Environment, State Surveillance

CSIS spied on Canadian environmental groups

According to a Vancouver Observer story that was published on November 2013, the National Energy Board (NEB) coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands. The groups of interest are independent advocacy organizations that oppose the Harper government’s policies and work for environmental protections and democratic rights, including Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit.

This was all revealed by information gained through the Freedom to Information Act. The information includes 140 pages of emails from December 2012 to April 2013.

I remember reading something about CSIS spying on environmental groups. As I read more details about this story now, I am a little blown away.

First of all, the NEB is supposed to be an independent federal agency. They should not all be in involved in any type of intelligence gathering. The NEB actually coordinated efforts between CSIS, the RCMP and private oil companies. How can Canadians expect to take any rulings of the NEB seriously? How can Canadians trust that the NEB will rule in favor of the interests of the Canadian public when they are clearly conspiring with private oil companies to crack down on any discussion of Canada’s energy policy.

The groups listed above are peaceful public advocacy groups and they have a right to voice their opposition to government policies. Read my blog about Edward Snowden where I talk about the chilling effects of surveillance.

The NEB just recently approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Tim O’Neil, Senior Criminal Intelligence Research Specialist with the RCMP wrote a memo dated April 20, 2013 and send it to the NEB and associated stakeholders. In the memo, he states that there is “no intelligence indicating a criminal threat to the NEB or its members” and “I could not detect a direct or specific criminal threat.”

In a January 7, 2014 article published by the Vancouver Observer, we learn that Canada’s chief spy watchdog, Chuck Strahl, then head of SIRC, had registered as a lobbyist for Enbridge. Further investigations revealed that Strahl, a former Conservative cabinet minister, had been contracted by Enbridge since 2011. There is clearly a conflict of interest in this arrangement.

According to the article, Mary Dawson (Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner) refused to investigate the matter and refused to provide any further information on the matter.

This is very troubling for Canadians who believe transparency is the cornerstone of a functional democracy.

 

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