In the latest CDA Institute Vimy Paper, Leah West of the University of Toronto explores the legal implications of Canada adopting a more assertive posture in cyberspace. 


The past two years have marked a turning point in Canada’s cyber defence and security policy. In “Strong, Secure and Engaged,” the Government of Canada called on the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to adopt a more assertive cyber posture. To implement this policy, the CAF will have to rely heavily on Canada’s civilian signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Under the proposed Bill C-59: An Act Respecting National Security Matters, CSE’s responsibilities will be expanded to include the provision of technical and operational assistance to CAF and the Department of National Defence, and a mandate to engage in defensive and active cyber operations. This paper assesses the international legal implications arising from CSE’s expanded mandate and the risks of relying on civilians to engage in offensive operations in an armed conflict. Looking to our five eyes partners for guidance, the paper also makes a series of policy proposals to minimize the risks to Canadian security and international relations arising from those implications.

Read the latest Vimy Paper here.

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