National Observer: A first-hand account of government surveillance
This journalist experienced first hand what Canada will look like if Bill C-51 is passed. Keep speaking up at StopC51.ca Article by Darren Fleet for the National Observer Out of morbid curiosity I made a Freedom of Information request to the government spy agency, CSIS. I asked them if I had ever been subject to surveillance. To help with their inquiry, I gave them my name, and a brief description of my activities over the past five years – writing, environmental and social activism, and working for the Vancouver Observer and Adbusters magazine.
What I received in reply scared the shit out of me. It said:
Pursuant to subsection 10(2) of the Act, we neither confirm nor deny that the records you requested exist. We are, however, advising you, as required by paragraph 10(1)(b) of the Act that such records, if they existed, could reasonably be expected to be exempted under one or more of sections 15(1) (as it relates to the efforts of Canada towards detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities), 16(1)(a), and (c), of the Act.
Yep. Subversive and hostile. Me. Ph.D. student. Married. Father. Fantasy Football addict. Gardener.
Now in all fairness, I made a pretty broad request. And as any journalist knows, you never ask more than one question in a question, otherwise folks just answer whatever they want to and ignore the rest. Yet still, I was hoping for something that would calm a few of my more anxious nerves.
Since that day in April, the letter has remained on my desk, untouched but resonant with the proverbial deafening silence. Some days I want to frame it. Some days I tell jokes about it. Some days I want to exercise my right of appeal under the Access to Information Act, and send it back to them. Most days, however, I just want to forget about it, and try not kick myself too much for giving the spy agency any more reason to look, or not look, at me.
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