American ambassador says U.S. is not spying on Canadians
Published Monday, June 17, 2013 4:18PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 17, 2013 6:29PM EDT
U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson says Canadians do not need to worry about the NSA spying on them.
Jacobson’s comments come after leaked NSA documents obtained by Britain’s Guardian newspaper exposed a top-secret data mining program called Prism.
Prism’s exposure has since sparked a probe by Canada's privacy commissioner about the implications of the U.S. program for Canadians.
However, Jacobson said both Americans and Canadians highly value individual liberties and dismissed privacy concerns over the NSA disclosure.
The program has given the U.S. government access to massive amounts of phone and Internet metadata from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple.
U.S. officials have defended the program, saying the surveillance has thwarted dozens of potential terrorist plots. Officials have also said the program is used sparingly and is carefully overseen by legislative and court authorities.
Meanwhile the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, has fled to Hong Kong. Snowden was working as a contractor for NSA at the time he had access to the then-secret program.
Jacobson will step down as the American ambassador to Canada at the end July after four years in the position. He said he plans to work in the private sector in Chicago.
Keystone a “complicated question”
Jacobson will leave his post in Ottawa with U.S. President Barack Obama yet to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline – which if approved would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Speaking to Power Play on Monday Jacobson said the Keystone decision is a complicated one.
“There is a fundamental question both American people and Canadian people are wrestling with, which is how do you strike the right balance between our need for safe and secure sources of energy on the one hand and our desire to maintain the environment and protect the climate on the other,” he said. “And that’s a complicated question and it’s one that we’re wrestling with on both sides of the border.”
Jacobson said he didn’t agree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assessment that the pipeline approval is a “no-brainer.”
“We’ve got to deal with these environmental issues in both of our countries,” Jacobson said. “We’ve got an issue in the United States with respect to coal, you’ve got an issue with respect to the oilsands.
“Were both working as hard as we can to strike the right balance.”
The Obama administration is expected to make a decision on the pipeline by the end of the year.
With files from The Canadian Press