The Current

Is Canada's spy agency eavesdropping on the private communications of Canadians?

Canadians rely on their institutions to stand on guard for them and their country. But the B.C .Civil Liberties Association accuses Canada's spy agency of doing a lot more than guarding -- it says CSEC listens in on private conversations, threatens freedoms and violates charter rights....
Canadians rely on their institutions to stand on guard for them and their country. But the B.C .Civil Liberties Association accuses Canada's spy agency of doing a lot more than guarding -- it says CSEC listens in on private conversations, threatens freedoms and violates charter rights.



The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says unchecked government surveillance is a grave threat to democratic freedoms. It's suing a federal agency for spying on Canadians.

There are recent allegations suggesting that CSEC or the Communications Security Establishment Canada not only spies on foreign governments -- but spies on Canadians.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says that CSEC violates Canadians' charter rights by intercepting private communications. And this week it launched a lawsuit against the Canadian Spy agency.

Joe Arvay is a lawyer with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. He was in Vancouver.

We invited CSEC to speak with us. It replied that it can not comment on the case specifically because the matter is before the courts.

Its statement goes on to say:

All of CSE's activities are independently reviewed by the CSE Commissioner who, for sixteen years, has reported that CSE continues to act lawfully in the conduct of its current activities.

Long before there was a concept of Big Brother, people were resentful of governments looking over their shoulders. But some say government snooping is essential to keep Canada and Canadians safe... and competitive.

John Ferris is a professor of history and a fellow at the centre for Military and Strategic studies. He maintains spying is all a part of living in a secure society. He was in Calgary.

But Steve Anderson isn't convinced. He is with OpenMedia.ca, which has joined the B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawsuit. He was in Vancouver.


What do you think? When is it ok to spy? Share your thoughts.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Peter Mitton.


Other Related Stories From The Current Archives


How vulnerable are Canadians to data snooping?








Tales of the Red Sparrow








Last Word - Scary Story

We've encouraged you to send in your personal stories of terror and fright for our Hallowe'en program. You know, the rented cottage with the odd sounds of scratching in the walls, the stains no solvent will remove, curses that pursue your family through generations. That kind of thing.

Email us at thecurrent(at)cbc.ca. The Current's writer David MacQuarrie once had a rendezvous with the uncanny while on a Vespa tour of Crete. Some say... he scoots there still. He gets today's Last Word.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now