Marie-Hélène Chayer

Marie-Hélène Chayer spoke 29 times across 1 day of testimony.

  1. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Marie-Hélène Chayer, M- a-r-i-e-H-e-l-e-n-e, C-h-a-y-e-r.


  2. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)



  3. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, certainly. I am the Executive Director of ITAC; I’ve been in that position since September 2021. ITAC is an organization that was created in 2004 out of the National Security Policy to independently produce threat assessment using a broad range of intelligence information, both at the unclassified and classified level. We have three main lines of operation. The first one is to assess and recommend national terrorism threat level for Canada; the second one is to report and assess terrorism- related event trends and threats; and the last one is to assess and set terrorism threat level for Canadian interests worldwide.


  4. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes. So ITAC is co- located with CSIS headquarters, and we operate under the CSIS Act. And so I do have a reporting relationship to the Director of the Service, and our -- my organization works very closely with CSIS partners; we have access to the intelligence that is collected by the Service, and we assess it independently.


  5. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    That is correct.


  6. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, of course. So as I mentioned, ITAC was created in 2004, so after the CSIS Act was enacted. And when -- it was created, after the 9/11 incident, basically, to avoid siloes in intelligence assessments. And when it was created, it was decided by the department at the time to put it under the CSIS Act. So all the founding documents, the founding documentation of the centre stipulates that it operates under the CSIS Act.


  7. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    The government of the day decided to put it on under the CSIS Act.


  8. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, actually, ITAC is responsible to recommend the national terrorism threat level.


  9. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Director of the service sets the level.


  10. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, so we use a very rigorous methodology to do that. So our analysts are trained to look at a number of indicators to come up with a recommendation. So the methodology uses both qualitative indicators and quantitative indicators. We look at all available intelligence. We consult with many security partners, and we specifically do an assessment of threat actors, intent, capabilities and opportunities to conduct an act of terrorism. Very important to point out that the assessment is specifically on the likelihood of an act of terrorism occurring in Canada. So once we've done all this work, those consultation, this analysis, we do it at least three times a year, or more often as required. When I'm satisfied with the assessment, we present it to the Director who then decides whether or not he takes the recommendation or the proposed level.


  11. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, of course. So the -- so as you very well know, the 2(c) and all the Act unlocks investigative powers for the service; right? ITAC is not a collecting agency. We do not collect intelligence. We assess already collected intelligence. And so the intelligence that the service collects under 2(c), this is the intelligence that we assess, along with other informations or consultations with partners to come up with a recommendation of the threat level.


  12. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)



  13. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)



  14. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    That’s correct.


  15. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    No, I was just also, just to reinforce something that Ms. Tessier mentioned. So it's not always the people making the threat that we're most concerned about, it's the people who will consume that rhetoric and be triggered and mobilised to violence. And to also answer another of your questions to how we evaluate the threats.


  16. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    At ITAC, we look at this fairly closely, and we apply the same type of methodology that we use for the terrorism threat level, which is to look at the threat actors, their intent, their capability, and the their opportunities. And so our analysts are trained, they have very detailed trade craft to learn to evaluate the intent based on the message. The message that says, "I wish that person would get killed" is really not the same as the message that says "I really dislike this person. I just acquired a gun and I'm going to shoot the person." So our -- I'm ---


  17. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    --- exaggerating, but it's just to give you the idea of how we actually look at those threats and look at them very closely with that trade craft and that methodology in mind.


  18. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    No, not entirely, because we -- when we -- we fall under the CSIS Act, so we look at the potential for terrorism, and so in that case, we don't look at just any serious violence. And so it needs to be motivated by ideology, needs to be done in the purpose of leading to a societal change. So in that sense, it's not completely different, it's just that we use it differently. We don't use it to determine whether or not we can collect on people since we don't collect intelligence.


  19. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes. When it falls within our mandate to look at a specific threat on social media, our analysts, who are specially trained, will take a look with that trade craft in mind, yes.


  20. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    I haven't -- I don't recall the exact reports so I wouldn't be able to say yes or no to that question.


  21. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, correct.


  22. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    You know, the threat level has five different levels and they’re fairly broad bands. And so the threat level fluctuates within the medium band, so it fluctuated during the convoy.


  23. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)



  24. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    I was also going to add, if I may, very quickly, that one of the challenges of studying IMV-related threats is that what mobilizes someone to violence can be very, very personal. The triggers are very personal. And so it's -- part of the assessment, the complexity is to try to understand what might bring someone to mobilize to violence, and that reason, that trigger can be very different from people. It can -- depends on their very personal experience and different grievances. So it's very hard to say that type of event might trigger that kind of violent extremism reaction. It depends for everybody.


  25. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Thank you. It would be very difficult to say. The ITAC was created in -- following 2004 policy, initial security policy, so it was not in existence right after the September 11 attacks.


  26. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Yes, we published that document January 26th, and it was distributed to our ADM NSOPs colleagues, so the broader national security community in the federal government. And the next day, we published an unclassified version, which was made available to our security colleagues in other jurisdiction.


  27. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    So our assessment pointed to a number of possible scenarios. We talked about the possibility of IMVE voices, if you will, leveraging the event to push their own narrative, their own violent narratives and potentially recruit and incite violence. We also talked about the possibility of this event and the very, you know, very present narrative of some IMV-inspired people, which could potentially trigger vulnerable individuals to mobilize quickly to violence and then conduct an act of terrorism.


  28. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    I completely agree. I would also add that we have seen during the pandemic, especially while people were staying home, they spent a whole lot of time on social media, on the internet, and there are surveys that have been done that show a large increase in the number of research -- people researching internet sites that have IMVE content. So we have seen that trend. We have seen also the number, as is written in the summary, the number of threats targeting public officials, politicians, have been increasing also quite significantly.


  29. Marie-Hélène Chayer, Executive Director (GC-ITAC)

    Sometimes. But I think as Ms. Tessier mentioned earlier today, one of the things that we’re very concerned is the people who actually consume the rhetoric, that see those threats, and get maybe inspired to conduct acts violence after having consumed all of those, you know, narratives. So when someone posts a threat against politicians, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has the intent to carry out an attack or, you know, to target the person, but it can and it has inspired others to do so.