RCMP sees ‘anti-petroleum’ movement as a growing and increasingly violent security threat

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Leaked documents say environmental activists opposing Canadian petroleum developments are threatening the economic interests and national security of the country


On Feb. 17, internal RCMP documents leaked to Greenpeace Canada say the recent actions of environmental activists opposing the approval and development of petroleum projects across Canada constitute a national security threat.

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

As the Harper government introduces new security legislation and widens the definition of terrorist activity, environmentalists may find themselves being incorporated into this purview of dangerous security threats.

“Governments and petroleum companies are being encouraged, and increasingly threatened, by violent extremists to cease all actions which the extremists believe, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions,” say the RCMP.

According to the documents, the “recent protests in New Brunswick are the most violent of the national anti-petroleum protests to date”.

The incident in New Brunswick refers to an anti-shale gas protest that took place on Oct. 17, 2013. Police arrested more than 40 activists, including the Chief of the Elsipogtog First Nation and some of its council members. Six RCMP cars were torched and a cache of weapons and ammunition was seized by police.

The RCMP says that because some groups believe that climate change and the continued burning of fossil fuels is the single greatest threat to humanity today, it is leading to the development of hardline violent extremists “ideologically opposed to the Canadian petroleum industry”.

Other violent incidents cited in the documents include the Quebec car bombing targeting the vice president of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the pipeline bombings in Northern B.C., the firebombing of the home of Syncrude’s retired president and chief operating officer, and numerous other cases.

Although the RCMP believes the extent of the threat posed by violent environmentalists is “low-level” the documents say that “violent anti-petroleum extremists will continue to engage in criminal activity to promote their anti-petroleum ideology”.

Moreover, “these extremists pose a realistic criminal threat to Canada’s petroleum industry, its workers and assets, and to first responders”.

It is obvious from these statements that the government and police are carefully watching environmental protests and scrutinizing the statements and policies of organizations right across the country. The documents specifically cite groups like Greenpeace, Tides Canada, and the Sierra Club.

It can perhaps be taken for granted that any government, whether Conservative, Liberal, or New Democrat, will use the country’s security services to spy on individual environmentalists, organizations and any protest activity that might possibly threaten the economic interests of the country.

What ought to worry anyone reading these documents is the next and very real level of people, whether peaceful or militant, being branded as ‘terrorists’ for protesting the petroleum industry in this country.

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