Greens Warn about Surveillance Threat to Democracy

Canadians have a right to know how much clandestine surveillance is being carried out on the Canadian public, said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands.

“We first heard about the prevalence of spying on private citizens last week in the US, but it is obvious that both countries share communication infrastructure and have passed similar security-related laws,” said May. “It’s time citizens were given more information regarding the kind of spying being carried out, how, and why.”

Canadians also learned earlier this week that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has a metadata – data about data content – surveillance program approved by Defence Minister Peter McKay in 2011. Although McKay has stated that this was directed exclusively at foreign communications, questions still remain about CSEC’s activities, and other matters.

Who controls/regulates the surveillance of Canadians and what restrictions are they under? What is the role of Canadian telecom companies which are refusing to talk because of a gag order? How much collaboration is there with the US on both foreign and domestic communication surveillance?

“Canada used to be a country where permission had to be given before gaining access to private communications, said May. “We have strayed dangerously far from this standard and must do everything we can to restore it.

“I understand that the world has changed since 9/11, but treating us all like potential terrorists is not the way to maintain security. From what we are hearing, there are potential threats to our Charter of Rights; the role of the Privacy Commissioner might be compromised, and even our courts. This is a direct threat to democracy.”