Tag Archives: Northern Gateway pipeline

CSIS collected info on peaceful protests of Indigenous groups, environmentalists: documents


The Canadian Press

CSIS welcomed energy industry info about alleged threats 

Canada’s spy service routinely welcomed reports from the energy industry about perceived threats, and kept such information in its files in case it might prove useful later, newly disclosed documents reveal.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is supposed to retain only information that is “strictly necessary” to do its job, and the spy agency is now facing questions about whether it collected and hung on to material about groups or people who posed no real threat.

Details of the CSIS practices are emerging in a case mounted by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in the Federal Court of Canada.

In a February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the association alleged the spy service overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-abandoned Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

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

The review committee dismissed the civil liberties association’s complaint in 2017, prompting the association to ask the Federal Court to revisit the outcome.

In the process, more than 8,000 pages of once-secret material — including heavily redacted transcripts of closed-door hearings — have become public, providing a glimpse into the review committee’s deliberations.

During one hearing, a CSIS official whose identity is confidential told the committee that information volunteered by energy companies was put in a spy service database.

“It is not actionable. It just sits there,” the CSIS official said. “But should something happen, should violence erupt, then we will go back to this and be able to see that we had the information ? it is just information that was given to us, and we need to log it.

“Should something happen after and we hadn’t logged it, then we are at fault for not keeping the information.”

The review committee heard from several witnesses and examined hundreds of documents in weighing the civil liberties association’s complaint.

The watchdog concluded CSIS collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines.

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

But the committee’s report said that CSIS’s activities did not stray into surveillance of organizations engaged in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent.

Demonstrators protest Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver, British Columbia June 17, 2014 Reuters

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, the review committee urged CSIS to ensure it was keeping only “strictly necessary” information, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.

The civil liberties association told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-natural resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.”

One CSIS witness told the committee that Oliver’s statement did not flow from information provided by the spy agency. “As a service, we never found out where he was coming from, where he got this information or who had briefed him,” the unnamed CSIS official said. “So we’re not sure where he got it. But it wasn’t from us.”

The review committee found CSIS did not share information about the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or the petroleum industry.

The association wants the Federal Court to take a second look, given that CSIS created more than 500 operational reports relevant to the committee’s inquiry.

“The main impression one draws from the (committee) report is ‘nothing to see here, look away,’ when in fact there is a lot to see here,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the association.

Dozens of censored CSIS records say 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.”

Some of the documents reveal that CSIS itself is questioning whether it is going too far, noting that the spy service is “pressing on the limitations of our mandate.”

The notion that information on some groups or individuals was gathered incidentally is “cold comfort to people whose names might end up in the databanks of Canada’s intelligence service simply because they expressed a political opinion on Facebook, signed a petition, or attended a protest,” Champ said.

One document 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.

“This court case will take some time to play out,” Champ said. “Right now, we are focused on getting access to as much information as possible so we can properly make our main arguments about how these CSIS activities violate the law.”

[SOURCE]

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