CSIS cites animal rights, anti-globalization movements as possible terrorists

BRUCE CHEADLE  Canadian Press

Thursday, June 05, 2022

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's spy agency says "certain elements" of the animal rights and anti-globalization movements in this country pose a terrorist threat.
The annual report of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, released Thursday, cites animal rights, anti-globalization and white supremacist groups under domestic extremism as one of four main categories of terrorism in Canada. While religious extremism - specifically Islamic extremism - tops the CSIS list of terrorist concerns, the inclusion of two of Canada's mainstream domestic lobbies in the report raised some eyebrows.
Not listed in the public CSIS report were three other domestic groups cited in an initial report: aboriginals, separatists and environmentalists.
The initial report, from which the public report is culled, is a ministerial direction - a document that gives CSIS an idea of the solicitor general's concerns regarding terrorism.
Canadian Alliance MP Kevin Sorenson said he and other MPs on the Commons security committee received that document earlier this week.
Sorenson read from the report: "to a lesser degree, Canada is confronted by domestic terrorism issues related to aboriginal rights, white supremacists, sovereignty, animal rights, the environment and anti-globalization."
The four areas of concern are: religious extremism, state-sponsored terrorism, secessionist violence and domestic extremism.
When Solicitor General Wayne Easter tabled the CSIS report Thursday in the House of Commons, he said Canadians should not be complacent about terrorist threats.
"The Canadian Security Intelligence Service . . . is aware of emerging terrorist threats and tactics that could have severe consequences for Canadians," Easter said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the report should be of concern to all Canadians.
"It looks as though CSIS is lumping together anyone who disagrees with the government," Layton said. "It's important to preserve the right of people to disagree. That's one of the fundamentals of democracy."
Rob Sinclair, a campaigner with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said equating animal rights groups with white supremacists was particularly offensive.
"This is a sort of smear on the entire community," Sinclair said from Toronto. "To have this group thrown in with neo Nazis . . . is truly insulting. It sounds like CSIS is once again completely out to lunch."
Bill Moore-Kilgannon of the Council of Canadians, which has helped organize rallies questioning everything from international trade policy to environmental policy, said the "catch-all" phrase of anti-globalization gives CSIS carte blanche to investigate all sorts of citizens' groups.
"We're concerned about the implications for the average citizen who will go out to a protest march, whether or not they're going to be put on some blacklist."
Easter defended the inclusion of domestic lobbies.
"In any of these kind of instances, it's not who you are, it's what you do," Easter said outside the Commons.
"Given the kind of security environment that's required since Sept. 11, 2001, we as a government have to take every precaution possible to ensure that no group - whatever they may be named - (escapes scrutiny) who may have as one of their objectives to disrupt our society by using violent or terrorist means."
Sorenson said he's much more concerned about groups not included on Canada's formal list of terrorist entities, including the Tamil Tigers, than he is about CSIS monitoring domestic organizations.
"I don't have a problem with CSIS doing investigations on anything that may lead to a terrorist threat or a breach of security in our country," he said.
While Sri Lanka's violent secessionist movement does get a mention in the report, the government has yet to ban the Tamil Tigers organization, a failure Sorenson calls inexcusable.
Sorenson also said the Canadian government must seriously debate whether the country requires a spy agency that can operate abroad, whether along the lines of the CIA or another model. The mandate of CSIS does not permit the agency overseas operations.
Highlights of the 12th annual report released Thursday by the Canadian Intelligence and Security Service:
Terrorism categories in Canada:
- religious extremism "with Islamic extremism being the most serious threat at present."
- state-sponsored terrorism "exemplified by the current regime in Iran."
- secessionist violence, including Sikh extremism.
- domestic extremism "including, but not limited to, certain elements of animal-rights, anti-globalization and white supremacist groups."
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