID19 has shown that the greatest threats to Canada are not necessarily, terrorism, espionage or armed conflict. The intelligence, security and defence community (public and private) have an important role to play post COVID19.
First, we will likely see an expansion of current offerings beyond counter-terrorism and the protection of central government, and an re-investment in countering threats to the country’s economic well-being, and the health and prosperity of its citizens. There is a requirement to ask what Canadians need and want from their defence department, intelligence and security services.
Next, we will likely see a recalibration of performance measurement based upon efficacy (tax dollars spent/value of intelligence provided in the common good) and a transparent delivery of the demonstrable public service. Intelligence services operate out of the shadows more frequently. They will communicate more frequently in a clear and direct fashion with the public as to the unique value and services they provide.
They will battle foreign mis-information with increased vigor through counter-narratives and information peacekeeping operations. “The scope of disinformation pushed by [our] adversaries must become a permanent top priority. Our intelligence agencies will need to work more closely with the private sector to help fend off foreign attempts to weaken our democracy and global influence.”
External resourcing and partnerships with industry will become key. “As the scope of national security is broadened, we must recognize that information about the economy, health, supply chains and other public activities is far more likely to come from open sources than clandestine ones.” National critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector. Small Medium Business (SMEs) account for 99.8% of businesses in Canada 80.6 of labour force 52.5% of GNP. This represents enormous potential for developing a sovereign and resilient capability for partnerships and potentially a new client base.
Finally, services will operate more effectively outside closed-source communities as “open-source information [and methods] can deeply enrich intelligence.”