Federal case set to rule on legality of Canadian Security Intelligence Service spying on pipeline protesters


The proposed extension to the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would connect Alberta and British Columbia in parallel to the existing pipeline and triple its capacity, was controversial for years before Canada approved the project in 2016. In 2014, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association complained to the Security Intelligence Review Committee that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was spying on anti-pipeline activists and sharing the information it collected about "radicalised environmentalist" groups with the National Energy Board and oil companies. CSIS is forbidden from collecting information about Canadians unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are a threat to national security. In a 2015 hearing, the review committee called witnesses from a number of environmental and public interest organisations to testify in a closed-door hearing; in 2017 the committee rejected the complaint. The civil society groups appealed, and argued the case in an open session of the Federal Court of Canada in September 2018. The case is expected to set a precedent that will determine whether future court challenges to CSIS actions will be open or closed.


Writer: Jim Bronskill
Publication: The Globe and Mail

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