An intelligence assessment from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that describes environmental activsts as posing a significant threat of violence has drawn an immediate rebuttal from Greenpeace Canada, which is cited by name in the assessment.
A heavily-censored copy of the classified report — which also covers ordinary criminal activities involving ports and waterways — was obtained by the Canadian Press under that nation’s Access to Information Act. Compiled last September by the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, it warns of potential dangers to offshore oil platforms and shipments of hazardous matarials from “a growing radicalized environmentalist faction within Canadian society that is opposed to Canada’s energy sector policies.”
“Tactics employed by activist groups are intended to intimidate and have the potential to escalate to violence,” the report claims. It notes specifically that “Greenpeace is opposed to the development of Canada’s Arctic region, as well as Canada’s offshore petroleum industry,” and points to examples of “trespassing, mischief, and vandalism,” including recent actions by Greenpeace vessels off the coast of Greenland.
Greenpeace, in response, suggested that the assessment was simply telling the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper what it wants to hear.
“We’re peaceful and non-violent,” Greenpeace Canada’s campaigns director Yossi Cadan stated. “We are taking direct actions, but it’s never violent. … There is a difference between breaking the law and criminal activities.”
Cadan suggested that it is not the environmental movement but the government that is growing more extreme, to the point where anybody who challenges government policy on subjects such as exploitation of the Alberta tar sands “has become an enemy in many ways.”
The Harper government’s policies have recently faced growing opposition within Canada. On June 4, a number of environmental and social justice websites were deliberately blacked out as a protest against a budget that would weaken environmental protections.
On July 10, leading scientists marched through the capital city of Ottawa in their white lab coats to protest the government’s “ideological agenda to develop the Canadian economy based on the extraction of oil out of the Alberta tar sands as quickly as possible and sell it as fast as it can, come hell and high water, and eliminate any barriers that stand in their way.”
Cadan believes that the government has decided to attack its opponents in an attempt to distract voters from the real problems, but he insists that “it’s not going to work because we are going to continue and focus on the environmental issues.”
Photo by Bicycle Bob from Toronto, Canada (Greenpeace’ Arctic Sunrise) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons