You have probably heard about the disturbing documents the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) recently released that reveal that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, and the RCMP shared information about peaceful protestors with corporate oil executives.
The heavily redacted text – where the Council of Canadians was named repeatedly – showed these public agencies not only gathered information about people who attended community meetings and joined rallies to speak out against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, they put the information directly in Enbridge’s hands.
As a founder of the Council of Canadians, I have seen how our civil right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy. I have marched shoulder-to-shoulder with land and water protectors, carried signs and banners, and shouted protest chants with Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast in order to protect water and land from the polluting oil industry.
The collusion between CSIS, a publicly funded agency, and Big Oil is deeply disturbing – this agency is spoonfeeding the already-too-powerful fossil fuel industry even more tools to quell our dissent. And what’s even more disturbing? The BCCLA had to fight for five years to get this information released.
The clampdown on our rights and democracy doesn’t end there.
In Alberta, newly-elected Premier Jason Kenney is using public money to look into the “well-funded foreign campaign targeting our energy industry.”
Kenney isn’t the first right-wing politician to attempt to paint social and environmental activists as “foreign-funded” threats. The accusation gives baseless justification for surveillance of community-based activists like you and I and other concerned citizens who want to speak out about the dangers of oil and gas extraction.
And right now the RCMP is sitting on the findings of an internal investigation into its own actions and surveillance of residents who were attempting to protect their water and homes from the toxic impacts of shale gas fracking.
It’s imperative that the RCMP release this report now – and I need your help to make it happen.
During anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick, the RCMP designated Indigenous rights demonstrations against a fracking company as a “National Tactical Intelligence Priority.” The RCMP wrote a report known as “Project Sitka” that compiled information collected through monitoring the anti-fracking protests and deemed 89 individuals as “threats.” Many of these people were Indigenous water protectors.
For six years now, Mi’kmaq water protectors and other anti-fracking activists from New Brunswick have called for the release of a report by the RCMP’s civilian oversight body that looked into complaints about the surveillance and rough treatment of anti-fracking demonstrators.
They are still waiting to see it.
Accountability and transparency of public agencies is paramount in a just society – as paramount as our right to participate in peaceful protests and community demonstrations.
Democracy depends on it.