A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, May 14, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, May 14, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Judge denies CSIS request to collect foreign intelligence

An unnamed federal minister was trying to gather intelligence in other countries, from inside Canada

A court has put the brakes on a Canadian Security Intelligence Service request to collect foreign information, ruling a proposed technique would stray beyond the spy service’s legal mandate.

The service was seeking court warrants so it could gather intelligence in other countries, from a location inside Canada, to at the request of an unnamed federal minister.

The spy service is allowed to collect information about threats to national security anywhere in the world, but there are limits on gathering intelligence unrelated to security outside Canada.

Section 16 of the CSIS Act allows the service to collect, within Canada, foreign intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of any foreign state, as long as the information-gathering is not aimed at Canadians.

The court has previously noted that Parliament imposed the “within Canada” requirement because collecting intelligence in other countries could harm Canada’s international relations.

In a newly released decision, Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson found the service’s proposed use of investigative powers did not meet the “within Canada” requirement of the law.

Gleeson delivered the decision last July but a public version with many passages blacked out was only released Wednesday.

CSIS spokesman John Townsend said federal lawyers have filed an appeal on specific questions relating to the interpretation of the service’s authority to collect foreign intelligence in support of the defence and foreign-affairs ministers.

“The collection of select foreign intelligence is crucial for the conduct of the affairs of the government of Canada and our national security interests,” Townsend said.

“It supports a broad range of priorities, including key foreign-policy issues and national defence.”

The redactions to the ruling mean the proposed CSIS method in question, the information sought and the specific foreign countries are not publicly known.

Federal lawyers acknowledged that the information CSIS sought may be outside of Canada’s borders, but nonetheless argued that the proposed method of collection occurs “within Canada” as the term is used in the law.

However, two lawyers hired to assist the court with the file disagreed, saying the method cannot be properly characterized as occurring within Canada. In addition, even if it could, the method is contrary to foreign and international law, they told the court.

In turning down the warrant request, Gleeson pointed to a previous ruling that said Parliament did not intend CSIS’s limited foreign-intelligence mandate to open the door to covert intelligence operations abroad.

Such operations, the Federal Court found in an earlier case, had the potential to breach international law and the domestic laws of other countries as well as tarnish Canada’s reputation.

“The authority Parliament has granted the service to engage in intrusive activity in furtherance of its duties is limited and controlled,” Gleeson wrote in the latest decision.

He added the method proposed by CSIS “involves significant activity outside of Canada, activity that is both legally relevant and that invites the risks Parliament has sought to mitigate.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

Students participating in an outdoor education experience in the Golden area during COVID-19. (Meg Langley photo)
Outdoor education project takes Golden’s students into nature

The program offers a way for students to learn in nature and safe from COVID

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

The Penticton Speedway has been sold but the investment group who bought it is planning to create an enhanced racetrack and racing experience. (File photo)
Penticton Speedway sold and will remain a racetrack

Investment group that includes founder of Area 27 intends to buy the Speedway

The District of Sicamous announced plans to purchase and manage the Sicamous Medical Centre on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Colleen Anderson and Malcolm Makayev have been overseeing this and other health matters on behalf of the district’s council. (Jim Elliot-Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous to purchase retiring doctor’s business, take over management

Move intended to attract new doctors by allowing them to focus on patient care

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

(File photo)
‘Give me your stuff! Oh, hello, officer’: Man surprised by Kamloops Mountie

A man trying to enter a vehicle stopped in Kamloops was greeted by an off-duty Kamloops Mountie inside

Most Read