Canada’s intelligence gathering operations has one of the “weakest oversight” among Western nations, according to United States National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Speaking via video link from Russia during a teleconference discussion organized by the Canadian Journalist for Free Expression and the Ryerson School of Journalism, the self-exiled former NSA contract employee, declined from discussing Canada’s new anti-terror legislation Bill C-51 and but talked about the of mass metadata collection by government intelligence bodies. The teleconference is part of the release of the Snowden Archive, Canada’s first searchable database of classified documents leaked by Snowden, according to The Tyee, online publication.
“I’m not going to weigh in on whether this is a good bill or a bad bill, because that’s a conversation for Canadians to have,” he said. “But something that we can see when we look at all the conversation happening around the world today is that Canadian intelligence has one of the weakest oversight frameworks out of any Western intelligence agency in the world.”
Snowden, who came to international attention in June 2013 when he leaked to several media outlets thousands of NSA classified documents, also talked about the refusal of Canadian parliamentary committee hearing supporters and critics of Bill C-51 to listen to former prime ministers who are decrying the lack of oversight in the bill.
“…it’s pretty amazing that we have the Canadian government trying to block the testimony of former prime ministers who’ve had access to classified information, who understand the value of these programs and who are warning the public and saying this is something we really need to talk about, this is something we need to debate, this is something we really need to be careful about,” Snowden said.