A former member of Canada’s spy watchdog is defending the group’s secrecy around hearings over allegations that CSIS spied on environmental groups.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has accused the spy agency of illegally spying on groups like the Sierra Club and handing the information to the National Energy Board.
Witnesses and lawyers involved in the hearings, conducted by the watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, have been barred from speaking publicly about what goes on.
But a former member of SIRC says that’s not as nefarious as it sounds.
Shirley Heafey says the secrecy is because complainants are given access to highly sensitive documents in order to plead their case.
“They will ask a lot of questions of CSIS, I can promise you that. Why did you do this? What is your evidence? They will explain that to SIRC, but some of that information can’t go public.”