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UPDATE: RCMP reportedly monitoring anti-fracking activists

In an op-ed in the Toronto Star, Paul Slomp, a Board member with the National Farmers Union, writes, “Farmers and ranchers are the people most affected by oil and gas activity on their farms. Their land rights are being trampled on — appropriated through provincial and federal legislation. And now (according to a Guardian UK article by Stephen Leahy) they are being monitored by the RCMP and CSIS, suspected of terrorism because they are resisting oil and gas development on their land and in their communities?”

Leahy wrote, “Monitoring of environmental activists in Canada by the country’s police and security agencies has become the ‘new normal’, according to … Jeffrey Monaghan of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. …Protests and opposition to Canada’s resource-based economy, especially oil and gas production, are now viewed as threats to national security, Monaghan said. In 2011 a Montreal, Quebec man who wrote letters opposing shale gas fracking was charged under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Documents released in January show the RCMP has been monitoring Quebec residents who oppose fracking.” In January 2013, the Montreal Gazette reported, “A Montreal man was charged with terrorism-related offences over letters threatening people involved in the shale-gas industry in Quebec and Alberta,” while the group under surveillance – la Regroupement Interrégional sur le gaz de schiste de la Vallée du St-Laurent – represents more than 100 anti-shale gas citizen committees in Quebec.

With respect to Alberta and the diminishment of land rights, Slomp highlights, “Bill 2 … will remove landowners’ opportunities to state their concerns at a hearing before an energy project is approved. The bill also removes ‘public interest’ as a statutory consideration in approving energy projects. Furthermore, Bill 2 removes a landowner’s ability to appeal an approved project to an independent review body. Bill 2 is the latest in a series of bills the Alberta government is using to gain access to and control over the province’s energy resources. Bill 2’s predecessors — Bills 46, 19, 36, 24, 50 and 8 — have all passed into law. Essentially, Alberta’s land-use regime is being forcibly transitioned from agriculture to resource extraction.”

And with the Harper government, Slomp adds, “The federal government has also seriously weakened laws protecting land and water, again helping companies to extract more resources more quickly. Omnibus budget bills C-38 and C-45 have changed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act. Ministers now have the power to approve pipeline and energy projects. And now this — to find that the RCMP and CSIS are keeping tabs on people who are genuinely concerned about the effects of fracking, oil and gas activity on their farms, their communities and the environment. This is not the Canada I grew up in and is certainly not what Canada could and should be.”

For more, please read:
Hey CSIS, farmers are not terrorists, by Paul Slomp
Canada’s environmental activists seen as ‘threat to national security’, by Stephen Leahy.
NEWS: RCMP to lead new security unit to ‘protect’ Alberta’s energy industry
NEWS: More RCMP spying and reporting to corporations