WEDNESDAY night, Canadians learned more about the covert spying operations of Canada’s ultra secretive electronic spy agency, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). These revelations add to mounting concerns over CSEC’s unaccountable and unrestrained surveillance activities on Canadian soil, says the B.C. Civil Liberties association (BCCLA).
Classified documents obtained by whistlerblower Edward Snowden show that CSEC coordinated with the National Security Agency (NSA) in espionage operations conducted by the U.S. during the 2010 G-8 and G-20 summits in Toronto.
“These new documents raise even more questions about CSEC’s unrestrained and unaccountable operations”, says Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “We now know that CSEC facilitated a widespread NSA surveillance operation in Canada. If CSEC requested the NSA to spy on Canadians as part of this operation, this would clearly be illegal.”
“Canadians are shocked to find out that Canada appears to have conspired with the NSA to set up an American spying headquarters during the G-8 and G-20 summits”, says BCCLA Policy Director Micheal Vonn. “These summits were a deeply shameful episode, during which we saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history, secretly-granted new policing powers and a huge number of serious civil and human rights abuses ranging from assaults by police, to illegal and degrading body searches to denial of the right to counsel. To these already horrible events, we now add the evidence that Canada may have assisted a foreign spy agency to violate the rights of Canadians.”
The legality of two other aspects of CSEC’s operations was challenged by the BCCLA in a lawsuit filed last month. The BCCLA’s claim argues that CSEC has been secretly collecting Canadians’ private communications and metadata information in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protection against unreasonable search and seizure and infringes on free expression.
“Clearly, it is time to put on the brakes” says Caily DiPuma, legal counsel at the BCCLA. “We have a Canadian agency that is operating without any judicial oversight or Parliamentary accountability. In light of these new revelations, it is incumbent on the federal government to clarify what role CSEC had in surveillance during these summits.”