Canada’s spy agency helped prepare all-of-government approach in case Idle No More protests ‘escalated’: secret files
By Justin Ling
National Post: March 23, 2014
Secret documents from Canada’s spy agency show that the Canadian government was getting ready in case last year’s Idle No More protests “escalated.”
A heavily-redacted 11-page report — with one entire page missing — obtained under the Access to Information Act shows that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was involved in preparing an all-of-government approach to dealing with the First Nations protests, which began in late 2012.
The redactions were, in part, because the information related to “the efforts of Canada towards detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities,” according to a letter from the spy agency.
The report repeatedly emphasizes that the protests had been peaceful, but considers possible triggers for escalation. The sections of the documents that actually deal with what evidence the government had that the protests might have taken a violent turn, and what it would have done if that had happened, were not disclosed.
The legible parts of the report and corresponding PowerPoint presentation, however, show that Ottawa, helped in no small part by CSIS, was planning for every eventuality, concerned by the decentralized, leaderless nature of the protests and the multiple motivations and influences that drove them.
CSIS had previously denied it had any role in monitoring the movement. After reports last summer that the spy agency and its anti-terrorism section had been keeping a watchful eye, the agency said it was only assessing threats against the Idle No More protesters.
Yet these documents show that CSIS’ involvement was a more formal endeavour.
The report acknowledges that “influences on the current situation” include the advent of warm weather, the impact of the youth in the movement, social media and that “success breeds success” — the impact there, it explains, is that “the lessons learned, experience and knowledge gained while garnering these successes will outlive INM, while informing future protests organizers and the success of their endeavours.”
While other government departments have no restrictions on keeping tabs on peaceful protests, CSIS is barred by law from snooping on civilians unless they have reason to.
Yet Idle No More organizer Clayton Thomas-Muller says that the movement has certainly had run-ins with CSIS.
“I have heard multiple reports of CSIS contacting various regional organizations from various First Nations over the last year,” he told the National Post. There has been an increase in the use of non-traditional tactics by CSIS to get one-on-one time from various active indigenous activists.”
(read the full article at National Post)
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