Cameron: Should the Canadian government spy on economic targets abroad and share that intelligence with Canadian corporations?

By: /
11 October, 2013
By: Maxwell Cameron
Professor, Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, University of British Columbia

In his 2011 trip to Brazil, Prime Minister Harper said “competition has to be between businesses, not governments.” So much for high-minded rhetoric. It is no coincidence that Brazil has been targeted for espionage just as it auctions off-shore oil rights and rewrites its mining legislation. The influence of oil and gas and mining companies in the Harper government is well known.

The editorializing in our major business papers oscillates between “there is no hard evidence that Canada has spied or shared intelligence with companies,” and “everybody does it anyway.” But you can’t have it both ways. Perhaps our media should devote less time to puffery and start investigating the hard questions: what kind of information was gathered, was information was shared with private companies, and was it shared with other government agencies?

Government should not be treated like a committee for the management of the affairs of the business community, much less a fraction of it. It should aim at a higher good.

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