Harper government calls environmentalists “extremists” and “radicals”
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 20 2013 (IPS)
Canada’s police and security agencies think citizens concerned about the environment are threats to national security, and some are under surveillance, documents reveal.
The RCMP, the national police force, and Canada’s spy agency CSIS are increasingly conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organise petitions, protest and question government policies, said Jeffrey Monaghan, a researcher with the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Protests and opposition to Canada’s resource-based economy, especially oil and gas production, are now viewed as threats to national security, Monaghan said. This conclusion is based on official security documents obtained under freedom of information laws over the last five years.
It is governments and the fossil fuel industry who are the extremists, threatening the prosperity of future generations.
For the past two years, officials in Canada’s Stephen Harper government have been calling environmentalists “radicals” and accusing environmental organisations of money laundering.
“The Harper government has a strong interest in suppressing environmental activism,” Monaghan told IPS.
By branding activists as extremists or radicals, many people will not want to be involved. Surveillance and other security activities will have a similar “chilling effect”, he fears.
“There could be an incredibly profound impact on public participation,” Monaghan noted.