(Axis of Logic, CTVNews.ca, 7 October 2013)
The Embassy of Brazil in Ottawa confirms that Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister summoned Canada’s Ambassador over spying allegations. The meeting took place Monday morning in Brasilia, the day after a TV news report alleging spying operations targetted at Brazil’s mining and energy industry.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had earlier asked her foreign minister to demand clarifications from the Canadian government, following allegations that a Canadian agency has been spying on Brazil’s mining and energy industry.
Fantastico, an investigative news program on Brazil’s Globo TV, reported that Canadian spies from Communications Security Establishment Canada had used email and phone metadata to map internal communications within Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry through a software program called Olympia.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff makes a statement in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. (AP / Eraldo Peres)
According to the CSEC website, the agency’s mandate is to “acquire and use information from the global information infrastructure for the purpose of providing foreign intelligence, in accordance with Government of Canada intelligence priorities.”
Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told Globo that “Canada has interests in Brazil, and above all in the mining sector. I can’t say if the spying served corporate interests or other groups.”
The Brazilian TV report, which did not indicate whether emails were read or phone calls listened to, was based on documents that appeared to be CSEC PowerPoint presentations.
One of the authors of the Globo report was Glenn Greenwald, who has spent the past four months reporting on leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald is based in Rio de Janeiro, and also works with The Guardian newspaper in London.
In an email to CTV News, Lauri Sullivan, Senior Communications Advisor for the CSEC, said the agency “does not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities, and under the law, this organization cannot target Canadians.”
On Monday, Rousseff tweeted that espionage is “unacceptable among countries that claim to be partners,” and that the foreign minister “will demand explanations from Canada,”
In a tweet, Rousseff said industrial espionage appears to be behind the alleged spying.
Andrew Cohen, a professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University, told CTV News Channel, that while the extent of Canada’s involvement isn’t known at this point, this isn’t a surprising development.
“The idea that we might be doing this shouldn’t be surprising anymore,” Cohen said. “We are emerging as a player in the world, with serious interests – economic, political, commercial in places – and this is what big boys and girls do, and so I’m not terribly surprised, but I don’t know the extent of this – nobody does.”
According to Canada’ Department of Foreign Affairs website, Brazil is currently Canada’s 11th largest trading partner, with $2.6 billion in exports, including fertilizers, mineral fuels and oils, machinery and paper. Imports, which amount to $4 billion, include mineral fuels and oils, sugars, machinery, iron and steel.
And in 2012, Brazil was Canada’s seventh highest source of foreign direct investment, with almost $16 billion in cumulative stocks.
In a news conference on Monday, Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson refused to comment on foreign intelligence, but said he is confident that Canada’s relationship with Brazil will remain strong.
In June, Canada deployed 34 peacekeeping troops to Haiti to work with a Brazilian battalion as part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Haiti.
“This is part of a wide range of activities that we have with Brazil and I have complete confidence that will continue,” Nicholson said in response to the mission.