If You Care About The Environment In Canada, You May Be Targeted As An 'Anti-Petroleum Extremist'

from the muzzling-dissent-again dept

As Techdirt has been warning for some time, one of the dangers with the flood of “anti-terrorist” laws and powers is that they are easily redirected against other groups for very different purposes. A story in the Globe and Mail provides another chilling reminder of how that works:

The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation.

As the Globe and Mail article makes clear, environmentalists are now being considered as part of an “anti-petroleum” movement. That’s not just some irrelevant rebranding: it means that new legislation supposedly targeting “terrorism” can be applied.

The legislation identifies “activity that undermines the security of Canada” as anything that interferes with the economic or financial stability of Canada or with the country’s critical infrastructure, though it excludes lawful protest or dissent. And it allows the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service to take measures to reduce what it perceives to be threats to the security of Canada.

Clearly, that’s an incredibly broad definition, and would apply to just about any environmental or social movement — especially since even the most peaceful protests are often considered “illegal.” That, in its turn would allow Canada’s security agencies to collect information on these groups, and “disrupt” them.

What’s also troubling about the leaked RCMP “intelligence assessment” that forms the source for the Globe and Mail story is the very clear political position it seems to be taking on fossil fuels and climate change:

The report extolls the value of the oil and gas sector to the Canadian economy, and adds that many environmentalists “claim” that climate change is the most serious global environmental threat, and “claim” it is a direct consequence of human activity and is “reportedly” linked to the use of fossil fuels.

That sounds more like something that would come from the oil and gas industries’ marketing departments, rather than from a country’s impartial police force. However, as Techdirt has reported before, the current Canadian government has been muzzling other groups that dare to disagree with its policies, especially on climate change, for some time. Redefining environmentalists as anti-petroleum extremists is clearly part of the same repressive approach.

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Comments on “If You Care About The Environment In Canada, You May Be Targeted As An 'Anti-Petroleum Extremist'”

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43 Comments
Dan G Difino says:

Re: Re:

To all governments, rogue and other, “STOP filling the atmosphere and ionosphere with light and heavy metals, chemicals, dyes, and radionuclides if you want to stop the climate terrorism which is destroying lives, property, economies and ecosystems. Take those ionospheric heaters and HAARP technology and I think you know where you can stick that.”

Ninja (profile) says:

Wow. Harper can’t go away soon enough. My condolences to our Canadian friends.

The irony is that some views and warnings that were considered extreme 30 years ago became reality now (see droughts and extreme environmental effects). We have also been warned about the police state that was forming in many western countries. Is it too late?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Is it too late?”

Can you imagine any situation in which the government would change the course? Because as a citizen you can’t do anything if they won’t.

My guess would be we get a bit more Orwell with a hint of ethical decline, then a corporate state, after that a revolution followed by a time of some form of extremism and another revolution. You know… Greece, Rome, christianity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern Age and then it starts all over again, maybe in space. And depending on climate change you can add a flood in there somewhere.

Gracey (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Considering the weather this February … the Ark would need skis.

Today … -19 (wind chill feels like -38). Just came back in from it. Yeah, I believe the scientists when they say global warming is an issue, whether those scientists are environmentalists or not.

I care a lot about the environment and do my best not to pollute it any more than it is … I don’t drive either (my mode of transportation is usually my two feet) so I suppose I better watch my back.

… sometimes you wonder if it just wouldn’t be better to end up shipwrecked on a tropical island somewhere.

Dan G Difino says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

They are spraying refrigerant directly into the atmosphere and heating it up with pulsed radio waves sending it into the ionosphere supersaturation with the plasma straight up creating high and low pressure areas wherever they want and sending it to you as if it was Mother Nature. Global war is just getting started.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Wow. Harper can’t go away soon enough. My condolences to our Canadian friends.

The problem is that every government has its good and bad policies – and unfortunately the bad policies seem to be on a ratchet. So it is unlikely that a successor will undo his bad acts – but they may well undo any good ones – then when the system reverses itself again it is the bad things that are kept and the good things that go.

This history ot Thatcher/Major->Blair/Brown->Cameron in th UK makes this all too clear.

ysth (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, what are they thinking? Even Peter, Paul, and Mary kowtow to power in their aptly named song “Power”:

Just give me the warm power of the sun
Give me the steady flow of a waterfall
Give me the spirit of living things as they return to clay

Just give me the restless power of the wind
Give me the comforting glow of a wood fire
But please take all of your atomic poison power away

just about the most thorough white-washing of fossil fuels (and even wood-burning!) I’ve ever heard.

Anonymous Coward says:

While it may be too broad, something has to be done with the anti-petrol “activists” that take sections of the city hostage and prevent regular businesses from operating.

I live right next to one of the major petrol markets in Canada, and every other week protestors shut down the main artery, forcing working folks to be late, spend more money to get to work and rage at them. Normal business can’t be accessed because of the traffic it causes, and cops block off the rest to protect them, understandably, from angry drivers.

Hiding behind activism to piss off the population and cause havoc to innocent victims is like the idiots hiding behind open source because they can’t audit their code. It only serves to take the cause years back.

Something needs to be done.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

‘Something needs to be done’.

Those five simple words have caused more havoc and harm than so many others. If there’s a problem, while ‘something’ may need to be done to resolve it, the issue needs to be carefully studied, with various potential solutions proposed and researched, lest the ‘solution’ end up even worse than the problem, like in this case, using anti-terrorist laws against protesters.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If the alternative to that is ‘treat protesters as terrorists’, yeah, I’d say ‘For a committee’ would be the better option.

However, it’s not that binary, there’s plenty of other options to work with. One of the easier ones I’d say would be to study just why a group is protesting, and publicly address that, either agreeing that something needs to be done, and then working towards fixing the problem that they were protesting against, or disagreeing, and presenting your reasoning against their position.

Jumping straight to ‘Shut them down and stop them at all costs’ just makes it look like the government would rather not address the cause for the protests, and is instead just trying to brush the matter under the rug.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t stop the protesters; it would just give them a lack of focus.

The problem here is that there ARE groups of professional activits who take donations to fund their drive to disrupt the activities of the establishment. Sometimes they latch on to protests that do need some visibility, but just like with a standing army, a standing activist group needs to be fed. They aren’t going to vanish if the problem is mitigated/goes away.

On the other side, they’re definitely not striking terror into the hearts of anyone. They’re just trying to make the underdog’s voice be heard by those making the (potentially bad) decisions.

HOWEVER, there’s definitely bad stuff going on in the Canadian petroleum industry, and it has been spilling over into politics during Harper’s watch. Areas around Fort MacMurray have become a toxic wasteland, with water that won’t be useful for biological use for years to come.

The main things being protested are the devestation of natural habitat around Fort MacMurray, the Enbridge Northern Gateway and the Keystone XL pipeline.

The issue here is that in all cases, the federal government has been pulling every trick in the book to pressure ALL groups to accept these private enterprises, even though they all negatively affect significant populations (in the present and the future) in Canada while only benefiting a few private corporations, creating a handful of new jobs, and providing kickbacks to the Alberta and Federal governments (it’s been proven that it’s a 0-sum game for British Columbia to get involved, with any mistakes being extremely costly to the province, while not affecting the benefiting parties much at all).

The good news is that in Canada, bad laws DO get changed from time to time. The bad news is that Canada’s trade treaties are being adapted such that the government could end up in international court if they prevent the international petroleum industry from maximizing their profits in the country (who on earth thought THAT was a good idea?).

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s not just Canada. it is getting more and more like a ‘Police State’ in many countries that are supposed to be democracies. the head of the various governments are all trying to do the same thing, stop the people from stopping any and all things that would affect them and the environment, while doing nothing to the wealthy who just carry on as normal. while this is going on, the other sneaky thing the bastards are doing is trying to get ‘Trade Deals’ in force which have the same sort of effect of doing nothing to the wealthy while giving the poor a real shit deal. lastly while these ‘Trade Deals’ are going on, removing the rights from the ordinary people, they are trying to turn the Planet into 1, giant corporation! this is the best chance those 1% have had, and it’s basically because of the number of Conservative type governments that came to power after the financial meltdown a few years ago. to me, that makes it highly suspicious that the worldwide financial crisis was inflicted intentionally to lead to the situation we have now. it’s certainly food for thought!!

Johnzo (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Anon,
as you know, the present systems only ever serve a privileged few. The people who actually create the true prosperity and pay the bills have no say, there is no true democracy.
We fall into Einstein’s definition of insanity every election. We cannot solve our issues from within the same systems in which they were created.

We can talk all day about the corruption, the lack of representation for the people, the fascism, the control by the central bankers etc etc.

We need to take a good look at where all this is heading and see that we have to evolve out of this mess because doing the same things is getting us nowhere.

We need new ideas for a new way forward which forever inhibits the cabal from having any say in our lives again.
I have ideas and wrote them into a short, free ebook called The Organic Economy, the final step in the evolution of democracy.
Downloadable at http://www.theorganiceconomy.blogspot.ca

Or available (as options) at Kindle and as a paperback on Amazon for the smallest fee I could set.

The only way we can free ourselves is with new ideas for a new way forward. These parasites and traitors who we allot our power are no longer necessary in today’s age of technology.
Have a read of the book and if it resonates please be a part of the solution and help spread the word and plant the seeds of new ideas.

Thank You!

Anonymous Coward says:

Welcome to the club.

Hi there. All of us “climate change deniers” want to take this opportunity to welcome the “anti-petroleum extremists” to our club for people with thoughtful and well-reasoned views that the MSM and gov’t find useful to demonize.

We get 10% off at Wal-Mart on the second Tuesday of each month. Just show your card.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m an ardent Canadian libertarian, probably just to the left of one of those nutty sovereign citizens (I acknowledge that the state has some valid purposes). I’m open and honest upon my anti-Government and anti-corporatism views and yet I’ve passed every background check for security clearance I’ve ever had to go through. I just got my Nexus card for expedited clearance going between the DHS in the US and the RCMP in Canada. This requires both US and Canadian background checks. WHY AM I NOT A THREAT? It’s kind of disappointing actually 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re not a threat because you aren’t opposing the petroleum industry. You’re the kind of “moderate extremist” the current government approves of.

Try showing up at a rally and you may find your Nexus card gets revoked. Then again, maybe not, as it allows them to track you better than the old system, and they know you’re not REALLY a terrorist threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

GreenPeace one could almost understand… but they are also — explicitly — including groups such as The Sierra Club and the Tides Foundation under that “‘extremist’ label.

This isn’t about “terrorism” or “extremism”; this is about remaking the whole country under a corporatist (and far, far less openly, christian “fundamentalist” or dominionist) paradigm — and making it extremely difficult for the country to recover from these regressive changes when the current party finally loses power.

(A lot of damage has already been done, and will require decades to repair just the democratic and legislative foundations, let alone the concrete physical, societal and environmental damage).

Ironically Yours says:

Short-term threat or long-term threat?

The irony of course that the environmental disasters we do and will see are going to be bigger threats to the economy than proventing the short-term profits being realised.

By making a good economic case, perhaps a private prosecution can be made to show that some petro-chemical industries will fall within the definition of a terrorist group over the long-term.

Sadly many environmentalists shun economics and so can’t fight on that level.

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