Trudeau government operations centre monitors political protests and rallies

Brent Patterson
4 years ago

Council of Canadians chapter activists and staff join drumming circle on Main Street in Hamilton in support of a MMIW inquiry.

A Government Operations Centre (GOC) set up under the Harper government continues to monitor protest activities under the Trudeau government, including protests about murdered and missing Indigenous women and against tar sands pipelines.

CBC reports, "An operations centre charged with alerting the federal government to potential threats to public safety monitored demonstrations calling for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women. ...Pam Palmater, who heads the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, said there was no reason for the government to monitor peaceful rallies and vigils. ...While the government describes the GOC's activities as maintaining awareness, Palmater said keeping tabs on when and where events are taking place, and who is involved, counts as surveillance."

Palmater says, "I'm pretty shocked … that they were following all of the rallies and events around murdered and missing Indigenous women, because all of them to date have really been about raising awareness, demanding a national inquiry. You didn't see anybody doing anything violent. There were no threats to do anything violent."

The article adds, "Other movements that were monitored included Idle No More and protests against the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Energy East and Eastern Mainline Projects, and the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project."

Council of Canadians activists across the country have attended numerous protests related to murdered and missing Indigenous women, Idle No More, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, and the Muskrat Falls dam.

In response, Public Safety Canada says, "The GOC works closely with its partners to continuously improve its awareness of events that may affect national interest. The GOC does not conduct surveillance operations nor does it conduct intelligence gathering."

In June 2014, the Ottawa Citizen reported, "The GOC has also been involved, as an intelligence clearing house, in compiling information on Aboriginal protesters [but it has now been revealed that] its surveillance activities include all demonstrations by any person or group." Examples noted in that news article include a healing dance in Kenora, a prayer ceremony in Edmonton, and an Idle No More fundraiser at the Native Friendship Centre in Barrie."

The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to stop this surveillance of protests, to dismantle the Government Operations Centre, and to take action to support the concerns that are being raised about Indigenous rights, tar sands pipelines, and major dam projects.

At a time when people are increasingly mobilizing in communities across the country against Islamophobia and US President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, it's outrageous to think that the Trudeau government could be in any way be monitoring those democratic expressions as a security threat.