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.

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

Santa Parade lights up the streets of Penticton

People lined Main Street through the rain and chill in the air.

James and Jamesy return to Penticton for more Christmas tea

Their Dec. 17 show explores friendship, the joy of giving, and a celebration of the imagination

Tenore trio want to celebrate a Christmas with You

The tenor group performs at Penticton’s Church of the Nazarene tonight at 6 p.m.

Help the RCMP cram the kennel today at Cherry Lane

RCMP officers and volunteers will be filling kennels with donated food and pet supplies.

Summerland college operated from 1906 to 1915

Ritchie Hall and Morton Hall were constructed for Okanagan Baptist College

Video: Magicians and Bubble Wonders highlight Penticton Shriners Variety Show

The annual fundraiser filled the Cleland Community Theatre on Sunday.

West Kelowna house fire demonstrates danger posed by candles

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says an unattended candle caused the Sunday afternoon fire.

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

Slippery sections reported on Okanagan and Shuswap highways

Some sections of the Trans-Canada highway have black ice on them.

Most Read