Canada's spy service has been listening to telephone conversations between terrorism suspects and their lawyers for the past 18 months as part of a strict monitoring program developed by the government.
The revelation today enraged defense lawyers who argue that intercepting these calls breaches the fundamental right of solicitor-client privilege.
"I feel as though my house was broken into," said Toronto lawyer Barb Jackman. "It's incredibly invasive."
On Wednesday, a senior agent with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service testified in a secret Ottawa hearing that the agency was monitoring calls on behalf of the Canadian Border Services Agency.More in the Globe that gives additional context to the wiretapping. A free and democratic society does not breach the solicitor-client privilege, no matter what the justification. Allow this breach and there are a host of others that could follow. Not to mention the violation of a defendant's abilities to make a full defence to the charges at hand. We don't need to be pursuing the U.S. Guantanamoesque strategy where basic principles underlying our legal system are sacrificed in the name of pursuing terror suspects. Hopefully, the judge in the case will grant the order being sought by counsel seeking to halt the eavesdropping on such calls and secondly, that this publicity will spawn a backlash against the government's tactics here.
Justice Carolyn Layden-Stevenson released a two-page public summary of the testimony this morning in a Toronto courtroom. It noted that calls to lawyers are monitored, "to the extent of being satisfied that the communication does not involve a potential breach of the terms of release or a threat to national security."