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Rio de Janeiro — All of Canada’s negotiations and new ventures with Brazil may be put on ice until there is a resolution to the question of what a Canadian spy agency was doing snooping on one of the South American country’s ministries, says a leading Brazilian expert on relations with North America.
“If they take the same position with Canada as they took with the United States [after similar revelations of spying last month] then everything will be stopped, all the major things,” said Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United States. “The agreements, anything to do with government and the U.S., was put on hold and is still on hold and they may take the same view with Canada.”
n Sunday, the Brazilian news program Fantastico made public documents from the trove acquired by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). They included a slide presentation that appears to show that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was surveying the telecommunications of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy – a revelation that has sparked outrage here.
On Tuesday, the Canadian government shifted its tone on the allegations. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government on Monday initially brushed off the charges, now says he’s “very concerned” about reports that the country’s electronic eavesdropping agency is conducting industrial espionage in Brazil.
Mr. Harper pledged that Ottawa would perform “appropriate follow-up” on the allegations.
Last month, the Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, working in collaboration with Fantastico, used other archive documents from Mr. Snowden to show that the NSA was spying on Brazil’s government and the national energy giant Petrobras. After that revelation, President Dilma Rousseff called off a planned state visit to the Washington – which was to be the first in 18 years by a Brazilian president – and said the relationship between the two nations could not advance until the spying was explained.
“I know that Canada was beginning to discuss with Mercosul – this is not going ahead, up and until the Brazilian government is satisfied with what Canada has to say,” said Mr. Barbosa. Mercosul is the free trade zone of several South American nations, and when Foreign Minister John Baird was here in August, he and his Brazilian counterpart held talks about Canada joining the bloc.
Mr. Barbosa added that “the Brazilian government doesn’t care” what the fallout may be of a tough stand – the question of sovereignty comes first.
He noted that when Ms. Rousseff spoke to the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago, days after she had been supposed to be feted in Washington, she asked the international body to pursue new regulations for Internet security.
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