Climate change activists pose a “credible threat to the health and safety” of Canadians. That’s according to a memo by the RCMP to the Harper government. The document has climate change activists wondering if they will now face surveillance under proposed anti-terrorism laws.
The 44 page intelligence assessment of Canada’s environmentalist movement, dated 24th January 2014, has been obtained by Greenpeace and passed to the Guardian in Britain. It focuses specifically on “anti-petroleum extremists”.
It continues: “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.
“Those aligned with the most extreme factions use the internet to promote and instruct on the use of violent criminal techniques, including arson, vandalism and sabotage. Demonstrated criminal activity associated to this extremist faction includes: threats to life and property, improvised explosive devices, arson, vandalism, sabotage, thefts, and break and enters, most notably in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
According to the Guardian, the memo also describes those concerned with climate change as being on the “political fringe”.
As a result, some climate change activists are convinced that they will be targeted under a proposed new law, Bill C-51, which allows greater powers of surveillance to be used on terror suspects.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has spoken in favour of the bill in terms of its ability to counter Islamic extremism, but the wording is more broad based, identifying “activity that undermines the security of Canada” as anything that compromises critical infrastructure, or the economic or financial stability of Canada, although it explicitly excludes lawful protest and dissent.
A spokesman for the Mounties, Sergeant Greg Cox, insists, “there is no focus on environmental groups, but rather on the broader criminal threats to Canada’s critical infrastructure. The RCMP does not monitor any environmental protest group. Its mandate is to investigate individuals involved in criminality.”