Opinion Column

CSIS right to watch pipeline activists 0

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Josh Paterson, Executive Director, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) (right) responds to revelations of government surveillance and spying on opponents to the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers projects at a press conference in Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday February 6, 2014. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

Josh Paterson, Executive Director, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) (right) responds to revelations of government surveillance and spying on opponents to the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers projects at a press conference in Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday February 6, 2014. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

As discussed last Friday on the front page of 24 hours, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is demanding an investigation into the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, alleging they were spying on groups opposed to oil pipeline projects.

“The RCMP and CSIS have absolutely no business gathering information on people who are engaged in peaceful, democratic activity,” BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson told media.

Oh really? Yawn.

The mandate of CSIS is to gather intelligence against any potential domestic threat. It is only in the last decade or so that its mandate was expanded to operate outside our borders.

So, how do CSIS agents know what presents a threat if they don’t pay attention to all manner of groups, especially those who are against the development of critical infrastructure projects? Projects, well, exactly like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

The crux of the complaint seems to be that CSIS monitored websites used by activists who are determined to stop the Enbridge project. Websites are considered “open source” by intelligence agencies and are absolutely fair game to be monitored by law enforcement and CSIS. If you talk about your plans online to stop critical infrastructure projects, I would suggest CSIS would be malfeasant if they didn’t monitor the Internet to learn what chatter was occurring.

The other bone of contention comes from activist Will Horter, who runs a group called the Dogwood Initiative. In a CBC story on this issue he said, "Somebody from CSIS or the RCMP went into that room and wrote a report about what happened in that meeting. We don't know exactly how that was, we don't know who it was, but it's disturbing.”

Well, not to me.

As documented by Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause in the Financial Post last spring, Horter’s organization has previously been funded by huge U.S. environmental groups, such as the Tides Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, co-funders of a campaign against Canadian energy exports.

And along with all the American funding against our critical infrastructure projects, there are also people like Shannon Hecker, featured prominently last month in a cover story in the Georgia Straight. She was quoted as saying when asked how far people should go to stop the project: “I don’t want to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. But we all need to be aware that this is a war.”

A war? Not hard to imagine why CSIS is interested.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.

 

 

 

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