Book Review: Nest Of Spies


Nest of SpiesNest of Spies

The Startling Truth About Foreign Agents At Work Within Canada’s Borders

By: Fabrice de Pierrebourg and Michel Juneau-Katsuya

Nest Of Spies” provides an intriguing window into the booming business of espionage, the goals and techniques of foreign agencies, and who is doing what to whom. In doing so it paints a disturbing picture of Canada’s failure to protect itself from predatory foreign powers, to the detriment of both our national interests and our citizens’ safety and well-being. This book is of special interest to whistleblowers because it validates former diplomat Brian McAdam’s warnings (dating back to 1993) that Canada has been infiltrated by Chinese agents and organized crime.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya
Michel Juneau-

The craft of espionage is as old as human conflict, but the collapse of the USSR and the end of the ‘Cold War’ seemed to promise the beginning of a new, more peaceful era, with perhaps less need for espionage.

This proved to be a false hope. As the threat of military conflict between superpowers ebbed, the battle for commercial supremacy intensified. Hence the considerable resources and expertise that countries like Russia previously devoted to military espionage were simply redirected into areas such as industrial espionage, in an attempt to modernize outdated industries. Stealing new technology is so much quicker and cheaper than developing it.

Fabrice de Pierrebourg
Fabrice de

Many developed countries – such as the USA, Britain and France – quickly responded, both to defend themselves and to counter-attack, and without a clearly-defined enemy soon everyone was spying on everyone else: stealing technology from friends is just as profitable as stealing from enemies.

The agents of foreign powers pursue multiple goals: industrial espionage, to enhance their trade and commerce; military espionage to enhance their weapons and military capabilities; propaganda and political interference, to protect their interests by ‘peaceful’ means; and the monitoring and control of immigrant populations abroad. The latter is particularly important to despotic regimes which seek to silence all critics – including those who have escaped and sought refuge in other countries.

Canada is a tempting target because we are a rich country – a substantial market – with much leading-edge technology and close connections (economic, military and political) to the USA and other developed countries. Our accepting, multicultural society makes it easy for foreign agents to blend in and go undetected. Our large immigrant population also represents a threat to certain foreign powers – harbouring escaped dissenters who must be monitored and neutralized – as well as an opportunity to recruit as agents immigrants who either remain loyal to their home country or can be coerced.

In addition, the risks to foreign agents operating in Canada are virtually non-existent because we have weak laws and weak (arguably non-existent) enforcement – agents are rarely caught, rarely expelled or put out of business, and almost never punished. All in all, foreign agents operating in Canada may consider that they have died and gone to heaven. Small wonder that by some estimates Canada’s losses to industrial espionage run at about $10-12 billion/year – five times worse than the USA on a per capita basis.

Who is taking the most advantage of Canada’s weakness? – many countries (the book names them) but above all China, which has a massive presence here and aggressive goals.

China has been given permission to maintain 120 ‘diplomats’ on Canadian soil – double that of our neighbour, ally and largest trading partner the USA. It is estimated that more than 200 Canadian companies are fronts for Chinese industrial espionage. In 2006 Prime Minister Harper claimed that there are more than 1,000 Chinese agents operating in Canada. In 2007 the head of CSIS testified to a Senate committee that China is the most dangerous of more than 15 countries operating espionage agents here. It seems evident that CSIS does not have the resources to cope with this tsunami of foreign snooping, theft and interference – it is swamped.

Besides industrial espionage, one of the main goals of Chinese agents is to control the Chinese population in Canada, and above all to attack a perceived enemy: the Falun Gong. A Chinese agent who defected in Australia revealed that within Chinese missions around the world this attack is assigned more resources than any other single program. Falun Gong is a peaceful spiritual movement that used to be officially encouraged in China until 1999, when its popularity spooked the Communist leaders and it was swiftly outlawed and denounced as an “evil cult”.

Within China, Falun Gong practitioners face persecution worse than any other religious or ethnic group, suffering mass confinement in labour camps and, it is believed, summary execution to obtain organs for transplants. Canadians who belong to this movement are subject to constant harassment right here in our own cities, ranging from physical threats and violence to political manoeuvres designed to discredit, silence and marginalize them – while Canadian authorities turn a blind eye or even provide cover by parroting the Chinese mission’s crude propaganda.

Let’s return to the whistleblower connection and Brian McAdam, because this illustrates in a nutshell our leaders’ chronic ineptitude and refusal to face reality on security matters. In Canada, the Sidewinder report, which addressed many of the concerns about China described in Nest of Spies, has been systematically suppressed and every effort made by officialdom to discredit it. The report itself was ordered destroyed and thousands of pages of evidence shredded, including all of McAdam’s files on the infiltration of the Canadian mission in Hong Kong.

Fortunately a similar investigation was conducted in the USA around the same time by a House Select Committee. This produced the Cox report which arrived at virtually identical conclusions. However, unlike Sidewinder, the Cox report is publicly available, courtesy of the US bureaucracy. It even be purchased (in summary form) as a paperback from Amazon.

I recommend "Nest of Spies" as an antidote to complacency about Canada’s safety and security in a dangerous world.

David Hutton
Executive Director, Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR)
February 11th, 2010

"Nest of Spies" is available from

A Related Publication: The Cox Report

"The Unanimous and Bipartisan Report of the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China"