Problem of Secrecy and Secret Activities of Intelligence Agencies
March 14, 2015. Demonstration on Parliament Hill against Bill C-51.
The TML Monthly article of February 7, "Governance of
Does Not Protect Rights or Democratic Values," points out:
"What is referred to as rule of law is
actually subordinate to the police powers which routinely act behind
closed doors in the name of national interest and national security."
The issue of secrecy and the activities of a secret political
police under the guise of protecting national security is an important
element of disinformation. The aim is to allow the
Canadian state to engage in criminal activity to achieve an undisclosed
objective. Recourse to police powers, in the name of protecting
national security and to disinform the polity so
that it cannot intervene in a manner which favours its interests, is not
acceptable. The state says Canadians should sacrifice and give up their
rights and struggles in the name of protecting
national security, which it equates with protecting society as a whole.
To dispute such an assertion is not only itself taboo but is considered to
be and is treated as a threat to national
In 2015, the Harper government's second
anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51, which the Liberal Party voted in favour of along
with the Conservatives, amended several other laws
including the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act. The amended Act gives the secret service the
power to engage in disruption activities just about anywhere. This law
says that CSIS can "take measures, within
or outside Canada, to reduce the threat" to the security of Canada.
While CSIS has illegally engaged in rights violations and disruption
activities since its inception, Bill C-51 enshrined this
illegality in law.
Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party voted in favour of Bill C-51 but, in
the face of massive popular opposition to this law, on the eve of the
federal election it promised to annul "the
problematic elements of Bill C-51" and to present "new legislation that
better balances our collective security with our rights and freedoms."
This masquerade of defending rights and
freedoms and Canadian values, and of prohibiting the transgression of the
limited rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, became law with Bill C-59, the National
Security Act, 2017, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.
In Bill C-59, it is said that the police powers can "take
measures ... that would limit a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms" only
if "a judge ... issues a warrant authorizing the taking of those
measures." The measures "that would limit a right or freedom" are,
amongst others: "(a) causing, intentionally or by criminal
negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual; (b) wilfully
attempting in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of
justice; (c) violating the sexual integrity of an individual;
[and] (d) subjecting an individual to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, within the meaning of the Convention Against
Already, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms stipulates that
the limited rights set out therein must be exercised within "reasonable
limits" and may be restricted by a rule of law
"as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."
Bill C-59 enacted the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act which entered into force by decree in July 2019. It created a new federal entity, the National
Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA).
The amendments to the CSIS Act also deal with surveillance
and disruption activities carried out in violation of other countries' sovereignty. This law allows CSIS to
conduct disruptive activities abroad without the consent of the
targeted country. Also in the name of protecting national security, CSIS can be called upon to "assist the Minister of
National Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs."
These disruptive activities which violate the sovereignty of
other countries are an element of Canada's
conduct in international affairs. They include providing assistance to and
cooperating with the government of a foreign state or one of its
institutions for the purpose of bringing about regime change in a
targeted country. An example of this is Venezuela, where
Canadian diplomats intervene and carry out all kinds of activities for
regime change. Canada's leadership and involvement in the Lima Group as
well as the Organization of American States
is another example. Passing laws to make it "lawful" to violate the fundamental
principles on which the United Nations is founded and which guide international
conduct is then used to back up Canada's
demand that all countries must be rules-based according to the demands
of the U.S. imperialists.
The integration of Canada into the security apparatus of the United
States and the Five Eyes intelligence agencies is made lawful through the CSIS Act, which provides that Canada "enter into
an arrangement or otherwise cooperate with the government of a foreign
state or an institution thereof or an international organization of
states or an institution thereof."
Secrecy and protection of sources are a sine qua non -- an
essential condition of legislation and security agencies dealing with
matters said to concern "national security." Consider security
certificates and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Under that law, the fact of knowing the charges which are brought against a
person, of having at one's disposal the evidence or the allegations
which are brought against a person, all is at
the discretion of the police powers and so-called security agencies.
Reports submitted by these agencies, be it the Canada Border Services
Agency, CSIS or others, can be written or
rewritten in their favour with full impunity, with the tragic
consequences of arbitrary detention, the separation of families, the
detention of children, deportation and different forms of
treatment and torture.
This method is used against refugees and migrants in a situation of
irregularity in the name of protecting national security. Immigrants
refugees can be removed from the country
without being given the reasons why. By virtue of Section 86 of the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,
the Minister of Immigration can use exactly the same procedures but which are expedited, to obtain what are called
certificates." It is not the same heavy-handed procedure compared to
the security certificates used a few years ago that is
being used today. The security certificate procedure
has been abandoned because the people targeted were defending
themselves too vigorously. This "light security
certificate" procedure has been used hundreds of times over the past
few years mostly unbeknownst to Canadians.
This law also confers immunity to security service agents. This
includes the right to commit offences, make false statements, violate
their "duty of candour" to the courts, and the
All these measures have been adopted systematically over the years,
again mostly unbeknownst to Canadians. The police powers which comprise
the state protect themselves through laws passed by Parliament while
engaging in disruptive activities to prohibit and stifle all popular
resistance against rights violations. Since 2001-02 following the
adoption of the anti-terrorism law, no matter what cartel party formed
the government, the state has continuously renewed the measures which it
claims are "balanced exceptional measures," directly aimed against the
struggles of the workers, Indigenous peoples, refugees, immigrants,
migrants, the Quebec people and communities of all kinds.
These "anti-terrorist" laws, presented as exceptional laws, have
created states of exception that have become permanent. This has
created a dangerous situation at the present time.
Clearly this is unacceptable restructuring of the state to permit the
erstwhile covert activities of a political police to act openly with
the protection of sources and impunity on grounds of
national security and the necessity to integrate Canada even further into
the security apparatus of the U.S. war machine.
Attempts to disinform
the polity in order to violate the rights of the
people and their collectives and carry out attacks against the
struggles of the people with impunity is a very poor way to give
legitimacy to claims of being progressive, humanitarian and
law-abiding. It only serves to create giants with feet of clay.
This article was published in
Volume 51 Number 6 - February 28, 2021