RAMBLE ON: Secret review hearing to review secrets

You would be lucky to hear our civil liberties whimper if you were able to parse through the headlines today.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper, behind closed doors of course.

You would be lucky to hear our civil liberties whimper if you were able to parse through the headlines of dead lions, Donald Trump and oh, let’s say waterslides or something.

A very important hearing was held last week in Vancouver by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the watchdog responsible for the oversight of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

The hearing was held after a complaint was filed by the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) who allege that the spy agency, in coordination with the RCMP, were gathering intelligence and spying on democratic environmental groups and volunteers opposed to pipeline projects. If true, that is illegal. Not a great reputation for the upholders of the law, allegedly of course.

The list of groups the BCCLA alleges were spied on includes environmental activist groups the Sierra Club of B.C., the Dogwood Initiative and ForestEthics Advocacy.

Reporters and the public were barred from the hearing, and weren’t even allowed to take photos or ask questions to anyone coming in or out of the hearing, all of whom were sworn to secrecy.

It’s important to note that at this time the alleged spying is just that, an allegation. The secrecy seems shady, and it is, but it’s the age-old argument of weighing the protection of sensitive security information over transparency to the public. You can’t say everything, yes, we understand, lives may literally be on the line. But you can’t say nothing.

Here is where logic becomes the real kicker to me. A direct quote from the outline of the SIRC on the Government of Canada website, which surprised me a bit, goes: “Parliament has given CSIS extraordinary powers to intrude on the privacy of individuals. SIRC ensures that these powers are used legally and appropriately, in order to protect Canadians’ rights and freedoms.”

Did you catch that first bit? Straight from the Supreme Leader’s internet-shaped mouth. Those “extraordinary powers” it’s referring to is Canada’s maple syrup-infused version of the Patriot Act down south, Bill C-51. The purpose of SIRC on the website makes sense objectively, it’s even kind of hopeful in its ignorantly blissful vision of a perfect world. Here we are, that watchdog, some of whom are appointed by the same government that forced C-51 through, are taking the allegations of abuse of those “extraordinary powers” to task. Yeah! Right on! Can we see or hear anything about it? No. Will we? Hard to say.

I honestly can not imagine a scenario where the review board comes to the decision that indeed the allegations are true, and hypothetically right and fair punishment is dolled out to those involved. The aftermath of this scenario would be interesting and far-reaching. If these allegations are true that means that government spy agencies coordinated with police to spy on, literally, a church basement group in Kelowna and an All Native Basketball Tournament. The All-Powerful Harper Government took a page right out of the American history textbook, allegedly. Use act of international terrorism (Parliament Hill attack/September 11th), pass far reaching legislation toting that we need more powers to bring peace and safety to all (Bill C-51/The Patriot Act) and use your new powers to do as you see fit, allegedly.

The media are probably all too busy cheating on their taxes or something, or they would probably ask the Supreme Leader about it, but they would have to fit it in one of their five questions and there are only so many scandals you can ask the guy about.

The quiet trumping of civil liberties is a slippery waterslide to fall down and the only defence is the utmost diligence of the people. It’s an election year folks.

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.




Just Posted

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read