Press-Republican

Black

January 27, 2012

Tinker, tailor, soldier and spy

The arrest last week of a Canadian navy intelligence officer on charges of espionage has people wondering whether the Cold War ever ended.

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 40, of Nova Scotia faces charges of breach of trust under the Security of Information Act, the first such charges to be laid under the statute adopted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He is alleged to have passed military secrets to a foreign government, which, though not stated by authorities, is reported to be Russia.

There are lots of intriguing angles to this tale of espionage ranging from why he (allegedly) did it to how he got caught to what secrets would be of interest to the Russians. Some answers may never be known or made public since it's possible Delisle will face trial behind closed doors, given the apparent risks to national security.

What we have learned about the suspect through media investigation since his arrest points to a financial rather than ideological motivation. (Of course, since the fall of the Iron Curtain — seems almost quaint now, that expression Winston Churchill coined — a fondness for communism has pretty much disappeared as a motivation for spying.) Delisle was apparently in persistent financial difficulty, even declaring bankruptcy at one point, trying to support a family of four children on a paltry army salary. He worked his way up the military ranks, getting ever closer to the inner circles of military intelligence. All the while, his marriage was falling apart, leaving him with sole custody of his three youngest children.

It was while he was working as a junior intelligence officer at National Defence HQ in Ottawa in 2007 that Delisle is alleged to have begun to have access to information that might have been of interest to the Russians. This access continued when he was posted to what is described as the "navy's top-secret Atlantic listening post" in Halifax, where he was arrested.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo