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Brent Patterson

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Brent Patterson is the Political Director at the Council of Canadians. He works with the Council's chairperson Maude Barlow, its campaigners, organizers and chapters across the country on trade, energy, water, and health care issues. The Council has political staff in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Delhi, Cape Town and Mexico City. You can follow Brent on Twitter @CBrentPatterson.

Surveillance of social movement groups increases under Harper government

| October 29, 2014
Photo: Iouri Goussev/flickr

The Council of Canadians is concerned by the increasing pattern of surveillance under the Harper government of social movement groups, including our own organization.

In June, we denounced the Harper government's order to federal departments to monitor all political demonstrations across the country. The Government Operations Centre is "compiling a list of all known demonstrations" that has included protests against fracking, a healing dance, a prayer ceremony and a fundraiser. More on this at Government Operations Centre to monitor all protests.

In November 2013, we expressed dismay that the National Energy Board's "security team" had coordinated intelligence gathering with the CSIS and the RCMP on opponents of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. Those opponents included the Council of Canadians, Idle No More, the Sierra Club and the Dogwood Initiative. Furthermore, these agencies developed security plans with Enbridge and TransCanada for four public hearings on the pipeline in British Columbia. More at The NEB coordinated intelligence gathering on advocacy groups, including us.

In December 2011, we joined with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (now Unifor) to criticize an RCMP unit established in 2007 to monitor protests by First Nations that they believed could pose a threat to "critical infrastructure" like pipelines and railways. Even worse, that unit reportedly did (does) weekly briefings to "industry partners" in the energy and private sector. More at More RCMP spying and reporting to corporations.

In June 2011, we highlighted that G8/G20 documents revealed the RCMP and various Ontario police forces had spent months infiltrating anti-globalization groups with undercover officers prior to the June 2010 summits in Huntsville and Toronto. The Council of Canadians participated in the march in Toronto -- that was reportedly monitored by the Joint Intelligence Group formed by the RCMP-led ISU (Integrated Security Unit) -- and a canoe action against the G8 summit in Huntsville. More at Anti-G8/G20 groups were under police surveillance.

And also that June, we expressed concern that the Harper government had given the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs direction to increase surveillance of First Nations -- many of whom we work with -- just after the 2006 election, particularly of protests over land claims. More on that at Council condemns surveillance of First Nations.

Rather than this criminalization of social justice activism, we implore the Harper government to hear the concerns being expressed by numerous groups and individuals at protests including the need to protect water from fracking, the need to respect Indigenous rights, and to understand the threats posed by the reckless pursuit of oil and gas extraction. We are particularly concerned about the coordination and reporting by government agencies to energy companies.

Photo: Iouri Goussev/flickr



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