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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.

» Canadian Mounties Override Civilian Rule to Arbitrarily Ban, Confiscate Firearms Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!

» Canadian Mounties Override Civilian Rule to Arbitrarily Ban, Confiscate Firearms Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

RCMP turned thousands of law-abiding Canadian gun owners into criminals overnight

Adan Salazar
Infowars.com
March 5, 2014

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are acting on their own authority to arbitrarily re-classify, ban and ultimately confiscate certain rifles, contemptible actions for which Canadian citizens seemingly have no recourse.

Last Wednesday, the RCMP made good on its past threats and turned tens of thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight when they re-classified the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine, a Swiss-made rifle featuring military-style characteristics, declaring it “prohibited” even though the model has been sold in Canada since 2000. Until Monday, the Canadian feds hadn’t even offered an amnesty period for gun owners to turn in their newly illegal weapons.

Although the high quality rifles cost anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000, the Canadian government has made no indication it intends to compensate, purchase or otherwise reimburse gun owners, or gun shops, for their surrendered firearms.

On Friday, after the country’s Public Safety Minister had publicly stated he would “take action” against the assault on law-abiding citizens’ rights, the Mounties again banned another gun, a Canadian version of the CZ 858, which had been specifically modified to meet domestic laws.

Troubling to many Canadians is the RCMP banned these guns without the authority of elected officials. “The elected government of the day had already made it clear it did not want to go this route. The Mounties did it anyway,” Sun News’s Brian Lilley reported.

“It is a dark day when police, not the people’s elected representatives, can suddenly transform thousands of ordinary, law-abiding Canadians into criminals with the stroke of a bureaucratic pen,” writes the Winnipeg Sun’s Lorne Gunter.

As Gunter explains, the High River gun grab of June 2013 set the precedent for mass gun confiscation. Mirroring scenes from the fallout of Hurricane Katrina, Mounties in the wake of a devastating flood “decided arbitrarily to break into the homes of nearly 2,000 law-abiding residents and strip the places of guns because they feared residents’ anger might be turned on police or politicians once the town’s forced evacuation was lifted.”

“The government needs to rein in the Mounties or they will find they’re no longer in control,” Lilly declares. “That means the government not only needs to override the decree from the Mounties, but strip them of any power they have or think they have to do this again.”

One gun shop owner expressed to CBC News that Mounties are disarming citizens to have a monopoly on force. “There is a movement within the RCMP and they don’t like to see guns in the hands of anybody but themselves.”

Canadian gun owners who refuse to relinquish their firearms can face jail time up to three years, Sun News reported.

Of course, the irony of the RCMP’s ban and confiscation is that they are targeting a gun the Swiss government actually entrusts its citizens to arm themselves with, illustrating the Mounties and Canadian government’s draconian disdain for its people’s rights.

 

This article was posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

» Canadian Mounties Override Civilian Rule to Arbitrarily Ban, Confiscate Firearms Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!

» Canadian Mounties Override Civilian Rule to Arbitrarily Ban, Confiscate Firearms Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

RCMP turned thousands of law-abiding Canadian gun owners into criminals overnight

Adan Salazar
Infowars.com
March 5, 2014

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are acting on their own authority to arbitrarily re-classify, ban and ultimately confiscate certain rifles, contemptible actions for which Canadian citizens seemingly have no recourse.

Last Wednesday, the RCMP made good on its past threats and turned tens of thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight when they re-classified the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine, a Swiss-made rifle featuring military-style characteristics, declaring it “prohibited” even though the model has been sold in Canada since 2000. Until Monday, the Canadian feds hadn’t even offered an amnesty period for gun owners to turn in their newly illegal weapons.

Although the high quality rifles cost anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000, the Canadian government has made no indication it intends to compensate, purchase or otherwise reimburse gun owners, or gun shops, for their surrendered firearms.

On Friday, after the country’s Public Safety Minister had publicly stated he would “take action” against the assault on law-abiding citizens’ rights, the Mounties again banned another gun, a Canadian version of the CZ 858, which had been specifically modified to meet domestic laws.

Troubling to many Canadians is the RCMP banned these guns without the authority of elected officials. “The elected government of the day had already made it clear it did not want to go this route. The Mounties did it anyway,” Sun News’s Brian Lilley reported.

“It is a dark day when police, not the people’s elected representatives, can suddenly transform thousands of ordinary, law-abiding Canadians into criminals with the stroke of a bureaucratic pen,” writes the Winnipeg Sun’s Lorne Gunter.

As Gunter explains, the High River gun grab of June 2013 set the precedent for mass gun confiscation. Mirroring scenes from the fallout of Hurricane Katrina, Mounties in the wake of a devastating flood “decided arbitrarily to break into the homes of nearly 2,000 law-abiding residents and strip the places of guns because they feared residents’ anger might be turned on police or politicians once the town’s forced evacuation was lifted.”

“The government needs to rein in the Mounties or they will find they’re no longer in control,” Lilly declares. “That means the government not only needs to override the decree from the Mounties, but strip them of any power they have or think they have to do this again.”

One gun shop owner expressed to CBC News that Mounties are disarming citizens to have a monopoly on force. “There is a movement within the RCMP and they don’t like to see guns in the hands of anybody but themselves.”

Canadian gun owners who refuse to relinquish their firearms can face jail time up to three years, Sun News reported.

Of course, the irony of the RCMP’s ban and confiscation is that they are targeting a gun the Swiss government actually entrusts its citizens to arm themselves with, illustrating the Mounties and Canadian government’s draconian disdain for its people’s rights.

 

This article was posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

The Day I Found Out the Canadian Government Was Spying on Me | DeSmog Canada

The Day I Found Out the Canadian Government Was Spying on Me | DeSmog Canada.

Nov. 19th, 2013. A Tuesday. The day started out sunny, but hail fell out of the sky in the afternoon. It was a Victoria day like any other until I found out the Canadian government has been vigorously spying on several Canadian organizations that work for environmental protections and democratic rights.

I read the news in the Vancouver Observer. There, front and centre, was the name of the organization I worked for until recently: Dogwood Initiative.

My colleagues and I had been wary of being spied on for a long time, but having it confirmed still took the wind out of me.

I told my parents about the article over dinner. They’re retired school teachers who lived in northern Alberta for 35 years before moving to Victoria.

I asked them: “Did you know the Canadian government is spending your tax dollars to spy on your daughter?”

Then I told them how one of the events detailed in e-mails from Richard Garber, the National Energy Board’s “Group Leader of Security,” was a workshop in a Kelowna church run by one of my close friends and colleagues, Celine Trojand (who’s about the most warm-hearted person you could ever meet). About 30 people, mostly retirees, attended to learn about storytelling, theory of change and creative sign-making (cue the scary music).

In the e-mails, Garber marshals security and intelligence operations between government operations and private interests and notes that his security team has consulted with Canada’s spying agency, CSIS.

To add insult to injury, another set of documents show CSIS and the RCMP have been inviting oil executives to secret classified briefings at CSIS headquarters in Ottawa, in whatThe Guardian describes as “unprecedented surveillance and intelligence sharing with companies.”

These meetings covered “threats” to energy infrastructure and “challenges to energy projects from environmental groups.” Guess who is prominently displayed as a sponsor on the agenda of May’s meeting? Enbridge, the proponent of a controversial oilsands pipeline to the coast of British Columbia.

I asked my folks: “Isn’t that scary? CSIS is hosting classified briefings sponsored by Enbridge?” No answer. My parents are not the type to get themselves in a flap about things like this, but I prodded them: “Dad, this is scary, right?”

“It’s scary,” he admitted.

How much information is being provided to corporations like Enbridge? What about state-owned Chinese oil companies like Sinopec, which has a $10 million stake in Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal?

What kind of country spies on environmental organizations in the name of the oil industry? It seems more Nigerian than Canadian.

I fought the urge to react with indignation, a sentiment I find all too common in the environmental movement. I also didn’t want to be overwrought about it. Fact is though, the more I thought about those documents, the more I began to feel a sense of loss for my country.

I’m not the touchy-feely type. Everyone from my conservative cousins in Alberta to my former colleagues at the Calgary Herald could attest to that. I grew up in northern Alberta playing hockey and going to bush parties. I think our oil and gas deposits, including the oilsands, are a great asset to our country — if developed in the public interest. Yes, that’s a big “if” — but Canadians own these resources and the number one priority when developing them should be that Canadians benefit.

For speaking up for the public interest and speaking out against the export of raw bitumen through the Great Bear Rainforest, hundreds of people like me have been called radicalsand painted as enemies of the state, as somehow un-Canadian. That last bit is what hits me in the gut.

I love my country. And in my eyes, there isn’t anything much more patriotic than fighting for the interests of Canadian citizens. I’ve argued that after 25 years of oilsands development, Albertans should have something to show for it — not be facing budget crises and closing hospital beds; that Albertans aren’t collecting a fair share of resource revenues; that we should develop resources at a responsible pace that doesn’t cause rampant inflation, undermining Canadians’ quality of life and hurting other sectors of the economy; that we should prioritize Canadian energy security (half of Canada is currently dependent on foreign oil). And I’ve agreed with the Alberta Federation of Labour that exporting raw bitumen and 50,000 jobs to China doesn’t make sense for Canadians

Now, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but it’s a stretch to portray any of those statements as unpatriotic or radical. In fact, one of my proudest moments as a Canadian was encouraging citizens to register to speak at the public hearings on Enbridge’s pipeline and tanker proposal for B.C. With a team of committed people at Dogwood, in collaboration with several other groups, we helped more than 4,000 people sign up to have their say — seven times more than in any previous National Energy Board hearing.

It was this act of public participation that sparked the beginnings of the federal government’s attacks on people who oppose certain resource development proposals. Helping citizens to participate in an archaic public hearing process is a vital part of democracy— not something to be maligned.

What makes me sad is the thought that we’ve been reduced to being the type of country that spies on its own citizens when they speak out against certain corporate interests. Not only that, but our government then turns around and shares that intelligence with those corporations.

Disappointingly, a scan of today’s news coverage indicates Canada’s major newspapers never picked up the spying story, save for one 343-word brief on page 9 of the Vancouver Province. Is it now so accepted that the Canadian government is in bed with the oil industry that it doesn’t even make news any more? Now that’s really sad.

Whether you agree or disagree with my ideas about responsible natural resource development, I’d hope we could all agree Canada should be a country where we can have open and informed debate about the most important issues of our time — without fear of being attacked and spied on by our own government.

 

Canadian police arrest Toronto man suspected of spying for China | Canada | Reuters

Canadian police arrest Toronto man suspected of spying for China | Canada | Reuters.

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian police have arrested a Toronto man suspected of seeking to give China classified information about Canadian shipbuilding procurement policies, security officials said on Sunday.

Jennifer Strachan, a chief superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told a news conference that Canadian citizen Qing Quentin Huang, 53, faced two charges of attempting to communicate with a foreign entity.

“On Thursday the RCMP was informed that the accused was taking steps to pass on information of a classified nature to China,” she told a rare weekend news conference.

“In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels responsible for defending Canadian waters and Canadian sovereignty.”

Strachan said Huang, who was arrested on Saturday, had worked for a subcontractor involved in ship design. She declined to say what information Huang had tried to provide to China, but said there was no threat to public safety.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected the allegations.

“The relevant reports about a Canadian man suspected of providing information to the Chinese government are completely baseless,” Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Canada has had a complicated relationship with China, with official efforts to boost trade and improve business ties at times conflicting with deep concern about the role that Chinese state-owned entities should be allowed to have in Canada.

Canada last year allowed state-owned energy company CNOOC Ltd to buy up domestic energy producer Nexen Inc, but made clear that it would not allow further purchases of domestic oil sands companies by state-owned enterprises.

Huang was arrested just days after Canada’s official spending watchdog said the government has underestimated the costs of a multibillion-dollar naval shipbuilding plan and will either have to build fewer ships or settle for vessels with fewer capabilities than it initially planned.

The new ships will play an important role as Canada asserts sovereignty claims in the Arctic, a disputed region that is rich in energy and mineral resources.

The news conference announcing Huang’s arrest involved officials from many Canadian security agencies, including several police forces, border services and the secretive spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The Toronto resident, who police said appeared to have been acting alone, will appear in court for a bail hearing on Wednesday. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Editing by

 

Study urges privacy policy for potentially ‘intrusive’ drones – Politics – CBC News

Study urges privacy policy for potentially ‘intrusive’ drones – Politics – CBC News.

 Related Stories

There must be clear policies about the sort of personal information flying drones are allowed to collect before Canadian police and others begin using them on a large scale, warns a new study.

The groundbreaking research report on drones — unmanned eyes in the sky — urges law enforcement agencies, governments and privacy commissioners to work together to ensure civil liberties are respected as more of the miniature craft take to the air.

It says unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can offer potentially significant cost savings for police and could be useful for responding to emergencies or performing mundane chores.

However, the “potential for intrusive and massive surveillance” means public discussion is needed to reassure Canadians they will not be arbitrarily spied upon, the study concludes.

Ultimately, the federal government “lacks a clear policy” on the devices, it adds.

Study finds many unanswered questions

A copy of the study, to be released next week, was made available to The Canadian Press by authors Christopher Parsons and Adam Molnar of Block G Privacy and Security Consulting.

They sifted through academic articles, court rulings and revealing Access to Information documents, uncovering many unanswered questions about the budding technology along the way.

The devices, which range in size from a bird to a small plane, are usually outfitted with cameras but can also carry thermal imaging devices, licence plate readers and laser radar. They can be potent military weapons and, in peacetime, are used for everything from filming movie scenes and detecting radiation to monitoring crowds and photographing accident scenes.

In Canada, UAVs are regulated by Transport Canada as aircraft under the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

The RCMP is eyeing creation of a national fleet of small helicopter-like drones with cameras to help investigate offences, reconstruct traffic accidents, and assist with search-and-rescue.

The Mounties have said they are not being used for general surveillance of people or vehicles.

‘Keen interest’ from Canadian police forces

The study notes keen interest from Canadian police forces, but says law enforcement agencies have not “sought feedback from the public on how UAVs should or should not be adopted as a tool to serve the public interest.”

The authors also cite safety and security concerns, including the potential for crashes or even the hacking of a drone to intercept the data it is collecting or make it steer off course.

Among the study’s recommendations:

— Police should engage in “wholesome consultations” with the public on the privacy implications of drones;

— Establishment of a provincial-federal working committee to develop drone policy for Canadian police;

— Creation of policies that spell out the sort of information drones can gather, how long it kept, the way it may be shared and how people can learn whether they have been spied upon.

“The time for such well-balanced policy making is now,” the study says.

Federal privacy watchdog ‘closely following’ expanded use

In her recent annual report, federal privacy commissioner JenniferStoddart notes that National Defence uses drones “in field operations outside Canada” while the National Research Council has planned limited trials with the aim of improving navigation.

A late 2012 poll conducted by Stoddart’s office found that four out of five people surveyed were comfortable with police use of drones for search-and-rescue missions.

But only two of five approved of their use in monitoring public events or protests.

“Considering the capacity of UAVs for surreptitious operation, the potential for the technology to be used for general surveillance purposes, and their increasing prevalence — including for civilian purposes — our office will be closely following their expanded use,” says the annual report.

“We will also continue to engage federal government institutions to ensure that any planned operation of UAVs is done in accordance with privacy requirements.”

 

Idle No More group in Akwesasne protests fracking – Montreal – CBC News

Idle No More group in Akwesasne protests fracking – Montreal – CBC News.

A small group of anti-fracking protesters marched across the Seaway International Bridge Saturday afternoon.A small group of anti-fracking protesters marched across the Seaway International Bridge Saturday afternoon. (Radio-Canada)

About a dozen people from an Idle No More group based on the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve are marching today against shale gas exploration.

They blocked the Seaway International Bridge, also known as the Three Nations Bridge, connecting Cornwall, Ont. and Massena, NY for about an hour early on Saturday afternoon.

The group gathered to raise public awareness about the dangers of fracking, the process used to extract gas from the earth by injecting fluid into shale rocks to release the natural gas inside.

The demonstrators also wanted to show solidarity with the Mi’kmaqprotesters in Rexton, N.B., where tensions exploded three weeks ago after the RCMP tried to dismantle a blockade set up by protesters.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne posted a note to its Facebook page on Nov. 6 saying its members had met with the group of protesters prior to the march and they confirmed bridge traffic wouldn’t be disrupted.

The council said in the note that the group vowed instead to undertake an educational campaign and pass out leaflets during the demonstration. However, the protest veered onto the bridge, forcing local police to close it.

According to Cornwall police, the bridge has since re-opened and traffic is flowing freely.

No arrests have been reported so far. Akwesasne police were unavailable to comment.

Akwesasne straddles the border between Quebec, Ontario and New York.

 

Can Fracking Showdown on Native Land Help Break Canada’s Cycle of Colonialism?

Can Fracking Showdown on Native Land Help Break Canada’s Cycle of Colonialism?. (source)

Mi'kmaq women. Photo via Twitter.

Women lead a march at Elsipogtog. Photo via Twitter.

In the mid-1990s I moved to Mi’gma’gi to go to graduate school. I was expecting to learn about juvenile Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi River. I was naive and misguided. Fortunately for me, the Mi’kmaq people saw that in me and they taught me something far more profound. I did my first sweat in the homeland of Elsipogtog, in the district of Siknikt. I did solidarity work with the women of Elsipogtog, then known as Big Cove, as they struggled against imposed poverty and poor housing. One of them taught me my first song, the Mi’kmaq honor song, and I attended her Native Studies class with her as she sang it to a room full of shocked students.

I also found a much needed refuge with a Mi’kmaq family on a nearby reserve. What I learned from all of these kind people who saw me as an Nishnaabeg in a town where no one else did, was that the place I needed to be wasn’t Mi’gma’gi, but in my own Mississauga Nishnaabeg homeland. For that I am grateful.

Nearly every year I travel east to Mi’gma’gi for one reason or another. In 2010, my children and I traveled to Listuguj in the Gespe’gewa’gi district of Mi’gma’gi to witness the PhD dissertation defense of Fred Metallic. I was on Fred’s dissertation committee, and Fred had written and was about to defend his entire dissertation in Mi’gmaw (Mi’kmaq) without translation—a groundbreaking achievement. Fred had also kindly invited us to his community for the defense. When some of the university professors indicated that this might be difficult given that the university was 1,300 kilometers away from the community, Fred simply insisted there was no other way.

He insisted because his dissertation was about building a different kind of relationship between his nation and Canada, between his community and the university. He wasn’t going to just talk about decolonizing the relationship, he was determined to embody it, and he was determined that the university would as well.

This was a Mi’kmaw dissertation on the grounds of Mi’kmaw intellectual traditions, ethics, and politics.

The defense was unlike anything I have ever witnessed within the academy. The community hall was packed with representatives from band councils, the Sante Mawiomi, and probably close to 300 relatives, friends, children, and supporters from other communities. The entire defense was in Mi’gmaw, led by community Elders, leaders, and Knowledge Holders—the real intellectuals in this case.

There was ceremony. There was song and prayer. At the end, there was a huge feast and giveaway. It went on for the full day and into the night. It was one of the most moving events I have ever witnessed, and it changed me. It challenged me to be less cynical about academics and institutions because the strength and persistence of this one Mi’gmaw man and the support of his community changed things.

I honestly never thought he’d get his degree, because I knew he’d walk away rather than compromise. He had my unconditional support either way. Fred is one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met, and he was uncompromising in his insistence that the university meet him halfway. I never thought an institution would.

All of these stories came flooding back to me this week as I watched the RCMP attack the nonviolent anti-fracking protestors at Elsipogtog with rubber bullets, an armored vehicle, tear gas, fists, police dogs, and pepper spray. The kind of stories I learned in Mi’gmagi will never make it into the mainstream media, and most Canadians will never hear them.

Instead, Canadians will hear recycled propaganda as the mainstream media blindly goes about repeating the press releases sent to them by the RCMP designed to portray Mi’kmaw protestors as violent and unruly in order to justify their own colonial violence. The only images most Canadians will see is of the three hunting rifles, a basket full of bullets and the burning police cars, and most will be happy to draw their own conclusions based on the news—that the Mi’kmaq are angry and violent, that they have no land rights, and that they deserved to be beaten, arrested, criminalized, jailed, shamed, and erased.

The story here, the real story, is virtually the same story in every indigenous nation: Over the past several centuries we have been violently dispossessed of most of our land to make room for settlement and resource development. The active system of settler colonialism maintains that dispossession and erases us from the consciousness of settler Canadians except in ways that is deemed acceptable and non-threatening to the state.

We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same—intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, “new relationships,” promises, placated resistance, and then more broken promises.

Then the cycle repeats itself.

This is why it is absolutely critical that our conversations about reconciliation include the land. We simply cannot build a new relationship with Canada until we can talk openly about sharing the land in a way that ensures the continuation of indigenous cultures and lifeways for the coming generations. The dispossession of indigenous peoples from our homelands is the root cause of every problem we face, whether it is missing or murdered indigenous women, fracking, pipelines, deforestation, mining, environmental contamination, or social issues as a result of imposed poverty.

So we are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt-out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper.

We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough. We can learn about the 400 years these people and their ancestors have spent resisting dispossession and erasure. We can learn about how they began their reconciliation process in the mid-1700s when they forged Peace and Friendship treaties. We can learn about why they chose to put their bodies on the land to protect their lands and waters against fracking because—setting the willfully ignorant and racists aside—sane, intelligent people should be standing with them.

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.


Leanne SimpsonLeanne Simpson wrote this article for the Huffington Post, where it originally appeared. Leanne is a writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic.

 

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News. (source)

What was to be the final day of hearings in Toronto on the controversial Line 9 pipeline was cancelled Saturday, as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to oppose energy company Enbridge’s plan to reverse the oil pipe and increase its capacity to carry crude.

 

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131019Protesters demonstrating against Enbridge’s application to reverse it’s Line 9 pipeline rally outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday, where the National Energy Board was originally scheduled to hold hearings. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

“They try to make it seem like we’re not going to have a spill. And it’s very likely that a spill will happen somewhere along this line,” said protester Nigel Barriffe, who lives near Line 9 in northwest Toronto.

Enbridge was to make its closing submissions to the National Energy Board on its plan to reverse the line, so it would flow from Southern Ontario to Montreal, and increase its capacity to move crude oil.

But the National Energy Boardannounced late Friday that Saturday’s hearings were off, saying the way the previous day’s hearings ended raised concerns about the security of participants. Protesters were out in force for Friday’s panel hearing, but there was no violence during that demonstration or Saturday’s rally.

On Friday, protesters, many gathered under the banner of the Idle No More movement, first milled outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to rally against the Line 9 pipeline and to show solidarity with demonstrations at New Brunswick’s Elsipogtog First Nation against a shale-gas project. They were eventually allowed in slowly, after the NEB determined that there were enough seats.

Line 9 protesters in TorontoSaturday’s demonstration saw a crowd of hundreds of people winding through downtown Toronto. (CBC)

After an anti-Line 9 deputant completed her official submissions to the NEB panelists, the demonstrators began chanting and moving up to the front of the room toward the panel.

 

There was a brief scuffle with security. Then the NEB panel members were escorted by security and police out of the room, as was an Enbridge representative.

The NEB didn’t provide a date for when Enbridge will present the closing arguments that had been slated for Saturday.

Protest organizer Amanda Lickers said the NEB should have found a way to let Enbridge make its case in support of the reversal.

“I think that if they were really concerned about security, they could have still done it over the web…. There could have been ways to make the presentation happen.”

Critics cite environmental risks

The panel heard this week from interveners stating the reversal would put First Nations communities at risk, threaten water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas.

Jan Morrissey of a Toronto residents’ group showed up early Saturday morning for the hearing, only to learn it was cancelled.

Morrissey said she’s disappointed she won’t get to hear Enbridge’s final reply to arguments made to the board by critics of the reversal.

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131018The day before, protesters overtook the public hearings on Line 9, as NEB panel members were escorted out by security and police. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

“It’s sort of like reading a book and not getting to see the last chapter,” she said.

The pipeline reversal would increase the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, up from the current 240,000 barrels.

Enbridge has also asked for permission to move different types of oil, including a heavier form of crude from the Alberta oilsands.

Opponents say the crude Enbridge wants to transport is more corrosive and will stress the aging infrastructure and increase the chance of a leak.

But Enbridge has said what will flow through the line will not be a raw oilsands product — although there will be a mix of light crude and processed bitumen.

Line 9 originally shuttled oil from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal but was reversed in the late 1990s in response to market conditions to pump imported crude westward.

Enbridge is now proposing to flow oil back eastward to service refineries in Ontario and Quebec.

The company has experienced several devastating spills on its pipelines, including one in Michigan that leaked 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River and has already cost the company more than $1 billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes there is at least 684,000 litres of bitumen still in the river.

 

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