The Palestinian people have risen in a mighty storm,
supported by the peoples of the world, against the declaration by
U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.S. considers
Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. We stand as one with the
heroic Palestinian people and their resistance to the Zionist
occupation and U.S. attempts to control the affairs of all
peoples or destroy what they cannot control. Strikes and days of
rage are underway across Palestine, with courageous men, women
and youth confronting the Israeli Occupation forces. Solidarity
protests are being held outside U.S. embassies and consulates
Our Security Lies in Our Fight for the Rights of All!
A matter of great concern is how the Trudeau government is attempting to hide the direction it is going with respect to expanding and strengthening police powers in the name of national security.
On November 27, the Trudeau Liberals used their majority
the House of Commons to have Bill C-59, An Act respecting
national security matters moved to committee before debate on
the legislation at second reading.
The legislation amends
the powers put in place for police and spy agencies by the Harper
government with Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015)
while also introducing new laws to expand the powers of the
Communications Security Establishment (CSE), in particular to
carry out cyber warfare. The motion to move the bill directly to
committee passed by a vote of 164 to 118 with the Liberals voting in
favour while the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Greens voted against.
On June 20 when the Liberals tabled Bill C-59, CPC(M-L) pointed out:
"The Liberal government has fabricated a story that its anti-people 'modernization' of Canada's spy agencies amounts to increased 'transparency' and 'accountability.' To fool the gullible, it covers up its aim for increased police powers outside and in opposition to any rule of law by presenting two different and opposing demands, as if they are on par and equilibrium can be found -- those of the state agencies for increased powers, and those of Canadians to defend rights.
"The Liberals state, 'Successive CSE Commissioners have called on the governments of the day to clarify ambiguities in CSE's legislation and increase transparency. Canadians have also been clear that they are looking for increased accountability and transparency of their security and intelligence agencies.
"As well, the creation of various new state agencies appointed under the Prime Minister's prerogative powers -- an 'Intelligence Commissioner' to authorize various measures, a 'National Security and Intelligence Review Agency' to achieve the much-vaunted goal of eliminating 'siloing' of information amongst agencies and a 'Centre of Expertise on Information Sharing' -- are all presented as measures strengthening accountability rather than the further concentration of police powers to the detriment of peace, freedom and democracy.
"Canadians have clearly opposed the powers in Bill C-51 as well as those contained in earlier 'anti-terrorist' legislation, none of which seriously defined terrorism or what constitutes a terrorist. Expanding the trend in Bill C-51, the Liberals' new security Bill C-59 can paint as terrorist anyone who opposes the 'constitutionally established system of government in Canada' or what 'the government's broader strategic objectives' dictate as a potential threat. Those targeted are subjected to police measures contained in the mandates of the national security agencies. The targets include the political movements of the people against war and the violations of rights, those opposed to the illegitimate institutions within the imperialist system of states such as NATO, the G7, etc., which the government claims are in the national interest, and the independent institutions of the working class organized to defend its rights at the place of work and to lead the building of the new."
The Liberals tabled Bill C-59 and the motion to move it
to committee on June 20 just as the Parliament was to rise for the
summer. November 23 was the first time the House of Commons actually
considered the bill. However, as a result of the Liberals' motion,
debate was constrained to whether or not to move it to committee rather
than any substantive debate on the legislation itself. The motion was
passed on November 27 and the legislation was moved to the House of
Commons Committee on Public Safety where there have been three hearings
to date. In Parliament, the NDP accused the Liberals of using their
motion to avoid subjecting the bill to parliamentary procedures that
permit the Speaker to break up legislation considered omnibus. When
these parliamentary procedures were introduced by the Liberals they
said they would prevent bills that contain changes to many laws from
being snuck through without proper discussion, as was the experience
with the Harper government. The Speaker however was forced to admit
that despite Bill C-59 being expansive and changing many laws, the
Liberals' motion was not on the bill itself but on whether or not to
refer it to committee.
The Liberals' guilty conscience was revealed when they spoke to their motion. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale would not even discuss the legislation's contents, merely repeating the fraud that it will bring "transparency and accountability" to the spy agencies that are already using the expanded powers granted by Bill C-51 to step up black ops and state terror against Canadians and others. He also attempted to paint the legislation as a response to Canadians' concerns about Bill C-51 so as to disinform the clear demand for the repeal of the powers it contained.
"Taken together, the new comprehensive review agency, the intelligence commissioner, and the new committee of parliamentarians will give Canada accountability mechanisms of unprecedented scope and depth. This is something that Canadians have been calling for, and those calls intensified when the former Bill C-51 was introduced. We heard them loud and clear during our consultations, and we are now putting these accountability measures into place," Goodale said. The Liberals are keenly aware that Canadians, including many of their own party members despise attempts to place the police and spy agencies in a position to determine what will be considered legitimate political activity or a threat to Canada. This opposition to violations of the right to conscience and freedom of speech was expressed loud and clear during the last federal election as Canadians from coast to coast to coast and from all walks of life demanded the repeal of Bill C-51. The Liberals are now embarking on an operation to destroy the public opinion that has been established on this. They claim that the same state that has as its aim to maintain class privilege and suppresses the people's striving for empowerment and genuine democracy using the police powers, can be entrusted to defend the people's democratic rights by strengthening its police powers to use against them. It is irrational.
Goodale added, "The paramountcy of the Charter
Rights and Freedoms is an overriding principle in Bill C-59."
In this he is referring to measures which require CSIS agents to
get approval for any measures that would violate Canadians'
rights as outlined in the Charter. "We are now creating a
specific closed list of measures that CSIS will have the
authority to take to deal with threats. If any such activity
might limit a Charter right, CSIS will have to go before a judge.
The activity can only be allowed if the judge is satisfied that
it is compliant with the Charter," he said.
This is clearly an attempt to divert Canadians from considering what is at stake. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms in fact does not guarantee rights. If it did there would not be such widespread violations of Canadians' fundamental rights which are getting worse. There are reams of examples of the police and spy agencies violating the law with impunity, organizing acts of terrorism and terrorist groups to undermine the people's struggles for rights and justify increased police powers, all in the name of defending "national security." The Charter's "reasonable limits" are precisely what permit the violation of rights. The experience of Canadians with the dirty operations of the Canadian state is that anything can be justified in the name of "national security," which is invoked as the reason to impose "reasonable limits" on rights, negating the modern notion that rights must be guaranteed. For example, during the G20 in Toronto, the Liberal government in Ontario invoked World War II era legislation, the Public Works Protection Act, to give broad arbitrary powers to police to arrest protesters and anyone else en masse -- in the name of "national security." The many other examples include mass arrests across Canada and Quebec of progressive forces using the War Measures Act under the government of Pierre Trudeau. Goodale's example of judicial warrants in the legislation for CSIS shows that far from affirming rights, the Liberals are trying to provide a veneer of legitimacy for denying them.
The government claims that ramming Bill C-59 through to committee before debate at second reading provides more flexibility in making changes to the legislation. Yet committee work to sort out implementation of any bill is supposed to be based on debate in the House of Commons to establish a bill's aims and principles. The government's claims that this is all about increasing "transparency" and "accountability" while circumventing existing parliamentary norms of public debate to inform elected officials and the public are clearly a contradiction and self-serving.
Revealing who is setting the tone for the legislation, the first day of hearings was dominated by the heads of Canada's spy agencies and the RCMP, the very same state agencies that want to ensure that the new powers they asked for and have now been given, remain in place. That these agencies, whose mandate includes carrying out disinformation campaigns against those it labels extremists or enemies, are the first brought in to "inform" the committee shows that the Liberals have no shame in having the police set the tone for political discourse.
All those who took a stand to reject Bill C-51 must now make it clear that No means No! in the context of Bill C-59. TML Weekly encourages all those who spoke out against Bill C-51 to turn their attention in the new year to making sure the Liberals' version of this legislation is opposed just as widely and broadly.
In coming editions, TML Weekly will provide information on the legislation itself and, in particular, provisions which go beyond those put in place with Bill C-51, especially those relating to providing new powers to the CSE to carry out cyber war against Canadians and other countries.
November 30 Witnesses
- House of Commons: Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public
Safety and Emergency
- Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Vincent Rigby, Associate Deputy Minister
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service: David Vigneault, Director
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Kevin Brosseau, Deputy Commissioner, Contract and Aboriginal Policing
- Communications Security Establishment: Greta Bossenmaier, Chief
- Department of Justice: Douglas Breithaupt, Director and General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section
- Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Vincent Rigby, Associate Deputy Minister Monik Beauregard, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, National and Cyber Security Branch
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service: David Vigneault, Director Tricia Geddes, Assistant Director, Policy and Strategic Partnerships
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Kevin Brosseau, Deputy Commissioner, Contract and Aboriginal Policing; James Malizia, Assistant Commissioner, National Security and Protective Policing, Federal Policing
- Communications Security Establishment: Greta Bossenmaier, Chief; Dominic Rochon, Deputy Chief, Policy and Communications Department of Justice; Douglas Breithaupt, Director and General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section
December 5 Witnesses
- Amnesty International Canada, Secretary
General Alex Neve
- Stephanie Carvin, Assistant Professor, Carleton University, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs
- Craig Forcese, Professor, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law
- Wesley Wark, Professor, University of Ottawa, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
December 7 Witnesses
- Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada: Daniel
Privacy Commissioner of Canada; Patricia Kosseim, Senior General
Counsel and Director General, Legal Services, Policy, Research
and Technology Analysis Branch; Lara Ives, Acting Director
General, Audit and Review
- Canadian Civil Liberties Association: Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Project; Cara Zwibel, Acting General Counsel; Lex Gill, Advocate, National Security Program Amended
- Christian Leuprecht, Professor, Royal Military College of Canada, Department of Political Science
- Hayley McNorton, Research Assistant, Royal Military College of Canada, Department of Political Science
On November 6, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the names of the members of the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. The committee was created under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act, which received Royal Assent on June 22, 2017. The creation of a committee of parliamentarians to review government departments and agencies with national security responsibilities was an objective set out in the mandate letters of both the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
In making the announcement, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) attempted to paint the establishment of the committee and by extension the powers from Bill C-51 that the Trudeau government is retaining in the hands of spy and police agencies as being something Canadians asked for, when this is the furthest possible thing from the truth. "Canadians have been clear that they want -- and need -- our national security and intelligence communities to continue to be responsible and fully respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all citizens," the news release stated. The use of weasel words like "continue to be responsible and fully respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all citizens" shows the depths of irrationality to which the government has sunk. It is precisely Canadians' experience as well as the letter of the law that rights and fundamental freedoms are not guaranteed in Canada but are subject to what the government and police powers define as "reasonable limits." This is in accordance with imperialist conceptions of democracy and human rights in which the state and its power is eternal while the people come and go.
The PMO noted that the committee is a
"a multi-party committee that includes representatives from both
the House of Commons and the Senate." This does not make it
Canadians. What the Prime Minister
fails to mention is that its members were all selected by the Prime
Minister according to whatever "deep vetting" was done and
criteria established to decide if an elected or appointed
official could be trusted to learn of the dirty secrets related
to activities carried out by the Canadian state in the name of
national security. "The creation of a strong, accountable, and
multi-party committee of dedicated parliamentarians will help us
ensure that our national security agencies continue to keep
Canadians safe in a way that also safeguards our values, rights,
and freedoms. This independent group will help strengthen the
accountability of our national security and intelligence work. In
our system of responsible government, there is no substitute for
scrutiny by parliamentarians," Prime Minister Trudeau is quoted as
saying in the statement.
The committee is chaired by David McGuinty, Member of Parliament for Ottawa South. It will have the authority to review rather than oversee "national security and intelligence activities" carried out "across the Government of Canada. This includes activities undertaken by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency, amongst many others. The committee's mandate allows an unprecedented level of review and promotes government-wide accountability," the news release said.
The PMO also noted that "the committee will provide the Prime Minister with annual reports on its reviews -- including any findings and recommendations -- that will be tabled in both Houses of Parliament and referred to the appropriate Standing Committees. Special reports may also be issued as needed." What it did not add is that the Prime Minister can keep secret information they feel the committee should not review in the name of protecting "national security" or foreign entities who have provided the information. This much shows that even the committee will be subject to the Prime Minister's discretion concerning what they are and are not permitted to review.
The release stated that the committee will be
by an "independent Secretariat that will be led by an Executive
Director to be appointed in the near future." They have since been
appointed and the Executive Director is anything but independent of
Canada's police and spy agencies, coming directly from
From the House of Commons:
David J. McGuinty (Ottawa South) (Chair) -- to be named to the Queen's Privy Council. Lawyer and "Harvard-trained" mediator and negotiator. Former President and CEO of the Prime Minister's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy under Jean Chrétien and advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation.
Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre) -- Queen's Privy Council, Medical doctor. MP since 1993. Held positions in Cabinet under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
Brenda Shanahan (Châteauguay--Lacolle) -- Former Montreal Gazette columnist and former "banker, social worker and financial educator."
Emmanuel Dubourg (Bourassa) -- CEGEP teacher and former member of the National Assembly of Quebec
Gudie Hutchings (Long Range Mountains) -- Small business person. Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism.
Tony Clement (Parry Sound--Muskoka) -- Queen's Privy Council, Cabinet Minister in the Harper government and Harris government in Ontario.
Gordon Brown ( Leeds--Grenville--Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) -- CEO of the 1000 Island's "largest food service and accommodation business." Chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group and member of the Trilateral Commission. The Commission has been a leading body pushing for the integration of the states of the U.S., Canada and Mexico and in 2005 launched the idea of creating a North American Community with the Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs and Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Brown was also chair of the Special Committee established to review the Anti-Terrorism Act by the Liberals in the wake of 9/11.
Murray Rankin (Victoria) -- Harvard-trained lawyer. Did his graduate thesis at Harvard on freedom of information and national security matters. In the 1980s worked at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Transborder Information Flows. Rankin has been designated a "Special Advocate," an arrangement established alongside the regime of security certificates whereby certain lawyers are appointed by the state to receive highly classified information which the state wants kept secret. Rankin is a former legal counsel with the Security Intelligence Review Committee. In 1994, he was appointed by Premier Mike Harcourt as the lead treaty negotiator for the province of British Columbia
From the Senate:
Percy E. Downe -- Appointed Senator for PEI by Prime Minister Chrétien in 2003. Former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada between May 2001 and June 2003.
Frances Lankin -- Appointed Senator for Ontario by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Former NDP MPP from 1990 to 2001. Former member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee from 2009 to 2016. Former president and CEO of United Way Toronto. Lankin was appointed co-chair of the Ontario McGuinty government's Social Assistance Review Commission, whose report sought to reduce social assistance benefits by restructuring the manner in which funds were allocated.
Vernon White -- Appointed Senator for Ontario by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012. Former Chief of Police for the City of Ottawa and Durham Regional Police Service. RCMP officer for 20 years, leaving as Assistant Commissioner. Masters degree in Conflict Studies from Royal Roads University.
On December 7, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the appointment of a spy and officer of the RCMP as Executive Director of the Secretariat of the newly-appointed National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
Trudeau announced that Rennie Marcoux becomes Executive Director effective December 11. Marcoux is currently Chief Strategic Policy and Planning Officer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and according to government-provided biographical notes has also worked at high levels in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Privy Council. She started her career as an "analyst" for the Communications Security Establishment between 1983 and 1988. It is of note that this period coincides with the Air India bombing for which the Canadian state and spy agencies have yet to have their role exposed while the bombing continues to be used to divide Canadians on a racist basis.
According to Bill C-22 which established this committee, the Secretariat's role is to assist the committee in fulfilling its mandate.
The legislation further states the Executive Director is to be appointed by the Governor in Council to hold office "during pleasure until the dissolution of Parliament following their appointment" and is eligible to be reappointed on the expiry of a first or subsequent term of office. The Executive Director is also the chief executive officer of the Secretariat and has the control and management of the Secretariat and all matters connected with it. The Executive Director may enter into contracts, memoranda of understanding or other arrangements, including contracts to engage the services of legal counsel or other persons having professional, technical or specialized knowledge to advise or assist the committee or any of its members.
Having such an individual as the Executive Director is in line with the government's aims to keep the committee's work secret, including what it learns of the dirty activities of police and spy agencies against Canadians and others. The issue is not who Marcoux is per se but that more and more police and spies are being put in positions of immense power. These are the same police and spies that come from institutions of the Canadian state which have been found time and time again to be behind acts of state terror, including organizing terrorist acts. It shows the conundrum facing the Canadian ruling elite as they scurry to give a veneer of legitimacy to state terror and repression of the people in whose name they claim to be governing.
Master of Arts, International Affairs,
Bachelor of Science, Political Science, Université de
Since January 2013: Chief Strategic Policy and Planning Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
2006-2013: Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Security and Intelligence, Privy Council Office
2002-2006: Assistant Director, Secretariat, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
2001-2002: Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council, Regulatory Affairs and Orders in Council Secretariat, Privy Council Office
1998-2000: Privy Council Officer, Machinery of Government Secretariat, Privy Council Office
1991-1998: Privy Council Officer, Security and Intelligence Secretariat, Privy Council Office
1988-1990: Policy Analyst, National Security Coordination Centre, Ministry of the Solicitor General Secretariat
1983-1988: Analyst, Communications Security
For Your Information
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale: "Bill C-59 clarifies the definition of activities 'that undermine the security of Canada.' For example, it is explicit in stating that advocacy, protest, dissent, and artistic expression are not included. The new legislation would also provide more precision in the definition of 'terrorist propaganda,' in line with the well-known criminal offence of counselling."
At Committee: "The problem with the way the law is written at the moment, as per Bill C-51 is that it is so broad and so vague that it is virtually unusable, and it hasn't been used. Bill C-59 proposes terminology that is clear and familiar in Canadian law. It would prohibit counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence. This does not require that a particular person be counselled to commit a particular offence. Simply encouraging others to engage in non-specific acts of terrorism will qualify and will trigger that section of the Criminal Code."
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs) Adam Vaughan: "[I]n light of the fact that the bill has received the endorsement of Mr. Forcese and Mr. Roach, two of the most distinguished critics of Bill C-51 and in light of the fact that, in particular, Craig Forcese said that this is a real cleanup of the CSIS powers, a reform of the damage done by Bill C-51 to the independence and the investigative powers of CSIS, would the New Democrats not agree with those leading academics, the very ones they cited in their criticisms of Bill C-51, to support this bill in its entirety and stop complaining about its omnibus nature?"
Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan on new powers for cyber warfare: "Because of our sophisticated understanding of the cyberworld, [the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE)] was asked by the Minister of Democratic Institutions to assess the cyber-threats that faced Canada's democratic processes. Also, it was asked for advice about best cyber practices to all political parties in the House.
"Trust in our democratic processes is essential for our democracy to work. We have all seen how our democratic processes have been attractive targets for nation states and non-state actors seeking to influence our country. [This is a spurious claim. Even CSE, when speaking to political parties in reference to cyber attacks during elections or on the election process itself, admitted that there has not been foreign interference in Canadian elections. Sajjan's assertion is clearly meant to hide any actual assessment of what CSE is being empowered to do and for what aims. -- TML Weekly Ed. Note]
"CSE has, throughout its 70-year history, served our country proudly, while adapting to enormous changes in technology and how people use it in the international security environment and in the threat landscape. Today, cyber is clearly a part of that threatened landscape. In responding to this threat, CSE has proven itself to be an innovative leader and a trusted partner."
"[U]nder the National Defence Act, CSE did not have the authority to use its expertise and its ability to provide direct support for [Canadian Armed Forces.] The new CSE legislation would allow CSE to do just that. It actually would enhance the Canadian Armed Forces' ability to be better protected and CSE's ability to protect our Canadian men and women in operations."
James Bezan (Selkirk--Interlake--Eastman): "The amazing part of everything we are doing is that under this new cyberwarfare process, under "Cyber Operations Authorizations", in the proposed Communications Security Establishment Act, subclause 30(2) would give a veto to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Always the CSE and CSIS have operated in close collaboration with the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of National Defence, and to some degree, the Minister of Justice. Now the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have a veto over whether we spy on individuals or organizations. The minister would have a veto over whether we launch a cyber-attack or defend ourselves from a cyber-attack by individuals and organizations, whether they were criminal organizations, terrorist organizations, drug cartels, or just hackers. This is something we just do not understand.
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs does not have the same intelligence mechanisms within the department that the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of National Defence have access to. Why we would give an authorization to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is beyond me. All we have to do is look at the former minister of foreign affairs, Stéphane Dion, who was acting in a role of appeasing Russia, which is definitely the greatest threat to Canada and the Five Eyes allies. If members look at our partners in the Five Eyes, we are always making sure that we have robust cybersecurity and cyber-intelligence-gathering on the Russian Federation, especially those kleptocrats in the Kremlin and those who want to do harm to our alliance through NATO.
"We know that Russia is spying on us. We know that China is spying on us, yet when Stéphane Dion was still the minister of foreign affairs, he had the idea that we would appease the Russians, and he would not authorize those types of spying activities. That cannot be allowed to happen.
"The current government is trying to do a trade deal with China. Would the government authorize spying and cyber-defence activities against the Government of China? Is the government so caught up in the idea that it wants to do trade with China, despite China's terrible environmental record and the atrocities it is committing against its own citizens, such as the Falun Gong? I am sure the government would appease China.
"We need to make sure we get this right. That is why the bill has to get to committee right away. We have to make these changes so the bill is actually in the best interest of Canada and is not about playing political games, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to try to appease some of the greatest threats to our national security. It is to put our safety first, rather than the government's political aspirations."
Peter Kent (Thornhill): "[T]he legislation before us, Bill C-59, is a huge piece of legislation. It goes far beyond the Liberal campaign promise to unwisely roll back a number of elements of Bill C-51, a bill that the Liberals supported when they were the third party in the House. I will say more about that in a moment. Bill C-59 is a multi-faceted attempt at the largest, broadest, and deepest redrawing, remodelling, overhauling, and consolidation -- call it what they may -- of Canada's national security laws in three and a half decades. It is, by any definition and any measure, an omnibus bill. Bill C-59 would create three new acts and would make significant changes to five existing acts."
Matthew Dubé (Beloeil--Chambly): The Minister "did not mention any of the changes to CSEC, or the creation of cyber weapons, and the concerns these are causing and what exactly they will mean. To me, when I see these proposed changes to that mandate and to the cybersecurity aspect, we know that a big component of this has to do with the National Defence Act."
Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie): "In November 2016, or last year, the Federal Court handed down a ruling with respect to the massive collection of data by CSIS. It had illegally kept personal electronic data for more than 10 years. In its rather scathing and very clear ruling, Justice Simon Noël stated that CSIS breached its duty to inform the court of this data collection since the information was gathered using judicial warrants.
"CSIS should not have retained the information since it was not directly related to threats to the security of Canada. That is important. That is a very real example that highlights all the concerns of people who wonder what type of information will be collected about them, who will have access to this information, and to whom this information will be communicated and transferred. In November 2016, the Federal Court pointed out that there can be exaggerations. This is not a figment of the imagination. It happened here.
"The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness quickly reacted and said that the government took note of this and would not appeal this decision. Oh, okay. That is a good sign. Perhaps it is a step in the right direction. Oh, wait. Surprise! In Bill C-59, the Liberal government responds to the Federal Court decision in a strange way when it comes to our privacy protections. The new law will allow CSIS to collect huge amounts of metadata containing confidential information about Canadians that is not relevant to its investigations.
"The November 2016 Federal Court ruling stated that CSIS did not have the right to do so, and that it was illegal. Bill C-59 makes it legal. People need to understand that if Bill C-59 is passed, CSIS will be able to collect huge amounts of metadata containing confidential information about Canadians that is not relevant to its investigations. These are the kinds of things that make it impossible for us to fall in line with the Liberal government. Yes, we are happy that we can study Bill C-59 more closely, but we are sounding a warning bell.
"We are telling Quebecers and Canadians in general to be careful, because there are elements in this bill that will increase police surveillance. We are going to be spied on more, and we do not know who is going to end up with the information."
"I would like to draw my colleague's attention, and the attention of everyone listening, to the fact that the text of Bill C-59 concerning the definition of "activity that undermines the security of Canada" includes "significant or widespread interference with critical infrastructure."
"The NDP is concerned that interference with critical infrastructure might result in authorizing secret services to spy on people who intend to protest the construction of new pipelines. With a government that has just given its support to Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL, we are concerned that Bill C-59 could be targeting peaceful, ecologically minded, or Indigenous protesters."
François Choquette (Drummond): "We are calling on the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal and replace the 2010 ministerial directive on torture to ensure that Canada stands for an absolute prohibition on torture. Specifically, we want to ensure that in no circumstances will Canada use information from foreign countries that could have been obtained using torture or share information that is likely to result in torture.
"Canada says that it will not torture, but other countries will torture for us. The government would then take this information and impose sanctions.
"This makes no sense. Torture must be denounced everywhere. We must never use information obtained under torture. Everyone knows that people will say anything when they are being tortured. Torture does not work and is immoral."
Elizabeth May (Saanich--Gulf Islands): "I think there have been substantial improvements made in Bill C-59. I think we would all agree with that, but I remain very concerned that the powers are overreaching for CSIS agents to seek a court order from a single judge that would allow a warrant for a constitutional breach. I have raised this in briefings we have had with officials. Officials claim that the language in Bill C-59 would mean that they could not get a warrant that violated the Constitution and the Charter, but the language in the bill itself appears to negative that proposition. It appears that it would still allow CSIS agents to receive a warrant that would allow them to violate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"I know that I am diving into the details of the bill,
would take a lot of study. Many sections are very much improved,
and the government deserves commendation for those sections, but
these are the ones that chill me to the bone in terms of how our
democracy functions and whether we allow security agents to
obtain a warrant to violate our Constitution."
No Bloc Québécois MP spoke
to the motion.
An important part of the government's use of arbitrary police powers is its criminalization of dissent. While efforts to silence dissent through police actions against demonstrators have long taken place, including use of tear gas and arrests, the present period has seen more frequent collective punishment of protesters and organizations. It is also being extended to social media, with the server that hosted one of the inauguration protest actions also being targeted. The government is striving both to intimidate and disrupt dissent, while also making this criminalization "legal."
For example, about 200 demonstrators from actions during U.S. President Trump's inauguration were rounded up en masse by police, blocked from leaving and then arrested. They are all being charged with felonies -- urging others to riot and conspiracy to riot -- when more commonly misdemeanor charges like refusal to disperse or resisting arrest are given. The 200 are not being charged for any individual actions, simply being present in the group is being used as grounds for the conspiracy to riot charges. The government is demanding 60-year prison sentences. The protesters targeted include legal observers, journalists and medics. The insistence on pursuing felony charges and long sentences simply for demonstrating are means both to intimidate these and all future demonstrators, while also making this government impunity "legal," through these court actions.
Those organizing to protect water and Mother Earth are also facing not only police attacks on demonstrators but also criminal charges, against both individuals and organizations. For example, Standing Rock Sioux tribal member Chase Iron Eyes is being prosecuted in South Dakota for his role in the water protectors actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He too is being charged with starting a riot.
Iron Eyes is lead counsel at the Lakota People's Law
(donate to the defense of #NoDAPL resisters here.) He and others charged in
protests plan to use a necessity defense because of the imminent
threat to their only source of water and the ways the pipeline
and actions of the Trump administration undermine the law. It was
necessary for them to protest because there was no alternative.
But it is the judge that decides if such a defense will be
In addition to criminal prosecution, the #NoDAPL protest is facing a civil case alleging racketeering. Energy Transfer Partners hired a security firm that gathered information for a massive conspiracy lawsuit that was filed later against environmental organizations. As part of trying to suppress dissent, these actions force organizations to expend considerable time and human resources defending themselves and all those targeted. It creates the notion that it is the demonstrators that are the criminals, while the government is the protector. The firm resistance, in the courts and on the ground, is showing the opposite is true. The struggles against oil pipelines also shows the need to strengthen the unity between U.S. and Canadian workers, as both are contending with these attacks and government impunity.
As well, efforts are being made to increasingly restrict the use of public space as areas for the public to express its opinion. Protesters on private land or tribal lands, as occurred at Standing Rock and other areas opposing pipelines, are being harassed and arrested for crimes of the monopolies. In Los Angeles, there is in effort, backed by police officials, to pass an ordinance making it a crime to speak beyond the time limit given. In Los Angeles' city meetings, for example, that time limit is two minutes. People have been arrested for speaking twenty seconds beyond that limit, but then released, as it is not a crime. The ordinance is designed to now make this a crime, with those opposing police killings and abuse especially targeted. It is also worded in such a way that it could be broadly extended to other public spaces.
There is no necessity, in terms of public safety or
protection, for these police actions. On the contrary, their
purpose is to intimidate the public and impose acceptance of
police impunity, during demonstrations, on public streets, at
public hearings. The stepped up use of felony charges, long
sentences, collective punishment and criminalization of speech
are all part of the destruction of public opinion and public
space to express that opinion. In its place is the disinformation
that standing up for rights and being political in the interests
of the people are crimes. Despite these attacks, however, people
continue to resist and defend their rights. Our security lies in
stepping up this fight for rights and defending the rights of
all, individuals and organizations.
Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S.
(December 1, 2017)
About 200 protestors, journalists and legal observers who demonstrated at Trump's inauguration are organizing to reject felony charges and the long prison terms that go with them. November 15 was the opening day of court for the first round of defendants, the second round is expected to begin December 11. The charges are being pursued even before an independent investigation into police misconduct on Inauguration Day is concluded. False arrest, including of these 200, are among the issues being investigated.
The protesters were rounded up en masse during the large demonstrations organized against Trump and the undemocratic elections more generally, with slogans such as Not Our President, Not Our Democracy. This particular group had temporarily separated from the larger demonstration. Police surrounded these demonstrators and blocked them from leaving -- known as kettling -- and then arrested all of them.
Commonly, demonstrators that are arrested are given individual misdemeanor charges, like disorderly conduct or refusal to disperse, which are often dismissed or carry a minimal fine. For this action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is persisting with blanket felony charges of urging a riot and conspiracy to riot against all 200, and demanding 60-year sentences for each person. It is the blanket felony charges and long prison terms that lawyers are calling unprecedented and clearly designed to stifle and criminalize dissent.
All 200 are also being held accountable for some broken windows, which many at the action think were done by police provocateurs, as has occurred many times in the past. The Washington Post reported back in April that DC police had actually infiltrated the group ahead of its planned January protest. It is the existence of broken windows that police are using to justify the mass arrest. They are not charging any specific person, but rather the entire group.
One January 20 defendant said, "Charges like these are intended to silence communities when the time comes for people to resist." He continued, "How are people expected to be brave enough to resist when the consequences could be a lifetime of incarceration? Never mind the beatings from the police. These charges are intended to keep people afraid, indoors and obedient. And this case itself is intended to set the precedent for more of this." Even so, he and the others are persisting in resisting and are being joined by many supporters at the court house and online.
The government has issued a huge metadata subpoena against DreamHost in August, the server that hosted the DisruptJ20 (Disrupt January 20) website. Cell phones of those arrested were seized and searched for their data. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the warrant seeking the website's database records, had the possibility of implicating more than 1 million users, and would include the "IP addresses of over 1.3 million visitors to the site," as federal prosecutors want the IP addresses of anyone who visited disruptj20.org. As well, the personal information of administrators and the thousands of individuals who interacted with the site are being demanded. "No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth," said one lawyer opposing the subpoena.
Last month, Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the District of Columbia Superior Court, partly limited the warrant. However he allowed significant parts of it to stand. A lawyer for Public Citizen, also involved in challenging the subpoena, said, "The judge has decided to allow a search of emails from anonymous users (without their identifying information) even though the government never showed that it had a good reason to look at those emails." He added, "The judge is denying Public Citizen and DreamHost the opportunity to explain why the government's arguments for a search protocol or access to a particular record should be rejected."
While demonstrators are being unjustly charged with conspiracy to riot -- not an actual riot, just a conspiracy -- the police are not being held accountable for their violence against protesters. The ACLU cited extensive use of the chemical weapon pepper spray, concussion grenades and stingers, including on people already detained, and holding people outdoors for excessive periods of time without access to food, water or bathrooms. The DC police deployed weapons on 191 occasions during the inauguration, including 74 sting-ball grenades (explosive 'rubber-ball' style grenades), firing six 40 mm Stinger rubber bullets, five foam batons, and one 40 mm Exact impact round. Even after protesters were captured in the kettling operation, body cam footage showed the police continued to fire tear gas at them. Tear gas is a chemical weapon outlawed for use in war.
The ACLU also filed a lawsuit in June accusing police of using sexual abuse as a form of punishment against four people arrested during the protests. At a press conference at that time, photojournalist Shay Horse who was detained explained that he was taken to a "training facility," told to drop his pants and had his testicles "yanked on" and then the officer "stuck his finger up each of our anuses and wiggled it around." Horse continued, "I felt like they were using molestation and rape as punishment. They used those tactics to inflict pain and misery on people who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."
The excessive charges and sentences are also a means to try and get some demonstrators to accept guilty pleas on lesser charges and/or testify against fellow demonstrators, so as to divide and demoralize those resisting.
A National Lawyers Guild member explained,
novel part of this case is about charging everyone who was
scooped up in the kettle with the conspiracy and all the blanket
felonies in a very indiscriminate manner. That also coincides
with the things that the prosecution has been doing against
individuals who are named as defendants." She added that about 95
per cent of criminal cases end in plea agreements, given that the
odds are often stacked against defendants, who are coerced into
taking plea agreements instead of gambling against a biased
system. In this case the government is claiming that anybody who
was indiscriminately scooped up that day is inherently guilty of
that conspiracy and therefore culpable for all of the charges.
She emphasized that most of the defendants are only connected to
each other because of the prosecution and the mass arrest.
(Voice of Revolution, December 1, 2017. Photos: Unicorn Riot, J. Brusky)
On November 20, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to approve the building of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline that would channel 800,000 barrels of tar-sands oil from Alberta to the refineries in the Gulf Coast of the U.S. The pipeline is to be built along an alternative route to the one the company initially proposed.
Immediately a broad coalition of Indigenous nations and leaders, ranchers, farmers, environmentalists, scientists and others wrote an open letter calling on everyone to take the "Promise to Protect" pledge and join in organized collective action to stop the building of the pipeline.
In their November 20 letter, the organizers state: "We -- Indigenous leaders, farmers and ranchers, students, scientists, faith leaders, and more -- will make a series of peaceful stands along the proposed pipeline route; resolute displays of our continuing opposition to a plan that endangers the waters of the Midwest and the climate of our one earth. Water is life; climate is life -- those will be our rallying cries against a project that will endanger both."
The letter notes that the building of the Keystone pipeline threatens the lives and livelihoods of those who live on the proposed route, who will be faced with the consequences of the environmental destruction that the pipeline will cause. The coalition and its supporters are determined that it will never get built.
The letter draws inspiration from "the Standing Rock encampment a year ago. We saw the power of over 400 tribes who stood with Standing Rock for their inherent, moral and legal right to sovereignty, and the divestment of finances from banks supporting the project."
The letter notes that during the months-long battle at Standing Rock, the U.S. state and its police apparatus, working alongside the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, tried to bait the protesters into acts of violence by the use of force -- such as attack dogs and water-cannon, but the protesters held their ground. It is also pointed out that Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are being launched against individuals and organizations in order to entangle protesters in litigation.
Keeping this in mind, the letter calls on everyone who wants to participate in the resistance to the Pipeline to sign up, commit to being trained and to come under the leadership and discipline of the Indigenous peoples, farmers, ranchers and others who have been resisting this mega-project since the beginning. The letters calls on everyone to pledge to peaceful but firm action, stating: "If we make a stand now it will improve our odds in a thousand other similar fights happening now and in the years ahead."
It is reported that in less than 24 hours, more than
people had signed-up to participate, expressing the determination
of the Indigenous peoples, the farmers and workers, students,
army veterans and others to stand together to prevent the
building of the Keystone Pipeline and to protect Mother Earth now
and in the future. For further information or to join in this work,
(www.commondreams.org, nokxlpromise.org. Photos: No Keystone XL, B. Chan)
Camp White Pine -- a resistance camp formed by people fighting the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline -- sits on 27 acres of privately owned land in rural Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, population 45,634. The land defenders at Camp White Pine have come together to fight this pipeline as well as the fracking crisis in Pennsylvania and the mineral extraction industry as a whole.
If completed ME2 will add two
to the existing Mariner East 1 to transport highly explosive
natural gas liquids. The proposed route crosses through 350 miles
of Ohio, West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania, ending at the
Marcus Hook refinery on the Delaware River. Despite the
industry's claims that ME2 is necessary for U.S. energy needs,
the natural gas liquids that make their way through the pipeline
will actually be transported to Scotland, where British-owned
corporation INEOS will use them to make plastic products.
The ME2 was a project of Sunoco Logistics, which completed a merger on April 28, 2017, with the notorious Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline. ETP has one of the worst safety records of companies in the industry, and has unleashed brutal violence and human rights violations at Standing Rock and against those resisting other current pipeline projects, such as the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.
Although it is not yet completed, the ME2 is already responsible for 202,000 gallons of drilling fluids spilled in 90 events at 42 sites in Pennsylvania, leading to the contamination of well water for many area residents. In the aftermath of these spills, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality imposed bans on horizontal fracking or Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) and established other safety restrictions for the pipeline, which ETP soon violated. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a statement on November 15, 2017, regarding a new HDD spill in Berks County. ETP did not have the necessary permits to drill, either.
ETP recently announced a completion date for the ME2 of the second quarter of 2018, approximately 18 months later than the original date. This delay is due in part to the successful resistance efforts of Pennsylvania residents, including the people at Camp White Pine.
Camp White Pine resides on the land of Ellen and Steven Gerhart, a retired schoolteacher and artist. Since first learning of the ME2 in March 2015, Ellen and her daughter Elise Gerhart have taken numerous steps -- including direct action, as well as an ongoing class-action lawsuit and private civil suit -- to protect their home from the devastating effects of resource extraction. Camp White Pine's creation in February 2017 was influenced by the camps at Standing Rock. The camp consists of three "tree sits" -- platforms and small homes that provide safe shelter to the land defenders. The "sits" were built into the trees in February 2016, and strategically placed in order to prevent hundreds of trees on the three-acre pipeline easement from being felled in order to construct the HDD. If constructed, the horizontal fracking pipelines would cross a small pond on the Gerhart's land that is fed by a stream that discharges into the Little Trough Creek, a tributary of the Juniata River. The Huntingdon County area consists of wetlands, family homes and small farms of livestock and crops.
The Gerhart's home was invaded by tree-cutting crews and police three times in 2016, before ETP even obtained its permits to build. On March 29, 2016, tree-cutting crews and police entered, without notice, the back of the Gerhart's land. Elise Gerhart and her friends occupied three tree sits at the time and prevented some trees from being cut down. [...] While in the sit, Gerhart said other trees were falling all around her, including into the safety lines that protected her from falling out of the tree sit, 50 feet in the air. Gerhart and the land defenders on the ground reported that the police stood by and watched the danger unfold.
Police made two arrests that day on the Gerhart's property: Pennsylvania residents Alex Lotorto and Elizabeth Glunt, who were present to observe any safety or legal violations, were taken into custody. Both were charged with disorderly conduct and criminal contempt.
Lotorto was held on $200,000 bail. Glunt's arrest came after she crossed onto the easement to tell the cutting crews they were getting too close to the tree sits. She saw that law enforcement officers were taking no action to protect those in the sits, and was concerned about their safety. She was arrested and held on $100,000 bail. When asked how she was treated by police, Glunt said, "They treat you like you're a terrible person even though you're literally standing there, not doing anything wrong."
On March 30, 2016, the cutting crews and law enforcement returned a second time. Two people were arrested: Nate Irvin and Ellen Gerhart. Ellen Gerhart said she told the sheriff's deputies, "You have to do something because they're getting too close to the tree that Elise is in." Their response was to arrest her for "creating a hazardous situation." She was later released on her own recognizance.
The tree-cutting crews and law enforcement returned to the Gerhart's home on April 7, 2016. This action was not permitted by law: Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's protections of migratory birds and the Indiana bat, all logging and tree-cutting companies were prohibited from entering certain portions of protected land (including the Gerhart's land) after March 31 and before November 14, 2016. Despite knowing this law, the tree-cutting crews and law enforcement returned to the Gerhart's home.
These protections ended on November 15, 2017. Elise Gerhart reported during a conference call that there was a significant increase in aerial surveillance, which now includes both a helicopter and an unidentified plane, beginning November 14, 2017. She said she heard chainsaws from her bedroom and rushed to the sits again.
Arrests and charges were again made. Ellen Gerhart was arrested and held in jail for three days for telling the police the cutting crews were getting too close to the sit her daughter occupied. She was denied access to a phone call, legal counsel and medical care for part of her time in jail. While being interrogated by a corrections officer at the Center County Correctional Facility, Gerhart said she refused to answer questions and asked for legal counsel again. She was then told by the officer that refusing to answer questions was a "level one offense." She was not given access to her attorney until three days after her arrest.
Also on April 7, Elise Gerhart was charged with disorderly conduct, but not arrested, while the other tree-sitters were not charged. The Gerhart's civil suit court documents claim that the defendants targeted Elise "not in the pursuit of justice, but to arbitrarily and maliciously send a message to the Gerhart family and their supporters to discourage their opposition to the pipeline." The charges against Elise were eventually dropped.
It was not until February 13, 2017, that ETP even obtained permits to begin construction on the ME2. However, before that, ETP had already been obtaining Orders of Protection and Writs of Possession, which essentially treated the Gerharts as renters on their own land and ETP as their landlord. A Writ of Possession is usually given to landlords in order to evict tenants and use law enforcement in the process. The fact that this was granted to ETP shows how both the company and the state view the land and those living on it.
The Gerharts are currently involved in a class-action suit led by the Clean Air Council to have the permits pulled from ETP. They also have a case against the use of eminent domain to obtain their land for the ME2. This case may be heard by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Supreme Court. Additionally, on September 25, 2017, Ellen and Elise Gerhart, Alex Lotorto and Elizabeth Glunt filed a civil suit against ETP, Sunoco Logistics, TigerSwan, social media professional Nick Johnson (who was hired by TigerSwan), and Huntingdon County Sheriffs and Pennsylvania State Troopers for wrongful arrest and harassment. Camp White Pine and Elise Gerhart are also members of the Stop ETP coalition, which was formed with the sole objective of stopping the pipeline company's projects.
Since the beginning, Camp White Pine, the Gerharts and
at the camp have been targets of harassment, surveillance,
infiltration and threats of murder and rape. Elise Gerhart, as
well as several of the land defenders, have been followed on
numerous occasions and had photos of themselves, their cars and
personal information placed on the Facebook group PA Progress,
created by Nick Johnson, a social media professional hired by
ETP-employed mercenary firm TigerSwan. (The group no longer
exists.) Additionally, numerous surveillance helicopters and
drones have flown over the Gerhart's property and the camp. The
use of eminent domain for extraction projects is business as
usual for the U.S. government. The land being stolen from the
Gerharts for extraction purposes is the same land stolen from my
indigenous ancestors in order to grow capitalist and colonialist
consumption of the Earth. Despite the dangers that come with land
defense, many of the climbers and those on the ground supporting
them have said they will not be deterred from this mission. [...]
(Truthout, November 29, 2017. Photos: J. Deerinwater, Camp White Pine, State Impact)
In a remarkably short trial in Montana's Chouteau County District Court, lasting just a day and a half, a jury found Leonard Higgins, a retired Oregon state worker turned climate activist who shut off a tar sands pipeline to fight climate change, guilty of felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor criminal trespass. The conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 2.
Higgins openly admits that on October 11, 2016, he cut two chains to enter a fenced enclosure around the Enbridge tar sands pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana, and turned the emergency shutoff valve. In fact, he and others called the company to alert them to obviate any safety problems, and a supporter filmed and livestreamed the action, after which they both waited to be arrested.
The case made national news. Higgins' action was part of a coordinated effort that simultaneously shut off tar sands pipelines in four states, temporarily halting all flow into the U.S. of tar sands [oil], which is the most carbon-intensive and climate damaging form of oil. In addition to being prosecuted in state court, Higgins and his fellow "valve turners" were recently the target of a letter signed by 84 members of Congress to the Justice Department, asking pointedly why it had not also prosecuted them under federal law, and whether their actions met the definition of domestic terrorism under the Patriot Act...
Higgins, a mild-mannered 65-year-old who says he acted out of conscience to help prevent climate harms for the sake of his children and grandchildren, was the opposite of confrontational. He expressed gratitude for his day in court and the chance to share his story and spend Thanksgiving with friends and supporters who attended the trial, "in such a beautiful place." He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespass and does not dispute the facts of what he did. He argues that the imperative to prevent climate harms justified his action. He was not permitted to make that argument in court, however.
"I'm happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge," Higgins said. "I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a 'necessity defense,' and that I wasn't allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced..."
"We're disappointed that Mr. Higgins was denied the opportunity to present a full defense and explain to the jury why he took his courageous action," said Kelsey Skaggs, Executive Director of the Climate Defense Project and member of Higgins' legal team. "Because of the fossil fuel industry's enormous influence, activists fighting for the future are being convicted while the real climate criminals walk free."
Before trial, Higgins and his defense team filed a motion with the Chouteau County District Court and a petition to the Montana Supreme Court asking permission to offer a "necessity defense," and argue before the jury that his action was necessary in order to prevent climate harms much more severe than the consequences of trespassing and turning the pipeline emergency valve. It would have allowed the defense team to bring in expert witnesses and evidence on climate change and the climate impacts of tar sands oil. Such a climate "necessity defense" was recently granted to Higgins' fellow valve-turners Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein, whose trial is pending in a Minnesota court and in a similar case in Spokane, Washington.
But Judge Daniel Boucher, who presided in the trial, denied without a hearing Higgins' requests for a necessity defense, calling them a "mistaken attempt" "to place U.S. energy policy on trial." That ruling meant Higgins' jury was barred from hearing or considering evidence about the climate harms that motivated him.
In court, Higgins himself was also prevented from discussing climate change or explaining that he was motivated by the need to prevent climate harms. In fact, whenever he used the word "climate" in his testimony, the prosecutor objected and the judge sustained the objection. [...]
In the wake of Standing Rock, more pipeline protests have sprung up nationwide, including against the Line 3 pipeline expansion in Minnesota, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in West Texas, the Diamond Pipeline in Memphis, the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida, and others. At the same time, the crackdown on the protests is intensifying. So far this year, several states have passed laws that would criminalize and toughen penalties for peaceful protest and non-violent direct action. Another 20 states are considering such measures.
That makes the trials of Higgins and his fellow climate
activists important precedents. More such trials are coming, with
more serious charges and penalties at stake. Higgins emphasized
that as more people stand up, others "will feel the same
compulsion, the same duty to take action, to do what is
(November 22, 2017)
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has apparently been arresting residents for speaking 20 seconds longer than their allotted time at public city hearings. Now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California is fighting an ordinance that could make it even harder for residents to speak out -- especially those who dissent against the practices of the LAPD. If passed, the ordinance will make it "an arrestable offense to violate any posted rules of public facilities" and would empower law enforcement to make criminal trespass charges, tighten restrictions on speaking time and shut down criticism at meetings. The ACLU is circulating a petition targeted at council members. A letter was also sent to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles city council members. The letter calls on them to "reject the proposed ordinance," because "although styled as a public safety ordinance, it would do nothing to improve public safety."
The LAPD had the most "officer-involved killings" in 2015 and 2016, according to the Guardian. When the data is compared to cities with similar populations, the "rate of fatal encounters" was higher in LA than both Chicago and New York last year. [...]
The letter goes on to reference two specific cases in which residents were removed from public meetings at the Board of Police Commissioners. It gives the example of 81-year-old Tut Hayes. A video shows Hayes speaking at a meeting in 2016, before being forcibly removed from the room, while onlookers yell at the police to let him go.
Black Lives Matter organizer and professor Melina Abdullah has also been removed from several Board of Police Commissioners meetings. As the Los Angeles Times reported in May 2016, an LAPD spokesman said Abdullah "was removed from the room by officers and later arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest." According to the ACLU, she "was arrested for speaking 20 seconds over the 2-minute public comment limit." Neither Hayes nor Abdullah was charged following the 2016 removals and arrests. Abdullah, along with several other community members, was also arrested in August 2017 during a meeting on the shooting of Carnell Snell Jr. They were subsequently released.
However, as the ACLU's letter states, those arrested
"charged with a crime, because they had violated no law. This
ordinance seeks to change that." The letter also raises
concerns that the ordinance will be selectively enforced,
depending on the content of public remarks. It is also possible
the ordinance will be used broadly to include other public
spaces, such as where demonstrations are held outside council
(alternet.org, October 25, 2017. Photo: F. Stoltze)
On November 26, a general election was held in Honduras to elect the country's president, congressional representatives and mayors as well as representatives to the Central American parliament. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) began reporting partial results for the presidential election, after more than 57 per cent of the ballots were counted, that indicated a consistent trend with Salvador Nasralla of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship leading over President Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party, who is seeking re-election. The Libre Party, led by former President Manuel Zelaya, and two other parties constitute the Opposition Alliance.
Preliminary results and a declared winner were initially promised by midnight November 26 but were delayed, first for hours then for over a day. When partial updates began reappearing again on November 29, the trend that had seemed established was reversed, with Hernández in the lead and pulling ahead. This shift coincided with the electronic computational equipment shutting down for several hours, allegedly unexpectedly. With accusations of vote tampering and fraud of other types already swirling due to the delays and various contradictory reports being issued by the TSE, demands for the results to be produced grew louder and more widespread. People took to the streets in large numbers to denounce what they saw as an electoral coup taking place in front of their eyes -- a continuation of the U.S-backed military coup that forced President Manuel Zelaya out of office in 2009.
Hernández responded to the people's protests by imposing a state of emergency, suspending constitutional rights and putting in place a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Police and military forces have been given free rein to attack people with impunity. To date at least 14 people -- most of them youth taking part in street protests or being in the area near them -- have been reported killed with hundreds more injured as security forces shot live ammunition into crowds and directly targeted others.
In its last report, issued more than a week after the
the TSE said Hernández had won with 42.98 per cent of the
votes to Nasralla's 41.38 per cent. It reported voter participation at
53 per cent. It said the results were not yet official, as the
process was not finished. For its part, the Opposition Alliance is
demanding that the votes be recounted or a new election held, insisting
that their candidate was the people's choice
and that the TSE engaged in fraud. Others are calling for a
manual comparison of ballots cast with tally sheets for polling
stations considered to have had the most irregularities. Observer
missions from the Organization of American States and the
European Union have not given their stamp of approval either and
are calling for recounts and for other investigative measures to be
taken. Hernández has said
he is agreeable to a full recount if that's
what it takes to prove he won the election.
On December 8, the TSE began a recount of votes from
4,753 of the over 18,000 polling stations in the country. It has
until December 26 to produce the official results.
Two days after the election, however, with widespread accusations of fraud and Hondurans in the streets declaring the election had been stolen from them, the U.S. weighed in with its deeds. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a document certifying that the Honduran government has been fighting corruption and supporting human rights, conditions it had to meet to receive millions of dollars in U.S. aid.
In 2009 the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was kidnapped and forcibly removed from office and from Honduras in a U.S.-orchestrated military coup d'état. The coup forces quickly installed a de facto president. A few months later through a fraudulent election that was boycotted by the majority of Hondurans, a representative of the National Party entrusted by the U.S. with carrying out its agenda in the country was brought to power.
In 2013 a U.S.-backed electoral coup brought the current National Party President, Juan Orlando Hernández to power. Hernández was one of those involved with the 2009 coup against Zelaya and has been tasked by the U.S with ensuring that Honduras, its territory, and natural and human resources continue to be at the disposal of the global monopolies and that the U.S. military can continue to maintain the country firmly in its grip as a base for subversion in the region.
Of note, those who perpetrated the coup against Zelaya
in 2009 attempted to justify it using the pretext that he engaged in
"unconstitutional activity" by calling for a
referendum on amending the country's constitution to
enable the president to run for a second term. Hernández, who
party to that nefarious activity, asked the Constitutional Court
in the lead-up to the current election for a "re-interpretation"
of the same Constitution that would allow him to run for a second
term, and the Court duly obliged.
Canada was the first country to recognize the results of the election held in the wake of the 2009 coup. In 2013 the Harper government joined with the Obama administration in giving the results a speedy blessing, even though Canadian election observers urged it not to recognize the results before a thorough investigation was done due to the "many reports of irregularities, intimidation and threats by authorities."
The rapid approvals given by the U.S. and Canada in 2013 were no doubt instrumental in ensuring that the demands of many Hondurans for a recount and the investigation of alleged fraudulent practices went nowhere. That undoubtedly pleased the Canadian-based private interests involved in exploiting the natural and human resources of Honduras. Some have been implicated in the human rights abuses and killings of environment and land defenders, journalists, lawyers and others who dare to shine a light on the harmful activities many of these companies engage in.
Not long after the coup in 2009, Canada initiated free trade negotiations with the new National Party government. In 2010, Canadian Minister of State for the Americas Peter Kent led a delegation of Canadian mining executives to Honduras and promised hundreds of millions of dollars would be invested if the Honduran government repealed regulations imposed on mining companies by the government of the deposed president Manuel Zelaya. In 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper also visited the country, leading a group of government officials and business executives from the mining, tourism and garment industries. A Canada-Honduras free trade agreement was ratified in 2014 and Honduras soon became the leading recipient of Canadian aid in Central America. According to a 2016 Council on Hemispheric Affairs report, mining by Canadian-based companies accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all foreign investment in Honduras, representing over $U.S.600 million.
The Trudeau government, in the case of Venezuela, has called the National Constituent Assembly "illegitimate," says it does not recognize the results of October's gubernatorial elections and falsely blames the Bolivarian government for violence and killings that clearly arose out of calls by the coup forces that it supports to attack those identified as government supporters or Chavistas. In the case of Honduras, the Trudeau government takes a completely different approach. A statement issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland merely says Canada is "deeply concerned about reports of escalating tension and violence ... including the suspension of some constitutional guarantees on December 1st." It notes the "ongoing delays in the publication of final, definitive election results" and says "Canada insists on the need for election authorities to complete the vote count without interference." The statement concludes with a call for calm, "urging all parties to resolve any disagreement peacefully, transparently and in line with the highest democratic and human rights standards."
The Canadian government has expressed "deep concern"
about "reports of escalating tension and violence" without assigning
blame. Meanwhile, at least one unit of the same U.S.-trained
militarized police who have been ordered to attack people in the
streets, and even carry out targeted assassinations under the "state of
exception" declared by the president, have spoken out against being
used to repress the people and said they are not prepared to use arms
against them. Some accompanied people in the streets during the curfew
in defiance of the presidential decree.
Ever since the 2009 coup the people's forces in
Honduras have been in action resisting the systematic violation of
their rights and affirming the sovereign right of the Honduran people
-- not the U.S., Canada, or anyone else acting on the basis of foreign
interests -- to decide the affairs of their nation, in elections or any
other matters. In response, they have been met with brutal repression
at the hands of the state and its U.S.-trained militarized police and
army that operate with impunity.
Instead of engaging in weasel words to hide the crimes that continue to flow from the U.S.-orchestrated coup d'état eight years ago, which it supported, Canada should apologize to the Honduran people and refrain from any further meddling in their affairs. It should denounce the use of force and violence by the Honduran state against those demanding respect for their rights and call for social and political solutions to be found for social and political problems. Canadians do not accept that monopoly interests based in Canada set the agenda as they have been doing in their relations with Honduras to the detriment of the Honduran people. Canadians want Canada to be a factor for peace that can contribute to making all the Americas a zone of peace, not a territory for the trampling of people's rights in the name of high-sounding ideals.
1."No to the Coup in
Honduras! Restore the Honduran People's Democratically Elected
President Manuel Zelaya!" TML Daily, June 29, 2009.
2. "Another Crass U.S. Electoral Coup," TML Daily, December 6, 2013.
(La Prensa, TeleSUR, Ricochet, Rights Action. Photos: G. Russell, Common Dreams, L.G. Ceja, G. Monteira)
80th Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre
The year 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing
Massacre. Nanjing is the capital of east China's Jiangsu
Province. More than 300,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese
invaders who occupied Nanjing on December 13, 1937, marking the
start of six weeks of destruction, pillage, rape and slaughter in
the city. The slaughter has gone down as one of the blackest
pages in the history of modern human civilization.
In China, the Nanjing Massacre is seen as the lowest point of an era in which the country was bullied and humiliated by foreign powers. In February 2014, China's top legislature designated December 13 as the national memorial day for victims of the Nanjing Massacre. This year, since December 3, family members of the victims of the massacre have held a series of commemoration activities in Nanjing, such as laying flowers, burning incense and reading letters before the memorial wall where victims' names are engraved.
The Japanese perpetrated terrible crimes in China in their drive to take over southeast Asia and other territories. Nanjing was targeted by the Japanese after they defeated Chinese troops in Beijing and Shanghai. In the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), as many as 35 million Chinese people were killed or wounded; direct and indirect damage reached as high as $100 billion and $500 billion respectively.
On this occasion, TML Weekly is printing an extract of the book Scorched Earth by Edgar Snow.
The Japanese entered Nanking on December 12th, as Chinese troops and civilians were still trying to withdraw to the north bank of the Yangtze River, debouching through the one remaining gate. Scenes of utmost confusion ensued. Hundreds of people were machine-gunned by Japanese planes or drowned while trying to cross the river; hundreds more were caught in the bottleneck which developed at Hsiakuan gate, where bodies piled up four feet high...
Anything female between the ages of 10 and 70 was raped. Discards were often bayoneted by drunken soldiers. Frequently mothers had to watch their babies beheaded, and then submit to raping. One mother told of being raped by a soldier who, becoming annoyed at the cries of her baby, put a quilt over its head, and smothered it to death, finishing his performance in peace. Some officers, who led these forays, turned their quarters into harems and fell into bed each night with a new captive. Open-air copulation was not uncommon. Some 50,000 troops in the city were let loose for over a month in an orgy of rape, murder, looting and general debauchery which has nowhere been equalled in modern times.
Twelve thousand stores and houses were stripped of all their stocks and furnishings, and then set ablaze. Civilians were relieved of all personal belongings, and individual Japanese soldiers and officers stole motor-cars and rickshaws and other conveyances in which to haul their loot to Shanghai. The homes of foreign diplomats were entered and their servants murdered...
"Practically every building in the city," wrote one of the foreign observers, "has been robbed repeatedly by soldiers, including the American, British and German Embassies... Most of the shops, after-free-for-all breaking and pilfering, were systematically stripped by gangs of soldiers working with trucks, often under the observed direction of officers."
International "Safety Zone" became in reality a danger zone for non-combatants and a boomerang for its well-meaning organizers... Day after day Japanese entered the zone to seize women for the pacification of the lusty heroes. Young girls were dragged from American and British missionary schools, installed in brothels for the troops, and heard from no more. One day in a letter written by one of the missionaries in the Zone I read about a strange act of patriotism, concerning a number of singing-girls who had sought refuge with their virtuous sisters. Knowing of their presence in the camp, and urged on by some of the matrons, the missionary asked them if any would volunteer to serve the Japanese, so that non-professional women might be spared. They despised the enemy as much as the rest; but after some deliberation nearly all of them stepped forth. Surely they must have redeemed whatever virtue such women may be held to have lost, and some of them gave their lives in this way, but as far as I know they never received posthumous recognition or even the Order of the Brilliant Jade.
In Shanghai a few Japanese deeply felt the shame and the humiliation. I remember, for example, talking one evening to a Japanese friend, a liberal-minded newspaper man who survived by keeping his views to himself, and whose name I withhold for his own protection. "Yes, they are all true," he unexpectedly admitted when I asked him about some atrocity reports, "only the facts are actually worse than any story yet published." There were tears in his eyes and I took his sorrow to be genuine.
1. Edgar Snow (July 17, 1905-February 15, 1972) was an American journalist well known for his reporting on China before and during World War II and specifically for his 1937 book Red Star over China. He was the first western journalist to interview many of the leaders of the Chinese revolution, including Mao Zedong, and to accurately report on the Communist movement in China. Snow reported on the Rape of Nanjing, and continued working in China throughout the early years of World War II.
He returned to America in 1941 and covered the Soviet
other countries, as a reporter during World War II. After the war he
questioning by the FBI during the McCarthy era in the U.S. and
left the U.S. to live in Switzerland. Since 1982, a biannual
Symposium celebrates his life and achievements, the
location alternating between Beijing and Kansas City, Missouri,
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org