Global Report

Spying on Brazil is OK, almost half of Canadians say: poll

Just a little espionage between friends

Brazil’s government has accused a Canadian spy agency, Communications Security Establishment, of intercepting confidential mining-ministry communications, following leaks by U.S. dissident Edward Snowden. Ottawa does not deny the allegations.

In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1208 Canadians aged 18 years and older, three quarters are aware of the Edward Snowden espionage leaking case (76%) and, of these, more than half think Snowden did Canada a service by leaking the information that the Canadian Communications and Security Establishment (CSEC) was spying on Brazil’s resource sector (55%). Three‐in‐ten agree strongly (30%), and these are characteristically young (under 35 ‐ 38%), male (34%) in BC (35%) and among those who don’t agree Canada should be spying on friendly countries (35%).

Green voters (43%) and Bloquistes (59%) are more likely to agree strongly than supporters of the three main parties (Conservative ‐ 22%, Liberal ‐ 32%, NDP ‐ 32%).

Just one third of Canadians are aware of the Canadian Communications and Security Establishment (CSEC ‐ 32%), and these are the older respondents (55 to 64 ‐ 39%, 65+ ‐ 42%), males (42%) New Democrats (40%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K ‐ 37%), in Ontario (36%) and among those who disagree with Canadian spying on friendlies (41%). Despite this low level of awareness, more than one half of Canadians are aware of allegations that CSEC spied on Brazil’s resource sector (57%), and these are male (64%), older (55 to 64 ‐ 70%) and wealthier ($80K to $250K ‐ 71%) in Ontario (65%).

Close to one half of Canadians agree Canada should conduct industrial espionage in friendly countries (47%), one fifth agree strongly (20%), and these tend to be males (27%), the least wealthy (26%) and Conservative supporters (26%) in Alberta (31%).

The most common reason cited by those who do not agree with spying in friendly countries is that it is unethical (31%), unacceptable even if done by others (25%) and hurts our foreign relations (22%). Less common are more prosaic reasons including it being a waste of money (12%), and it being the responsibility of private interests.