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Government Spies Help Canadian Energy Firms Take the Initiative

Documents handed over to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald by Edward Snowden describe in detail how the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been involved in surveillance and hacking operations in the Brazilian Energy and Mines Ministry. It has now also been revealed that the agency has participated in secret meetings with energy corporations, where it is believed they shared the information gathered.

It is just another part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s aggressive promotion of Canadian resource companies, and his ruthless determination to give them any aid possible to achieve an advantage over the competition.

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The Guardian, making use of the Freedom of Information Act, gained access to some documents that stated the meetings had been taking place twice a year since 2005, involving federal ministries, espionage and police agencies, and representatives from numerous Canadian mining and energy companies.

There was no official mention of any cooperation between espionage agencies and the CSEC, but an official from the Natural Resources ministry wrote in 2010 that the meetings were a perfect opportunity for government agencies and national companies to exchange information “off the record.”

It has been suggested that the spying in Brazil was related to the recent auctions that have been taking place as Brazil looks to begin developing its giant offshore Libra field in the pre-salt formation, which could potentially offer strong competition to Canada’s oilsands. As well as a means to give Canadian mining firms an edge in the Brazilian mining sector.

Jamie Kneen, from MiningWatch Canada, stated that, “we have already seen how Canadian embassies around the world essentially act as agents for Canadian companies – even when they're implicated in serious human rights abuses. We just had no idea how far they were willing to go.”

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Ever since taking office in 2006, Harper has used his government and its agencies to drive the development of Canada’s natural resources, both domestically and internationally, ordering surveillance programs on any competition and then sharing the information with companies.

Keith Stewart, an energy policy analyst at Greenpeace Canada, said that “there seems to be no limit to what the Harper government will do to help their friends in the oil and mining industries. They've muzzled scientists, gutted environmental laws, reneged on our international climate commitments, labelled environmental critics as criminals and traitors, and have now been caught engaging in economic espionage in a friendly country. Canadians, and our allies, have a right to ask who exactly is receiving the gathered intelligence and whose interests are being served.”

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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