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Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

SIRC chair’s pipeline lobbying seen as symptom of larger problem – Politics – CBC News

SIRC chair’s pipeline lobbying seen as symptom of larger problem – Politics – CBC News.

Former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl was appointed last year to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees Canada's spy agency, CSIS. Word that Strahl has been hired as a lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge has raised concerns among environmentalists and others.Former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl was appointed last year to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees Canada’s spy agency, CSIS. Word that Strahl has been hired as a lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge has raised concerns among environmentalists and others. (Canadian Press)

A former head of the committee that oversees Canada’s spies has a warning for the current chair: It’s generally not a good idea for someone in their position to act as a lobbyist.

Paule Gauthier was commenting on questions surrounding former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl, currently the head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

Strahl has come under fire after it was revealed he is also a registered lobbyist for Enbridge, the company pushing to build the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to B.C.

SIRC’s job is to monitor the activities of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which has been known to keep tabs on environmentalists and native groups opposed to pipelines. Forest Ethics, a group opposed to Northern Gateway, issued a statement this week calling on Strahl to step down as SIRC chair.

Gauthier, who served as chair of SIRC from 1996 to 2005, doesn’t see a conflict of interest in Strahl working as a lobbyist, but acknowledges it could create the perception of one.

“I think it would be much better to refrain from these activities,” she said in an interview from her law office in Quebec City.

Gauthier says if Strahl has followed the rules and is satisfied he’s not in conflict, there shouldn’t be a problem. But she can see how a SIRC chair doing lobbying work could raise eyebrows.

“It’s putting himself or herself in maybe a difficult situation that you cannot expect when you accept the mandate as a lobbyist,” she said.

Strahl has been quoted as saying he has checked with the federal ethics commissioner to make sure his work is above board. He told one interviewer if SIRC were asked to look at any files involving pipelines, he wouldn’t touch them.

Part-time job

The position of SIRC chair is a part-time job paid on a per diem basis — about $600 a day plus travel expenses. Another former chair says that’s part of the problem.

Ronald Atkey was appointed the first-ever SIRC chair when the committee was established in 1984. He now teaches at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

Atkey has long argued the position of chair should be a full-time job with a full-time salary so anyone serving would not have to look for outside work.

“I think the two organizations that Canadians should worry the most about are CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) and CSIS,” he said by phone from London, Ont.

“They’re fine organizations with fine people doing important work. But they’re asked to go close to the line in complying with the law. I think, therefore, to give public comfort that these groups are monitored properly after the fact, I think a full-time watchdog may be in order.”

Wesley Wark sees merit in that idea. He’s a security expert and visiting professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. A part-time chair, he says, is “one of a number of problems that makes the Security Intelligence Review Committee less robust than it could be.”

“I think the position should be full-time and we should also define the job properly,” Wark said.

“You do want someone with considerable stature, considerable power, considerable experience. And somebody really to be a critic when criticism is needed.”

Office cut in 2012

Wark says there was more of that critical oversight when CSIS had its own inspector general.

The Conservative government abolished that office in 2012, arguing it would save money and end duplication by allowing SIRC to take over all monitoring of CSIS. The outgoing director of the inspector general’s office, Eve Plunkett, warned at the time the closure would be a “huge loss.”

Wark believes the government regarded the office and its often critical reviews of CSIS as “an annoyance.” As for Chuck Strahl, Wark says he’s less concerned about the former cabinet minister’s lobbying work than he is with SIRC’s overall ability to act as an effective watchdog.

“I just think, given the ways in which the intelligence world in Canada has been transformed and the problems that it presents and the skepticism that I think now surrounds the notion that anybody is really keeping a watch on intelligence agencies to make sure they don’t break the law or abuse their powers, I think something does need to be done,” he said.

“And that’s the real story. It’s not whether Mr. Strahl is a lobbyist. It’s what do we need to do to fix SIRC.”

Enbridge Line 9 Pipeline: Environmentalists Criticize Onerous Comments Submission Process

Enbridge Line 9 Pipeline: Environmentalists Criticize Onerous Comments Submission Process.

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