Bill C-51 and the RCMP intelligence report on the “Anti-petroleum” movement in Canada

The Canadian Government’s anti-terrorism bill, C-51, and a recent intelligence report from the RCMP about the “anti-petroleum” movement in Canada come dangerously close to equating dissent with terrorism and opposition to economic policies as extremism.

Quick Links:
Version française
CBC Power & Politics with Evan Soloman (Feb 25, 2015 –  interview at the 1:43 minute mark):  Jim Emberger and NB Mi’kmaq lawyer, Pam Palmater speak on Bill C-51 and its impact on First Nations and environmental groups.
CBC Info Morning Interview with Terry Seguin (Feb 26, 2015): Bill C-51 and Civil Disobedience
CHSR Radio From the Margins with Asaf Rashid featuring Roch Tassé of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and NBASGA’s Jim Emberger  (Mar 2, 2015) – Bill C-51 Showdown.

The RCMP report states, “There is a growing, highly organized and well- financed anti-Canada petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

This deliberately vague, yet accusatory, language is an attempt to inhibit or make suspect any kind of legitimate dissent. It is the kind of language that government’s use when a movement for change conflicts with their vested interests.

The RCMP report comes as Bill C-51 is being debated in Parliament, a bill that would expand the powers of CSIS and the RCMP to conduct investigations into any activities that they see as undermining Canada’s security.

Is it undermining Canada’s security to oppose an industry that continues to promote the fossil fuel development that worsens climate change?

Is it fair to say that opposition to an inherently harmful form of resource development runs counter to Canada’s national interest?

protest-legislatureWho is the Real Enemy?

Is it the First Nations people, exercising their legal and moral rights?

Is it the scientists who oppose fossil fuels because of their detrimental effect on climate change?

Or is it those people who suffer serious mental and physical ailments stemming from an industry steeped in toxic chemical spills and air pollution?

Or perhaps it is the hunters, fishermen and sports enthusiasts who fear for the future of ecosystems located in close proximity to land leased for oil and gas development?

We agree with the former Prime Ministers, Premiers and Supreme Court Judges who point out the threats to our privacy and civil rights that are included in this bill.

It is our view that enacting a law that threatens to punish those who are trying to save lives by stopping climate change flies in the face of important legislation of the past that has protected our democratic rights. Under this legislation, civil disobedience, which is accepted as a citizen’s right in democratic countries around the world, could be criminalized.

Imprisonment without trial, as implied in this bill, would constitute the loss of a right that has been enshrined in legislation in democratic governments for centuries; the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The RCMP report and Bill C-51, if passed, would bring us closer to a police state, in fact, than at any other time in this country’s history.

We call on the government to refer this proposed law to the Supreme Court of Canada, asking the question: does this legislation directly or indirectly infringe on the rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens under the Charter and international law? And perhaps under the Court Challenges program and/or a special fund, citizens could be provided with the opportunity to participate at the Supreme Court.