Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


Kim Nossal




Subversion, the same as espionage, foreign influenced activities, and terrorism represents a unique threat to national security. It has been included within the security mandates of several western democracies such as Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the united States. In Canada, subversion and the investigation of its activities have played a significant role in the history and development of the country's security and intelligence organizations. In 1984, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act became law, and paragraph 2(d) of the threat definitions section of the Act was intended to allow the Service to investigate subversive activities.

The debate over subversion as a threat to Canadian national security began in 1987 with the findings and recommendations of the Security Intelligence Review Committee's 1986-1987 Annual Report which questioned the validity of the counter-subversion branch of CSIS. In 1990 the debate continued when the Five-Year Parliamentary Review Committee of the CSIS Act recommended to the Solicitor General of Canada that section 2(d) be repealed from the legislation. The Committee's decision was based primarily on the belief that the other threat definitions of the Act could adequately cover the subversive threat in Canada.

Subversion is ideologically neutral and even though a particular organization may decrease in political significance the methodologies of subversion remain constant, and available to any movement on either the left or right of the political spectrum. Paragraph 2(d) therefore remains an integral part of CSIS' overall mandate and without it the Service would be incapable of advising the government as to the true extent of the subversive threat against the constitutionally established system of government.

McMaster University Library

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