a, Opinion

My CSIS and desist

 My dad keeps emailing me a link to apply to be an Intelligence Officer in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Since moving 4,000 kilometres away from my home town and leaving frequent face-time with him behind, what was once a playful career pitch over martinis has now become a quasi-regular feature of my Hotmail inbox. I look forward to these recruitment emails like a vegetarian looks forward to St-Hubert chicken discount flyers.

You may sensibly wonder what astounding qualities and qualifications provoke his endorsement. My eyes are so myopic that glasses, stylish or not, are a legal requirement if I’m behind the wheel. Despite being almost 25, I am also still not licensed to even be behind that wheel in the first place. And I still cannot speak Canada’s other official language outside of bars. To add to that overwhelming curriculum vitae of acquired skills, I have the reflexes of a toddler on a horse’s dose of Benadryl, and my ability to recognize and remember faces is almost an impairment when I sit down to play a game of Guess Who.

Despite knowing all these things about me, still, every other month or so, there is the email titled something unassuming like “hi” or “miss you,” and there inside is the link to the CSIS application site and some encouraging words. Something along these lines: “You could do this if you want to.” Now that’s parental confidence. Or well-intentioned delusion. I really can’t decide.

Can you imagine an intelligence agent using the bus in a car chase? Can you imagine her glasses fogging up as it begins to drizzle in the middle of pursuing a suspicious suspect? One pause to spritz n’ shammy so she doesn’t trip over a trash can, and the suspect is gone. And how would the Anglophone in as an incognito observer in a small Francophone village that may or may not be unknowingly harbouring an international criminal?

None of those situations end well for our heroine, and I have a niggling feeling that while a Hollywood director might pay someone to enact such a farce, the Canadian government is less interested in funding such comedic reality entertainment at the expense of the security of its citizens. (I also have a feeling those aren’t really the things CSIS agents do, but I refuse to believe my dad could be so enthusiastic about advocating for a career in desk-sitting and paper-pushing.)

When these recruitment sessions were over dinners, they were usually accompanied by a vivid verbal depiction of the typical workday I could look forward to: it starts with a plainclothes informant (who incidentally happens to fit my father’s description) reading a newspaper at a café, and ends with the successful arrest of the quarry by an up-and-coming agent (that’s me). Apparently the background music is provided by David Holmes, the guy who did the Ocean’s 11 soundtrack.

I should start sending my dad links to apply for those by-correspondence blockbuster screenwriter programs; then the  push for vicarious  wish-fulfillment can go both  ways. With his experience, he’d also do well as a CSIS  recruitment officer. CSIS: where casual Fridays mean you’re deep undercover.

The next time a parent heckles  you to pursue a career as a  superspy, a transatlantic balloonist, an Alaskan crab  fisherman, or as the next pilot for the Snowbirds, try to derive a feel-good, comforting, universal principle of limitless opportunity from my dad’s  warm-hearted persistence, and apply it to your own circumstance.

In a way, he is right. I can  still get my driver’s license,  and there’s always Lasik. As for  the rest, we’ll see.

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