Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has rebuked a Canadian spywatcher for publicly suggesting Edward Snowden "should be shot."
"That remark strikes me as highly inappropriate," the minister told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.
He was not the only person offended. From Russia, the famous fugitive American at the centre of the comment also found it disturbing.
"Canadian spy, charged with keeping spies from breaking the law, wants man dead for showing spies broke law," read a Tweet from Mr. Snowden on his verified account. He then added wryly, "Bonus: he's mad he was recorded."
On Wednesday, The Globe reported that Michael Doucet, a former Canadian intelligence analyst, gave a 90-minute talk to a small audience at Toronto's Ryerson University in which he made several off-the-cuff remarks. He later said he did not think his talk was being recorded.
When a member of the audience asked Mr. Doucet what Mr. Snowden's fate would have been had he been Canadian and leaked intelligence secrets, he replied: "Do you want my opinion on that? Do you really want it? I'll give it to you. If Edward Snowden had worked for CSIS and did what he did, he should be shot."
This comment was surprising because Mr. Doucet is executive director of a government watchdog agency, the Security Intelligence Review Committee. SIRC reviews the highly classified operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and its officials rarely make unscripted remarks in public.
Mr. Doucet quickly added that he was merely being provocative, and would like Mr. Snowden to face trial.
In 2013, Mr. Snowden was a security-cleared contractor who fled the United States with volumes of U.S. government documents. He leaked them to select journalists who wrote articles about their contents, including secret spy programs of questionable legality.
Mr. Snowden has lived in Russia for the past 3 1/2 years and would face charges under the Espionage Act should he return to the United States. Supporters consider him a principled whistle-blower, and have been pushing for outgoing President Barack Obama to pardon him.
The Snowden leaks have woken the world up to the fact that the U.S. National Security Agency and its allies in a partnership known as the Five Eyes – Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand – have been collecting, pooling and analyzing global telecommunications traffic on a massive, constant and indiscriminate basis.
As a result of the Snowden revelations, the U.S. government gave up some potentially unlawful surveillance. For example, U.S. federal agents had been secretly requisitioning Americans' phone records in bulk from phone companies.
Over the years, The Globe has written about several Snowden documents pertaining to Canada.
A leaked presentation about the capabilities of powerful analytical software known as Olympia showed that, in 2012, Canadian analysts dissected telecommunications traffic related to Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy. They winnowed flows of global data down to specific Brazilian devices that were earmarked to be hacked at a later point.
After that leak, many Canadians expressed surprise that the federal government would apparently engage in economically driven espionage against a friendly nation.
The Snowden leaks also showed that an allied agency did similar topographical data analysis against Canadian corporations.
NSA documents suggested U.S. spies had mapped out traffic flows associated with a major Canadian bank and a telecommunications company. The reasons were never made explicit, but the mapping raised questions about whether the Five Eyes countries actually make good on their supposed gentlemen's agreement to refrain from spying on each other.