Edward Snowden Calls Canadian Intelligence Oversight Among ‘Weakest’ In Western World


U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden criticized the inadequate oversight of Canada’s intelligence operations on Wednesday, calling its framework “one of the weakest” in the Western world.

In a live chat moderated by CBC Radio host Anna Maria Tremonti, Snowden touched on the topic of mass surveillance and its potential impacts on Canadians’ civil liberties.

“Canadian intelligence has one of the weakest oversight frameworks out of any Western intelligence agency in the world,” Snowden said in a video link from Russia.

“It’s pretty amazing that we have the Canadian government trying to block the testimony of former prime ministers, you know, who’ve had access to classified information, who understand the value of these programs.”

Four of the country’s former prime ministers — Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark, and John Turner — added their voices to the debate last month, calling for increased oversight over Canadian intelligence to balance proposed sweeping changes in Bill C-51.

They pointed out the “lack of a robust and integrated accountability regime” impedes their overall effectiveness, making it difficult to meaningfully assess the efficacy and legality of Canada’s national security agencies.”

“This poses serious problems for public safety and for human rights,” they said in a statement.

If passed, Bill C-51 would expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and give police the authority to make preventive arrests and detain individuals without a warrant.

The legislation passed a second reading vote last month.


When asked about the Conservative government’s proposed anti-terror bill, Snowden reminded the audience “terrorism is an extraordinarily rare natural disaster.”

The former NSA contractor added it’s important to not “throw away all of our rights, all of our liberties, all of our traditional freedoms, because we’re afraid of rare instances of criminal activity.”

“The technical capability to enforce that perfectly all the time — I think that means something very profound for the future of Western society,” he said referring..

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