News from ICLMG

ICLMG condemns repression, criminalization of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, supporters & journalists

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) condemns the RCMP’s armed invasion of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, and the ongoing repression and criminalization of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, their supporters and journalists.

The ICLMG is a coalition of 46 organizations across Canada, based in Ottawa on unceded Algonquin land. The ICLMG’s primary focus is on the impact of national security and anti-terrorism laws and activities on civil liberties and human rights in Canada and internationally.

The coalition has long-expressed its concerns about how national security is used to stigmatize and criminalize land defenders. The ICLMG opposes the increased use of language of “critical infrastructure” and “national security” to describe and justify the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline and the RCMP’s actions to enforce an injunction1 to remove Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters from their territory. This language serves to position resource development and the extraction of fossil fuels as superseding Indigenous rights, and to paint the defense of those rights as threatening Canada’s “national security.”

It is also important to note that the language of “national security” and “critical infrastructure” can serve to trigger national security laws, particularly the Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act, allowing the disclosure of individuals’ private information by government departments with federal security agencies. While this sharing occurs in secret, it is reviewed annually by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), and we urge the NSIRA to pay particular attention to this issue in its upcoming work.

The ICLMG also condemns the RCMP’s portrayal of the peaceful opponents to the Coastal GasLink project as “radicalized” and the agency’s profiling of Indigenous land protectors through programs like Project SITKA, including several individuals connected with the Wet’suwet’en Healing Centre, camps and access point built on Wet’suwet’en territory. This language reflects an approach based on criminalization and linking land defenders to national security and terrorism threats, contradicting Canada’s stated commitment to reconciliation and upholding Indigenous rights.

These actions by the RCMP, and support by both the BC and federal governments, cannot be separated from the historical context of the RCMP’s predecessor, the North-West Mounted Police, being created as part of Canada’s colonial project in order to assert sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and their lands. For Canada to truly break with this history, it must immediately withdraw the RCMP and respect the Wet’suwet’en’s sovereignty over their territories.

The ICLMG also denounces the detention, removal and exclusion of journalists reporting on the conflict. Prohibiting journalists from carrying out their work during the RCMP’s armed invasion is a clear violation of free expression and press freedom, denying the press the ability to carry out its important work of ensuring accountability and transparency.

Finally, we share the grave concerns raised by the BC Civil Liberties Association, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and others in their complaints filed with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. This includes condemning the “overbroad scope as well as inconsistent and arbitrary exercise of RCMP discretion in Wet’suwet’en territories.”2 As they write:

“The RCMP implementation and enforcement of the exclusion zone criminalizes and impedes the movement of Wet’suwet’en people, invited guests of the Wet’suwet’en, media, legal counsel as well as food and medical supplies.”3

And: “There is absolutely no legal precedent nor established legal authority for such an overbroad policing power associated with the enforcement of an injunction. The implementation and enforcement of the RCMP exclusion zone in Wet’suwet’en territory is unlawful.”4

The ICLMG believes that the security and safety of people living in Canada will be achieved through the respect of fundamental rights and liberties, including the respect and recognition of Indigenous rights, and not through the stigmatization of land defenders as “radicalized” threats and the use of armed invasions and arrests. In light of this, we call for an immediate withdrawal of the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory, and for the government to respect Wet’suwet’en law and the Hereditary Chiefs’ authority over their traditional territory.

For more information & to donate:
Unistoten Camp
Gidimt’en Access Point
RAVEN Trust Wet’suwet’en Legal Challenge Fund

——-

1 In its 1997 decision in Delgamuukw vs BC, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that constitutionally-protected Aboriginal title includes the right to use, enjoy, benefit from, occupy and pro-actively manage the land. Available at: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1569/index.do. See also: Hernandez, J. ‘’We still have title’: How a landmark B.C. court case set the stage for Wet’suwet’en protests”, CBC News, Feb. 13, 2020. Available at: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/delgamuukw-court-ruling-significance-1.5461763; and Gunn, K. & B. McIvor, “The Wet’suwet’en, Aboriginal Title, and the Rule of Law: An Explainer”, First Peoples Law, Feb. 13, 2020. Available at: https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/index/articles/438.php: “The Indian Act does not provide authority for a Chief and Council to make decisions about lands beyond the boundaries of the First Nation’s reserves. By contrast, the Hereditary Chiefs are responsible under Wet’suwet’en law and governance for making decisions relating to their ancestral lands.”

2 BCCLA letter to Michelaine Lahaie, Chairperson, Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, “Re: Policy Complaint Concerning RCMP Checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road,” Jan. 29, 2020. Available at: https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/RCMP-Complaint-Public.pdf

3 Ibid.

4 BCCLA letter to Michelaine Lahaie, Chairperson, Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, “Re: Policy Complaint and Public Interest Investigation Concerning RCMP Exclusion Zone and RCMP Operations on Morice West Forest Service Road,” Feb. 9, 2020. Available at: https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Policy-Complaint-Update-RCMP-Operations-in-Wetsuweten-2020.pdf

Event: “When Poverty Mattered” Book Launch & Talk

Thank you to everyone who were able to attend the talk!
If you were unable to be there, you can watch it here:


Thursday, January 30th, 2020
7pm to 9pm
338 Somerset Street West
(Enter through side entrance)
Free event – all welcome!

Author Paul Weinberg in conversation with
Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG

We’re excited to be co-organizing the Ottawa launch of When Poverty Mattered: Then and Now, by Paul Weinberg.

Paul will be in conversation with Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, to discuss the history of national security surveillance of radical, progressive organizations and lessons that still resonate today. It will be a timely conversation, given recent laws allowing CSIS to engage in new, secret activities, as well as ongoing revelations of government surveillance and criminalization of activists. After a short discussion and reading, there will be a Q & A.

About the book

Founded in Toronto in 1968, the Praxis Corporation was a progressive research institute mandated to spark political discussion about a range of social issues, such as poverty, homelessness, anti-war activism, community activism and worker organization. Deemed a radical threat by the Canadian state, Praxis was put under RCMP surveillance. In 1970, Praxis’s office was burgled and burned to the ground. No arrests were made, but internal documents and records stolen from Praxis ended up in the hands of the RCMP Security Service. All this occurred as Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government shifted away from social spending and poverty reduction towards the economic regime of austerity and neoliberalism that we have today.

In When Poverty Mattered, Paul Weinberg combines insights gleaned from internal government documents, access to information requests and investigative journalism to provide both a history of radical politics in 1960s Canada and an illustration of misdeeds and dirty tricks the Canadian government orchestrated in order to disrupt activist organizations fighting for a more just society.

About Paul

Paul Weinberg has worked in journalism most of his life, primarily as a freelance writer. He has written for newspapers such as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Daily Star and the Hamilton Spectator, weeklies including NOW Magazine and Eye Magazine, and a range of publications including the Report on Business, This Magazine and the CCPA Monitor. Currently living in Hamilton, he is editing an upcoming collection of articles about the City of Hamilton. And he spent a little over a decade researching his new book, When Poverty Mattered, Then and Now which he describes as combining the elements of history and investigative journalism.

“Anyone interested in the history of poverty and poor people’s movements should read this book.” — Gaétan Héroux, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

The venue is fully accessible. The bathrooms are gender neutral. The event will be in English but you will be able to ask questions in French.

Invite your friends and we hope to see you there!

Event co-organized with Octopus Books and Fernwood Publishing

More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/600965943978045/ & https://octopusbooks.ca/event/when-poverty-mattered-then-and-now

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
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What We’ve Been Up To In 2019! End-Of-Year Summary

2019 has been very busy, and we are looking at a busy year 2020!
  • We will continue to call for a public inquiry into Dr. Hassan Diab’s case and for the reform of the Extradition Act.
  • We will continue to fight to stop Mohamed Harkat’s deportation to torture and for the Public Safety minister to allow him to stay in Canada.
  • We will monitor the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), especially around mass surveillance and immunity for CSIS employees, in order to protect our civil liberties.
  • We will continue to push for a strong and effective review mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, as it violates mobility rights and due process, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US, as it violates both our rights and Canada’s sovereignty.

HELP US ACHIEVE THESE GOALS!

Here’s what we’ve been up to from June to December 2019!

Open Letter to the PM: Minority Government Must Act to Promote, Defend Civil Liberties

Justice for Hassan Diab: New Campaign & Press Release on Segal Report

We sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to remind him of the urgent need for action on several fronts, including:
  • Growing state surveillance;
  • Ongoing complicity in torture;
  • Secret evidence undermining the right to a fair trial and due process;
  • The continued use of the secret and rights-violating No Fly List;
  • The refusal to reform Canada’s flawed Extradition Act; and
  • Countering racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and all other forms of hate.
We continue to advocate for a public inquiry into Hassan Diab’s case and the reform of the Extradition Act:

Justice for Hassan Diab: A Webcomic

Justice for Hassan Diab: An Animated Video Narrated by Hassan

Our Top 10 Election Asks on National Security

2019 Election: National Security Info Card

Civil liberties and national security were nowhere to be seen during the 2019 electoral campaign so we got to work:
As we did for the 2015 election, we’ve put together a page detailing:
  • How the federal parties have voted on national security legislation in the last 4 years
  • What non-legislative positions and actions federal parties have taken in the past
  • What are the federal parties’ platform promises on national security, and if and how the parties have responded to ICLMG’s top 10 election asks on national security.

Stop the deportation to torture of Moe Harkat!

Contribution to CCIC’s Policy Brief on Charities

We continue our advocacy for Mohamed Harkat’s rights and life:
  • We worked with partners, including the NDP, to pressure former Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale into action.
  • We attended federal court hearings in support of Moe Harkat.
  • We wrote a letter co-signed by NCCM and Amnesty International Canada, and endorsed by numerous groups and individuals, calling on the new Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to stop Moe Harkat’s deportation to torture and abolish security certificates. It will be sent on December 10, marking 17 year of injustice for Moe Harkat and his family.
The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) released a policy brief showing that Canadian charities working internationally are governed by a set of provisions that restrict their ability to partner effectively in the delivery of their charitable mandate.
Titled “Directed Charities and Controlled Partnerships,” the brief examines two regulatory and legislative elements: “direction and control” provisions and anti-terror legislation. It includes input from the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group which collaborated on the section concerning anti-terrorism legislation.

We published several opinion pieces

We published the weekly News Digest

We continue to publish our weekly News Digest, which all of you receive and is distributed to thousands of people every week.
If you know anyone interested in national security and/or human rights, send them an invite to sign up!

Our work on the Hill

… and more!

We continue our work on Parliament Hill:
  • We reached out to some new MPs and staffers, and contacted Justice department officials to talk about the Liberal campaign promise of a Director of Terrorism Prosecutions.
  • We met with a member of the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and with a couple members of the new National Security Transparency Advisory Group.
  • We finalized our chapter on opposition to surveillance in the Big Data Surveillance Project book.
  • We have been working with other groups for the return of Canadians detained in North-East Syria.
  • We presented on civil liberties at the Confederation of Canadian Unions’ 50thanniversary convention
  • Our social media accounts and live-streams reach tens of thousands.
  • We gave several media interviews.

If you think our work is important, please support the ICLMG!

We do not receive any funding from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties so your support is essential to our work.

We are counting on people like you.

Thank you for your support in protecting civil liberties!

— Anne & Tim

PS: For what we were up to in the first half of 2019, click here!
PPS: For what we’ve been up to since ICLMG was created in 2002, check out our Achievements page!

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