Monday, July 01, 2013

Is Canada a Police State?

Protecting Public Safety One Smashed Door at a Time
Let’s face it, if the government and the police won’t infringe on our rights to protect us from ourselves, who will?
By Gerry Nicholls
Sunday, June 30, 2013
In this increasingly dangerous world, it’s nice to know Canadians can rest secure in the knowledge that RCMP officers are out there, patrolling our streets, ready on a moment’s notice to break into our homes and steal our property.
In fact, the RCMP recently performed a little break and entry action in High River, Alberta, a town which had been evacuated due to massive flooding.
It seems some of the town’s gun owners had left their firearms in what police call “unsecure locations,” such as inside their securely locked homes.
Now you might ask, what’s so bad about that? The town is evacuated; the guns are out of sight, behind locked doors. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Ha, only a “gun nut” would say that!
As any rational and reasonable person knows that leaving guns in an empty locked house, situated in an empty town, is an invitation to anarchy!
Imagine, for instance, if militant household pests, like termites or carpenter ants, decided to arm themselves with those unguarded weapons.
Just think of what that would do to your extermination bills!
Luckily, however, before anything horrible like that could happen, the RCMP – official motto: “Private property rights? Never heard of ‘em” – forcibly broke into several High River homes, where they proceeded to grab guns as if they were donuts.
This, of course, was done in the name of preserving what the police like to call “public safety.”
Yes, some bleeding hearts bemoaned the RCMP action as heavy-handed, others even called it an “act of aggression” against gun owners, but if you ask me, we need more of this kind of aggressive, pre-emptive police work.
After all, there are probably millions of locked homes all across the country jam packed with privately owned, so-called “legal” items that, if they ever fell into the wrong hands, i.e. law-abiding citizens, could potentially threaten civilization as we know it.
Indeed, given the seriousness of this locked home issue, perhaps it’s time to create specially trained police squads whose only job will be to ransack arbitrarily selected homes, in order to find any “public safety” threatening dangers.
And believe me, when the government puts its mind to it, it can find lots of things that threaten our public safety.
Indeed, here’s just a preliminary list of things the L.P.S. (Looting Police Squads) would be on the look out for as they root through people’s closets, kitchens and bedrooms:
Bottled water (Don’t let the benign appearance of bottled water fool you. According to environmentalists, water bottles, if left unchecked, could end human life on earth, leading to our planet being ruled by mutants, super intelligent robots or perhaps by apes.)
Bicycles – (These would be returned to owners, but only if they can provide proof they own government-certified bicycle helmets.)
Dogs that in anyway resemble a pit bull.
All unhealthy or “junk” food items that contains such things as trans-fat, starchy carbohydrates, sodium or glucose. (And God help the person found harboring a Happy Meal Toy!)
Cigarettes left within twenty meters of a match.
All books and magazines written by non-Canadian authors (a threat to our cultural sovereignty.)
Sporting equipment that could also double as weapons, i.e. baseball bats, darts, hockey sticks and, of course, most dangerous of all – dodge balls.
Admittedly, all this might seem like a little bit of an infringement on our Charter guaranteed rights and freedoms, but let’s face it, if the government and the police won’t infringe on our rights to protect us from ourselves, who will?
It’s like I always say … sorry. ..I have to go … somebody’s battering down my front door.
Gerry Nicholls is a Toronto writer and a senior fellow with the Democracy Institute. His web site is Making sense with Nicholls
Gerry can be reached at:

Matt Gurney: High River citizens right to be suspicious as RCMP changes story over removal of guns
Matt Gurney
29 June 2013

The emergency declarations in place in southern Alberta certainly gave the RCMP the authority to enter private homes in High River without need of a warrant. But why were they removing firearms?
On Friday afternoon, when Mounties responding to the recent major floods in southern Alberta sent out a media release concerning the force’s removal of firearms from flooded-out homes, the tone had changed.
Gone were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s prior references to firearms having been “seized.” Now it was all about Mounties “taking possession” of firearms.
Also absent were all the earlier allusions to the RCMP having taken guns that had been “unsafely stored.” Now it was all about finding firearms that were “in plain view” and the force had “no way of assuring [would] remain secure.”
What hasn’t changed, of course, are the facts of what occurred.
The small town of High River (a tragically apt name in recent weeks), south of Calgary, has been devastated. The 13,000 inhabitants were evacuated and haven’t been allowed back yet. RCMP officers, as part of search and rescue teams, moved through the town after the waters rose, forcing their way into houses to check for survivors, stranded pets and the bodies of anyone who may have perished.
This is all to the good — indeed, it’s part of their duties as first responders. And the emergency declarations in place in southern Alberta certainly gave them the authority to enter private homes without need of a warrant.
But why were they removing firearms?
According to the RCMP’s original version of events, when officers were “seizing” firearms that were stored “unsafely,” they had a plausible explanation, though one that left many (myself included) uncomfortable. The RCMP left itself wide open to suspicions that while engaged in “search and rescue” operations, officers also took advantage of the access rights granted by the state of emergency to have a little bit of a look around at what people get up to inside their homes.
Even if that was the case, it would still be legal to take guns stored unsafely.
The Firearms Act lays out pretty clear guidelines for what constitutes safe storage of a firearm. Non-restricted guns, typically hunting rifles and shotguns, are the most common firearms in Canada, and must be stored unloaded and separate from ammunition. They must also be disabled either by a locking device, such as a trigger lock, or by removing critical mechanical components.
If a police officer, engaged in legitimate rescue operations, discovered a firearm that was not stored in accordance with those provisions, there is legal justification for seizing it, just like there would be for drugs or other contraband.
But what about guns stored in full compliance with the law inside a flooded home? Would an unloaded rifle with its bolt removed, or an unloaded shotgun with a trigger lock, also be “taken possession” of?
The RCMP in High River claims there was no specific order given. It was left to the discretion of officers to decide whether firearms encountered during top-to-bottom searches of flooded homes were “safe.”
Corporal Darrin Turnbull told the National Post as officers swept houses for survivors or abandoned pets, necessarily checking closets and under beds in that process, they would find firearms, and decide in the heat of the moment whether it was safe to leave them there.
There’s a certain logic to that, and given the broad authority granted by emergency declarations, such actions would almost certainly be legal. But you can’t blame gun owners for being suspicious.
Cpl. Turnbill reported many firearms were left scattered about where their owners dropped them as they fled the sudden rise in water levels. You can understand a police officer who finds a stack of guns next to an open front door might feel they’re better off in a police lockup. Fair enough.
But what about a trigger-locked gun on the top shelf of a bedroom closet in a locked house? There’s no threat to public safety there. If guns were taken in those kinds of situations, too, it won’t feel like the RCMP did you a favour by securing your gun. It will feel like it seized your lawful, and lawfully stored, property when it saw the chance to do so.
We won’t know the details until residents are able to return home and discover exactly how thorough the RCMP’s gun-removal efforts were. But if individual officers were waging their own little gun-clearing campaign under the cover offered by an unfolding disaster, High River residents — and lawful Canadian gun owners everywhere — will be entirely justified in raising hell.
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Police State Canada: Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) Runs Massive Domestic Spying Program
Global Research, June 16, 2013
On the basis of secret government directives, Canada’s national security apparatus is conducting mass surveillance of Canadians parallel to, if not directly patterned after, the domestic spying operations of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the NSA’s Canadian counterpart and longstanding partner, has been scrutinizing the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications since at least 2005.
Moreover, the NSA routinely provides Canada’s security agencies with intelligence on Canadians and CSEC reciprocates by providing U.S. intelligence officials with information about people living in the U.S. This arrangement allows both agencies to circumvent legal bans on warrantless surveillance of their own citizenry’s communications.
It was “common” for NSA “to pass on information about Canadians,” Wayne Easter, Canada’s Solicitor-General in 2002-3, told the Toronto Star this week. As Solicitor-General, Easter was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The extent and scope of CSEC’s spying and who is being targeted and why are all zealously guarded state secrets. The CSEC functions under secret directives issued by the Minister of Defence—directives whose very existence is unknown to parliamentarians, let alone the public at
The Conservative government has responded to this week’s slight and very partial lifting of the veil on CSEC activities with a campaign of disinformation, dissembling and lies. This campaign has been facilitated by the opposition parties, especially the ostensibly leftwing New Democratic Party, and the corporate media; they have made no more than tepid calls for greater transparency about the CSCE’s spying.
On Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that in November 2011, Defence Minister Peter MacKay signed a secret directive authorizing the CSEC to continue its “mining” of the metadata of Canadians’ telephone and internet communications. The Globe said the program had been first authorized by Bill Graham, Defence Minister in Paul Martin’s Liberal
government, in 2005, that is six years earlier.
MacKay, like U.S. President Barack Obama, responded to this revelation of massive state spying by flatly denying that CSEC is “targeting” Canadians or violating constitutional prohibitions on warrantless surveillance of their communications. This lie is predicated on the drawing of a spurious distinction between the metadata created by any electronic communication and the rest of the communication and on the transparently false claim that such information is innocuous.
According to the Globe, a briefing prepared for MacKay in 2011, presumably by CSEC or lawyers within his department, declared, “Metadata is information associated with a telecommunication … And not a communication.”
In fact metadata—which includes such information as the source, destination and duration of a telephone call—is intrinsic to any electronic communication. By systematically gathering and analyzing such metadata, the U.S. and Canadian national-security apparatuses can rapidly build up detailed profiles of targeted individuals and groups, including identifying everything from their associates, to where they work, bank, and shop, and what websites they visit.
In the course of his efforts to cover-up the scope and purpose of CSEC’s metadata mining, MacKay did make one revealing admission. In response to a question about the mass surveillance of Canadians’ communications, MacKay told Parliament, “I have a heads-up for the member … This is something that has been happening for years.”
Government sources, many of them unnamed, sought, meanwhile, to refute the Globe ’s claim that there had been serious questions within the state apparatus about the constitutionality of the CSEC’s “metadata” mining of Canadians’ communications. In its Monday report, the Globe said that in 2008 the then CSEC Commissioner—that is the head of the government-appointed “watchdog” charged with ensuring the agency does not go beyond its legal mandate—had cautioned that the program could be violating Canadians constitutional rights and, because of his concerns, the metadata mining program was suspended for more than a year.
Sources from within the government and CSEC dispute this. They say that the questions raised by
Charles Gonthier—a former, now deceased former Supreme Court Justice—concerned only a small part of a much larger program, that only this part of the metadata mining program was ever suspended, and then only very briefly.
The current CSEC Commissioner has publicly defended the mass surveillance and claimed that his predecessor likewise believed that the CSEC has every right to spy on Canadian’s electronic communications. In an e-mail statement to the Toronto Star, Ryan Foreman, a spokesman for CSEC Commissioner Robert Decary, said, “The commissioner never questioned the legality of CSEC’s metadata activities.”
MacKay and the government have also sought to shield CSEC’s actions form public scrutiny by insisting that it is solely devoted to gathering foreign intelligence and, as MacKay told Parliament last Monday, “is specifically prohibited from looking at the information of Canadians.” This is an obvious falsehood and not just because warrantless metadata mining is a form of spying.
CSEC’s government mandate stipulates—as MacKay well knows since he has been the minister responsible for overseeing its work for the past seven years—that it “provide technical and operational assistance” to CSIS, the RCMP and other domestic security-intelligence and law enforcement agencies “in the performance of their lawful duties.” Furthermore CSEC can seek authorization from the Defence Minister to capture and read the communications of Canadians who are in some way connected to its foreign intelligence targets. As the Toronto Star ’s Thomas Walkom has observed, “In 2011-12, the last year for which figures are available, eight such ministerial authorizations—all of unknown size and scope—were in play.”
While vigorously defending CSEC’s metadata spying, the government has been anxious to put on a record that CSEC does not have access to the NSA’s PRISM Program and has not been using it as a means of monitoring Canadians’ communications. Under PRISM, NSA agents are able to directly access the servers of the most important U.S. based internet companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook.
The government’s claims concerning the CSEC and PRISM are not credible. The CSEC has been a close partner of the NSA, sharing intelligence information with it on a daily basis, for more than six decades.
Britain, which like Canada, is part of the “Five Eyes”—a consortium formed in the late 1940s by the NSA, CSEC, and the signals communications agencies of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand to jointly monitor global communications—has already said that it obtained intelligence about Britons through PRISM.
The NSA and CSEC, as the spurious distinction they have made between electronic communications’ metadata and rest of the communications illustrates, can and do create pretexts and mechanisms to illegally circumvent constitutional prohibitions.
Last but not least, whatever the validity of MacKay’s denial about spying on Canadians though PRISM, it only concerned CSEC. As Easter’s comments cited above demonstrate, Canada’s security agencies have long been the recipients of intelligence on Canadians from the NSA as part of longstanding Canada-U.S. intelligence-sharing agreements and partnerships.
The CSEC is part of a growing state within the state whose operations are hidden from the public. Till this week most Canadians had never heard of the CSEC and even now they knew very little about its activities. When Defence Minister MacKay renewed by secret ministerial order CSEC’s authorization to spy on Canadians’ electronic communications in November 2011 he issued six other secret ministerial directives to CSEC—none of whose subject let alone contents has been publicly revealed.
As in the United States, Canada’s elite has used the so-called war on terror to justify Canada’s participation in a series of imperialist wars, massively expand the national-security apparatus, and adopt laws that attack core democratic rights.