Originally appeared on BNN.ca March 3, 2017.
As questions mount about the relationship between Donald Trump’s administration and Russia, a former CSIS director cautions that Canada would be wise to formulate its own national security plan.
“I don’t think the fact that a number of senior people in the United States have dealt with Russia is going to change the fundamentals of our relationship,” former CSIS Director and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Richard Fadden told BNN on Friday. “Russia’s there. We have to deal with Russia and I think we have to do so carefully, because their interests are very often not our own.”
“I think things will sort themselves out eventually,” he continued. “Our government, I think, is being cautious with Russia. Mister Trump’s view is less so. But I think we’d have to admit that what Mr. Trump says and what he does are not always entirely congruent.”
As for Canada’s national security stance when it comes to dealing with the new U.S. President, Fadden thinks the best course of action is to adopt a wait-and-see approach.
“I’m in the pack that says ‘let’s wait and see what he does,’ as opposed to getting very, very excited about everything that he and some of his colleagues say.”
Regarding Canada’s preparedness for security threats, including cyber-attacks, Fadden believes there’s still ground to make up on other G8 nations.
“Canadians feel very protected,” he said. “We have three oceans, we have the United States and, compared to a lot of other countries, we haven’t been the target as much as many people might think. On the other hand, we have this attitude that unless there’s a crisis, everything is going quite well.”
“I want to emphasize, though, that over the years we’ve gotten much better,” he added. “But the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries I think are a bit ahead of us.”
While Canada’s oil and gas or telecommunications sectors may be attractive targets to potential threats, one sector that Fadden believes is well-equipped to protect itself is Canada’s financial institutions.
“I think like every country in the world, the financial sector is a real target,” he told BNN. “The good news is they – the financial sector – have taken a lot of precautions. They are one of the better-prepared sectors of the Canadian economy.”