You’re marching down the street of your town; Maybe you don’t want a pipeline going through your backyard, maybe you don’t want more government cuts to social programs jeopardizing your children’s future, whatever motivates you. You could be with your children, your grandfather and a large peaceful group of your friends. But wait, you don’t have the permission of your town’s police to march. This permission is granted, or not, by your local police. They need need not give a reason for refusing. There is no appeal. So lets say you feel that your cause is too important to let city hall bureaucracy get in the way. After all you’re a peaceful, responsible citizen. You’re obviously not a terrorist or worse, a crazed hockey fan. So you begin your march.
As soon as you start to gather, hundreds of armored police will surround you and your friends. Before you begin to move your assembly may be declared illegal. The police are then free to decide at their own discretion whether to intervene. The Montréal police for example have charged demonstrations and detained people in parking garages for hours on a day that reached -10 C, for demonstrating for against pipelines. They however publicly gave immunity from their regulations to sometimes violently striking civic workers and hockey fans, a notoriously orderly bunch.
If you do get on the streets “flying squads” of police will herd you deliberately to a spot of they deem appropriate for the main event of your democratic experience.
They will then charge you at full speed. This is quite impressive as many of these police are the size of C.F.L players and are armored and padded from head to foot, still carrying firearms. Packed in tight ranks and slamming their riot batons on their shields like Roman legionaries. They will smash into you and keep compressing you into a rough circle. They do this by by clubbing you with batons and violently shoulder blocking you with their shields. You may find some of them pointing menacing looking weapons at your head and face, but don’t worry. These are “less than lethal” weapons which ,as we have painfully learned here, will likely only take out an eye, break half your jaw, or leave you in a coma for a few days.
Everyone is then held with no further explanation on the street.Literally the police in the circle will not acknowledge you, or speak to you. If you approach them they are likely to violently club you repeatedly until you stumble back bloodied.
You will have no food, water, or access to bathrooms. So for anywhere from 2-8 hours you will be forcibly held in these conditions. At some point a vague and incomprehensible text will be read to you by loudspeaker informing you as to the reason for your group arrest experience. You, and hundreds of your friends will then have all your possessions taken from you and put in bags. The police will then thoughtfully give you a fun free pair of plastic cuffs.
“I note here as a Canadian Veteran with combat experience. It is deeply disturbing that I have been required by Law, and conscience, to provide for people I have taken as prisoners of war far better than police treat peaceful Canadian citizens they have taken prisoner for walking up the street in a group. ”
But wait dear citizen your adventure in modern democracy isn’t over yet. You may then be treated to a free long distance bus ride in from your local transit authority, possibly ending at the most remote police station your town has to offer in the early hours of the morning.
You get to keep your fun police plastic cuffs for the many more hours it will take to process; if this causes you to lose all sensation in your fingers, think of the blue color as freedom’s stain. Now if you do start to feel impatient at this point remember there are hundreds of you and it takes time to illegally photograph you and return your confiscated belongings. The police then have to write you what amounts in legal terms to a 637.00$ parking ticket. It’s a municipal infraction, in the same class legally as a parking ticket. This is not by chance.
You will not unfortunately be provided with a free bus ride home. And for all this excitement, you have to done nothing more than participate peacefully in any march, or action they consider “illegal”. No violent or criminal act need be committed.
And if you are worried about preserving the memory of your adventure in modern democracy, fear not. The illegal mug shot,the equivalent of photographing you for not cleaning up after your dog, won’t be the only souvenir of your P.T.S.D inducing experience. The police will also deploy officers to film and photograph you and your friends throughout your entire day. This is to facilitate the targeting and profiling of individuals. Not because you have committed criminal acts but because you might be an organizer. Your police will have a book filled with pictures and descriptions of individuals to be subjected to targeted arrests. But don’t worry good citizen you and all your friends will also get copies to take home. After , it would seem, they have run dozens of hours of video and photos from various sources through high end image recognition software. This is done so they can pinpoint you in every photo and video clip. They then produce an individualized package of video and photo as the proof of your offense. Not only police surveillance footage, taken from officers on the ground,on roofs and in the helicopter that shadows you with obviously military grade imaging gear. As well they find every appearance you make in videos and photos as their agents scour YouTube, traffic cams, social and mainstream media. Have a nice march.
A letter written by the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression deploring Montréal police violence against Journalists
The government is counting on Canadians ignorance of the fact that if you attend a rally to save your local forest you will likely be observed, identified and added to the list of “multi-issue extremists”. Since 2007 the RCMP and other security services started referring to activists very deliberately in this way. A peaceful march or banner drop is a ” Non-violent attack strategy “. This is a very deliberate move to be able to easily define those who protest or are socially active within the bounds of the Harper governments anti-terror laws. A non exhaustive list of groups already deemed a threat and monitored by RCMP would include Idle No More, Forest Ethics, Sierra Club, Eco Society, Lead Now, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit, according to documents obtained under F.O.I requests by Professors Kevin Walby and Jeffrey Monaghan. In their research they further state;
“The Canadian law enforcement and security intelligence community have noted a growing radicalized faction of environmentalists who advocate the use of criminal activity to promote the protection of the natural environment,” “It is highly probable that environmentalists will continue to mount direct actions targeting Canada’s energy sector, specifically the petroleum sub-sector and the fossil and nuclear fueled electricity generating facilities, with the objectives of: influencing government energy policy, interfering within the energy regulatory process and forcing the energy industry to cease its operations that harm the environment,”
‘The June 2007 internal CSIS report was titled ‘Multi Issue Militancy’. However, that category quickly and consistently became ‘extremism’( the term most Canadians use is activist) in subsequent reports. The June 2007 internal CSIS report states: “As the Service positions itself for numerous events that could become targets of MIE groups, it is important that everyone be kept aware of the developments”…In the following months, a more specific definition of an MIE emerges. ITAC produces a number of references to groups that encompass this definition. One note from November 2008 states they have‘included, among other things, opposition to US foreign policy, including the ‘Global War on Terror’, various Third World and regional causes, as well as animal rights, anti-globalization’. In some instances, the category MIE is directly associated with the global justice movement.
This is not something new in RCMP behavior. Between 1970-73, 80% of the Front de libération du Québec incidents, including blowing up barns and issuing manifestos, in Québec were actually committed by the RCMP. It is vital to understand they didn’t do it because they disliked Québec independence, they did it for the money. No F.L.Q, no millions in national security budgets. They seem to see social activism in Canada in the same way. As the massive flood of money unleashed by 9/11 slowed to a trickle in the last few years the Security services needed a new enemy. They found one. And it’s us.
If, gentle reader, you find this disturbing then this next part should truly terrify you.
The Federal government security services, the RCMP and C.S.I.S, have been on the ground in Québec since well before the start of the student strike in 2012. In 2010 the RCMP under their Integrated National Security Enforcement Team program, arrested four members of the ASSÉ, a Québec student union group, a month after peaceful sit ins in the offices of the Québec provincial ministers’ of Finance and Education in a protest against university tuition fee hikes in Québec. This is apparently a threat to National Security. They where interrogated by the RCMP and C.S.I.S. They where charged with offenses to do with allegedly breaking some furniture and an accusation of roughing up a secretary. But when the crown turned over the evidence over to the ASSÉ members lawyer they were shocked to discover the extent and duration of their clients being monitored. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, recent winner of the Governor General of Canada’s award for literature for his book on the student strike, stated to me in a 2011 interview, ” It was obvious that they must have already been listening to our phone calls..reading our emails, for months,”.
Ask yourselves. If the RCMP and C.S.I.S were arresting members of the main student group 2 years before the strike in 2010, and monitoring them for months before that, is it then reasonable to believe that the RCMP, and C.S.I.S have sinced stepped back and left the matter to the local police. When 5000 students a night where marching in 2012 , no matter how peacefully. No it is not. The evidence prepared for the thousands arrested with their hours of footage , seemingly washed through high power facial recognition software, is not likely the product of the Montréal police or the Province of Québec. It is far more likely that the security services are using the social unrest to hone their skills against activists,or in their terms, “multi- issue extremists.” In fact the student strike, social unrest, and Native movements like Idle No More, fits right in with the RCMP’s, and many within the Harper government and their resource and security industry backers, vision of social activists as a threat to public order requiring a coordinated whole of government response.
The RCMP I.N.S.E.T group that targeted the student leaders in Québec has branches in every city in Canada. It provides, in the words of Asst. Commissioner Gilles Michaud the man who started the program after training with the FBI , ” A seamless integration,” of your local police force with, C.S.I.S, Border Security,National Defense Intelligence, and the Canadian Security Establishment. The latter a Canadian version of the N.S.A has had budget increases on the order of 400% in the last 7 years and has just built a billion dollar new headquarters complex. American homeland security is also included in these INSET teams under the security arrangements made immediately following 9\11.
This is of course not a Québec phenomenon. It is not hard to remember the brutal police charges, Guantanamo bay like conditions and massive inquiry into the G-20 police tactics in Toronto in 2010. An event managed by the RCMP at a national level. Or the response to indigenous movements like Idle no More which was monitered by National Defense through the INSET arrangement. And it continues as seen by police of other jurisdictions brought in to re-enforce the RCMP in the enforcing of Questionable resource company rights against peaceful demonstrators on Burnaby mountain this year. In Québec in 3 years the only inquiry into police tactics ,which I testified before, was a toothless political hack job by the Party Québecois on the Liberals. The Pauline Marois P.Q. government ,despite campaigning on abolishing it, left the entire system intact ready for use by the returning Québec Liberals. 4 years of research on my part indicates to me that this is because the provincial government, at some basic level, isn’t running the system.
The police tactics, prepared in Montréal, are being exported all over Canada. Commander Ian Lafrenière is the spokesman for the Montréal police. He bragged to me that they have, “trained police forces from all over Canada,”. Québec was a convenient testing ground. Equipment and tactics of physical intimidation are now being passed on to your local police commanders. Transforming police across the country, who serve a vital function in maintaining social peace, into tools for political repression. This will have negative consequences that may be vast and hard to foresee. Efficient policing depends on the police having the trust of thecommunity. There are few people under 30 years old in Montréal that would ever consider calling or talking to police, no matter what the reason. This is direct result of their legitimate function being highjacked by the security state.
The P-6 bylaw, or whatever they call the bylaw in your town that was intended to quell legitimately dangerous and violent hockey riots and the like, is a municipal infraction. It will be amended or read in such a way as to allow this level or arbitrary oppression. But because it is a municipal infraction, like a parking ticket you’re not considered a criminal. Despite your violent treatment, you are not entitled to legal aid or the same protections applied to criminal offenders.
The new bill C-51 will introduce many of these legal concepts at a federal level so we can enjoy them all over Canada. These include the laying of restrictive conditions on individuals to prevent free association and movement. This has been used extensively in Montréal to target certain individuals. The RCMP and C.S.I.S have learned from their experience, and that of other repressive regimes. One of their greatest problems arises from the new breed of independent citizen journalists and the new social media’s reach and power. So Bill C-51 includes provisions in it that might make reporting of activist actions, or using the internet spread those reports “Glorifying and Facilitating, Terrorism”.
So relax my fellow citizens. You are not in danger of living in a repressive police state. You’re already there.