This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report

Harper government's extensive spying on anti-oilsands groups revealed in FOIs

The National Energy Board, supposedly an independent federal agency, has directly coordinated efforts between CSIS, the RCMP and private oil companies against environmentalist groups and indigenous-rights activists.

The federal government has been vigorously spying on anti-oil sands activists and organizations in BC and across Canada since last December, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show.

Not only is the federal government subsidizing the energy industry in underwriting their costs, but deploying public-safety resources as a de facto "insurance policy" to ensure that federal strategies on proposed pipeline projects are achieved, these documents indicate.

Before the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline, the NEB coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands. The groups of interest are independent advocacy organizations that oppose the Harper government's policies and work for environmental protections and democratic rights, including Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People's Summit.

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Mandated as an ‘independent federal agency’, the NEB directed the police protection of their board members and officials from Enbridge and TransCanada Corporation, 140 pages of emails from December 2012 through April 2013 show.

In the emails, Richard "Rick" Garber, the NEB's "Group Leader of Security", marshals security and intelligence operations between government agencies and private interests, and says in a January 31, 2013 email that the NEB "Security Team has consulted today with Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) at national and regional levels; RCMP at national, regional and local levels."

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"The Security Team, together with our police and intelligence partners, will continue to monitor all sources of information and intelligence," he says.
The documents show the NEB working with CSIS and the RCMP to make "security plans" for the Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Prince Rupert hearings and actively coordinating with officials from Enbridge and TransCanada Corporation and a private security contractor hired by the NEB.

They also show Garber asking Sgt. Steinhammer of the Prince Rupert RCMP to provide a visible uniformed presence during the hearings there to deter "illegal activities."

 

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Sustained opposition to pipelines noted, especially in BC

On April 20, 2013, an email entitled "Security Concerns - National Energy Board" was sent to integrated security officials, and stressed the continued protection of NEB and private interests. The memo was from Tim O'Neil, Senior Criminal Intelligence Research Specialist with the RCMP, and then circulated to the NEB and associated stakeholders by Garber.

"There continues to be sustained opposition to the Canadian petroleum and pipeline industry," O'Neil said. "Opposition is most notable in British Columbia, with protests focused on the: Enbridge Northern Gateway; Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion; the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing, and proposed LNG facilities. Opponents have used a variety of protest actions (directed at the NEB and its members) to draw attention to the oil sands' negative environmental impact, with the ultimate goal of forcing the shutdown of the Canadian petroleum industry."

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