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Canada’s spy agency monitors pipeline opposition, B.C. to overhaul environmental process

by Greg Klein | November 6, 2018

An analysis from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service “clearly indicates the spy service’s ongoing interest in anti-petroleum activism,” Canadian Press reports. The news agency obtained the June document, originally classified top secret, through the Access to Information Act.

The CSIS review outlines opposition to the federal government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, saying some critics call it a betrayal of Canada’s positions on global warming and native rights.

Canada’s spy agency monitors pipeline opposition, B.C. to overhaul environmental process

Over 200 people have been arrested for breaching court orders at a Burnaby Mountain demonstration site in British Columbia, while other protests have taken place across Canada. But CP added that the report concedes “no acts of serious violence” took place. While activists questioned the spy agency’s interest, the report was heavily redacted, making any CSIS concerns unclear.

CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti told CP the agency follows legislation forbidding investigations into lawful protest. The news service quoted her saying, “While we cannot publicly disclose our investigative interests, we can say that it is important for the service to pose important analytical questions on these types of issues, such as the question of whether developments such as the purchase of a pipeline could give rise to a national security threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure.”

Ottawa bought the Trans Mountain project after a federal Court of Appeal rejected a proposed extension that the federal government had approved. The same court had previously rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, which won federal government approval in 2016. The court attributed both decisions to “inadequate” consultations with natives.

On November 5 the B.C. government introduced legislation to create a new Environmental Assessment Act requiring native participation at the outset of the review process.

“Having indigenous collaboration from the beginning means a more certain and efficient process where good projects can move forward more quickly, providing benefits to indigenous peoples while respecting their rights, values and culture,” said a statement from environmental minister George Heyman. “We want to reduce the potential for the types of legal challenges we’ve too frequently seen in B.C. These have impacted our province’s economic development, eroded public trust, alienated indigenous communities and left project proponents trying to navigate through a costly, time-consuming process.”

Although B.C.’s First Nations Leadership Council praised some aspects of the proposed act, the group objected that it would allow projects to proceed without native consent, according to another CP dispatch.

The legislation forms part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement in which B.C.’s Green Party agrees to support the minority NDP government.

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