Energy Companies Get Briefed by Canadian Intelligence Agencies
Energy companies get briefed by Canadian intelligence agencies
Documents and article on government collaboration with private sector
By Tim Groves; November 4, 2012 - Toronto Media Co-op
NOTE: The following article covers the same topic as a previously covered article in the Dominion; it also includes an embedded source document below the text [to view, click on original link above].
The Canadian government has been confidentially briefing major energy companies with classified intelligence, leading groups protesting the oil sands and other energy projects to fear they’re being spied on by federal agents for the benefit of private corporations.
The briefings are organized by Natural Resources Canada with the collaboration of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP, according to documents acquired through access-to-information legislation.
The companies involved have not been made named. But documents made public by Natural Resources Canada, reveal that a branch of the department responsible for orchestrating the briefings, liaised with industry groups representing the largest energy corporations in Canada, including the Canadian Nuclear Association, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
It’s also not clear how many companies are involved, but in 2007 then-Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn told a summit on pipeline security that his department has “sponsored over 200 industry representatives in obtaining Secret Level II security clearance.”
Natural Resources Canada is the federal government’s lead department in enhancing the security of the energy sector as part of a national strategy to protect vital infrastructure and has organized the classified briefings twice a year since 2005.
“These forums provide excellent opportunities for energy sector stakeholders to develop ongoing trusting relations which facilitate the exchange of pertinent information ‘off the record’,” explained Felix Kwamena, a director of energy
infrastructure security at Natural Resources, in a January 2010 paper.
A notable example of this was a networking reception held at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier, the evening before a daylong briefing on Nov. 25, 2010, at CSIS’s Ottawa headquarters.
At this briefing energy companies received presentations from the RCMP,CSIS, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of National Defence, according to a draft agenda.
Presentations at the event covered a variety of topics such as espionage, cyber security, the geopolitics of the Arctic and the G20 Summit that had wrapped up five months earlier in Toronto.
RCMP spokesperson Greg Cox said in an email that the G20 presentation covered the structure and mandate of the intelligence unit set up to monitor threats to the summit, and included information on “threat variants, persons of interest and protest events.”
Although there was no direct mention of environmental groups in the PowerPoint slides from the presentation, Greenpeace climate campaigner Keith Stewart said it’s odd that the Mounties would be briefing energy companies on security at the Toronto G20, a meeting of international heads of state.
Stewart said he fears that information taken from police spying on protest groups in the run-up to the G20 was being shared with the private sector. RCMP files obtained under a separate access-to-information request reveal that Greenpeace facilities were put under surveillance ahead of the G20, and Stewart says undercover officers have attended the organization’s training events.
“It certainly appears that the government is seeing itself as providing a service to private corporations,” Stewart said.
“The only threat we pose is the threat to change peoples minds, and changing public opinion - and I understand and why oil companies might be worried about that. I understand why government might be worried about that, but I think that is a fundamental part of democracy and they just have to learn to live with free speech.”
Jacinthe Perras, a spokesperson for Natural Resources, denied in an email that her department supplied classified information about environmental groups to energy companies. “Natural Resources Canada does not monitor these groups nor does it provide information on them to private companies,” Perras affirmed.
However, both CSIS and the RCMP have shared intelligence on protest groups with the private sector.
A Toronto Star article last November revealed the existence of an RCMP program to monitor First Nations communities that engage in protest activity. This intelligence unit provided energy companies with weekly reports.
According to the RCMP’s Cox, it’s part of the force’s mandate. “The sharing of criminal information between law enforcement and the private sector is nothing new,” he said.
CSIS, for its part, refused to answer questions about its role in the energy-sector briefings. However, CSIS’s Ottawa-based Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, which creates reports that are shared with the private sector, has written numerous briefs on First Nations and environmental activist groups.
“They have created this security culture where there is no separation between the federal government, and the fossil fuel sector,” said Clayton Thomas-Müller an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. He believes these
briefing undermine the trust between First Nations and the Crown.
“What we are seeing is government working at the behest of these big multinational corporations, rather than seeing themselves as regulator of those companies in the public interest,” Greenpeace’s Stewart said.
“The government seems to be saying what is good for companies like Shell or Enbridge is good for Canada.”