OTTAWA — The feds have brought down the cone of silence in the wake of reports that Canada may have allowed the U.S. National Security Agency to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto.
“In the area of international security, as you can appreciate, I don’t get into discussions of that,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Thursday.
A CBC report Wednesday cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the U.S. turning its Ottawa embassy into a G20 command post that was “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner,” referring to the Communications Security Establishment Canada.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair raised the issue in the House of Commons.
“Did Communications Security Establishment Canada, or anyone else in the Canadian government, authorize, in any way, shape or form, the U.S. National Security Agency to spy on Canadian soil? Yes or no?” he asked.
Nicholson didn’t answer directly.
“We cannot comment on specific foreign intelligence activities or capabilities,” he said. “Under law, this organization is prohibited form targeting Canadians, and, furthermore, CSEC cannot ask our international partners to act in way that circumvents Canadian laws.”
CSEC Chief John Forster also denied CSEC would ask the NSA to spy in Canada.
“I would not do that,” he said. “Our agency would not do that. It is against the law.”
Forster didn’t answer whether the NSA asked CSEC to allow its operation.
NDP MP Paul Dewar admitted it’s possible the NSA could get around Canadian laws by operating from the U.S. embassy, which is sovereign American territory.