By February 17, 2015 Read More →

RCMP report warns of danger from anti-petroleum extremists

Environmental group says RCMP are exaggerating threat from anti-petroleum extremists

An RCMP report obtained by Greenpeace says Canada’s intelligence groups consider anti-petroleum extremists a threat to critical energy infrastructure, including pipelines.

anti-petroleum extremists

Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada. Photo: Handout.

“There is a growing, highly organized, and well-financed anti-Canadian petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants, violent extremists who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels,” the report states.

“Violent anti-petroleum extremists will continue to engage in criminal activity to promote their anti-petroleum ideology.”

As readers can imagine, environmental groups like Greenpeace are pretty upset. They see the report as just the latest attack – following hard on the heels of Canada Revenue Agency audits of environmental charities – on their activities by the Stephen Harper government.

The report was prepared a year ago and fuels environmental groups’ concerns about Bill C-51 – which includes “interference with critical infrastructure” and will empower CSIS “dirty tricks” campaigns, say critics – that has passed second reading in Parliament.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“…you don’t even have to actually organize a demonstration or sit-in to trigger the new power – under this legislation CSIS simply has to suspect that you might do something that interferes with critical infrastructure and they can break out their new bag of tricks,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Keith Stewart.

“Which is truly chilling.”

Public Safety Canada’s Josée Sirois told the Globe and Mail that, “CSIS has a good track record of distinguishing genuine threats to the security of Canada from other activities.” According to Sirois, Bill C-51 does not redefine Canadian security threats.

This report potentially frames a new stage in the push by the energy sector to build pipelines to the West and East coasts, and opposition from eco-activists.


Beacon Energy News publisher Markham Hislop.

As I wrote in my Jan. 22 column, only the Canadian government has the authority to approve or not approve inter-provincial pipelines like Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain expansion, and Energy East. Provincial governments, municipalities, and First Nations lack the constitutional power to put the brakes on pipeline construction.

Power to make those pipelines happen rests squarely with Stephen Harper.

After all court challenges are exhausted and assuming Harper is impervious to public opposition whipped up by groups like Greenpeace, then what? Do the bulldozers begin construction unimpeded?

Or will that be when “violent anti-petroleum extremists” up the ante and target existing energy infrastructure or new pipeline projects?

anti-petroleum extremists

Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

The RCMP report points to increasingly violent social media rhetoric and violent demonstrations in New Brunswick over shale gas hydraulic fracturing as an example of what they are monitoring. The report states that “aboriginal extremists” were planning to use improvised explosive devices before they were arrested in fall of 2013. As it was, six RCMP vehicles were burned during protests, weapons and ammunition were seized, and 40 people were arrested.

Greenpeace and other opponents of the Canadian energy sector are naturally downplaying the threat of extremism and violence. British Columbia NDP MP Nathan Cullen described the report as “deeply disturbing” on his Facebook page and said, “I’ve stood with people, fathers, mothers – just people, who are concerned not just about Enbridge Northern Gateway but even more about a government who sees us as ‘enemies of the state’. This is deeply troublesome. This is not my Canada.”

Where does this leave Canadians? What are we to make of all this?

We have the RCMP warning about a small number of anti-petroleum activists. Mainstream eco-activists worried the Harper government will use new surveillance powers to intimidate them. And the energy industry ready to invest tens of billions of dollars in new infrastructure that literally stretches across the country.

Caution would seem to be the watchword going forward. Canadians value both freedom of expression and security. And it will be up to all the actors in this drama – RCMP/CSIS, environmental groups, the Harper government – to ensure lines are not crossed.

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