By Frank Larue
“You would think the Canadian armed forces undertake intelligence gathering prior to launching operations,” Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs told the Globe and Mail. “The fact that they are directing their intelligence activities at Native communities and Native organizations is deeply disturbing.” An intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Canadian Army, Air Force and Navy from terrorism has been spying on First Nation groups and has submitted eight reports about what goes on inside Native organizations. “A possibility exists that First Nations extremists opposed to the HST may engage in activities with the potential to impact public safety in Ontario,” stated a report from the Canadian Armed Forces, the lamest of excuses to rationalize what they are doing, which is exactly what the FBI has done to American Native activists.
The Department of National Defence in a gauche attempt to squash the whole affair has now denied they had anything to do with spying on First Nations. The DND has stated that information received on Native organizations was supplied by government agencies and not the military. Such a stupid statement, a blatant lie with all evidence pointing right at them. It is reminiscent of the CIA, black is white and white is black, truth is only admissible under emergent situations. At the end of the day, the Department of National Defense has a rotting omelet on their military mugs.
The intelligence units were started in the nineties, and they report to the head of Defence Intelligence. Their success rate will never be known, but the fact that they can free up time to watch over First Nation organizations opens the door to skepticism. The mandate of these units is “identifying, investigating, and countering threats to the security of the Canadian Forces from foreign intelligence services, sabotage, terrorism, and criminal activities.” So far, the reports have looked closely at Native protest groups, especially the ones who show up on Parliament Hill. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is also under scrutiny, which is strange since the AFN exists under the umbrella of Indian Affairs. NDP defence critic Jack Harris stated, “This is another reason more external oversight is needed of the Canadian Forces intelligence gathering activities, in the same way that an independent review body monitors the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.”
Considering that we are at war with Afghanistan and there is still a lingering fear that Muslim extremists are hiding in Canada waiting for the phone call that will turn them into suicide bombers, wasting taxpayers’ money spying on First Nations seems not only stupid but insulting. It’s the military brass saying, “If we got nothing better to do, let’s keep an eye on the Indians.” Perhaps they should be reminded how many First Nation soldiers served in the Second World War and the Korean war and how many Native soldiers serve their country proudly right now.
One report could be a slip, but eight reports seem rather excessive. How would Jewish citizens react if there were informed that they were being spied on? How would the Chinese or the Japanese react if they knew Big Brother was watching their every move? Chances are they would be incensed that their human rights were being jeopardized by paranoid military leaders who have neither the power nor the right to implement such measures. Then again, we are Native and our rights have been swept under the government rug so often that being spied on is just another racist bump on a road well traveled.