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Could Snowden leaks have CETA implications?

Documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden are providing information about Canadian spying activities in relation to multilateral negotiations, perhaps even including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Could this have implications for the ratification of the Canada-EU trade deal? Possibly. Agence France-Presse has reported that anger in Europe over the US National Security Agency tapping the cellphone of German chancellor Angela Merkel has prompted “demands in some EU quarters that the TTIP (the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) talks be halted altogether.”

Canadian, American and British intelligence agencies have already been implicated in the hacking of phone calls and e-mails during the G20 summit in London in 2009, but now the National Post reports, “Canadian authorities allowed the United States to spy on world leaders during the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto in 2010, (according to documents that) were leaked by Snowden.” The NSA reportedly coordinated these spying activities with the Communications Security Establishment Canada.

Who was spied on?

The CBC reports, “The secret documents do not reveal the precise targets of so much espionage by the NSA — and possibly its Canadian partner — during the Toronto summit”, but we do know that EU presidents Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were at the G20 meetings, as were the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

How is the spying done?

“The NSA and its Canadian ‘partner’, the Communications Security Establishment Canada, gather foreign intelligence for their respective governments by covertly intercepting phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.”

What information would they gather?

The Globe and Mail reports, “In 2000, Carleton University professor Martin Rudner, an expert in security matters, published an essay saying Canada’s agency, CSEC, has long been after secrets during multilateral meetings and trade negotiations.” It reportedly provided negotiators with economic intelligence related to trade negotiations including NAFTA and at WTO and APEC summits.

Was CETA on the G8 agenda?

We think so. Prior to the summits, Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders wrote that Canadian and European officials were hoping for “a major push” for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement at the G8 summit in Huntsville.

Past implications on the ratification of trade deals?

In May 2010, several Members of the European Parliament called for the signing of the European Union-Colombia free trade agreement to be put on hold until allegations that the Colombian security agency DAS had wiretapped the parliament could be fully investigated. 

Further reading

Spying scandal challenges EU-Colombia FTA
Who represents the EU at the G20?
Canada to take free trade message to the G20
Barlow named in US Wikileaks cable