CSIS gathered info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: Watchdog

Demonstrators protest Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to the now-defunct project. (Reuters)

Demonstrators protest Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. (Reuters)

Committee concluded fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified

Canada’s spy service collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines, says a long-secret federal watchdog report.

The newly disclosed report from the Security Intelligence Review Committee acknowledges concerns about a “chilling effect,” stemming from a belief that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was spying on environmental organizations.

Advocacy and environmental groups Leadnow, the Dogwood Initiative and the Council of Canadians are mentioned in the thousands of pages of CSIS operational reports examined by the review committee.

But after analyzing evidence and testimony, the committee concluded the fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified.

The heavily censored review committee report, completed last year and kept under wraps, is only now being made public because of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s challenge of the findings in the Federal Court of Canada.

In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-defunct Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

It also accused CSIS of sharing this information with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies, deterring people from expressing their opinions and associating with environmental groups.

The review committee’s dismissal of the complaint has been known since September 2017, but a confidentiality order by the committee prevented the civil liberties association from releasing the report. As the association fights to overturn the dismissal, redacted versions of the detailed findings and related documents are being added to the public court record.

Info collected fell within CSIS mandate: review

The association, which became concerned about CSIS activities through media reports, told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-national resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.”

A CSIS witness testified the spy service “is not in the business of investigating environmentalists because they are advocating for an environmental cause, period.”

Still, another CSIS witness spoke of the need for “domain awareness” to identify “potential triggers and flashpoints” — in part to ensure the service is aware of what is happening should a threat arise, the report says.

Ultimately, the review committee concluded CSIS’s information collection fell within its mandate, and that the service did not investigate activities involving lawful advocacy, protest or dissent. The report indicates that any information on peaceful groups was gathered “in an ancillary manner, in the context of other lawful investigations.”

The report also says there was no “direct link” between CSIS and the chilling effect groups mentioned in testimony before the committee.

The civil liberties association considers some of the findings contradictory, pointing to the 441 CSIS operational reports deemed relevant to the committee’s inquiry, totalling over 2,200 pages.

For instance, one of the largely censored CSIS records, now disclosed through the court, says the reporting was further to “the Service’s efforts in assessing the threat environment and the potential for threat-related violence stemming from (redacted) protests/demonstrations.”

Another refers to the Dogwood Initiative as a “non-profit, Canadian environmental organization that was established in 1999 ‘to help communities and First Nations gain more control of the land and resources around them so they can be managed in a way that does not rob future generations for short-term corporate gain.”‘

The passages before and after the description are blacked out.

“It’s our view that these documents demonstrate that CSIS was keeping tabs on these groups, even if they weren’t formal targets,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the civil liberties association.

“But we maintain it’s unlawful to keep information on these groups in CSIS databanks when they are only guilty of exercising their democratic rights.”

The committee report says CSIS should review its holdings to ensure it is keeping only information that is strictly necessary, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.

The report cites “clear evidence” CSIS took part in meetings with Natural Resources Canada and the private sector, including the petroleum industry, at the spy service’s headquarters, but says these briefings involved “national security matters.”

The committee also concludes CSIS did not share information concerning the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or non-governmental members of the petroleum business.

Even so, the perception of CSIS discussing security issues with the oil industry can “give rise to legitimate concern,” the committee report adds. “This needs to be addressed.”

The committee urges CSIS to widen the circle of its public security discussions to include environmental and other civil society groups.

By Jim Bronskill · The Canadian Press 

[SOURCE]

Northern Gateway: Trudeau Government Expected To Launch New Talks With B.C. First Nations

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in B.C. last year, hiking the Grouse Grind on the North Shore during his victorious federal election campaign. Now, as prime minister, his government faces a difficult West Coast environmental issue with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project across northern B.C. JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in B.C. last year, hiking the Grouse Grind on the North Shore during his victorious federal election campaign. Now, as prime minister, his government faces a difficult West Coast environmental issue with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project across northern B.C. JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Peter O’Neil | Vancouver Sun‎, September 20, 2016

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is expected this week to launch a new round of consultations with northern B.C. First Nations on the controversial $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline.

The move would be in response to a June ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that quashed the former Conservative government’s 2014 approval of the proposed pipeline from Bruderheim, near Edmonton, to Kitimat on the West Coast.

Ottawa is facing a court-imposed Thursday deadline to determine whether it will appeal, and is confronting complex legal and political questions surrounding that decision.

The June court decision found that the former government’s consultations with affected First Nations were “brief, hurried and inadequate.”

But the two judges writing for the majority on the three-person appeal panel estimated that a new outreach process would only require about four months of talks, or “just a fraction of the time” since Enbridge first proposed the project in 2005.

The government is facing “very difficult issues” in relation to the decision, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters Monday.

“We will make it in the time allotted to us by the Federal Court” of Appeal, he said.

One of the complicating factors is the government’s 2015 campaign promise to bring in a moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the northern B.C. coast.

Such a move would prevent the project from proceeding, though the government has never specified how long a moratorium — which by definition is temporary — would be in place.

The National Post reported earlier this year that the government hasn’t closed the door on the project if the proposed terminal was moved from Kitimat to Prince Rupert.

In the event of new consultations, the federal cabinet would have the option after the talks conclude to send the matter back to the National Energy Board, perhaps tasking the NEB to consider adding conditions to the 209 that the board has already imposed on the company.

The federal government would also have the option, after weighing the results of the consultations, to either approve or kill the project, the judges noted in their ruling.

The Douglas Channel at Kitimat, the West Coast terminus for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Douglas Channel at Kitimat, the West Coast terminus for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Enbridge, which also has the option of appealing the June decision, has refused to speculate on what it wants the government to do.

“We’re aware of the upcoming deadline, but we’re not able to speculate on what the government will or won’t do,” said spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht.

University of Victoria aboriginal law professor Chris Tollefson, who represented one of the environmental groups involved in the court case, said he doesn’t expect an appeal by either Canada or the company.

The process would take up to two years if Canada’s top court agreed to hear the case, and Tollefson said permission is unlikely given that the judges were simply following the Supreme Court’s direction to lower courts on Aboriginal consultation.

There has been speculation that a federal decision to do more consultations would be based on concern about a possible costly lawsuit if it doesn’t take that step.

Enbridge has said it’s spent roughly $500 million so far on the approval process, and some suggest the Crown’s failure to adequately consult could open the door to a successful court case seeking damages.

But Tollefson, noting that the Supreme Court is traditionally deferential when it comes to cabinet decisions, said Enbridge would have an extremely difficult time winning such a case.

“I think it would be an extraordinary precedent for government to be held liable for regulatory negligence here,” he said in an e-mail Monday.

“The proponent would have to show that if a constitutionally adequate consultation had occurred, Cabinet would have still been granted project approval, and the project would have proceeded.”

The government is also weighing the politics involved.

With Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announcing Sunday that Ottawa will impose a national carbon tax system if provinces can’t agree on their own, some analysts have said they believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is laying the groundwork for a favourable decision in December on the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan expansion of its pipeline system from Edmonton to Burnaby.

Killing Northern Gateway, when packaged with a national carbon tax, could provide Trudeau with the additional political cover he needs to convince British Columbians to accept the Kinder Morgan project over the objections of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, environmentalists and a number of First Nations.

Trudeau, when asked about pipelines, has always indicated he favours helping get Alberta’s bitumen to offshore markets.

But he always insists that any such effort be combined with steps to protect the environment and respect First Nations.

“One of the fundamental responsibilities of any prime minister is to get our resources to market,” he told the House of Commons in April.

“However, in the 21st century, getting those resources to market means doing it responsibly for communities, for indigenous peoples and for the environment.”

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/trudeau-government-expected-to-launch-new-talks-with-b-c-first-nations-as-northern-gateway-deadline-looms

 

Haida Clan Strips Titles From Two Hereditary Chiefs For Supporting Northern Gateway Pipeline

Darin Swanson, head chief of the Yahgulaanaas/Janaas clan at the ceremony where two hereditary chiefs were stripped of their titles. Ernest Swanson, his nephew is to the left holding a staff.

Darin Swanson, head chief of the Yahgulaanaas/Janaas clan at the ceremony where two hereditary chiefs were stripped of their titles. Ernest Swanson, his nephew is to the left holding a staff.

National Post, August 18, 2016

VANCOUVER — The extraordinary decision by a Haida clan to strip two of its hereditary chiefs of their titles for secretly supporting Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is being closely watched by First Nations across Canada.

The rebuke, which was delivered last week in an elaborate ceremony witnessed by more than 500 people, came as the Haida nation rejected what they say is a growing trend by companies to enlist the support of hereditary chiefs as a way of claiming broad First Nations support.

“This is an absolutely huge decision and I think it is a wake-up call to the hereditary system of governance and leadership,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“I think First Nations across the province and throughout Indian country in general are paying attention to these developments.”

On Aug. 15, members of the clan stripped Carmen Goertzen and Francis Ingram of their titles, effectively removing them as representatives of two houses, the Yahgulaanaas Janaas of Daadens, and the Iitjaaw Yaahl Naas. Goertzen, a well-known Haida artist, had held the position for 25 years. Ingram had only been appointed a year ago.

The men were part of a group of eight, including two other hereditary chiefs, who signed a letter to the National Energy Board in March supporting Northern Gateway’s request for a time extension to its proposal for the oil transport pipeline. Earlier this summer the federal government overturned Northern Gateway’s application, leaving the company with only one more “faint hope” opportunity.

Members from a coalition of First Nations groups protest Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in April 2012.

Members from a coalition of First Nations groups protest Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in April 2012.

Goertzen, Ingram and the others, including four men who the Haida Nation says do not hold any hereditary position, formed a group called Hereditary Chiefs of North Haida Gwaii LLP.

But Darin Swanson, head chief of the Yahgulaanaas Janaas clan, said the community never knew the men had signed on to support Enbridge and that their endorsement made it look as if the Haida at large had reversed its opposition to the project.

“I don’t think anyone in a clan can tell people who they can work for,” Swanson said, “but when you are a hereditary chief leader you have responsibilities to your clan and you have to consult with them on important issues like this.

“As hereditary leaders they didn’t do that. Everything was a big secret up till now,” he said. “At the end of the day they are crawling into bed with Enbridge. It is almost up to the point that Enbridge is accepting them as (representing) the consultation on the whole of Haida Gwaii.”

Attempts by Postmedia to contact Goertzen and Ingram were unsuccessful. But in an interview with Vice News, which broke the story, Ingram denied asking for an extension, even though he signed the letter. Goertzen acknowledged that Enbridge had paid the men fees to attend a meeting but that he had his community’s best interests at heart.

“To meet with them, we’ve been paid per diems, and we’ve had a few meetings, not even four days,” he told VICE News. He said his clan members were “blowing stuff out of proportion.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/haida-clan-strip-titles-from-two-hereditary-chiefs-for-supporting-northern-gateway-pipeline

BREAKING: Northern Gateway Pipeline Approval Overturned

The federal court of appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project because Ottawa failed to consult with First Nations. (Alex Panetta/Canadian Press)

The federal court of appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project because Ottawa failed to consult with First Nations. (Alex Panetta/Canadian Press)

Federal court of appeal finds Canada failed to consult with First Nations on pipeline project

By Jason Proctor | CBC News, Jun 30, 2016

The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of the Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway project after finding Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline.

“We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue,” the ruling says.

“It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal peoples. But this did not happen.”

The federal government gave the go-ahead to the Northern Gateway project after a National Energy Board joint review panel gave it’s approval to the project subject to 209 conditions.

But the government was also supposed to meet a constitutional requirement to consult with Aboriginal peoples following the release of that report.

According to the ruling the project would significantly affect the seven B.C. First Nations who were parties to the appeal.

The project would see the Northern Gateway Pipeline travel 1,177 kilometres and deliver bitumen from Alberta to B.C.'s coastline. (Enbridge/The Canadian Press)

The project would see the Northern Gateway Pipeline travel 1,177 kilometres and deliver bitumen from Alberta to B.C.’s coastline. (Enbridge/The Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/northern-gateway-pipeline-approval-overturned-1.3659561

Oilpatch Dismayed By Liberal Move To Ban Crude Oil Tankers In Northern B.C.

The Douglas Channel, the proposed shipping route for oil tanker ships in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, just south of Kitmat, B.C.

The Douglas Channel, the proposed shipping route for oil tanker ships in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, just south of Kitmat, B.C.

By Geoffrey Morgan | November 16, 2015

CALGARY – Executives in the Canadian oilpatch are dismayed the federal government is poised to ban crude oil tanker traffic on the North Coast of B.C., which would hurt the Northern Gateway pipeline’s chances of being built.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through on one of his election promises when he asked Transportation Minister Marc Garneau to “formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s North Coast” in a mandate letter published Friday.

“All of the natural resources that we, as a natural resources country, sell, we sell at the world price except for one,” Questerre Energy Corp. president and CEO Michael Binnion said, referring to oil.

He added that Canadian oil producers are forced to accept a steep discount for the crude they produce, which they can only sell to American refineries because of the lack of export pipelines. Binnion said the discount is a direct benefit to the U.S., where President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this month.

“Forcing Western Canada to sell its oil and gas at a lot less than the world price to the benefit of Americans really seems ridiculous and counter to our strategic interests, so how could we possibly justify blocking the trade routes that would fix that problem?” Binnion said.

Enbridge Inc., which has been working to gain additional First Nations support for its $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline across northern B.C., issued a response to the oil tanker traffic ban with a reminder that any moratorium would require First Nations and Métis support.

Environmental groups immediately called the moratorium a death-blow to the pipeline’s prospects.

“We are confident the Government of Canada will be embarking on the required consultations with First Nations and Métis in the region, given the potential economic impact a crude oil tanker ban would have on those communities and Western Canada as a whole,” Northern Gateway spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht said in a statement.

Enbridge has said that it also needs more First Nations and Métis support before sanctioning its 1,100 kilometre pipeline between the Edmonton area and a proposed marine terminal at Kitimat, B.C.. which would be directly affected by a crude oil tanker traffic ban off British Columbia’s North Coast.

The marine terminal would allow tankers to export crude oil from Canada to markets in Asia.

The Calgary-based pipeline company received regulatory approvals, subject to 209 conditions, for the Northern Gateway project in 2014 but has yet to proceed with the project amid First Nations opposition.

Giesbrecht said the company and its aboriginal equity partners remain committed to building the pipeline and added, “We are looking forward to an opportunity to sit down with the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet to provide an update on the progress of our project and our partnerships with First Nations and Métis people in Alberta and B.C.”

“We share the vision of the Trudeau government that energy projects must incorporate world-leading environmental standards and First Nations and Métis ownership,” he said.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings has also proposed an oilsands pipeline across northern B.C. and recently announced that it had the support of every First Nations group along its proposed route, a claim other aboriginal groups denied.

Eagle Spirit, which would also build a refinery as part of its pipeline project, declined a request for comment on the proposed moratorium.

It is unclear whether or not the federal government’s moratorium would include tankers carrying refined oil off the coast of northern B.C., but it would not affect Kinder Morgan Canada’s plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline system across southern B.C.

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said at a conference Friday that his company has operated “out of Port Metro Vancouver and tankers have been going through there for 60 years.” He added that he’s confident the project will go forward.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president and CEO Tim McMillan said he opposed a tanker ban and added “any barrier to get products to market is a problem for Canada.

With files from the Calgary Herald

Source: Financial Post

 

First Nations’ Challenges Of Northern Gateway Pipeline To Be Heard In Court

No-Enbridge

First Nations oppose Enbridge pipeline

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Multiple legal challenges aimed at overturning the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline will be heard starting Thursday.

The challenges are expected to bring new scrutiny to the government’s environmental approval process and its responsibility to consult with aboriginal groups.

Eight First Nations, four environmental groups and one labour union launched the legal actions, which will be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal over six days in Vancouver.

Their arguments include that the federal panel that reviewed the project didn’t adequately consider threats to wildlife and oceans and excluded key issues of concern to First Nations.

“There was no consultation,” said Terry Teegee, a tribal chief with the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, which represents two communities that have filed litigation.

“We didn’t participate in the Joint Review Panel process because it didn’t address the issues that we wanted, in terms of the cumulative impacts of the project as well as our title and rights.”

The government accepted the panel’s recommendations and in June 2014 approved the $7-billion project that would carry bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to British Columbia’s coast. There were 209 conditions attached to the acceptance.

Canada’s Attorney General, Northern Gateway Pipelines L Partnership and the National Energy Board are named as respondents to the challenges.

Three organizations — Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and British Columbia’s Attorney General — will make arguments as interveners.

The federal government declined to comment ahead of the hearings.

Speaking for Northern Gateway, Ivan Giesbrecht said the company recognizes traditional aboriginal land use rights and believes First Nations should share in ownership and benefits.

“Our ongoing priority is to continue to build trust, engage in respectful dialogues and build meaningful partnerships with First Nations and Metis communities,” he said.

“We know we have more work to do in this regard and we are committed to doing this work.”

Giesbrecht said the Joint Review Panel’s examination of the Northern Gateway project was among the most exhaustive in Canadian history, spanning 180 days of hearings.

But Karen Wristen of the Living Oceans Society, among the groups that filed challenges, said the panel appeared to ignore crucial evidence submitted by interveners.

Her organization’s evidence indicated spilled bitumen would sink beneath the ocean’s surface, making it impossible to recover using conventional technology. The panel’s report, however, found the environment would recover within months or years — a conclusion that Wristen said there’s no evidence to support.

She said she hopes the hearings draw attention to Canada’s “suffering” environmental assessment process.

“I think environmental assessment in this country is in deep, deep trouble at the moment,” she said. “It’s not providing the kind of in-depth scientific review that the government would have us believe it is.”

Pete Erickson, a hereditary chief with the Nak’azdli First Nation, said Enbridge was given days to present its case to the panel while he got 10 minutes to speak for his people.

He said a 2014 Supreme Court decision that gave land title to the Tsilhqot’in sets a precedent that requires the government to not only consult with First Nations, but seek their approval.

“We’ve said that under no circumstances is the pipeline ever going to be allowed in the current presentation,” he said. “We’ve decided that there’s no way we can allow it and I believe that the court will recognize that we have the right to say that.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/first+nations+challenges+northern+gateway+pipeline+heard+court/11403512/story.html#ixzz3nH5gTCjb

 

CSIS Helped Government Prepare For Northern Gateway Protests

Thousands rally against Enbridge Northern Gateway: Tsleil-Waututh Elder Amy George (right) speaks to the crowd.

By Jim Bronskill | The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canada’s spy agency helped senior federal officials figure out how to deal with protests expected last summer in response to resource and energy development issues — including a pivotal decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service prepared advice and briefing material for two June meetings of the deputy ministers’ committee on resources and energy, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show.

The issue was driven by violence during demonstrations against natural-gas fracking in New Brunswick the previous summer and the government’s interest in “assuming a proactive approach” in 2014, says a newly declassified memo from Tom Venner, CSIS assistant director for policy and strategic partnerships.

Release of the material comes amid widening concern among environmentalists and civil libertarians about the spy agency’s role in gathering information on opponents of natural resource projects. Those worries have been heightened by proposed anti-terrorism legislation that would allow CSIS to go a step further and actively disrupt suspected extremist plots.

Traditional aboriginal and treaty rights issues, including land use, persist across Canada, Venner said in the memo to CSIS director Michel Coulombe in advance of a June 9 meeting of deputy ministers.

“Discontent related to natural resource development across Canada is largely an extension of traditional concerns,” he wrote. “In British Columbia, this is primarily related to pipeline projects (such as Northern Gateway).”

On June 17, the federal government conditionally approved Enbridge’s proposed $8-billion Northern Gateway pipeline, which would see Alberta crude flow westward to Kitimat, B.C.

Prior to the federal decision, Venner drafted a second memo for a follow-up meeting of the deputy ministers on June 19, in which he laid out CSIS assessments of three scenarios: approval, approval with aboriginal consultation, or rejection. Much of the content is blanked out.

Other censored sections indicate that while CSIS believes most Northern Gateway opposition falls into the category of legitimate protest and dissent, it concludes some does not.

Public Safety Canada may lead deputy ministers in a guided discussion “that will consider possible federal responses to protest and demonstration incidents,” Venner added.

Packages for both meetings included a CSIS synopsis of violence that flared near the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick in October 2013 when the RCMP enforced a provincial court injunction against an encampment to protest fracking — an underground rock-fracturing process to make gas and oil flow.

The spy agency’s summary — portions of which remain secret — notes that during the raid and subsequent arrests, Molotov cocktails were thrown at Mounties, shots were fired from nearby woods and six RCMP cars were set afire.

CSIS also gave deputy ministers a federal risk forecast for the 2014 “spring / summer protest and demonstration season” compiled by the Government Operations Centre, which tracks and analyzes such activity.

CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti did not respond to requests for comment on the newly disclosed documents.

The Elsipogtog conflict was a policing matter, not a threat to national security, said Keith Stewart, an energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.

“That was a very localized conflict,” he said. “And it was one that we’ve seen happen over and over again because we haven’t dealt with land claims.”

With that in mind, Stewart was surprised by the degree of spy service involvement in the Northern Gateway discussions. “I find it odd to see CSIS in the middle of this.”

The records make it clear the intelligence service is putting “extensive work” into monitoring protest activity in the extractive sector across Canada, said human rights lawyer Paul Champ.

“The big question I have is, why are they producing these intelligence reports on protest activity they acknowledge is legitimate and outside their mandate?”

RCMP tracked movements of Indigenous activist from ‘extremist’ group: documents

RCMP_COMMISH

OCT, 17 2014

The RCMP closely monitored the movements of an Indigenous environmental activist as it tightened surveillance around possible protests in northern British Columbia targeting the energy firm behind the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, according to “confidential” documents obtained by APTN National News.

Documents from the RCMP’s Suspicious Incidents Report (SIR) database show police closely monitored the movements of a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) during the summer of 2010 in northern British Columbia. According to the documents, the RCMP considers IEN an “extremist” group and a trip by an IEN member to a direct action camp in July of that year created a flurry of database activity involving RCMP officers with the force’s national security operations in B.C. and Ottawa.

The documents were obtained under the Access to Information Act by academic Jeffrey Monaghan, who is a criminology instructor at Carleton University and completing a doctorate at Queen’s University.

“When you read the document closely it shows an intimate surveillance,” said Monaghan. “(The documents) show the breadth of and the normalization of the regular systematic surveillance of protest groups, of people who criticize government policy and critics of energy policy. You have national security bureaucracies, agencies, focused on domestic protest groups and it has nothing to do with terror, but with the energy economy.”

IEN is headquartered in Bemidji, Minn., and describes itself as a grassroots organization focused on climate and social justice issues, according to its website. IEN is headed by prominent Dine’-Dakota environmentalist Tom Goldtooth. Goldtooth could not be reached for comment.

The documents record entries from RCMP officers into the SIR database. The entries focus on concerns around possible protests in July 2010 against energy firm Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. The controversial Gateway project would transport bitumen from Alberta’s tarsands to the B.C. coast for loading onto tankers headed to Asian markets. The project received federal cabinet approval but now faces an onslaught of legal challenges from B.C. First Nations.

Enbridge provided the RCMP a list of its events planned for that July. The company was concerned the events could become targets of demonstrations. The list of Enbridge’s activities included a golf tournament in Prince George, B.C., Go Karts for Girls in Fort St. John, B.C., and the Riverboat Days Concerts in Terrace, B.C.

The activities of one individual, however, captured the RCMP’s attention that month.

“Although there is no specific criminal threat, we do have information that a known member of the Indigenous Environmental Network will be heading to Northern B.C. tomorrow for a planned ‘Wetsuweten Direct Action Camp (sic),’” according to the “occurrence report” dated July 7, 2010, written Craig Douglass, with the Southeast District RCMP in British Columbia. “We would like to anticipate and monitor any protests in order to keep you informed if these protests happen in your detachment areas.”

APTN National News contacted a former member of IEN late Wednesday who said they attended the Wet’suwet’en camp during the stated time period. APTN National News failed to connect with the individual, who is currently travelling, for a planned interview Thursday.

The RCMP created a file on the IEN member’s planned trip to the action camp. The file was dated the same day as Douglass’ email.

“Information file opened to gather information involving demonstrations to the Northern Gateway Pipeline,” according to the file, number 20103467. The file was classified as a “Critical Infrastructure-Suspicious Incident.” The file summary goes on to state that the “known member of (IEN)” would be heading to the action camp on July 8, 2010.

The file, which remained active, included three “associated occurrences” dated in 2011. Little detail is provided about these occurrences. The list included the date, whether it happened in the same area, employed a similar modus operandi or was a similar event.

The file also listed a number of groups as “involved persons.” The groups listed include the Defenders of the Land, Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice, Ontario public Interest Research Group, Ruckus Society, Global Justice Ecology Project, Sea to sands Conservation Alliance, Canadian youth Climate Coalition, the Indigenous Action Movement and the Wet’suwet’en Direct Action Camp.

“These groups listed out are being registered and their names are going into national security databases and when something comes up their names would come up. This has very significant repercussions down the road, it creates perpetual suspicion and perpetual surveillance,” said Monaghan.

The RCMP officers involved on the file included several officers with B.C.’s E Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), intelligence analysts from Ottawa and a supervisor from the federal policing operational analysis sector at RCMP headquarters in the capital city.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation held an anti-Enbridge pipeline protest in Smithers, B.C., on July 16, 2010. IEN was involved in the protest, along with the Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society, Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians, according to the Flickr site of a Six Nations photographer who was at the event.

The file on the IEN member, however, seemed headed for a downgrading.

On July 12, 2010, an analyst with B.C. INSET concluded the file did “not fall within the suspicious incident categories” and would not require imputing in the SIR database. A supervising INSET sergeant then reviewed the file and came to the same determination.

The sergeant, however, was overruled by a senior officer at Ottawa RCMP headquarters. The officer determined the file should be imputed because IEN was an “extremist” group. The file was also forwarded to the now dismantled Aboriginal Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) and to the RCMP’s main liaison with the energy sector.

“File pertains to extremist groups organizing training for potential disruption of Enbridge pipelines,” reads the overruling entry from Ottawa headquarters. “Request to SIR administrator…to complete a SIR report on the incident in order to capture information of analytical value that pertains to pre-incident training that targets a critical infrastructure sector.”

An RCMP spokesperson said the force could not immediately responded to stated questions from APTN National News on the issue.

http://aptn.ca/news/2014/10/17/rcmp-tracked-movements-indigenous-activist-extremist-group-documents/