B.C. civil liberties association to release CSIS papers on environmental groups

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On Monday, BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) released thousands of pages of heavily-redacted documents previously disclosed by Canada's spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The activists were fighting to stop the since canceled Northern Gateway Pipelines, a proposal calling for 731-mile-long twin pipelines that would have moved diluted bitumen from Alberta to British Columbia.

"We allege this is in violation of the law", Meghan McDermott, a lawyer with the civil liberties group, said at a news conference.

The BCCLA further alleged that this spying activity "was deterring individuals from associating with environmental groups and expressing their opinions, through actions such as protesting, or signing petitions". "That kind of act ought not to attract the interest of our spy agencies". The intelligence agency was later forced to release the documents.

During the hearings, "SIRC made an unprecedented gag order preventing witnesses in the hearing, including volunteers and staff of several of the organizations involved, from speaking to anyone about their testimony, forever, at the risk of being held in contempt of court".

"To me this is one of the more shocking examples that I have encountered of the grip big oil has on our democracy here in Canada", Woodsworth said. "Our tax dollars are being used to spy on Canadians to benefit the fossil fuel industry". "If CSIS claims it wasn't tracking conservation groups in BC, why did they collect thousands of pages of files relating to groups who engaged in peaceful advocacy and protest?"

The Northern Gateway pipeline project was approved by the federal government in June 2014, after first being announced in 2006. The federal government officially rejected plans for the pipelines in November 2016.

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