When it comes to native housing, health, and education needs, Ottawa provides funding through an eye-dropper and at a snail’s pace. But where it concerns meeting the perceived “security” needs of capital and the state, the authorities act swiftly, generously, and without much regard for civil liberties.
In early 2007 the Canadian federal government created a vast surveillance network to monitor protests by aboriginal groups aimed at “critical infrastructure” like highways, railways, and pipelines, according to RCMP documents obtained through access to information requests.
An RCMP slide show, produced in the spring of 2009, reveals that its “intelligence unit” reported weekly to about 450 police, government and unnamed “industry partners” in the energy and private sectors. A Mountie spokesperson told the Toronto Star that the Aboriginal JIG (joint intelligence group) was dismantled, but “we cannot confirm that RCMP divisions are not performing Aboriginal JIG activities under another name of program.”
An annual Strategic Intelligence Report from June 2009 indicates that the spying focused at the time on 18 “communities of concern” in five provinces. These included First Nations in Ontario such as Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Ardoch, Grassy Narrows, Six Nations and Tyendinaga, which carried out road and railway blockades and opposed mining and logging on their lands.
The JIG presented itself as a “central repository” of information about First Nations protests, assisted by an “extensive network of contacts throughout Canada and internationally,” and an undisclosed number of spies in the field acting as its “eyes and ears.” No price tag was specified for this “extensive” surveillance apparatus.
An RCMP submission to the Canadian Intelligence Security Service (CSIS) in April 2007 states: “There is a growing concern among high-level government officials and the policing community about the potential for unrest in aboriginal communities, and an increasing sense of militancy among certain segments of the aboriginal population.”
True enough. One example is the KI First Nation, in northern Ontario, which in 2008 prevented the establishment of a platinum mine by Platinex on their traditional territory. The Liberal Ontario government bought out the Platinex claim for $5 million—a sum that would cover the cost of building more than 20 modern houses in a remote northern aboriginal community.
In its sales pitch to the private sector, the RCMP slide show promotes the notion that the aboriginal intelligence unit can “alleviate some of your workload as we can help identify trends and issues that may impact more than one community.”
Now, can you imagine a federal police service that would gather information on, and arrest corporate violators of aboriginal treaty rights and land claims? Can you imagine the cops doing that, instead of spying on, harassing and jailing First Nations’ activists who defend their communities? In capitalist Canada?
No, neither can I.
> The article above was written by Barry Weisleder.