Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'Canadian Security Intelligence Service'

Tag Archives: Canadian Security Intelligence Service

CSEC Headquarters’ $1.2-Billion Price Tag Has Activists Outraged

CSEC Headquarters’ $1.2-Billion Price Tag Has Activists Outraged.

CSEC

When the Harper government tables its latest budget Tuesday afternoon, it will include continued funding for a massive, opulent new headquarters for Canada’s electronic spy agency, CSEC.

The $1.2-billion building on Ottawa’s east side — dubbed the “spy palace” by critics and believed to be the most expensive government building ever constructed in Canada — has become a rallying point for activists protesting in the wake of allegations that CSEC has been spying on Canadians, in contravention of its mandate and possibly Canadian law.

More than 45 organizations, including OpenMedia, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Greenpeace and several unions, are launching a campaign Tuesday “to tell MPs to stop wasting billions on Canada’s expensive online spying apparatus,” according to a statement from OpenMedia.

It’s part of a multinational event, dubbed “The Day We Fight Back,” meant to launch a new, ongoing campaign to bring government surveillance under control.

In the U.S., the campaign will focus on revelations that the National Security Agency has been involved in mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ phone and internet activities.

In CSEC’s new headquarters, the Canadian activist groups see a potent symbol of the growth of the surveillance state in recent years.

We now have this dramatic, visual point of reference for CSEC — this grand piece of architecture rising in the east end — at a time when surveillance is becoming more and more of an issue,” Ian MacLeod, an Ottawa Citizen reporter who covers national security issues, explained to CBC Radio last fall.

Government estimates place the official cost of the new CSEC headquarters at $867 million, but according to a CBC investigation last fall, the building’s final cost will be closer to $1.2 billion. And when the $3-billion contract to operate the building for 20 years is added, the new HQ’s cost soars past $4 billion.

As the CBC noted, the building has more floor space than Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, and cost enough to build “several” large hospitals. It will house about 2,000 CSEC employees.

“Canadians are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on a bloated spy bureaucracy that is monitoring our private lives,” OpenMedia.ca executive director Steve Anderson said in a statement.

“It’s time for common sense to prevail. We need to rein in CSEC and other security agencies before they get even more out of control. That’s why we’re calling on MPs to make a firm commitment to introduce pro-privacy legislation to protect the privacy of all residents of Canada.”

Documents from Edward Snowden’s trove of NSA data indicate that CSEC spied on Canadian travelers through WiFi hot spots at a major airport. The Harper government denies that the privacy of Canadians was invaded in the experiment, but privacy experts say the metadata collected by the CSEC would have exposed a great deal of private information about the targeted individuals.

The CSEC headquarters is being developed by Plenary Group Canada, an infrastructure company that specializes in government projects. The building is expected to be completed this year. Plenary Group boasts of the building’s innovative green technologies.

Walls of windows fill the facility with natural light and reduce the building’s electricity consumption and rainwater collection ponds reduce the facility’s consumption of water for irrigation,” the company’s fact sheet reads.

In an interview with CBC, former CSEC head John Adams admitted the building didn’t need to be an “architectural wonder.”

“But, you know, glass in this [CBC] building is the same price as glass in that [CSEC] building,” he said. “That building is just going to look an awful lot better than this building … That facility is going to be quite magnificent.”

Is it worth $1.2 billion to build a “magnificent” headquarters for Canada’s electronic spy agency? Let us know in the comments below.

CSEC and Harper Government Assert Right to Spy on Canadians | Global Research

CSEC and Harper Government Assert Right to Spy on Canadians | Global Research.

Global Research, February 04, 2014
harper-spy

With the government’s full support, the Communication Security Establishment Canada (CSEC)—the Canadian partner and counterpart of the US National Security Agency (NSA)—has illegally arrogated the power to spy on Canadians.

Responding Friday to the latest revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, CSEC baldly declared that it has the unfettered right to systematically collect and analyze the metadata from Canadians’ electronic communications—that is from their telephone calls, texts, e-mail messages, and Internet use.

Like the NSA, CSEC is advancing a pseudo-legal argument to justify its flagrant violation of Canadians’ privacy rights. This argument revolves around a spurious distinction between the “content” of a communication and the metadata generated by it. The latter, claims CSEC, is not constitutionally protected because it is merely a “wrapping” or “envelope.” Metadata can, therefore, be accessed, preserved and analyzed by the state at will. That is, in the absence of any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing and without CSEC needing to obtain a judicial warrant.

CSEC “is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata,” declared a terse press release issued by Canada’s eavesdropping agency Friday. “In simple terms, metadata is technical information used to route communications, and not the contents of a communication.”

Based on this antidemocratic assertion, the CSEC statement goes on to claim that a pilot NSA-CSEC program that involved the collection and analysis of the metadata of all Wi-Fi traffic at a Canadian airport during a two-week period in 2012 was completely in accordance with the blanket legal ban on CSEC spying on the communications of people in Canada, unless authorized by a court-issued warrant.

“No Canadian or foreign travellers were tracked,” claimed CSEC. “No Canadian communications were, or are, targeted, collected or used.”

This is doublespeak. Since at least 2004, CSEC has been spying on Canadians’ communications through the systematic collection and analysis of metadata.

In the case of the NSA-CSEC pilot project, the 27-slide CSEC PowerPoint presentation leaked by Snowden to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) boasts that the new program the spy agencies were testing enabled them to trace the subsequent Wi-Fi communications of those swept up in their surveillance of an unnamed “mid-size” Canadian airport for up to two weeks. The metadata from their communications was collected and their movements reconstructed as they accessed Wi-Fi’s at hotels, cafes, libraries and other airports in Canada and the US.

What is this if not spying?

The CSEC statement went on to make various claims as to the legality of its metadata mining operations. Such spying, it contended, is authorized under the National Defence Act and by ministerial directives and has been approved by the CSEC Commissioner, an ostensible “watchdog” who works hand-in-glove with CSEC and reports to the Defence Minister.

The reality is that CSEC’s operations are shrouded in complete secrecy—an antidemocratic framework conducive to illegal assertions of executive power. It functions on the basis of directives issued by the Minister of Defence. The contents of these directives and even their subjects are known only to a handful of cabinet ministers and a cabal of national security officials

The ministerial directives that authorize CSEC’s metadata mining programs have never been publicly released, let alone approved by parliament and their legality tested in the courts.

We do know, thanks to a series of reports published by the Globe and Mailsince last June, that CSEC has been metadata mining Canadians’ communications for at least a decade. The initial Globe report was largely based on a secret 2009 ministerial directive that gave CSEC continued authorization for at least one of its metadata mining programs and sought to provide legal cover for this by invoking the claim that metadata is not constitutionally protected communication.

In response to this and other revelations—many of them coming from documents leaked by Snowden and showing that CSEC functions as a veritable arm and subcontractor of the NSA in its global spying operations—CSEC and the Conservative government have made numerous pro forma declarations affirming CSEC’s adherence to the law. Canadians have been repeatedly told that CSEC’s operations target “foreign threats” and that it cannot and does not scrutinize Canadians’ communications without court authorization.

The World Socialist Web Site repeatedly warned that these statements were disinformation and lies. In particular, we pointed to the evidence that CSEC was seeking to circumvent the legal and constitutional restrictions on it spying on Canadians by asserting that metadata is not part of an electronic “communication.”

The significance of Friday’s statement is that never before has CSEC so forthrightly admitted to the Canadian public that it is collecting and analyzing the metadata of their communications and asserted—in flagrant contradiction with the privacy rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution—that it has the power to do so.

While the CSEC statement did not repeat this argument, the spy agency and the Conservative government have repeatedly suggested that metadata is innocuous technical information—which begs the question as to why massive state resources are being expended to collect and analyze it and to perfect dragnet surveillance programs.

Through metadata mining the state can develop intimate profiles of individuals and groups. Metadata is “way more powerful than the content of communications,” University of Toronto professor and cyber-security specialist Ron Deibert told the CBC. “You can tell a lot more about people, their habits, their relationships, their friendships, even their political beliefs.”

CSEC’s metadata spying was first authorized by the Liberal government of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin and has been expanded under its successor, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

On Friday, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson stuck to the government script, insisting that CSEC’s operations are lawful and repeating its tendentious claims that metadata mining doesn’t constitute spying on Canadians’ communications. CSEC, declared Nicholson, “made it clear to CBC that nothing in the documents that they had obtained showed that Canadian communications were targeted, collected, or used, nor that travellers’ movements were tracked.”

Canada’s opposition parties have aided and abetted the government’s attempt to cover up the illegal spying being conducted by CSEC. In the seven months prior to last Friday, they had asked only a handful of questions in parliament about the revelations concerning CSEC and refused to either alert Canadians to the significance of CSEC’s metadata mining or its pivotal role in the NSA’s illegal global spying network.

On Friday, some MPs from the trade union-supported New Democratic Party and the Liberals did characterize CSEC’s spying as illegal. But as defenders of big business and the capitalist state, they will not mount any serious effort to expose the illegal operations of CSEC, let alone demonstrate the connection between the emergence of police state spying, ever widening social inequality, and the drive of all sections of the elite to make the working class pay for the capitalist crisis through wage and job cuts and the dismantling of public services.

SIRC chair’s pipeline lobbying seen as symptom of larger problem – Politics – CBC News

SIRC chair’s pipeline lobbying seen as symptom of larger problem – Politics – CBC News.

Former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl was appointed last year to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees Canada's spy agency, CSIS. Word that Strahl has been hired as a lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge has raised concerns among environmentalists and others.Former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl was appointed last year to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees Canada’s spy agency, CSIS. Word that Strahl has been hired as a lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge has raised concerns among environmentalists and others. (Canadian Press)

A former head of the committee that oversees Canada’s spies has a warning for the current chair: It’s generally not a good idea for someone in their position to act as a lobbyist.

Paule Gauthier was commenting on questions surrounding former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl, currently the head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

Strahl has come under fire after it was revealed he is also a registered lobbyist for Enbridge, the company pushing to build the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to B.C.

SIRC’s job is to monitor the activities of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which has been known to keep tabs on environmentalists and native groups opposed to pipelines. Forest Ethics, a group opposed to Northern Gateway, issued a statement this week calling on Strahl to step down as SIRC chair.

Gauthier, who served as chair of SIRC from 1996 to 2005, doesn’t see a conflict of interest in Strahl working as a lobbyist, but acknowledges it could create the perception of one.

“I think it would be much better to refrain from these activities,” she said in an interview from her law office in Quebec City.

Gauthier says if Strahl has followed the rules and is satisfied he’s not in conflict, there shouldn’t be a problem. But she can see how a SIRC chair doing lobbying work could raise eyebrows.

“It’s putting himself or herself in maybe a difficult situation that you cannot expect when you accept the mandate as a lobbyist,” she said.

Strahl has been quoted as saying he has checked with the federal ethics commissioner to make sure his work is above board. He told one interviewer if SIRC were asked to look at any files involving pipelines, he wouldn’t touch them.

Part-time job

The position of SIRC chair is a part-time job paid on a per diem basis — about $600 a day plus travel expenses. Another former chair says that’s part of the problem.

Ronald Atkey was appointed the first-ever SIRC chair when the committee was established in 1984. He now teaches at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

Atkey has long argued the position of chair should be a full-time job with a full-time salary so anyone serving would not have to look for outside work.

“I think the two organizations that Canadians should worry the most about are CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) and CSIS,” he said by phone from London, Ont.

“They’re fine organizations with fine people doing important work. But they’re asked to go close to the line in complying with the law. I think, therefore, to give public comfort that these groups are monitored properly after the fact, I think a full-time watchdog may be in order.”

Wesley Wark sees merit in that idea. He’s a security expert and visiting professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. A part-time chair, he says, is “one of a number of problems that makes the Security Intelligence Review Committee less robust than it could be.”

“I think the position should be full-time and we should also define the job properly,” Wark said.

“You do want someone with considerable stature, considerable power, considerable experience. And somebody really to be a critic when criticism is needed.”

Office cut in 2012

Wark says there was more of that critical oversight when CSIS had its own inspector general.

The Conservative government abolished that office in 2012, arguing it would save money and end duplication by allowing SIRC to take over all monitoring of CSIS. The outgoing director of the inspector general’s office, Eve Plunkett, warned at the time the closure would be a “huge loss.”

Wark believes the government regarded the office and its often critical reviews of CSIS as “an annoyance.” As for Chuck Strahl, Wark says he’s less concerned about the former cabinet minister’s lobbying work than he is with SIRC’s overall ability to act as an effective watchdog.

“I just think, given the ways in which the intelligence world in Canada has been transformed and the problems that it presents and the skepticism that I think now surrounds the notion that anybody is really keeping a watch on intelligence agencies to make sure they don’t break the law or abuse their powers, I think something does need to be done,” he said.

“And that’s the real story. It’s not whether Mr. Strahl is a lobbyist. It’s what do we need to do to fix SIRC.”

CSIS’ Unapproved Foreign Spies Put Canadians Abroad At Risk: Judge

CSIS’ Unapproved Foreign Spies Put Canadians Abroad At Risk: Judge.

TORONTO – Canada’s spy agency deliberately withheld information from the courts in an effort to do an end-run around the law when it applied for top-secret warrants to intercept the communications of Canadians abroad, a Federal Court judge said Friday.

In doing so, the judge said in written reasons, the agency put Canadians abroad at potential risk.

The situation arose five years ago when Canadian Security Intelligence Service asked Federal Court for special warrants related to two Canadian citizens — already under investigation as a potential threat to national security — that would apply while they were abroad.

CSIS assured Judge Richard Mosley the intercepts would be carried out from inside Canada, and controlled by Canadian government personnel, court records show.

Mosley granted the warrants in January 2009 based on what CSIS and Canada’s top secret eavesdropping agency — the Communication Security Establishment of Canada or CSEC — had told him.

However, Canadian officials then asked for intercept help from foreign intelligence allies without telling the court.

Mosley was unimpressed, saying the courts had never approved the foreign involvement.

“It is clear that the exercise of the court’s warrant issuing has been used as protective cover for activities that it has not authorized,” Mosley wrote in redacted reasons.

“The failure to disclose that information was the result of a deliberate decision to keep the court in the dark about the scope and extent of the foreign collection efforts that would flow from the court’s issuance of a warrant.”

Under current legislation, Federal Court has no authority to issue warrants that involve intercepts of Canadians carried out abroad by Canada’s “Five Eyes” intelligence partners, Mosley noted.

He said CSIS, which was granted several similar warrants on fresh or renewed applications in relation to other targets, knew the law but deliberately sought to get around the limitation by misinterpreting it.

“CSIS and CSEC officials are relying on that interpretation at their peril and… incurring the risk that targets may be detained or otherwise harmed as a result of the use of the intercepted communications by the foreign agencies,” Mosley wrote.

“(The law) does not authorize the service and CSEC to incur that risk or shield them from liability.”

The documents show alarm bells went off after the commissioner of CSEC, Robert Decary, tabled his annual report in August.

In the report, he suggested CSIS provide Federal Court with “certain additional evidence about the nature and extent” of his agency’s help to the intelligence service.

Mosley ordered both agencies to explain what Decary meant. He did not like what he heard about the hidden foreign involvement in the intercepts.

“This was a breach of the duty of candour owed by the service and their legal advisers to the court,” he said.

“It has led to misstatements in the public record about the scope of the authority granted the service.”

Mosley made it clear the warrants do not authorize any foreign service to intercept communications of any Canadian on behalf of CSIS or CSEC.

 

The Day I Found Out the Canadian Government Was Spying on Me | DeSmog Canada

The Day I Found Out the Canadian Government Was Spying on Me | DeSmog Canada.

Nov. 19th, 2013. A Tuesday. The day started out sunny, but hail fell out of the sky in the afternoon. It was a Victoria day like any other until I found out the Canadian government has been vigorously spying on several Canadian organizations that work for environmental protections and democratic rights.

I read the news in the Vancouver Observer. There, front and centre, was the name of the organization I worked for until recently: Dogwood Initiative.

My colleagues and I had been wary of being spied on for a long time, but having it confirmed still took the wind out of me.

I told my parents about the article over dinner. They’re retired school teachers who lived in northern Alberta for 35 years before moving to Victoria.

I asked them: “Did you know the Canadian government is spending your tax dollars to spy on your daughter?”

Then I told them how one of the events detailed in e-mails from Richard Garber, the National Energy Board’s “Group Leader of Security,” was a workshop in a Kelowna church run by one of my close friends and colleagues, Celine Trojand (who’s about the most warm-hearted person you could ever meet). About 30 people, mostly retirees, attended to learn about storytelling, theory of change and creative sign-making (cue the scary music).

In the e-mails, Garber marshals security and intelligence operations between government operations and private interests and notes that his security team has consulted with Canada’s spying agency, CSIS.

To add insult to injury, another set of documents show CSIS and the RCMP have been inviting oil executives to secret classified briefings at CSIS headquarters in Ottawa, in whatThe Guardian describes as “unprecedented surveillance and intelligence sharing with companies.”

These meetings covered “threats” to energy infrastructure and “challenges to energy projects from environmental groups.” Guess who is prominently displayed as a sponsor on the agenda of May’s meeting? Enbridge, the proponent of a controversial oilsands pipeline to the coast of British Columbia.

I asked my folks: “Isn’t that scary? CSIS is hosting classified briefings sponsored by Enbridge?” No answer. My parents are not the type to get themselves in a flap about things like this, but I prodded them: “Dad, this is scary, right?”

“It’s scary,” he admitted.

How much information is being provided to corporations like Enbridge? What about state-owned Chinese oil companies like Sinopec, which has a $10 million stake in Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal?

What kind of country spies on environmental organizations in the name of the oil industry? It seems more Nigerian than Canadian.

I fought the urge to react with indignation, a sentiment I find all too common in the environmental movement. I also didn’t want to be overwrought about it. Fact is though, the more I thought about those documents, the more I began to feel a sense of loss for my country.

I’m not the touchy-feely type. Everyone from my conservative cousins in Alberta to my former colleagues at the Calgary Herald could attest to that. I grew up in northern Alberta playing hockey and going to bush parties. I think our oil and gas deposits, including the oilsands, are a great asset to our country — if developed in the public interest. Yes, that’s a big “if” — but Canadians own these resources and the number one priority when developing them should be that Canadians benefit.

For speaking up for the public interest and speaking out against the export of raw bitumen through the Great Bear Rainforest, hundreds of people like me have been called radicalsand painted as enemies of the state, as somehow un-Canadian. That last bit is what hits me in the gut.

I love my country. And in my eyes, there isn’t anything much more patriotic than fighting for the interests of Canadian citizens. I’ve argued that after 25 years of oilsands development, Albertans should have something to show for it — not be facing budget crises and closing hospital beds; that Albertans aren’t collecting a fair share of resource revenues; that we should develop resources at a responsible pace that doesn’t cause rampant inflation, undermining Canadians’ quality of life and hurting other sectors of the economy; that we should prioritize Canadian energy security (half of Canada is currently dependent on foreign oil). And I’ve agreed with the Alberta Federation of Labour that exporting raw bitumen and 50,000 jobs to China doesn’t make sense for Canadians

Now, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but it’s a stretch to portray any of those statements as unpatriotic or radical. In fact, one of my proudest moments as a Canadian was encouraging citizens to register to speak at the public hearings on Enbridge’s pipeline and tanker proposal for B.C. With a team of committed people at Dogwood, in collaboration with several other groups, we helped more than 4,000 people sign up to have their say — seven times more than in any previous National Energy Board hearing.

It was this act of public participation that sparked the beginnings of the federal government’s attacks on people who oppose certain resource development proposals. Helping citizens to participate in an archaic public hearing process is a vital part of democracy— not something to be maligned.

What makes me sad is the thought that we’ve been reduced to being the type of country that spies on its own citizens when they speak out against certain corporate interests. Not only that, but our government then turns around and shares that intelligence with those corporations.

Disappointingly, a scan of today’s news coverage indicates Canada’s major newspapers never picked up the spying story, save for one 343-word brief on page 9 of the Vancouver Province. Is it now so accepted that the Canadian government is in bed with the oil industry that it doesn’t even make news any more? Now that’s really sad.

Whether you agree or disagree with my ideas about responsible natural resource development, I’d hope we could all agree Canada should be a country where we can have open and informed debate about the most important issues of our time — without fear of being attacked and spied on by our own government.

 

Info sharing between CSIS and CSEC concerns security watchdog – Politics – CBC News

Info sharing between CSIS and CSEC concerns security watchdog – Politics – CBC News. (source)

A federal review agency says sensitive information gathered by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service could be abused by Canada's allies due to lax sharing policies, in an annual report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.A federal review agency says sensitive information gathered by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service could be abused by Canada’s allies due to lax sharing policies, in an annual report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

A federal review agency says sensitive information gathered by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service could be abused by Canada’s allies due to lax sharing policies.

In its annual report, the watchdog that keeps an eye on CSIS flags concerns about what happens to intelligence that CSIS passes to the national eavesdropping agency, which in turn shares the details with foreign allies.

The report underscores the fact CSIS is collaborating ever more closely with Communications Security Establishment Canada, which has come under scrutiny lately due to its participation in the international Five Eyes alliance.

CSEC, which monitors foreign telephone, satellite and Internet traffic, shares information with the U.S. National Security Agency and counterparts in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The American NSA has been the subject of almost daily headlines due to leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden that have revealed the agency’s vast surveillance of worldwide communications.

In its report, tabled in Parliament, the Security Intelligence Review Committee recommends CSIS develop clearer and more robust principles of co-operation with CSEC to ensure appropriate information sharing.

Spy watchdog to investigate CSIS visit to Hamilton man’s home – Latest Hamilton news – CBC Hamilton

Spy watchdog to investigate CSIS visit to Hamilton man’s home – Latest Hamilton news – CBC Hamilton. (source)

The watchdog agency that oversees the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) says it will review the complaint of a Hamilton man who alleges agents visited his house to “intimidate” him.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the five-person board of political appointees that examines CSIS’s operations, has tapped chair Chuck Strahl to investigate the claim put by longtime activist Ken Stone.

In July, Stone made a formal complaint to SIRC about a Jan. 25 visit by CSIS agents to his Mountain home.

Ken StoneHamilton activist Ken Stone said CSIS agents paid him a visit at his home on Jan. 25, two weeks after an op-ed he wrote criticizing the prime minister’s approach on Iran was published in the Hamilton Spectator. (Courtesy of Ken Stone)

​Stone, long a vocal labour and anti-racism advocate, said the agents asked him about an op-ed he wrote titled “Harper is wrong in demonizing Iran” that was published in the Jan. 11 edition of the Hamilton Spectator.

In his letter to SIRC, the 67-year-old alleges that the visit was intended “to intimidate me and members of my family from lawfully exercising our Charter rights to freedom of expression and association” and, counter to CSIS’s mandate, did not address a meaningful security threat.

The visit, he wrote, “caused me and my family a considerable amount of anxiety.” He has asked for a formal apology from CSIS as well as statement from SIRC demanding that CSIS “cease and desist from home and workplace visits to residents of Canada that are designed to intimidate residents of Canada from exercising their Charter rights.”

Last week, Stone received a letter stating that SIRC will hold hearings into the case, but a date for the proceedings has not been set.

Stone said he plans to attend the hearings in Ottawa, and will retain a lawyer to help him make his case.

Both ‘pleased’ and ‘disappointed’

Stone said he’s pleased the committee has chosen to take on his case, but he is doubtful that the process will yield the answers he seeks.

“On the one hand, I’m pleased that they have taken up the complaint because they had the discretion not to take up the complaint. The fact that they chose to take it up is a good sign,” he said.

However, Stone said he’s “disappointed” that Strahl, a former Conservative MP and federal cabinet minister, has been assigned to investigate the case.

“He’s a Conservative Party hack and I don’t expect a lot of sympathy from him.”

That Strahl and his fellow SIRC members are political appointees “shows a fundamental problem with oversight over CSIS,” Stone added.

Committee members, he said, would put their jobs at risk if they slammed the government’s policies, and neither CSIS nor Parliament are required to adopt SIRC’s recommendations.

Contacted by CBC Hamilton on Thursday, SIRC said it would not be able to respond to Stone’s criticism. But in an interview with CBC Hamilton in March, SIRC senior counsel Sylvie Roussel defended the committee’s integrity.

“We have a process and we follow that process,” she said, noting that panel members “take their role very seriously.”

‘Canadians deserve better’

Jean Paul Duval, a spokesman with Public Safety Canada, said the ministry does not comment on specific cases.

However, in an email statement to CBC Hamilton, defended SIRC’s review process.

“SIRC is at arm’s length from the Government and provides independent review that CSIS activities comply with law and Ministerial Direction,” he wrote.

When Stone first went public about the CSIS visit in the winter, he initially said he would not go through with making a complaint to SIRC, figuring it would be futile exercise. He later decided he wanted to his grievance on record, regardless of the outcome.

On Thursday, Stone said he hopes the government will eventually adopt an civilian oversight body — akin to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission — that is independent and not led by political appointees.

“All in all, it’s not a satisfactory oversight process,” Stone said. “Canadians deserve better.”

 

A rare glimpse into Canada’s eavesdropping agency – Canada – CBC News

A rare glimpse into Canada’s eavesdropping agency – Canada – CBC News.

 

%d bloggers like this: