Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015: Private interests dictate state policy on matters of security

Day of Action against Bill C-51, March 14, 2015 (Click to enlarge)

Day of Action against Bill C-51, March 14, 2015 (Click to enlarge)

(March 21) – In reviewing the examples of rampant criminality among the police, intelligence service and state agencies reported since the government introduced Bill C-51 on January 30, it is apparent that private interests are dictating state policy on matters of security. TML Weekly thinks that this is an important aspect for people to investigate as they continue to oppose the bill and the government’s agenda. The neo-liberal restructuring of the state brought monopoly right to the fore and the old mechanisms of a public authority have been smashed.

Bill C-51 itself marks a departure from the existing practices in Canada as regards the rule of law. This was pointed out in the testimony of University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security hearings on the bill:

“The current proposal is a breathtaking rupture with fundamental precepts of our democratic system,” he said. “For the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. There is no analogy to search warrants – those are designed to ensure compliance with the Charter. What the government proposes is a ‘constitutional breach warrant.’”

Writing for the Vancouver Observer, Warren Bell goes further and says that before the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was created, “the McDonald Commission, whose reports led to [its creation], firmly and repeatedly resisted pressures to infringe on Canadians’ civil rights.”

There had been an interest that things should be done within the rule of law, even violations of rights. Under the Harper government the rule of law has been overthrown and replaced with private interests. This explains why the government is barrelling ahead with Bill C-51 despite near-unanimous opposition from the public, experts, media, lawyers, organizations, former prime ministers and other officials and sitting premiers and everyone who was part of the old civil society. The government’s interest is not to uphold the old concept of balance between security and rights which was also held by the McDonald commission but to make sure that private interests can dictate.

Recent media reports on RCMP and CSIS activity against the people reveal what is taking place before Bills C-44 and C-51 are even passed and foreshadow worse to come.

A CBC report on March 12 explained that Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Tim Takaro was harassed by RCMP who were able to call him on his daughter’s unlisted cell phone. A few days before, he explained, he had been hiking on Burnaby Mountain and had taken photos “near the site of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.” He was informed by RCMP that they knew he had previously participated in protest rallies. Takaro was on Crown land and the RCMP was not responding to any allegation of lawbreaking but simply to Kinder Morgan’s monopoly right over the state security apparatus and its private dictate that they did not want any photos taken. The CBC also reported that a 71-year-old woman was questioned on the same basis last September.

2015.03.14.EdmontonStopBillC-51-10crOn March 18 APTN National News reported on the extensive information sharing on First Nations’ political activity between Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and CSIS and the RCMP as well as the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC). In the lead-up to December 2012 demonstrations under the Idle No More banner, a government memo revealed that the “(Government Operations Centre (GOC)) has consulted with ITAC, RCMP, AANDC, (Transport Canada) and (Public Safety) Communications.” The GOC is described as a “federal nerve-centre created to deal with threats of a national scale.”

The documents obtained by APTN also reveal monitoring of online discussions about the demonstration which were shared between agencies and used to spread the notion that the actions posed a “threat of violence.”

Another article the same day describes in more detail the activities of the GOC. In a spring 2014 “risk forecast” prepared for deputy ministers’ committees on resources and energy the GOC warned, “A growing geographic reach and an apparent increase in protests that target infrastructure such as rail lines are also boosting the impact of demonstrations,” the Canadian Press reports. Meetings were held to “plan for protests that might happen in response to resource development decisions on projects such as the Northern Gateway pipeline.”

Denying the objective basis of change, development and motion, the GOC analysis says that the increased resistance of Canadians to the anti-social offensive is driven by the “notoriety and success” of protest movements in Canada and other countries. The analysis does say that individual protests which were previously not monitored “are now noted” due to their potential to spread. The major concern expressed throughout is that demonstrations and other political activity will interfere in the exercise of monopoly right by energy and resource monopolies.

A Canadian Press article on March 17 detailed CSIS’ role prior to the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline in providing “assessments” of opposition to the project, treating it as a national security matter.

Meanwhile the Canadian government requested information on 388 Facebook users in 2014, requests the social media company complied with in 53 per cent of cases, CTV News reported on March 16. The independent news website Blacklock’s Reporter on March 19 detailed claims that CSIS engages in “regular dialogue” with major banks in Canada and is able to monitor Canadians’ bank accounts without warrants.

Another report reveals that the RCMP activities and “dirty tricks,” which the McDonald Commission was struck to investigate, are very much ongoing. A March 19 article in VICE reported that an RCMP sting operation involving political activists in Sherbrooke, Quebec had agents and an informer attempt to lure an activist into committing hijackings and bombings. The sting campaign, which was said to be related to an investigation into an earlier bomb detonation, involved the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), comprised of RCMP and CSIS agents.

The highly questionable activity of CSIS overseas

Another matter entirely is the highly questionable activity of CSIS overseas. Turkish media reports appeared in Canada on March 12 indicating that a CSIS agent (paid asset) who had previously lived in Ottawa was responsible for trafficking individuals, including minors from Britain, into ISIS-held areas of Syria. It was subsequently reported that this individual had Canadian-issued equipment and also worked with Canadian spies operating out of Canada’s embassy in Jordan, run by former RCMP officer and security detail for Prime Minister Harper Bruno Saccomani. The agent stated that he had been promised Canadian citizenship in exchange for his work for CSIS. The Globe and Mail reported that he claimed to have helped at least a dozen people cross into Syria and supplied a range of information to the Canadian embassy. His travel was paid for by Canada and he claimed to have reported to individuals named “Matt” and “Claude.” These activities bring to mind the police sting operations in the U.S. and Canada which fund and organize terrorism in the name of combatting terrorism.

Investigative reporter Andrew Mitrovica remarked on iPolitics that “Ottawa’s tepid statements on this matter read like classic non-denial denials, leading many to conclude that CSIS may have gotten caught – again – up to its old tricks.”

One feature of Bill C-44, Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act and Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 is that they authorize CSIS to conduct foreign operations “without regard to any other law, including that of any foreign state.” CSIS’ activities, including its connections to ISIS, certainly violate the laws of the states in which they are operating, despite the bills not yet having come into law. In the House of Commons and Senate debates on Bill C-44 ministers and Conservative Senators have indicated that the bill aims to bring the law into line with existing practices. Aspects of Bill C-51 also seem to correspond to practices already underway.

Writing violations of the law directly into the law is unprecedented 

The rampant criminality of security forces even before Bills C-44 and C-51 have passed indicate what horrors may follow. As was pointed out by Craig Forcese in his committee testimony and his website National Security Law, writing violations of the law directly into the law is unprecedented and a breach of existing legal practices. The danger of the government changing the law to bring it in line with these “existing practices” is that these police agencies act with impunity when their practices do not correspond to laws and that with additional powers and no public authority to answer to they will continue to go further.

These powers are already being wielded against the movements of the working class and people opposing monopoly right, the First Nations exercising their rights and sovereignty, the people of Quebec and everyone working for change. Recent reports have revealed that the government, police and intelligence agencies are already tracking all political activity against the status quo with particular attention being paid to directly serving the private interests of the monopolies. They are doing so on a basis that equates monopoly right with national security itself.

(See Renewal Update, online bulletin of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, for full coverage from Ottawa, Ontario, Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, Quebec and Atlantic Provinces)

Photos show actions in (top to bottom): Yellowknife, Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s.

Source: TML Information Project, March 21, 2015 – No. 12

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