Monday August 17, 2015

CSIS secrecy hampers complaints and accountability

B.C. Civil Liberties Association alleges CSIS broke the law with its surveillance, spying on environmental activists. But their lawyer Paul Champ says holding CSIS to account is difficult.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association alleges CSIS broke the law with its surveillance, spying on environmental activists. But their lawyer Paul Champ says holding CSIS to account is difficult. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Pipeline Protest 20140510

Protesters demonstrating against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Dogwood Initiative is an environmental advocacy group in British Columbia. Its members have campaigned against the Northern Gateway Pipeline, in addition to other causes. 

But, back in the fall of 2013, they got a surprise. They learned that some of the people in their midst may not have been who they thought they were. According to executive director Will Horter, it appeared that CSIS agents had joined in their activities, to spy. 

None of the allegations has been proven. Still earlier this year, the BC Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the Security Intelligence Review Committee or SIRC, the body that reviews CSIS' activities.

The hearings began last week. But Paul Champ, the lawyer who is representing the BC Civil Liberties Association is worried they may never get to the truth of what did or did not happen. Paul Champ was in Ottawa.

Ron Atkey was the first chair of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee, the body which is hearing the complaint. He joined us from home in Toronto.

We requested comments from CSIS, SIRC and the Prime Minister's Office. We did not hear back from any of them.
 

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott.
 

RELATED LINKS

♦ Group protesting spy agency says it's shut out of probe - Toronto Star
♦ Harper govt's spying on anti-oilsands groups revealed in FOIs - Vancouver Observer
♦ I asked CSIS for its file on me. Here's what I got - Toronto Star