The shooting last week in the Canadian capital that left two soldiers dead has served as a pretext to expand the global surveillance police state.
On Monday the Canadian government introduced legislation in parliament designed to expand and strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or CSIS. It was scheduled to be tabled on the very day of the attack in Ottawa.
The new law will allow CSIS to network with the U.S. National Security Agency’s “Five Eyes” global surveillance grid through the agency’s Canadian counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment Canada. Once enacted, the legislation will permit the organization to exchange information with the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
“Five Eyes” is responsible for introducing an earlier global surveillance system, ECHELON. Edward Snowden has described the organization as a “supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries.” In 2013 Snowden released documents showing how “Five Eyes” spies on citizens of participating member countries and then shares that information to circumvent national privacy and civil liberty laws.
According to Public Security Minister Steven Blaney, the Canadian legislation, dubbed Bill C-44, is only a first step and the government intends to introduce other bills under the pretext of combating terrorism. The introduced legislation further shrouds the Canadian national security state in secrecy and undermines Canada’s judicial process.
Blaney said the state is “under-reacting” to the “threat of terrorism” and Canada needs to grow its surveillance capabilities despite objections by civil libertarians. He said the Harper government “will be seeking support from all parties in the House of Commons and the Senate to move this legislation forward as quickly as possible.”
A cyber security expert with the University of Ottawa, Michael Geist, told iPolitics the legislation represents an anticipated grab for additional and heighten powers by the state and additional curtailment of civil liberties will soon follow.
“As for C-44, granting CSIS effectively unlimited powers globally – the bill says warrants can be issued without regard to any law – is shocking and potentially open to challenge,” Geist told iPolitics in an email.
In addition to enhancing the ability of the surveillance state, the Canadian government is looking into expanding “preventive detention,” according to Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
“We’re examining all of those sections of the Criminal Code and all measures under the law that will allow us to, in some instances, take pre-emptive measures,” he said.
“The Conservative government seized on last week’s attacks to whip up a climate of fear, portraying Canada as a country under assault by organized terrorism,” write Roger Jordan and Keith Jones. “As well as preparing the ground for the assault on democratic rights begun by yesterday’s bill, this reactionary campaign has as its goal the rallying of support behind Canada’s participation in the new Middle East War.”
Former Rep. Ron Paul characterized the attack as a form of blowback. “How the world has changed. Canada’s wise caution about military adventurism even at the height of the Cold War has given way to a Canada of the 21st century literally joined at Washington’s hip and eager to participate in any bombing mission initiated by the DC interventionists,” Paul said in a recent Texas Straight Talk release.