NEB statement on board's involvement in oil sands activist spying
CBC's The Current received a written statement from the the National Energy Board after mentioning a Vancouver Observer report that the NEB, an independent federal board, has coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands with RCMP, CSIS, and even oil companies.
NEB chair and CEO Gaétan Caron provided CBC with the following statement in response to the report:
"National Energy Board is committed to safety at hearings
The NEB's mandate is to regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest. As part of this mandate, we conduct public hearings to ensure a broad range of perspectives are incorporated into our decisions.
Our top priority is, and always will be, safety. This includes the safety of our staff, our Board Members and the public. In fact, we are required under the Canada Labour Code to provide a safe workplace, including the hearing room.
As part of our focus on safety, we may work with local officials and our federal colleagues, such as the RCMP, to conduct a security assessment before a hearing. We use this information to develop plans to protect the safety of everyone involved.
It is our responsibility to ensure appropriate security provisions are in place based on our assessment of risks. These services are sometimes provided by our staff, sometimes supplemented by local police.
The National Energy Board agrees that healthy debate is an essential component of a vibrant, democratic society. To this end, we are committed to providing a safe and respectful environment where our hearings can occur."
Chair and CEO, National Energy Board
Environmental groups mentioned in the FOI documents in the report responded strongly, saying the NEB was overstepping its mandate by getting involved in the monitoring of activists.
"Why would they spy on us? All we're doing is helping British Columbians engage in issues that effect them. What they call security issues, we call democracy," said Dogwood Initiative director Will Horter.