How fallout from top secret documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort could affect Canada

Former national security adviser to prime minister says Canada should be concerned

Vincent Rigby saw a lot over his 30-year career in public service, much of it working with some of the most sensitive and secret intelligence issues in Canada.

But for all that experience, the former national security adviser to the prime minister found himself in a state of disbelief in August when he saw the FBI search the home of former U.S. president Donald Trump and leave with boxes of highly sensitive, classified information.

“I was absolutely stunned that based on the media reports that I saw, he had in his possession what are reputed to be very, very sensitive documents and it’s just something that is unheard of,” Rigby said in an interview with The Fifth Estate.

“Just disbelief that somebody could take those out of the White House, stick them, I presume, on a plane or in a truck, drive them down to Florida and then put them … effectively in a basement, it’s just disbelief,” said Rigby, now a visiting professor at the Maxwell School of Public Policy at McGill University in Montreal.

The material has set off a damage assessment by the U.S. intelligence community as it tries to understand what classified information was contained in the documents the former president had in his possession.

But the concern extends beyond just U.S. intelligence. The United States is a member of the Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing organization that also includes Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Rigby said any potential security breach for one member has a ripple effect within the entire group and would also reverberate through the halls of the dozen or so agencies that share and collect intelligence in Canada, including the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

“In a worst-case scenario, there’s Canadian intelligence, that’s a direct implication,” said Rigby who played a critical role in Canada’s intelligence community as the national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister from January 2020 until his retirement in September 2021.