Canada Considers New Measures to Protect Economy from National Security Threats

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OTTAWA — New measures to ensure Canada does not export sensitive technology to foreign adversaries are among changes Ottawa is considering to bolster the country’s economic security.

Other options include making it easier to impose fines on companies that don’t follow investment screening rules and mapping supply chains to identify critical vulnerabilities, according to a federal consultation paper.

The document, released under the Access to Information Act, was circulated to key parties in industry, academia and civil society last spring to gather views on better protecting Canada. against hostile actors seeking to exploit the country’s technologically advanced sectors.

Public Safety Canada is expected to publish a summary of comments shortly.

The document states that Canada benefits from the vast majority of foreign investment in the country, trade in Canadian goods and technology, and research partnerships between foreign organizations and Canadian universities and research institutes.

However, he adds, some foreign states and non-state actors are trying to acquire technologies or forge commercial partnerships that can potentially jeopardize Canada’s national security and long-term economic prosperity.

“Canadian businesses, in almost every sector of our economy, have been targeted.

The frequency and sophistication of state-sponsored threat activities are increasing, the consultation paper adds.

Threats take the form of espionage, theft and cyberattacks.

But the government warns they can also be made covertly in otherwise legal transactions such as foreign investment in sectors and industries critical to Canada’s security, or the purchase or transfer of goods, technology and knowledge. -do sensitive that are currently not subject to export controls.

Other threats involve the purchase of controlled goods and intellectual property through front companies, brokers or others who misrepresent the end use, as well as overseas funded partnerships between Canadian researchers and entities related to adversaries.

The consultation document does not mention specific countries of concern. However, Canadian security officials have long warned that Russia and China, in particular, are targeting Canada’s classified information and advanced technologies.

Nonetheless, the exercise aims to ensure that Canada’s approach is effective in responding to threats, regardless of the source.

Among the federal proposals:

— Creation of a continuously updated list of companies, research institutes, governments and individuals subject to specific export permit requirements to help Canadian businesses feel more secure knowing that their goods are not shipped to a buyer of concern;

— more lenient, and even harsher, penalties for violations of investment screening rules designed to protect Canada against threats to national security;

— government assistance to businesses to better understand the vulnerabilities of their global supply networks for the supply of goods;

— and provide federal venture capital to sensitive tech companies to circumvent the need for foreign investment from potentially risky sources.

The government led the creation of national security guidelines to help protect federally funded research.

The recent federal budget provided nearly $160 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $33 million ongoing, to fully implement the guidelines, largely through work with colleges. and universities.

The consultation document also asks how different levels of government can better cooperate to protect sensitive and emerging assets and technologies, critical infrastructure and personal data.

Cybersecurity is a vitally important issue affecting businesses large and small, as breaches can result in losses to customer privacy as well as operational productivity, said Mark Agnew, senior vice president of policy. and government relations at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“So this one really stands out to me as such an important part of the conversation around national security threats.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 24, 2022.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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