Justin Trudeau to give Canada’s NSA more powers to spy on Canadians

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published October 6, 2015, by The Canadian Progressive

Justin Trudeau promises to give the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's most secretive spy agency, more powers to spy on Canadians if the Liberals form the next government after the 2015 federal election. (Photo: Alex Guibord/Flickr/CC)

Justin Trudeau promises to give the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s most secretive spy agency, more powers to spy on Canadians if the Liberals form the next government after the 2015 federal election. (Photo: Alex Guibord/Flickr/CC)

During the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), conducted widespread surveillance in Canada. Our secretive NSA spied on Canadians. The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has filed a lawsuit claiming that the agency’s “broad and unchecked surveillance of Canadians is unconstitutional” and “presents a grave threat to democratic freedoms”.

If Justin Trudeau becomes prime minister after the 2015 federal election, CSE, Canada’s national electronic intelligence agency, would receive more powers to spy on Canadians. The Liberal leader confirmed the fact during a special town hall event hosted by VICE Canada in Toronto on Monday.

VICE Canada reports:

“Canada’s signals intelligence agency will gain, for the first time, the authority to spy on Canadian citizens if Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is elected prime minister this month.”

Trudeau is beginning to sound a awful lot like Stephen Harper.

“We have to recognize that there are new threats in this world that we have to have the tools to [deal with],” he said, according to VICE Canada.

But the biggest concern here is that the Liberal leader is promising to give more powers to an agency that already posses unprecedented surveillance powers. The CSE already engages in surveillance activities similar those of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), “including those recently revealed through investigative reports based on secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden.”

According to BCCLA, the CSE, formerly named Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), is already “is permitted to read Canadians’ emails and text messages, and listen to Canadians’ phone calls.”

Here are a few recent headlines highlighting the CSE’s spying on Canadian citizens and residents:

According to “Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security,” a report recently published by German weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, the CSE “monitors sites devoted to the country’s national pastime”, hockey. The report, which was based on Snowden’s revelations, also discussed the activities of the intelligence agencies of the so-called Five Eyes global spy network comprising Canada, the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand.

According to documents published by award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald in his new book, No Place To Hide, as part of the Five Eyes, the $350 million/year CSE is fully integrated into the NSA’s spying operations. The Toronto Star recently reported that “Canada actively spied for NSA.”

In other words, the Five Eyes have easy access to whatever data CSE collects on Canadians.

Should we really be surprised that Trudeau would so easily trade Canadians’ Charter rights for votes?

Back in 2014, I blogged about how Harper is turning Canada into a surveillance state through Bill C-13, the deceptively named “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act”.  In a May 2014 letter addressed to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian accused the Conservatives of “dressing up overreaching surveillance powers in the sheep-like clothing of sanctimony about the serious harms caused by child pornography and cyberbullying”.

Twenty-eight Liberal MPs voted YES to Bill C-13.

In May, the Conservatives passed Bill C-51, Harper’s universally condemned “secret police” legislation. Opponents of C-51 argue that the new law transforms the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) into a dictatorship-style secret police force operating with neither oversight nor accountability. C-51 also gives Canada’s chief spy agency and “no less than 17 government agencies,” including the CSE, the power to disrupt protests and other acts of legitimate dissent in the name of combating threats to Canada’s national security.

Trudeau and 32 other Liberals MP voted with the Conservatives.

There will be change if the Liberals win the 2015 federal election? I don’t think so. Justin Trudeau is Stephen Harper in Liberal disguise.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad

2 thoughts on “Justin Trudeau to give Canada’s NSA more powers to spy on Canadians”

  1. Autumn Albers says:

    Canada’s NSA?

    Can we please just call it for what it is, the CSE?

    I really don’t see why we need to make parallels to the Americans here, it only confuses readers and obfuscates the role of the CSE.

  2. MoS says:

    You’re pulling out all the stops, eh Madono?

Comments are closed.