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Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents – Politics – CBC News

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents – Politics – CBC News.

Privacy and security experts on CSEC

Privacy and security experts on CSEC 2:32

Airport Wi-Fi used to track Canadians

Airport Wi-Fi used to track Canadians 4:16

About The Author

Photo of Greg Weston

Greg Weston
National Affairs Specialist

Greg Weston is an investigative reporter and a regular political commentator on CBC Radio and Television. Based in Ottawa, he has afflicted governments of all stripes for over three decades. His investigative work has won awards including the coveted Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism. He is also the author of two best-selling books, Reign of Error and The Stopwatch Gang.

A top secret document retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowdenand obtained by CBC News shows that Canada’s electronic spy agency used information from the free internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers for days after they left the terminal.

After reviewing the document, one of Canada’s foremost authorities on cyber-security says the clandestine operation by the Communications Security Establishment Canada ( CSEC) was almost certainly illegal.

Ronald Deibert told CBC News: “I can’t see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC’s mandates.”

The spy agency is supposed to be collecting primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada without a judicial warrant.

As CSEC chief John Forster recently stated: “I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada.

“In fact, it’s prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle.”

But security experts who have been apprised of the document point out the airline passengers in a Canadian airport were clearly in Canada.

CSEC said in a written statement to CBC News that it is “mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians. And in order to fulfill that key foreign intelligence role for the country, CSEC is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata.”

Metadata reveals a trove of information including, for example, the location and telephone numbers of all calls a person makes and receives — but not the content of the call, which would legally be considered a private communication and cannot be intercepted without a warrant.

“No Canadian communications were (or are) targeted, collected or used,” the agency says.

In the case of the airport tracking operation, the metadata apparently identified travelers’ wireless devices, but not the content of calls made or emails sent from them.

Black Code

Diebert is author of the book Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace, which is about internet surveillance, and he heads the world-renowned Citizen Lab cyber research program at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

He says that whatever CSEC calls it, the tracking of those passengers was nothing less than an “indiscriminate collection and analysis of Canadians’ communications data,” and he could not imagine any circumstances that would have convinced a judge to authorize it.

Cellphone-travelA passenger checks his cellphone while boarding a flight in Boston in October. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines under which passengers will be able to use electronic devices from the time they board to the time they leave the plane, which will also help electronic spies to keep tabs on them. (Associated Press)

The latest Snowden document indicates the spy service was provided with information captured from unsuspecting travellers’ wireless devices by the airport’s free Wi-Fi system over a two-week period.

Experts say that probably included many Canadians whose smartphone and laptop signals were intercepted without their knowledge as they passed through the terminal.

The document shows the federal intelligence agency was then able to track the travellers for a week or more as they — and their wireless devices — showed up in other Wi-Fi “hot spots” in cities across Canada and even at U.S. airports.

That included people visiting other airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs, and any number of places among the literally thousands with public wireless internet access.

The document shows CSEC had so much data it could even track the travellers back in time through the days leading up to their arrival at the airport, these experts say.

While the documents make no mention of specific individuals, Deibert and other cyber experts say it would be simple for the spy agency to have put names to all the Canadians swept up in the operation.

All Canadians with a smartphone, tablet or laptop are “essentially carrying around digital dog tags as we go about our daily lives,” Deibert says.

Anyone able to access the data that those devices leave behind on wireless hotspots, he says, can obtain “extraordinarily precise information about our movements and social relationships.”

Trial run for NSA

The document indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its U.S. counterpart, the National Security Agency.

In the document, CSEC called the new technologies “game-changing,” and said they could be used for tracking “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.”

Sources tell CBC News the technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.

CSEC claims “no Canadian or foreign travellers’ movements were ‘tracked,'” although it does not explain why it put the word “tracked” in quotation marks.

Deibert says metadata is “way more powerful that the content of communications. You can tell a lot more about people, their habits, their relationships, their friendships, even their political preferences, based on that type of metadata.”

The document does not say exactly how the Canadian spy service managed to get its hands on two weeks’ of travellers’ wireless data from the airport Wi-Fi system, although there are indications it was provided voluntarily by a “special source.”

The country’s two largest airports — Toronto and Vancouver — both say they have never supplied CSEC or other Canadian intelligence agency with information on passengers’ Wi-Fi use.

Alana Lawrence, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Airport Authority, says it operates the free Wi-Fi there, but does “not in any way store any personal data associated with it,” and has never received a request from any Canadian intelligence agency for it.

A U.S.-based company, Boingo, is the largest independent supplier of Wi-Fi services at other Canadian airports, including Pearson International in Toronto.

Spokesperson Katie O’Neill tells CBC News: “To the best of our knowledge, [Boingo] has not provided any information about any of our users to the Canadian government, law enforcement or intelligence agencies.”

It is also unclear from the document how CSEC managed to penetrate so many wireless systems to see who was using them — specifically, to know every time someone targeted at the airport showed up on one of those other Wi-Fi networks elsewhere.

Deibert and other experts say the federal intelligence agency must have gained direct access to at least some of the country’s main telephone and internet pipelines, allowing the mass-surveillance of Canadian emails and phone calls.

‘Blown away’

Ontario’s privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says she is “blown away” by the revelations.

“It is really unbelievable that CSEC would engage in that kind of surveillance of Canadians. Of us.

“I mean that could have been me at the airport walking around… This resembles the activities of a totalitarian state, not a free and open society.”

 Ann CavoukianPrivacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

Experts say the document makes clear CSEC intended to share both the technologies and future information generated by it with Canada’s official spying partners — the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and Australia, the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.

Indeed, the spy agency boasts in its leaked document that, in an apparently separate pilot project, it obtained access to two communications systems with more than 300,000 users, and was then able to “sweep” an entire mid-sized Canadian city to pinpoint a specific imaginary target in a fictional kidnapping.

The document dated May 2012 is a 27-page power-point presentation by CSEC describing its airport tracking operation.

While the document was in the trove of secret NSA files retrieved by Snowden, it bears CSEC’s logo and clearly originated with the Canadian spy service.

Wesley Wark, a renowned authority on international security and intelligence, agrees with Deibert.

“I cannot see any way in which it fits CSEC’s legal mandate.”

Wark says the document suggests CSEC was “trying to push the technological boundaries” in part to impress its other international counterparts in the Five-Eyes intelligence network.

“This document is kind of suffused with the language of technological gee-whiz.”

Wark says if CSEC’s use of “very powerful and intrusive technological tools” puts it outside its mandate and even the law, “then you are in a situation for democracy where you simply don’t want to be.”

Like Wark and other experts interviewed for this story, Deibert says there’s no question Canada needs CSEC to be gathering foreign intelligence, “but they must do it within a framework of proper checks and balances so their formidable powers can never be abused. And that’s the missing ingredient right now in Canada.”

The only official oversight of CSEC’s spying operations is a retired judge appointed by the prime minister, and reporting to the minister of defence who is also responsible for the intelligence agency.

“Here we clearly have an agency of the state collecting in an indiscriminate and bulk fashion all of Canadian communications and the oversight mechanism is flimsy at best,” Deibert says.

“Those to me are circumstances ripe for potential abuse.”

CSEC spends over $400 million a year, and employs about 2,000 people, almost half of whom are involved in intercepting phone conversations, and hacking into computer systems supposedly in other countries.

It has long been Canada’s most secretive spy agency, responding to almost all questions about its operations with reassurances it is doing nothing wrong.

Privacy watchdog Cavoukian says there has to be “greater openness and transparency because without that there can be no accountability.

“This trust-me model that the government is advancing and CSEC is advancing – ‘Oh just trust us, we’re doing the right thing, don’t worry’ — yes, worry! We have very good reason to worry.”

In the U.S., Snowden exposed massive metadata collection by the National Security Agency, which is said to have scooped up private phone and internet records of more than 100 million Americans.

A U.S. judge recently called the NSA’s metadata collection an Orwellian surveillance program that is likely unconstitutional.

The public furor over NSA snooping prompted a White House review of the American spy agency’s operations, and President Barack Obama recently vowed to clamp down on the collection and use of metadata.

Cavoukian says Canadians deserve nothing less.

“Look at the U.S. — they’ve been talking about these matters involving national security for months now very publicly because the public deserves answers.

“And that’s what I would tell our government, our minister of national defence and our prime minister: We demand some answers to this.”

Ottawa defends spy agency, says collection of Canadians’ data ‘incidental’ – Politics – CBC News

Ottawa defends spy agency, says collection of Canadians’ data ‘incidental’ – Politics – CBC News.

The government says it's impossible to know whether a foreign target may be communicating with someone in Canada, which means a "small" number of communications from Canadians has be collected.The government says it’s impossible to know whether a foreign target may be communicating with someone in Canada, which means a “small” number of communications from Canadians has be collected. (CBC)

The federal government is defending its secretive eavesdropping agency in a lawsuit filed by a B.C. civil rights group, insisting any collection of Canadians’ communication is unintentional.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association filed a lawsuit last fall, alleging Canadians’ communications were being illegally swept up by the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC.

The group’s lawsuit targeted the spy agency’s monitoring of foreign communications, as well as the collection of metadata, which reveals technical information but not the content of electronic communication.

But Ottawa has filed a statement of defence that says CSEC follows strict rules that prevent the agency from specifically targeting Canadians and its activities are monitored by an independent commissioner.

The government says it’s impossible to know whether a foreign target may be communicating with someone in Canada, which means a “small” number of communications from Canadians has be collected.

As for the collection of metadata, the statement of defence says it plays a vital role in identifying and thwarting cyber threats.

Canada’s deficit ticks higher to $13.2B – Business – CBC News

Canada’s deficit ticks higher to $13.2B – Business – CBC News.

The devastating Alberta floods this summer made a significant dent in the federal government's finances this year.The devastating Alberta floods this summer made a significant dent in the federal government’s finances this year. (The Canadian Press)

The Canadian government has spent $13.2 billion more than it has taken in so far this year, a slightly larger deficit than the one for the same period in 2012.

The Department of Finance said Monday the federal deficit was $13.2 billion for the fiscal year up to October. That’s ahead of the $11.9 billion during the same period in 2012.

But that data is skewed by two major one-time events that impacted Ottawa’s finances: The Alberta floods of last summer, and the government’s sale of $700 million worth of GM shares in September.

Excluding the two events, the annual deficit would have been slightly smaller, at $11.1 billion.

For the fiscal year as a whole, Ottawa has taken in $144.9 billion and spent $158.2 billion so far. On a monthly basis, October’s deficit was $2.5 billion, the same as the one from the same month last year.

“The Government remains on track to balance the budget in 2015,” the department said in a release.

 

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.

 

John Baird: Edward Snowden Should Surrender To U.S.

John Baird: Edward Snowden Should Surrender To U.S..

OTTAWA – National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden should abandon his bid for asylum in Brazil and surrender himself to the United States, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday.

Baird told The Canadian Press that Snowden’s actions have compromised global security.

“I think I probably agree with the Obama administration on this one,” Baird said. “I think he’s done significant damage to national security, of the free world.”

The U.S. wants to prosecute Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia. The move angered the Obama administration and has chilled relations between Moscow and Washington.

“The United States has a free and fair justice system,” Baird said, when asked about Snowden’s outreach to the Brazilian government this week.

“I think he should go back to the United States and face the consequences of his actions.”

Snowden’s cache of documents also suggests that Communications Security Establishment Canada once monitored Brazil’s mines and energy department and helped the U.S. and Britain spy on participants at the London G20 summit in 2009.

In an open letter earlier this week, Snowden praised the Brazilian government for standing up to the U.S. for spying on the country. He also said he could help Brazil dig deeper into the NSA activities, but that he would need to come to the country and be granted political asylum.

Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia is to expire in August.

Snowden’s documents showed that Brazil was a prime target of the NSA in Latin America.

Reporting by the Guardian and Washington Post based on his leaked documents, detailed U.S. spying in Brazil, including the monitoring of President Dilma Rousseff’s cellphone, which led her to cancel a planned visit to Washington two months ago.

The Brazilian government appears to have no immediate plan to accommodate Snowden.

Amnesty International has called on Brazil to seriously consider Snowden’s asylum request.

Amnesty defended Snowden’s actions, saying he exposed the unlawful surveillance of private communications by the U.S. and that he might need refugee status.

“U.S. statements labelling Snowden a ‘traitor’ are prejudicial to his right to seek asylum and to his right to a fair trial,” Amnesty’s Brazil director Atila Roque said in a statement this week.

“The information he released was in the public interest and shows the remarkably invasive extent of surveillance conducted by the United States.”

Baird was dismissive, in general, of Amnesty in the Wednesday interview, suggesting the rights watchdog has lost legitimacy.

Amnesty International Canada also released a report Wednesday condemning Canada for giving short shrift to a recent United Nations review of its human rights record.

“It reflects a growing tendency to dismiss and disengage from the UN and ignore some of Canada’s international human rights obligations,” said Alex Neve, Amnesty’s Canadian secretary general.

Baird said he hadn’t read the report and wasn’t concerned about its contents, calling Canada “a beacon for the world” on human rights.

“It’s an organization that is not as strong as it used to be,” Baird said of Amnesty.

“Because they thought the government of Canada should arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s silly.”

Neve called on Canada to detain and investigate Bush during an October 2011 visit to British Columbia because he admitted in his memoirs to authorizing the use of torture against terror suspects.

As for Cheney, various groups have called for him to be arrested during visits to Canada in 2011 and 2013, but Amnesty has never issued such a statement.

 

Jim Prentice sees urgency in grabbing LNG markets – Business – CBC News

Jim Prentice sees urgency in grabbing LNG markets – Business – CBC News.

There is a currently a window of opportunity open for Canada to set up shipping of natural gas to Asia, says former federal industry minister Jim Prentice, but it will have to move quickly to stay abreast of U.S. competition.

Prentice, now a vice-president at CIBC, says there is some urgency for Canada to adjust to the new reality of the North American energy market, in which the U.S. is a major producer.

“We’ve gone from being a comfortable natural gas producer to the U.S., to now competing with the U.S.,” he in an interview with CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange.

“The changes that have driven all this, the technological changes have taken place so quickly, I think it caught people off guard,” he said.

There is now considered to be a glut of natural gas production in North America because of new technology that allows the capture of shale gas.

‘We are going from being a continental energy producer to being a global energy player. And in order to do that we have to secure market access’– Jim Prentice

Canada US Business 20121119Former Conservative federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice says Canada has a ‘window of opportunity’ on shipping natural gas to Asia. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

There are severalproposals for liquefied natural gas terminals to export from British Columbia to markets in China, Japan and India, but nothing is near being realized.

Prentice acknowledged that the projects require multi-billion-dollar financial commitments, but says Canada risks losing out to the U.S., which has moved faster on buiiding natural gas shipping terminals.

“People are only going to launch those kinds of projects if they have the certainty they require and that relates to the royalty regime, that relates to the fiscal regime, that relates to their capacity to export. These are all things we’re good at as Canadians, but we need to make sure we’re focused on it,” he said.

His comments came the same day that  Exxon Mobile Corp is predicting worldwide demand  for natural gas will jump 65 per cent over the next 25 years.

Exxon issued its annual review of energy supply and demand, a closely watched report that sets the course for production and alerts policymakers to the changes they might have to prepare for.

Exxon, the U.S. largest gas producer, is preparing for surging demand from developing countries, even as developed countries embrace emissions controls and greater energy efficiency.

Natural gas prices fall

Natural gas prices have been falling as the U.S. production of shale gas surges. That has prompted some Canadian energy firms to reduce their exposure to natural gas.

Prentice said Canada has to be prepared to invest in the opportunities for Canadian energy opening up overseas.

“The world is awash in natural gas, what it doesn’t have is an ample supply of stable nation states that can fulfill contracts over a 50 year period – that’s what’s needed,” he said.

“We are going from being a continental energy producer to being a global energy player. And in order to do that we have to secure market access,” he added.

Prentice said he is optimistic that the correct groundwork is being laid to complete projects such as LNG terminals on the West Coast and the Northern Gateway pipeline. He has urged the federal government to continue to engage with First Nations in communities that will be affected by the projects.

Exxon’s predictions

The long-term outlook by Exxon predicts that world energy demand will grow 35 per cent by 2040.

“People want a warm home, a refrigerator, a TV, someday a car, and a cellphone,” said William Colton, Exxon’s vice-president for corporate strategic planning.

Among its predictions:

  • Oil demand will rise 25 per cent by 2040 as it will remain “the fuel of choice for transportation.”
  • Deepwater, oilsands and shale oil production will be necessary to meet demand.
  • Demand for coal will rise until 2015, but fall by 2040 as countries abandon coal-fired power.
  • Nuclear power will see “solid growth.”
  • Supplies of renewable energy will increase nearly 60 per cent by 2040, led by increases in hydro, wind and solar.

Exxon prefaced its long-term outlook report with a call to lift the U.S. ban on exporting domestic crude oil, which dates back to the 1973 oil crisis.

Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs, told the Wall Street Journal the ban no longer makes sense because the U.S. is “dealing with a situation of abundance.”

 

Not much oversight for Canada’s electronic spies – Politics – CBC News

Not much oversight for Canada’s electronic spies – Politics – CBC News.

One-quarter of CSEC's analysts have an advanced degree -- half in technical subjects, especially computer science, software engineering or digital cartography. On the oversight side, there are 11 investigators to keep tabs on over 2,000 people.One-quarter of CSEC’s analysts have an advanced degree — half in technical subjects, especially computer science, software engineering or digital cartography. On the oversight side, there are 11 investigators to keep tabs on over 2,000 people. (iStock)

National Affairs Specialist

Greg Weston is an investigative reporter and a regular political commentator on CBC Radio and Television. Based in Ottawa, he has afflicted governments of all stripes for over three decades. His investigative work has won awards including the coveted Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism. He is also the author of two best-selling books, Reign of Error and The Stopwatch Gang.

The revelation that a little-known Canadian intelligence operation has been electronically spying on trading partners and other nations around the world, at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency, has critics wondering who’s keeping an eye on our spies.

 

The answer is a watchdog, mostly muzzled and defanged, whose reports to Parliament are first censored by the intelligence agency he is watching, then cleared by the minister politically responsible for any problems in the first place.

 

By the time the reports reach the public, they are rarely newsworthy.

 

The Harper government recently appointed a new oversight commissioner for Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada. But he will be only part-time until next April.

 

Even then, Senator Hugh Segal, the chief of staff to former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney and someone with a long involvement in security intelligence issues, says any notion of effective public oversight of Canada’s electronic spying agency is “more like a prayer” than fact.

 

The debate over who’s keeping tabs on our spies has heightened in recent days following a CBC News report detailing a top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

 

The document shows that the agency known as CSEC set up covert spying posts around the world at the request of the giant NSA.

 

Both agencies gather intelligence by intercepting mostly foreign phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.

snowden-852-04628014Whistleblower or government leaker, Edward Snowden and his revelations this past year have rocked the spy world on at least five continents. (Associated Press)

 

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a widespread investigation of the NSA after leaked Snowden documents revealed the agency was gathering massive amounts of information on millions of American citizens.

 

In this country, the Harper government simply keeps pointing to CSEC’s oversight commissioner as proof that Canadians have nothing to worry about.

 

As Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told the Commons this week: “There is a commissioner that looks into CSEC [and] every year for 16 years has confirmed that they’ve acted within lawful activities.”

 

Well, not exactly.

 

‘Contrary to law’

 

Only months ago, the recently retired CSEC commissioner, Justice Robert Decary, stated in his final report that he had uncovered records suggesting some of CSEC’s spying activities “may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to law.”

 

The retired justice said the CSEC records were so unclear or incomplete that he was unable to determine whether the agency had been operating legally.

 

Decary’s predecessor, Justice Charles Gonthier, filed the same complaint about incomplete or missing records in his day, which forced him to report in a similar fashion that he could not determine if CSEC had been breaking the law.

 

Gonthier also alluded to a CSEC operation in 2006 that he suggested may have been illegal.

 

The head of CSEC at the time, John Adams, recently told CBC News that, as a result of that discovery, “I shut the place down for a while.”

 

However, intelligence experts have told CBC News that the oversight problems at CSEC are much deeper than poor record-keeping.

 

They say successive commissioners have simply lacked both the resources and the legal mandate to conduct meaningful oversight.

 

The current commissioner, Judge Jean-Pierre Plouffe, operates with a staff of 11, about half of whom actually work on investigations, largely to ensure CSEC isn’t abusing its powers by spying on Canadians.

hugh-segal-250-rtris7fConservative Senator Hugh Segal: “The notion that a group of 11 might be able to provide proper oversight is more like a prayer than any kind of constructive statement of fact.” (Reuters)

 

But CSEC employs over 2,000 people who covertly collect masses of information recently described as more data per day than all the country’s banking transactions combined.

 

As Segal says, the result is obvious: “When there are thousands of people at CSEC processing millions of messages every day of all kinds, the notion that a group of 11 might be able to provide proper oversight is more like a prayer than any kind of constructive statement of fact.”

 

Not exactly as written

 

Of course, even if a commissioner did discover something seriously amiss at the electronic eavesdropping agency, there is a chance Canadians would never know.

 

Here’s how the system works:

 

Suppose the commissioner’s oversight sleuths discover that CSEC is illegally intercepting phone calls and hacking into the computers of certain Canadians.

 

The oversight commissioner is required to report his discovery in a top secret report to the defence minister.

 

That happens to be the same minister responsible for CSEC, and from whom the agency gets its government direction.

 

It is also the minister who would be at the centre of any CSEC scandal if news of this breach leaked out.

 

If the minister refuses to expose his own agency’s wrongdoing, the oversight commissioner can try to use his annual report to Parliament to do that.

 

But a funny thing happens on the way to Parliament.

 

First, CSEC gets to censor the entire report. Then it goes back to the same defence minister.

 

The minister is required to present the sanitized version of the report to Parliament, but has no obligation to mention it is not exactly as originally written.

 

Former CSEC chief Adams admits the agency is “very, very biased towards the less the public knows the better.”

 

He points out that in the spying business, opening an agency’s operations to full public scrutiny “would be kind of like unilateral disarmament, because if Canadians know everything CSEC can and can’t do, then everyone else will too.”

 

But as the leaked Snowden documents continue to force back the curtains at CSEC, Adams says it is time to find a better way to reassure Canadians about what they are doing.

 

“I think a knowledgeable Canadian is going to be much easier to deal with,” he says.

If the public reaction to the Snowden revelations is any indication, Canadians are all ears.

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