A member of the environmental nonprofit Sierra Club B.C. has posted a YouTube video as a pre-emptive dodge around a government gag order.
Sierra Club B.C. campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon was scheduled to speak this week at a hearing convened by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), an oversight body, regarding a February 2014 complaint that alleges the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) illegally spied on activists and First Nations people.
As the Straight reported on August 5, rules for the hearing are so secret and restrictive that even lawyers involved in the case were ensure if they would be allowed to remain present for the full length of proceedings.
In the video posted to YouTube on August 13, Vernon says she intends to deliver testimony that proves government actions targeting environmental activists have created a “chill” that has stifled freedom of speech.
“This week’s hearings are being held in secret, and I’m told that I’m not going to be able to speak about what I say after I testify,” she says. “So I’m giving you a little advanced sneak peek in what I plan to testify tomorrow.”
The February 2014 complaint was brought forward by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
“We’ve filed this complaint because Canadians should be able to participate in a democracy without being spied on,” said BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn, quoted in an August 13 media release. “Bill C-51 has given spies far more power, including the ability to violate the constitution. We need to put a stop to abuses by our national security agencies, not give them more power to violate people’s rights.”