Last week’s Toronto occupation of Line 9 and a senior economist calling Canada a rogue state are evidence of an increasingly bitter war over pipelines and the energy superpower plans of the federal Conservatives. That’s exacerbated by startling involvement of the National Energy Board in RCMP/CSIS spying on behalf of oil companies against First Nations and groups like the Council of Canadians and the Sierra Club.
The latter was revealed in NEB emails obtained by the Vancouver Observer that indicate “the federal government has been vigorously spying on anti–oil sands activists and organizations in BC and across Canada since last December.” That’s alongside the exposure of Canadian government espionage against the Brazilian energy ministry and revelations by a British daily paper that federal spy agencies formally share their findings at least twice a year in secret meetings with multiple “energy stakeholders” such as Enbridge Inc.
“Meetings were officially billed to discuss ‘threats’ to energy infrastructure,” reported the Guardian, “but also covered ‘challenges to energy projects from environmental groups’, ‘cyber security initiatives’ and ‘economic and corporate espionage’.
The British newspaper calls this part of an “increasingly aggressive promotion of resource corporations at home and abroad” by the Harper government that treats First Nations and environmental groups as security threats. It also cites Canadian foreign policies tying aid pledges in Africa, Asia and South America to Canadian mining and oil projects.
The links between federal spy agencies, oil companies, and the National Energy Board whose official mandate is to provide independent regulation of the oil and gas sector outraged federal opposition parties. NDP House leader Nathan Cullen wondered if he was personally “under investigation” since he had asked questions about Enbridge’s pipeline projects, while Liberal environment critic John Mackay called the NEB hearings into Enbridge’s proposed 1200 km Northern Gateway pipeline a sham being conducted by “a moot court only carrying out the work of the Harper government”.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May was also shocked by the revelations. “It's the death of democracy if you've got non–violent, law–abiding First Nations, environmentalists and Canadian groups of all kinds being subjected to surveillance then handed over to industry groups. Frankly, it's scary,” May told the Observer. “What Stephen Harper has essentially done is to take the spy agencies of the federal government of Canada and put them at the service of private companies like Enbridge.”
Spokespeople for First Nations and non–profit groups also slammed the NEB–RCMP–CSIS activity and vowed not to be intimidated by “third world police state” tactics.
The December 3 occupation of a North Toronto Enbridge construction site was accomplished by about 20 individuals including two priests who locked themselves to a front end loader until late in the afternoon when they voluntarily abandoned the protest. The company said the work was routine maintenance to relocate its Line 9 pipeline under the Don River, but a Rise Up Toronto media release linked it to unapproved company plans to ship bitumen through the 38–year–old pipe that have been condemned by all First Nations along its path between Sarnia and Montreal.
“The Line 9 reversal continues to lay waste to the natural world, devastating ecosystems, while further laying claim to Indigenous territories,” stated a Rise Up Toronto media release. “This project poses an unacceptable risk to all waterways, land bases, and communities along its route.”
Deepening divisions over Canada’s energy agenda are also emerging in government circles such as economist Marc Jaccard who is now urging the US to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline despite being appointed by Harper in 2006 to head the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy. V