An all-volunteer, Ontario-wide coalition of people who use nonviolent direct action in an attempt to confront institutional and personal violence, seeking a transformative solution which results not in winners versus losers, but in a society which becomes more equal and loving, more just and compassionate.
Poisoning and Drowning of Labrador’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous People at
A crime unfolding in
Labrador is set to escalate on August 7, when the wholly preventable
methylmercury poisoning of an Indigenous country food web that has existed
since time immemorial will begin downstream of Muskrat Falls.
Colonial powers have
always relied on the poisoning and destruction of Indigenous food supplies as
part of a genocidal agenda, and it is no different in Labrador, where the
Trudeau government has invested a whopping $9.2 billion into the lethal Muskrat
Despite pleas from the
United Nations and the Indigenous government of Nunatsiavut, as well as the
clear violation of Canada's legally binding commitments under the Minamata
Convention on Mercury, the provincial government of Dwight Ball and its federal
government backers are refusing to take any measures to stop the methylmercury
poisoning, forcing many to either go hungry or consume foods that contain a
neurotoxin that contributes to the deadly Minamata Disease, an affliction all
too familiar to the people of Grassy Narrows.
This dam, which will
produce "blood megawatts" for sales abroad, threatens an act of
cultural genocide via methylmercury poisoning and the additional risk of
catastrophic dam break. Indeed, mass casualty flash floods are a real
possibility since a significant portion of the dam reservoir is slated to be
held back by a natural formation known as the North Spur, composed of quick
clay (sand that liquefies and moves under pressure). No proper, independent
engineering study has been performed to confirm the stability of the North
Like any number of
megaprojects, all Indigenous people affected have not provided free, prior and
informed consent to be poisoned and drowned by this megadam. Non-Indigenous
residents also face similar threats from a project that could eventually cost
as much as $78 billion and bankrupt the province, forcing further austerity on
the most vulnerable of the province's residents.
Why We’re Fasting
During the period
leading up to and including the federal election, when all parties will put
forward "green plans," we will fast to continue raising awareness of
and building resistance to the dangerous Muskrat Falls project which, like all
megadams, is NOT green energy. The fast is also an opportunity to demand of
anyone who runs for public office that they must speak out against and discuss how
they will stop the poisoning of an Indigenous country food web that has existed
since time immemorial
We will fast for one or
more days during the months between August 7 – when the waters in the reservoir
will begin to rise and submerge uncleared vegetation, brush, trees, and soil,
thus kicking off the methylmercury bioaccumulation that threatens future
generations – and the expected date of the federal election, October 21.
This fast is in support
of the Labrador Land Protectors (some of whom still face court proceedings for
being on their own land), all those living at risk downstream of the Muskrat
Falls megadam, and the poorest and most vulnerable residents of Newfoundland
and Labrador, who will face severe cutbacks to desperately needed social
programs to pay for this disaster.
We fast because we
recognize that if Muskrat Falls goes online without any changes, the largely
Indigenous downstream population will be faced with either going hungry or
eating a country food web dangerously poisoned by the neurotoxin methylmercury.
We fast because we
recognize the hungering for justice of people who have never been properly
consulted about a project that threatens their lives.
We fast because we
recognize that all of us undertaking small sacrifices together can help awaken
the sleeping conscience of a country that has yet to take seriously the calls
to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the cornerstone
principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
The fast will
continue from August 7 to October 21 with three demands:
1. An immediate
halt to impoundment of the Muskrat Falls reservoir, and immediate implementation of the original
recommendations from a joint 2011 provincial-federal environmental assessment
(seconded by a major 2016 Harvard University study and further echoed by an
Independent Experts Advisory Committee) for full clearance of brush, trees, and
topsoil, along with the capping of the wetlands, at the Muskrat Falls reservoir
to prevent the bioaccumulation of the neurotoxin methylmercury.
2.Immediate appointment of an independent inquiry into
the instability of the North Spur, because no study has proven that it is
secure enough to prevent a catastrophic dam break and mass drowning.
3.The federal government, provincial
government, and Nalcor (the crown corporation behind the dam) must halt all
work on the dam until they have received the free, prior and informed consent
of all Indigenous peoples affected by the dam, as well as that of
non-Indigenous downstream residents.
Failing all of these
demands, Muskrat Falls must be decommissioned and returned to its natural
participate in the Chain Fast
Pick a day (or a series
of days) to fast throughout the summer season and email your name and town
A list of open dates and names is below. More than one person can fast on the same date.
Fast according to your
preferred tradition (a full 24 hours, liquids only, sun up to sun down).
The fast is open to
anyone (you can join even if you are not living in the land known as Canada)
On the day
they fast we encourage you to:
a.take a selfie with a simple message (ie,
#ShutMuskratDown, Stop Poisoning Indigenous People in Labrador, Respect
Indigenous Rights, etc) and share that image via social media, explaining why
you are fasting on that day
Thursday's release of preliminary findings by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes paints a damning picture of environmental racism and, at Muskrat Falls, a very real threat of methylmercury poisoning from a project that failed to receive free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people. Front-line land defenders from Labrador are currently travelling over 3000 km to get to Ottawa for the events below, as is a delegation of Indigenous women from hydro-impacted communities in Manitoba.
Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance of Hydro-Impacted Communities, (204) 474-9316.
For Immediate Release, June 8, 2019
Indigenous Land and Water Defenders Arrive in Ottawa to Demand End to Large Hydro Dams
Press Conference Highlights Concerns About Methylmercury Poisoning, Biodiversity Loss, Lack of Consent from Muskrat Falls to Manitoba Hydro to Site C
Where: Room 135-B in the West Block
When: Monday, June 10, 9 am
Why: As 1,100 delegates to a large dams conference gather in Ottawa, Indigenous people adversely impacted by large dams, along with supporters, will spend the day involved in peaceful protests against the dams while presenting Catherine McKenna with a petition signed by over 15,000 people
Amy Norman, Nunatsiavummiuk, Labrador Land Protector, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Dr. Ramona Neckaway, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House, Manitoba)
Carol Kobliski, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House, Manitoba)
Rita Monias, Pimicikamak Okimawin (Cross Lake, Manitoba)
Matthew Behrens, Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Coalition
Meg Sheehan, North American Megadams Resistance Alliance, New Hampshire
Ottawa, ON (Unceded, Unsurrendered Algonquin Territory) – Representatives of a number of Indigenous communities adversely impacted by large hydro dams and their supporters will converge on Ottawa June 10 to hold a 9 am press conference in Room 135-B (West Block) and a series of peaceful protests to call on all federal parties to address their concerns about communities seriously damaged by megaprojects that have never received their free, prior and informed consent.
Following the press conference, the land and water defenders will be joined by supporters outside the massive gathering of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), whose 1,100 members are holding a week-long conference at the Shaw Centre (55 Colonel By Drive). There, they will try and share their experiences of large dams’ negative impacts on their communities with conference attendees, starting at 10 am.
The gathering follows on the release of preliminary findings from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes yesterday in Ottawa, including his recommendation that the federal government "use its leverage as the largest investor in the [Muskrat Falls] project to review whether UNDRIP compatible procedures were followed for all affected indigenous peoples, and to prevent the release of methyl mercury.”
Amy Norman, who for almost three years faced criminal and civil charges for peacefully protesting the Muskrat Falls megadam in Labrador (which is backed by $9.2 billion in federal loan guarantees), will then lead a delegation to Parliament Hill during the noon hour to try and present a petition with 15,000 signatures calling on Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to take immediate measures to stop the impending methylmercury poisoning of the Inuit and Innu peoples’ traditional food web. A similar presentation will take place in St. John's, Newfoundland on June 10 as well.
“So many people downstream of Muskrat Falls rely on country food for their diet, and with Harvard University clearly showing that this food web will be poisoned with the neurotoxin methylmercury, people are incredibly anxious and afraid for their future and that of their children and grandchildren,” says Norman, who has travelled over 3,000 km to Ottawa.
Among those who have also traveled significant distances are a delegation from Northern Manitoba as part of the Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance of Hydro-Impacted Communities. They want to draw attention to the devastating socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts associated with mega-hydro and to address delegates at the ICOLD gathering. Dr. Ramona Neckoway, Chair of Aboriginal and Northern Studies at University College of the North and member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House) states that “the cumulative and extensive impacts of mega-hydro are poorly understood and are ignored by industry, governments and regulators. In northern Manitoba, many of us were born into damaged landscapes and fresh water has been sacrificed for mega-hydro. I am here to stand in solidarity with other hydro-affected communities who share similar experiences and concerns” she explains. She and other northern Manitoba Cree recently addressed the United Nations about these concerns.
"We're fed up with what's going on, and how we're left out and how things are just fast-tracked in regards to our lands,” explains Carol Kobliski, also of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. “There's not proper consultation, and these dams are just coming up all over the place."
Pimicikamak Okimawin elder Rita Monias, who was arrested in a peaceful protest last fall on Parliament Hill, will be part of that delegation as well.
“ “We have seen major displacement, a loss of cultural knowledge, reduced access to traditional foods and medicines and far fewer opportunities to take part in our traditional economy, destruction of our burial grounds and cultural sites, the fear of eating our traditional foods because of methylmercury poisoning, injury and death due to hazardous navigation on the waters, and major changes and reductions in the wildlife whose patterns have been disrupted by the dams,” says Monias. “We cannot allow any more environmental devastation on our Mother Earth. We have to protect it.”
Notably, this week’s report of the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for a public inquiry into another of big hydro’s ill effects: sexual assault and racism by residents of man camps at remote Manitoba facilities like the Keeyask dam.
Meanwhile, Meg Sheehan, traveling to Ottawa from New Hampshire, says she has a message for the Canadian government: “We don’t want your dirty Canadian hydropower in the U.S. It is the equivalent of blood diamonds from Africa. There are unacceptable impacts on local communities and Indigenous rights. In the U.S. we are cutting off the markets for Canadian hydropower by stopping the seven transmission corridors planned through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.”
To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact: Matthew Behrens, Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Coalition, (613) 300-9536 or Kelly Janz, Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance of Hydro-Impacted Communities, (204) 474-9316.
Ottawa, ON (Unceded, Unsurrendered Algonquin
Territory) – In an end-of-visit statement by the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes,
Baskut Tuncak today called on the federal government to use its leverage
to address concerns about lack of proper consultation with
Indigenous people (especially with respect to the parameters outlined in
the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as
the impending threat of methylmercury poisoning downstream of the
massive Muskrat Falls megadam in Labrador.
“I urge the Federal Government to use its leverage as the largest
investor in the project to review whether UNDRIP compatible procedures
were followed for all affected indigenous peoples, and to prevent the
release of methyl mercury,” the Rapporteur told a news conference on
Parliament Hill. The federal government backs the megaproject with $9.2 billion in loan guarantees despite well-documented concerns about dire ecological impacts and adverse affects on the lives of Indigenous people downstream. Both the Harper and Trudeau governments have supported the Muskrat Falls megadam.
During the Rapporteur’s visit to Canada, he met with Labrador
Land Protectors including Nunatsiavummiuk Amy Norman and Nunatukavut
elder James G Learning, along with Grand Riverkeeper's Roberta
Frampton Benefiel and the Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Coalition's Matthew
They shared a brief outlining
their position that “Core to any study of Muskrat Falls is an
understanding that Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by a
megaproject that has never received the free, prior and informed consent
of all Indigenous affected. The key project supporters – provincial
crown corporation Nalcor, the federal government (which backs the megadam
with $9.2 billion in federal loan guarantees), and the government of
Newfoundland and Labrador – sit at negotiating tables that
are grossly unequal and weighted in their favour,” adding “as with
many megaprojects in Canada, federal and provincial governments have
relied on their own impoverished, colonial definition of consultation at
Muskrat Falls… discounting the often dissenting concerns expressed by
elders, traditional title holders, and grassroots voices” instead of
employing the UNDRIP’s foundational guidelines of free, prior and informed
statement today, the Rapporteur noted that “Concerns were
raised regarding the absence of meaningful consultation afforded to two
affected First Nations, the risk of methyl mercury releases contaminating
traditional foods and impacting health, the unaddressed risk of dam
failure, and the flooding of sites containing toxic military waste. It was
alleged that the vast majority of the affected community would either
suffer from extreme food insecurity or be forced to eat contaminated food
if the dam is constructed without proper clearance of the reservoir.”
risk of dam failure is a major concern for those downstream of Muskrat
Falls, since a large natural formation, The North Spur, composed of quick
clay (which liquefies under pressure), is being relied upon to hold back a
full reservoir of water. The world’s leading quick clay expert, Dr.
Stig Bernander, has studied the issue and found no independent study has shown
this to be feasible.
statement was a significant moment in the ongoing battle over the almost
$13 billion megaproject in Labrador which its own CEO has derided as a
ongoing abuses at Muskrat Falls, and the threat of cultural genocide being
committed against Indigenous people whose traditional country food web is
set to be poisoned with a lethal neurotoxin, methylmercury, is finally on
the world stage with this recognition of serious concerns
expressed by the United Nations’ Rapporteur,” explains Matthew Behrens of
the Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Coalition.
“Despite years of promises, no action whatsoever has been taken to
clear the reservoir of the material that will result in
the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in the fish, seals, and other country
food, as documented by a peer-reviewed, four-year study by Harvard
University. As always, the federal and provincial governments are treating
Indigenous people as a national sacrifice zone, continuing the genocide
that, ironically, Trudeau visited Labrador last year to apologize for with
respect to residential schools.”
many people downstream of Muskrat Falls rely on country food for their
diet, and with Harvard University clearly showing that this food web will
be poisoned with the neurotoxin methylmercury, people are incredibly
anxious and afraid for their future and that of their children and grandchildren,”
says Nunatsiavummiuk Amy Norman.
Monday, Labrador Land Protectors who have journeyed thousands of
kilometres will address the national media at 9 am in the
Parliamentary Press room 135-B (where the Rapporteur delivered his remarks
today), attend a protest outside a major gathering of the
International Commission of Large Dams at 10 am at the Shaw Centre, and
then attempt to present a petition to Environment Minister Catherine
McKenna with over 15,000 signatures demanding she take action
to halt the threat of methylmercury poisoning. They will be joined
by members of communities who for years have suffered the ill
effects of similar large mega dams.
Among those who also will have traveled
significant distances are a delegation from Northern Manitoba as part of
the Wa Ni Ska Tan Alliance of Hydro-Impacted Communities. They want
to draw attention to the devastating socio-economic, cultural and
environmental impacts associated with mega-hydro and to
address delegates at the ICOLD gathering. Dr. Ramona Neckoway, Chair
of Aboriginal and Northern Studies at University College of the North and
member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House) states that
“the cumulative and extensive impacts of mega-hydro are poorly understood
and are ignored by industry, governments and regulators. In northern
Manitoba, many of us were born into damaged landscapes and fresh water has
been sacrificed for mega-hydro. I am here to stand in solidarity with
other hydro-affected communities who share similar experiences and concerns”
she explains. She and other northern Manitoba Cree recently addressed the
United Nations about these concerns.
"We're fed up with what's going
on, and how we're left out and how things are just fast-tracked in regards
to our lands,” explains Carol Kobliski, also of Nisichawayasihk Cree
Nation. “There's not proper consultation, and these dams are just coming
up all over the place."
Pimicikamak Okimawin elder Rita Monias, who was arrested in a
peaceful protest last fall on Parliament Hill, will be part of that
delegation as well.
“We have seen major displacement, a loss of
cultural knowledge, reduced access to traditional foods and medicines and
far fewer opportunities to take part in our traditional economy,
destruction of our burial grounds and cultural sites, the fear of eating
our traditional foods because of methylmercury poisoning, injury and
death due to hazardous navigation on the waters, and major changes and
reductions in the wildlife whose patterns have been disrupted by the
dams,” says Monias. “We cannot allow any more environmental devastation on
our Mother Earth. We have to protect it.”
Notably, this week’s report of the Inquiry
on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for a public
inquiry into another of big hydro’s ill effects: sexual assault and racism
by residents of man camps at remote Manitoba facilities like the Keeyask
Meanwhile, Meg Sheehan, traveling to
Ottawa from New Hampshire, says she has a message for the Canadian
government: “We don’t want your dirty Canadian hydropower in the
U.S. It is the equivalent of blood diamonds from Africa. There are
unacceptable impacts on local communities and Indigenous rights. In
the U.S. we are cutting off the markets for Canadian hydropower by
stopping the seven transmission corridors planned through Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont and New York.”
Dozens of Police, Mounted Units, Police Wagons Greet Toronto Vigil of 10 People Protesting Production of Canadian Bullets for U.S. Forces in Iraq, Afghanistan....
TORONTO, MARCH 21, 2005 -- All the 10 or so members of Homes not Bombs wanted to do today was have a dialogue on ending SNC-Lavalin's participation in the war crimes being committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. SNC-Lavalin profits handily from its Quebec-based SNC-TEC subsidiary, which is providing hundreds of millions of bullets to U.S. occupation forces across the globe.
But SNC-Lavalin management would have none of it, preferring to treat Homes not Bombs as a security threat. In their largest display of force yet, some three dozen Metro Police, eight wearing riot visors and riding horses -- backed up with two police wagons ready to cart folks away -- were on hand early today at the Etobicoke offices of the firm, which has been the site of two prior, peaceful protests.
All this for a group of ten people with placards and flyers calling for an end to the profits being made from war crimes. And just to make sure we got the point, police immediately accosted the small group as we walked towards the western driveway to the offices. The officer in charge told us that the company had pre-issued trespass notices against us "that would be enforced," and another officer took it upon himself to single out one demonstrator, grabbing him by the arm, without explanation, and proceeding to shove him around. The officer then threatened to attack another demonstrator for standing on the sidewalk.
"Move, how many times do I have to tell you, you're blocking the driveway!" he thundered at her.
She reminded him that his police cars were in fact blocking the driveway and that she was simply standing on the sidewalk. Despite his repeated thundering at her, she stood her ground, staring him down until he backed off.
Indeed, police cars blocked both entrances, and a row of squad cars was lined up at the front entrance to the building, perhaps to prevent a repeat of the scene on Martin Luther King Day, when a group of about 50 people, including some recently returned from first-hand witnessing in Iraq, had paraded around the grounds and a smaller group of about 10 had tried to enter the building for a dialogue. That day, police had seemed unprepared, and made no arrests.
Why was there such a display of force today? Were the police simply embarrassed by their lack of preparation last time out (only to be made even more embarrassed with today's show of firepower for the small vigil)? Or has the campaign to get SNC-Lavalin to divest itself of its bulletmaker or, better yet, transform itself into something socially useful, begun to have an effect inside corporate boardrooms?
Bullet production certainly has been cause for a great deal of dialogue inside the building, according to employees who ventured out for lunch and discussed the issue with the demonstrators.
And if SNC-Lavalin was trying to deflect attention away from itself because of its unsavoury practices, this was certainly not the way to do it.The huge police presence also meant many passersby slowed down to see what was going on and, having found out, honked enthusiastically their support for our vigil.
While some employees refused to look at us, others nodded in silent support, and a few were vocal in their words of encouragement. Some said they were unaware there was to be a protest, so there was concern when police on horseback started circling the building this morning. Once that occurred, the company did much of the work for us, by explaining once again in an internal email that SNC's profiting from bullets was the cause of our demo.
Some employees stood out on the front porch for a short time while we called out to them to have a dialogue on divestment, but apparently a senior manager ordered them back inside. It is that kind of treatment--not even allowing employees the right on their break to speak with us--that has contributed to a certain amount of discomfort within the company.
Indeed, one employee told us of a personal decision to give notice in a few weeks time, declaring that the bullet contract was one more reason to leave the company, in addition to concerns about what the individual described as shoddy environmental practices by the firm in its engineering and mining projects and poor treatment of employees.
As we left the armed encampment that was SNC-Lavalin this afternoon, we vowed to return, to once again expose the lie that Canada is not involved in the crimes taking place in Iraq, and to challenge a complacent population which seems to have bought that lie in much the same way as many have swallowed the line that Paul Martin's announcement on star wars means Canada is not involved in space warfare (when in fact it is official Canadian government policy to view space as the fourth medium of warfare).
Stay tuned. Better yet, if you are one of those people who has enough money to have investments, make sure none of your money is going to SNC-Lavalin. If it is, divestment provides a perfect way to express your displeasure at their profiting from war crimes.
(report from Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs; photos by John Bonnar)
NOTE: This campaign proved successful. SNC-Lavalin was forced to divest itself of its bullet division.
other day in 2018, a woman in Canada was murdered,
almost exclusivelyby men. Sexual
assault crisis centres reported a
record numbers of calls last year. And according to a new report, male violence
against women has claimed the lives
of at least 10,495 women and girls in Canada since 1961, an average of 184 femicides
is recognized internationally by the United Nations as the most extreme form of
violence and discrimination against women and girls,” according to the Canadian Femicide
Observatory for Justice and Accountability. “Its definition varies across disciplines and world regions, but
broadly captures the killing of females, primarily by men, because they are female.”
massacre-scale figures, successive federal and provincial governments have
refused to recognize and act upon the scale and severity of a national security
threat that daily targets more than half the population. It’s certainly not
news to those who courageously – and almost always without the necessary
funding and resources they need to do their jobs – staff the shelters and
sexual violence hotlines counseling the targets of hundreds of thousands of
daily acts of male violence.
the Trudeau government has thumbed its nose at a United Nations commitment to
enact and properly fund a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Girls, its Public Safety Minister also refuses to
recognize the national security implications of male violence. Indeed, when a
man inspired by extremist misogynist ideology (the so-called incel movement)
went on a murderous Yonge Street rampage in 2018, Ralph Goodale had the
audacity to declare the
terrorist act did “not appear to be connected in any way to
Instead of naming
and addressing this major national security threat, the Canadian government
continues to rely on racist tropes generated by white supremacist state
security agencies to imagine threats that are minimal at worst but which, when parroted
by a compliant media, actually make life even more dangerous for anyone who
does not enjoy the protective shield of white privilege.
A Flimsy Terror Plot
Nowhere was that
more clear than in the arrests last week of two people in Kingston on an
alleged terror plot. While one of those arrested was released without charge,
the media continue to spout inflammatory lines about the non-charged individual
being part of a refugee family fleeing Syrian violence. Needless to say, that irresponsible
reportage was immediately picked up by Donald Trump’s Canadian Tweet Deputy,
Andrew Scheer, who reinforced
the utterly nonexistent notion that falsely equates refugees with terrorism.
concludes that new immigrant communities have lower crimes rates than those who
came before them).
we have yet to learn the details about this alleged plot, its timing is, as
with all so-called terror arrests, curious, coming as it does as the Senate is
set to renew hearings on the dangerous new state security powers being debated
in Bill C-59.
Its substance is also open to some very reasonable questioning. A tip from the
FBI – an organization with a remarkable record of initiating and planning terror plots that
are then pinned on vulnerable individuals – led some 300 Canadian agents into
high-octane motion, even though there was “no specific target identified”; the superintendent in charge confirmed
there was “no specific time, date or location affixed to” the alleged plot of
the 16-year-old; there were only “elements
and trace elements” of a “potentially” explosive substance allegedly found in one
of the houses raided by police; and the superintendent in charge declared:
“At no time was the city of Kingston or any Canadian area under direct threat.”
It appears there was some vague talk of “facilitating” someone setting off a
non-existent explosive device at a place and time that had not been determined,
which sounds a lot like the kind of plots that are cooked up by eager FBI and
RCMP informants who fish the internet to find vulnerable individuals who might
take the bait.
arrests also play into what will likely be a significant racist narrative
during the 2019 federal election: Canada’s allegedly “porous” borders and
equating refugees with security threats. Evidence of this trend was a lazy and
fear-mongering CBC piece that
read more like a press release from CSIS than the work of a responsible news
organization. In reporting on a heavily redacted government document entitled “Subject of national security concern granted permanent residency,” CBC took
great pains to point out, adding fuel to the fire, that the granting of landed
status here “means the person is entitled to most social benefits —including
health care — can live, work and study anywhere in Canada, and is
protected by Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but
isn't considered a Canadian citizen.”
document allegedly could not detail why the individual was considered a threat
because to detail CSIS’s “derogatory information” would allegedly harm “the
conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or
associated with Canada,” the CBC failed to properly contextualize the
consistent pattern of state security agencies claiming “national security
confidentiality” as a means of covering
up anything that could prove embarrassing to the government. Such
rationalizations are also employed to cover up the fact that “derogatory
information” in the hands of CSIS is often the product of torture or other
forms of mistreatment that Canada’s spy agencyeagerlyreceives from some of the world’s worst dictatorships.
The CBC also failed to question what it meant
to declare that CSIS had “derogatory information” against this individual,
especially given the spy agency’s lengthy historical record of falsely naming individuals security threats (often leading to torture,
as we have seen in the cases of Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad ElMaati,
Muayyed Nureddin, and Abousfian Abdelrazik, among others).
addition, CBC failed to place this allegedly bombshell document within a long
history of Canada using overly broad definitions of security threats to declare individuals inadmissible to Canada.That includes, for example, thoe who were
involved in struggles against South African apartheid or death squad
dictatorships in Central America. The overly broad interpretation of what it
means to be a member of an organization – membership being a ground to make one
inadmissible to Canada on security grounds – is so broad that it can encompass
someone who wrote for a party newspaper or provided catering services to a
political meeting. Ottawa fails to consider, for example, whether someone
joined a group before it took up arms or after it eschewed violence. It also
fails to distinguish between membership in groups with a single brutal purpose
-- the employment of violence without regard to civilian casualties -- and
multi-faceted organizations that, while possessing a military wing, also act as
de facto governments that provide social services (such as the Palestine
The Tunnel Vision of State
Canada’s state security agencies would not focus on real threats to security
and instead pin blame on individual targeted communities is understandable.
They have always demonized Indigenous people, immigrant communities, and anyone
who threatens an unequal status quo. It's in their DNA, reflected recently in a
2017 lawsuit by a group of CSIS employees who declared they had been “harassed
and discriminated against by CSIS management and colleagues, on the basis of
religion, race, ethnic and/or national origin, and/or sexual orientation."
That lawsuit was quietly settled with the usual promise to “do better.”
the 2018“Terrorist Threat to Canada”
report, issued just before the December holiday season, proved a significant
dose of cognitive dissonance on steroids. While Ralph Goodale inaccurately
described it as “a balanced and frank assessment of the current threat
environment,” it is in reality a recycled hash of racist nonsense produced by a
nation that Goodale describes as “being a collaborative force for good in the
world”. While the 2017 public report declared, without substantiation, that “the principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to be that
posed by violent extremists who are inspired by violent Islamist ideology, and
terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaida,” the 2018 report returns to the
tired evil Muslims nostrum of “violent Sunni Islamist ideology.”
The basis for such conclusions is a timeline dating back to 2006
that features a series of incidents that almost exclusively relied on the role
of highly-paid RCMP and CSIS agents in creating and organizing various plots,
leading vulnerable individuals right into lengthy prison terms via elaborate
entrapment schemes. Others – single individual incidents – were carried out by
people with serious mental health challenges but, given their ancestry, were
translated into so-called terrorist acts.
In the check-box virtue-signalling and faux political correctness
that defines the Trudeau regime, some space is devoted to Right-Wing Extremism.
But it is seriously downplayed, noting in a major affront to the lived reality of
millions that “while racism, bigotry,
and misogyny may undermine the fabric of Canadian society, ultimately they do
not usually result in criminal behavior or threats to national security.” It’s
a remarkable statement – not only because racism, bigotry, and misogyny
actually make up the fabric of Canadian society – but also because it flies in
the face of readily available public figures.
Indeed, whether it’s the epidemic of male violence against women –
perhaps most dramatically illustrated in 2018 by the Yonge Street misogynist massacre
– or racism (January 29 marks the second anniversary of the terrorist attack
that murdered six and injured 19 Muslim worshippers in Quebec City), there is
clearly a growing threat from white supremacists that’s been well documented by
researchers Barbara Perry and Ryan Scrivens.
Downplaying White Supremacist Violence
Indeed, as the Toronto Star reports:
“Between 2015 and 2018, researcher Barbara Perry said she’s observed a 20 to 25
per cent jump in the number of right-wing extremist groups active in Canada.
Based on Perry’s previous estimates, that would mean anywhere between 100 to
125 active right-wing extremist groups operating from coast to coast.Between
1980 and 2014, there have been more than 120 incidents involving right-wing
extremist groups in Canada, according to Perry and co-author Ryan Scrivens’s
2015 research. The ‘incidents’ range from drug offences to attempted
assassinations, firebombings and attacks.” The researchers noted, by
comparison, only seven incidents during the same time period that could
possibly be described under the government’s definition of “Islamist” ideology.
(Notably, a recently released report from the
Anti-Defamation League also confirms that every single extremist killing in the
USA in 2018 was committed by right-wing extremists.)
Despite such readily available figures, it remains controversial
within the Canadian government to mention this reality. Indeed, an initial
muted reference to right-wing extremism in the 2017 Canadian terrorism report
almost didn't make it given the objections of CSIS.
documents obtained by Global News, CSIS originally proposed that the 2017 report
would include the claim that“Within the
broader context of extremism in Canada, the number of right-wing extremists who
promote or are willing to engage in politically-motivated violence is extremely
small.” (This false claim would be
consistent with CSIS behaviour: the spy
agency’s review committee found that
CSIS dropped an investigation into Canada’s far-right in 2016 because Canada’s
spies felt these groups did not represent a national security threat.) Global News
continues that while Public Safety Canada initially included the CSIS statement
on the far fight, it was later changed from “extremely small” to “quite small,”
and then cut altogether.CSIS also disputed
that right-wing extremism was “a growing concern in Canada,” saying that was a
“subjective statement” and demanding, “What is your facting for this?”
CSIS could have easily
found that “facting” via a search engine that most 2nd graders know
about called Google. They would have discovered a rigorous academic study by
theCanadian Network for Research on
Terrorism, Security & Society (whose partners include CSIS and Public
Safety Canada) that concluded the right-wing extremist movement in Canada “is more extensive and
more active than public rhetoric would suggest.” They noted there were over 100
groups, some of which “were actively engaged in brutal acts of violence
directed at an array of targets” including Muslims, Jews, Indigenous people,
LGBTQ communities, and “people of color, such as
Afro-Canadians, Asians, and South Asians.”
their research confirmed that “a key factor enabling the emergence and sustainability of right-wing groups
was a weak law enforcement response. Typically, activities of the far right
have not been monitored or taken seriously…there was a tendency for officials
to deny or trivialize the presence and threat.”
Still, Canadian officials
tried to soft pedal right wing extremism, questioning why it was listed as a
Principal Threat to Canada. “Is
far-right a ‘principal threat’ to Canada?” asked an official in the released
documents obtained by Global News. “Good
that it is outlined in this document, but may want to revisit how this is
The unwillingness of Canadian state
security agencies to develop threat profiles based on readily available public
information is another reason why CBC’s abovementioned reportage of alleged
security threats receiving permanent landing in Canada is so irresponsible.
Indeed, the CBC’s preferential option for the powerful assumes that CSIS and
the CBSA actually know what they are doing. Notably, these terrorism threat reports
are produced by the same agencies that treat as security risks land and water
defenders from Wet'suwet'en to Muskrat Falls (a chilling but consistent
historical practice well documented in the excellent book, Policing Indigenous Movements).
The 2018 public report on terror
threats also suddenly raised out of the blue alleged “Sikh (Khalistani)
Extremism,” pointing to events that happened over 30 years ago as part of its
rationale. It also backs up this claim by declaring that two Sikh
organizations were listed as terrorist entities in Canada, but that is old news
that dates back to 2003. This understandably
upset Sikh groups, prompting Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to say he would
look into tweaking the language of the report because “words matter and being
precise matters,” but six weeks later, the libelous reference remains on the
because Canada’s state security agencies are equal opportunity Islamophobes,
they also bring in alleged “Shia Extremism” with the very lazy, vague claims
that some people in Canada “may sympathize with [Hizballah] for political
reasons” and that individuals in Canada send material and financial support to
the group, without providing any evidence. Hizballah was listed as a terrorist
entity in 2002 by Canada.
largest amount of space in the report is dedicated to “Canadian Extremist
Travellers,” even though the report notes
that “Canada has not experienced, and does not expect to experience, a
significant influx of returning Daesh-affiliated extremist travellers.” While
the report claims that these travellers pose a threat because they return with
the “capability to conduct unsophisticated attacks, such as with knives and
vehicles,” it completely ignores the fact that white Canadian men are perfectly
capable of conducting such attacks against women with no need for overseas
training, as reports from hospital emergency rooms and women’s shelters will
bear out. Indeed, a December, 2018 report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide
Prevention Initiative found that the most common means of men
murdering women in Canada was by knifing, all carried out without the support
and inspiration of Daesh or Al-Qaeda.
report offers an extensive explanation of initiatives being undertaken to
counter what it already admits is not much of a threat – those who have travelled
overseas – while completely failing to list any efforts being undertaken to
counter right-wing extremism and misogynistic attacks.
Will Canada Acknowledge an Epidemic?
As billions of dollars continue to
be poured into state agencies chasing almost non-existent threats (including
the commityment to purchase warships at a staggering cost of anywhere from $62
to $100 billion) , those whose lives are on the line from racism and misogyny
are left out in the cold. But with a federal election on the horizon, there is
an opportunity to push all political parties on the epidemic of misogyny in
Former NDP Women’s Critic Sheila
Malcolmson pointed out
that “direct federal funding to women’s organizations represents less than 0.01%
of total federal program spending; only about $1 for every woman in Canada,”
and that proper core funding for said groups should be a cornerstone commitment
that would allow Canada to live up to international and domestic constitutional
obligations ensuring women’s equality.
When she testified before a
Parliamentary Committee last fall, Megan Walker of the London Abused Women's
Centre reminded MPS that any program going
forward must consider that “male violence against women is an
epidemic. If we were talking about violence in any other format except against
women and we knew that 106 women were murdered this year, largely by men, with
33 murdered by their intimate partners, all bells and whistles would be going
off. If it were an epidemic with respect to a flu or SARS or anything like
that, we would be taking immediate action, yet for some reason we still
continue to minimize the lived experiences of women and pretend it doesn't
time to get our heads out of the sand and realize that we all have a role to
play, especially government, in preventing women across this country from being
murdered, particularly when they're being murdered by a man who is supposed to
love them, and in their homes, which for most of us is the safest place we can
be. That's our first recommendation: we want the
Government of Canada to recognize this as the epidemic it is.
Further, we want the government to respond
to this epidemic by including full core funding for all services that are
helping women live their lives free from violence and abuse. We want to see major public awareness and education
programs so that future generations of girls and boys grow up knowing that this
is wrong, that the value women and girls have is not from the attention paid to
them by boys and men, but in fact from who they are as people.
We also want to see a heavy investment in
prevention. As I say, I think if we can see the results of one woman being
alive today because of preventive action, we've done our job. We need to do
that with much more frequency and with a much greater investment.”
(originally published at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2019/01/canada-ignores-national-security-threat-posed-femicide)