Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor? Considering the Implications for Canadian National Security and Whistleblower Law

Mark Friedman

Abstract


Edward Snowden’s disclosures of secret National Security Agency documents
have significant implications for Canadian national security law. Snowden’s
revelation that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC)
attempted to spy on the Brazilian government is analyzed to determine: first,
whether economic intelligence gathering is a legal function of CSEC; and,
second, whether CSEC employees would be afforded protection by the Security
of Information Act (SOIA) if they decided to reveal the existence of such a
program. Since whistleblower protection for intelligence agency personnel has
never been tested in Canadian courts, the author draws on different areas of
law to fill a void in Canadian legal literature and jurisprudence. In this respect,
Snowden’s case allows observers to imagine how whistleblower protection
might operate and, in doing so, provides a case study to determine whether
SOIA’s provisions are overly restrictive or lenient. Ultimately, the author
suggests that CSEC’s statutory framework permits the organization to spy on
a foreign government for economic intelligence. Furthermore, whistleblower
protection law would not protect Snowden because the manner in which he
disclosed secret information does not comply with the framework set out
in the SOIA.

Keywords


national security; whistleblower

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