Canadian spies can share torture info, documents show


Canada's Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson, left, and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews attend the 2010 Cross-Border Crime Forum in Washington, DC. A leaked document says Toews told Canada's spy agency it can share information with foreign governments even if that intel leads to torture.



Canadian spies can share information with foreign governments even if that information leads to torture, The Canadian Press has learned.

Under a freedom of information request, CP obtained a letter from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to Canadian Security and Information Services that outlines how CSIS shares information and how to evaluate the risk of torture.

Toews tells CSIS director Richard Fadden the threat of torture must be “real and must be based on something more than mere theory or speculation."

It’s also up to the director or the public safety minister must make the final call when evaluating that “substantial risk.”

Opposition parties pounced, saying the four-page directive makes Canada a willing participant in coercive methods.

“It, I think, reflects a complete breach of our international obligations with respect to torture,” Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae said today. “And I think it shows a government which has simply lost its way in terms of Canadian values. This is not how we do business in Canada.”

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The Conservative government – under a constant barrage of criticism lately for a series of public gaffes – said it’s obliging with domestic and international laws.

“We have very clear directives. We expect CSIS to comply, and it does comply with those directives,” said Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, Postmedia News reported. “We do not condone torture. In all of our decisions regarding the safety of Canadians, that is our No. 1 priority. Those directives are in line with that.”

Amnesty International’s Canadian office disagrees. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said Canada is bound by numerous international agreements that contravene Toews’ edict.

“There’s no ifs, ands or buts to that – there’s no qualifications,” Neve said, according to CP. “This is one of the clearest areas of international law.”

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