Since 2014, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has been pushing back against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) through complaints filed with the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the oversight body for CSIS.
BCCLA alleges that CSIS illegally spies on activist and environmental groups that operate in Canada and passes that information on to petroleum companies.
The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) supports BCCLA’s pursuit of government transparency, accountability, and the public’s right to question those in power.
In addition, FIPA concurs that spying on people who are exercising their right to protest is an attack on our freedom of expression, an abuse that cannot be tolerated in a free and democratic society.
We encourage you to support BCCLA, along with the other organizations involved in the complaint (Sierra Club of BC, the Dogwood Initiative, Leadnow.ca, and STAND), by learning more about their challenge to the unconstitutional spying on Canadians.
In a letter sent today, BC FIPA, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), and Newspapers Canada are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bring the PMO and Ministers’ offices under the Access to Information Act, after Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault identified three ministerial staff as having interfered with a number of ATI requests.
The letter signed by all three organizations to Prime Minister Harper can be found here.
Commissioner Legault found that three federal ministerial staff had “…inserted themselves in various ways into a process that was designed to be carried out in an objective manner by public servants. Consequently, the rights conferred under the Act were compromised.” However, the Department of Public Works has refused to refer the case to the RCMP, citing past cases that have resulted in no charges being laid.
The way things are now, the people most likely to interfere with an ATI request are people working in offices that are outside the Act, and they aren’t being investigated even if the Commissioner identifies a breach of the law.
This case shows the need for changes to the law, which should be made as part of a fundamental reform of the Access to Information Act.