Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Mark Friedman


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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.