Canadians believe Edward Snowden is a hero, not a villain

Edward Snowden (Photo courtesy of freesnowden.is)

The vast majority of Canadians support the actions of American whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to a new Angus Reid/Huffington Post survey published on Wednesday.

The poll — conducted in Canada, the United States and in Britain — found that 67 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe the former U.S. intelligence operative is a "hero" for leaking classified information about the National Security Administration's spy activities.

That's the highest support for Snowden out of the three countries: 60 per cent of Brits consider him to be a hero while only 51 per cent of Americans do.

[ Related: Journalist claims that Canada’s spy activity extends well beyond Brazil ]

The pollster also asked its respondents whether they thought the occasional infringement on civil liberties justified security and anti-terrorism efforts.

"In Canada, where the country's worst case of terrorism unfolded not on native soil but over the Atlantic Ocean (the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182), just under half of respondents (49%) said yes," Angus Reid, chairman of Angus Reid Public Opinion, wrote in an op-ed accompanying the survey.

"In the U.S., where the terror of 9/11 is still fresh in many minds, 54 per cent said yes. Britons appeared to be the most accepting of the privacy-for-security tradeoff. The question is why?

"I would suggest that the answer lies in the four decades of violence, bombings and bloodshed borne by the British since the start of the Troubles in 1971. Throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s, Britain was the focal point of bombings, ambushes and targeted terror attacks carried out by the Irish Republican Army and other terror groups. Over time, the violence of the IRA and its offshoots have given way to other terrorists using the same modus operandi: killing and instilling fear in the hearts of people going about their everyday business."

[ Related: Canada wouldn’t grant asylum to Edward Snowden? You don’t say? ]

Snowden, who is now on the run from U.S. authorities and living in Russia, has recently — at least indirectly — implicated Canada as part of an international espionage scheme.

Earlier this month, Brazilian-based journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed that Canada's electronic eavesdropping agency, CSEC, conducted a cyber-espionage campaign against Brazil’s mines and energy ministry.

In an interview with CBC Radio's As it Happens, he said that Brazil isn't Canada's only spy victim.

"There's a lot of other documents about Canadians spying on ordinary citizens, on allied governments on the world and their cooperation with the United States government and the nature of that cooperation," Greenwald said, referring to data leaked by Snowden.

"I think most Canadian citizens will find [the documents] quite surprising if not shocking because it's all done in secret."

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