Wesley Wark


In a post 9/11 world, the changing face of national security threats and the technological possibilities opened up by internet, mobile wireless, and computer surveillance capabilities have transformed and heightened long-standing concerns about the intrusive powers of intelligence agencies in democratic societies. These concerns are increasingly being focused, in large part due to the whistleblowing revelations of Edward Snowden, on the activities of intelligence agencies with a foreign intelligence mandate but with a reach back into domestic communications. In the Canadian context, the intelligence agency that deserves heightened scrutiny is the secretive Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

My presentation will focus on CSEC’s post 9/11 mandate and legal authorities and the privacy concerns raised around its metadata collection and foreign intelligence sharing practices. These concerns have been at the forefront of a recent lawsuit issued by the BC Civil Liberties Association, and in a recent Federal Court statement on warrants.


Wesley Wark is a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He recently retired from the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs where he had taught since 1988. He holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and an MA from Cambridge University.

He served for two terms on the Prime Minister of Canada’s Advisory Council on National Security (2005-2009) and served on the Advisory Committee to the President of the Canada Border Services Agency from 2006 to 2010.

Professor Wark’s most recent book is an edited volume: Secret Intelligence: A Reader (2009). He is the author of a classified history of the Canadian intelligence community in the Cold War. Professor Wark has published extensively in the field of intelligence and security studies over the past 30 years. He is currently completing a book on Spy Power—a history of intelligence and international relations from 1900 to the present. His essay on “Cyber-Aggression and its Discontents,” appeared in the journal Global Brief in its Fall 2012 edition (online at www.globalbrief.ca).

Professor Wark writes and comments extensively for the Canadian and international media on issues relating to intelligence, national security and terrorism.

Wesley Wark
Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
University of Ottawa