Judge denies CSIS request to collect foreign intelligence

·1 min read

OTTAWA — A court has put the brakes on a Canadian Security Intelligence Service request to collect foreign information, ruling a proposed technique would stray beyond the spy service's legal mandate.

The service was seeking court warrants so it could gather intelligence in other countries, from a location inside Canada, to help an unnamed federal minister.

The spy service is allowed to collect information about threats to national security anywhere in the world, but there are limitations on gathering intelligence unrelated to security outside Canada.

Section 16 of the CSIS Act allows the service to collect, within Canada, foreign intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of any foreign state, as long as the information-gathering is not aimed at Canadians.

Parliament imposed the "within Canada" requirement because collecting foreign intelligence in other countries could harm Canada's international relations.

In a newly released decision, Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson found the service's proposed use of the investigative powers did not meet the "within Canada" requirement of the law.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press