Canada civil liberties group says gov’t spied on activists

Federico Mansilla
Julio 11, 2019

New documents released by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association show Canada's intelligence agency gathered thousands of pages of information on protesters who were against the now-defunct Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The activists were fighting to stop the since canceled Northern Gateway Pipelines, a proposal calling for 731-mile-long twin pipelines that would have moved diluted bitumen from Alberta to British Columbia. "We also allege the spying activity was discouraging people from associating with environment groups and discouraging people form expressing their own opinions".

By releasing the documents today, the association said its original complaint is validated.

During the hearings, "SIRC made an unprecedented gag order preventing witnesses in the hearing, including volunteers and staff of several of the organizations involved, from speaking to anyone about their testimony, forever, at the risk of being held in contempt of court".

"This all amounts to a shocking violation of free expression", she said.

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The intelligence agency said it "investigates activities that fall within the definition of threats to the security of Canada and reports them to the government of Canada".

Alexandra Woodsworth, an activist with the citizen action group Dogwood BC, said the spy agency's activity isn't something Canadians would expect. "If CSIS claims it wasn't tracking conservation groups in BC, why did they collect thousands of pages of files relating to groups who engaged in peaceful advocacy and protest?"

In a statement, Stand.earth's Sven Biggs called the case "another example of how the power of big oil subverts Canadian democracy".

The Northern Gateway pipeline project was approved by the federal government in June 2014, after first being announced in 2006.

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