Documents released from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the NSA was granted by permission by it’s equivalent counterpart in Canada, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), to conduct surveillance on foreign members during the G-20 summit in 2010.
The spying was justified on two grounds, to prevent potential terrorist attacks from al-Qaeda and to give the US and Canada leverage in policy negotiations. Only two years proceeding the 2008 recession, foreign officials were discussing a potential global tax on banks which the US and Canada didn’t support.
The CSEC cannot by law spy on individuals without a warrant, and granting access to the NSA was therefore not justifiable on any legal grounds. Though significantly smaller in size and budget compared to the NSA, the CSEC has over 2,000 employees and an annual budget of $450 million. The establishment will soon be moving to new headquarters in Ottawa which reportedly cost taxpayers over $1.2 billion.