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

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

TEASER
WATCH: Surrey-made anti-bullying video urges youth to #BlockEmDontShareEm

“Break the chain by deleting the image and never forwarding – not even to a best friend’

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

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.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

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

(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

Most Read