Canada's penchant for spying

The Conservative government is on a roll these days. Too bad it's about spying.

CBC News revealed Wednesday night that the government permitted the largest American spy agency to set up shop in Canada during the G8 and G20 summits in June 2010. The National Security Agency used the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa as headquarters for its spying operation, according to top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and obtained by CBC.

Part of the mandate of the evesdropping operation, done in close "co-ordination with the Canadian partner" (Communications Security Establishment Canada), was about "providing support to policymakers." CBC hints this activity constituted "illegal spying by an American intelligence agency with the blessing of the Canadian government."

If only Canada's snooping ended there.

It turns out the National Energy Board coordinated the gathering on intelligence of opponents of the tar sands, according to internal government documents released under Access to Information and published recently by the Vancouver Observer. The work, carried out earlier this year in co-ordination with CSIS and the RCMP, involved spying on activists and organisations, including EcoSociety, Dogwood Initiative and the Council of Canadians.

Meanwhile in Parliament, the Conservative government is pushing a new bill that it's pitching as anti-cyberbullying legislation, even though less than three pages are devoted to this important issue compared to 65 pages on online spying. Critics like OpenMedia.ca say C-13, the reincarnation of the snooping bill C-30, focuses on "making it easier on the government to spy on the online activities of Canadians at any time and without a warrant."

Photo: ocularinvasion. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

 

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