Spy agency pushes to curb scope of energy activist complaint probe

Canadian spies are trying to narrow the scope of an inquiry into whether they overstepped the law while monitoring environmental activists.

OTTAWA — Canadian spies are trying to narrow the scope of an inquiry into whether they overstepped the law while monitoring environmental activists.

A lawyer for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the terms spelled out in a civil liberties group’s complaint are overly broad and must be better defined.

At issue is how far the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watchdog over CSIS, can delve into the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s complaint about alleged spying on groups concerned about Canadian energy policy.

Paul Champ, lawyer for the association, says the spy agency is trying to hide the reasons it monitored environmental groups.

The association filed the complaint with the review committee in February after media reports suggested that CSIS and other government agencies consider opposition to the petroleum industry as a threat to national security.

The complaint letter also cited reports that CSIS had shared information with the National Energy Board about so-called “radicalized environmentalist” groups seeking to participate in the board’s hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project.

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