Brazil spying report gives Canada black eye: opposition leader

Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:12pm EDT
 
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Allegations that Canadian security officials spied on a Brazilian government ministry give Canada "a black eye in the world," a top opposition leader said on Wednesday, putting more pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to explain the affair.

Thomas Mulcair of the official opposition New Democrats branded as "unacceptable" the allegations in a Brazilian media report saying the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) had targeted the Brazilian mines and energy ministry.

CSEC is the Canadian equivalent of the top-secret U.S. National Security Agency. Harper, whose Conservatives are trailing in the polls, said on Tuesday in Indonesia that he was very concerned by the report.

"Actively spying on ministries and companies in other countries to give an advantage to Canadian companies is not only illegal, it's irresponsible, and it gives Canada a black eye in the world," Mulcair told a news conference.

"The Conservatives have simply shown that they have no ethical boundaries of any kind ... this a huge mistake," he added, saying there was clear evidence CSEC had been complicit in industrial espionage.

CSEC chief John Forster declined to comment on Wednesday when pressed repeatedly by reporters as to whether the agency had spied in Brazil. He told a conference in Ottawa that everything CSEC did was legal and closely scrutinized by a separate, government-appointed commissioner.

The allegations have soured ties with Brazil, a big trading partner for Canada. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday demanded Canada explain what had happened.

The Globo report alleged CSEC used software to map the Brazilian ministry's communications. It provided no details of the alleged spying other than a slide presented at an intelligence conference that mentioned the ministry.   Continued...

 
New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie