Danilo Barba & Karen Nickel
The Dialog

Photo courtesy of Plenary Group Canada

Toronto (CUP)—The mining sector in Brazil is estimated to bring in over $1.5 billion for Canadian mining companies per year according to the Canadian International Development Platform, which tracks Canadian investments by commodity and country.

This might be one good reason the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) office would keep its “ear” on Brazil’s Mining and Resources Ministry, but no one is saying that.

On October 6, American journalist Glenn Greenwald reported on the Brazilian television station, Globo, that Canada spied on the Brazilian mining and resource ministry under a program called Olympia. Olympia entailed the collection of metadata around calls, faxes, and emails originating from or going to Brazil’s mining ministry.
When questioned about spying, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quoted by CBC saying he was “very, very concerned about the story.” Pushed to answer further by a CBC reporter, he said he couldn’t comment on national security operations.

Meanwhile, John Foster, director of CSEC, claims that spying isn’t illegal under Canadian law. “Due to the confidential nature of our work, I am sure you will understand I can not say much,” he said during a technology conference in Ottawa.

“We have not targeted Canadians, at home or elsewhere in our intelligence activities abroad, or anyone in Canada. Indeed, it is prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle,” he said.

A bizarre explanation came from Ray Boisvert, ex-deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS), who told the Globe & Mail that he believed what Snowden released was a “war game” exercise, and said “I have got a funny feeling that is all Snowden has—is just that exploratory war game piece saying ‘OK, what would we do, boys and girls, if we had to do this?’ ”

Greenwald claims this isn’t a one-time thing.

“There is very substantial evidence that the spying Canada was doing for economic reasons aimed at Brazil is far from an aberration.” Greenwald said he will be publishing further documents on CSEC’s spying soon.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who recently damned the NSA for allegedly monitoring Brazilian online activities, announced via Twitter that Brazil will host an international summit of government, industry, civil society ,and academia in April 2014.

“Without the right of privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and so there is no actual democracy,” she said in a speech at the United Nations in September.

“Without respect for [a nation’s] sovereignty, there is no basis for proper relations among nations. Those who want a strategic partnership cannot possibly allow recurring and illegal action to go on as if they were an ordinary practice.”