Espionage, however, soon became only one aspect of the complex world facing those involved in Canadian intelligence work. The 1960s provided challenges of an entirely different kind. In Quebec, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) emerged and used assassination, kidnapping, bombing, and other acts of terrorism in attempting to achieve its political goal. Other events, such as the debate over the deployment of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, the escalating involvement of the United States in Vietnam, and the evolution of a vigorous peace movement, carried a potential for politically motivated violence, foreign-influenced activities, and subversion. It was necessary to identify potential threats, but in order to fully maintain the democratic way of life of Canadians, it was also necessary to scrupulously protect the right to exercise legitimate political dissent.
These tasks were made all the more complex by the conflicting combination of priorities and responsibilities of security intelligence investigations as compared to police work. Two different Commissions, one chaired by Justice Mackenzie in 1969 and the other by Justice McDonald in 1977, recommended that the security intelligence functions be separated from the RCMP and that a civilian service be formed to carry out those functions. Both commissions recognized that the problem of balancing the need for accurate and effective security intelligence with the need to respect democratic rights and freedoms could not be adequately resolved as long as security intelligence responsibilities remained part of the federal police force.