From the same people who brought you the "National Security Agency Spies on Foreigners" shocker, we now have the "Canada Is Secretly Devious" spectacle. Apparently it's a shock for some people -- namely, journalist Glenn Greenwald, the buddy of NSA contractor turned Russian defector Edward Snowden -- to discover how the world has always worked. I'm truly sorry (as we native Canadians tend to be), but color me unfazed and maybe even slightly miffed.
Greenwald worked with Brazil's Globo newspaper to "reveal" that the Communications Security Establishment (Canada's NSA equivalent) spied on Brazil's mining sector. Predictably, this story was picked up by the state-owned media in Russia, Canada's geopolitical rival in the Arctic, as some kind of major scandal.
Let he who was without the first wiretap cast the first stone. Oops, that wouldn't be you, comrades. One of the triggers for the Cold War was the 1945 defection of a Soviet cryptographer working at the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, revealing a massive network of Soviet spies within Canada.
It's hard to find a more politically benign citizenship than Canada's. I've heard about savvy American tourists who temporarily adopt their neighbor's nationality as cover -- with a Canadian-flag backpack patch, for example -- while overseas. When the American Embassy staff in Iran sought refuge from the Iranian hostage crisis (as depicted in Ben Affleck's Academy Award-winning movie "Argo"), they adopted Canadian cover.
And while both the Americans and the British have marketed and hyped their respective intelligence services through Hollywood films such as the James Bond and Jason Bourne series -- which seems counterproductive to the objectives of clandestine entities whose activities depend on remaining, you know, discreet -- most Canadians probably couldn't name even a single one of the various Canadian intelligence units.
Granted, some Canadians might have heard of CSIS -- the Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- which the government promoted last year through a series of YouTube videos seemingly intent on showing Canadian spies running around major Canadian cities and never leaving the country. The video series should have been titled, "CSIS: Barely Ever Out of the House."