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How to Read the Government Protest List

Readers Crowd-Source Analysis of Government Surveillance

by Gwalgen Geordie Dent

How to Read the Government Protest List

Several readers have commented on the release of a list of protests being tracked by the Federal Government, rendering great insight on what the list says about who and what the government is tracking and why.  

Who Tracks What

"What's really fascinating is who tracks what, less so what demos are being tracked (as if we didn't already know) -- i.e. all indigenous protests get tracked by RCMP and DFATD (the link to DFATD is fascinating) while Demonstration for Life gets tracked by Privy Council Office Management Crisis Centre. (Isn't that telling?)"

Breanne Oryschak

Dozens of departments have reported an interest in various protests.  Many of them seem routine, though many of them involve big name Federal departments including:

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, 
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service, 
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 
  • Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, 
  • Natural Resources Canada,
  • Department of National Defence, 
  • Treasury Board Secratariat, 
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Development
  • the Privy Council Office.   

The department following the protest can often tell you why the government might be interested in it.

What's Missing 

While there are dozens of pages listing hundreds of protests, vigils, and academic discussions a number of readers have picked up on gaps.

People noted that not a lot of protests were recorded in Edmonton and Calgary even though they had been to them.  Others highlighted that few of the major political events in the last several years such as the student strikes in Montreal, the Olympics in Vancouver or the G20 in Toronto, likely meaning they are either classified projects or not subject to the MP's request due to ongoing investigations.

Then again, maybe not.  When the APTN noted that major Mi'Kmaq demonstrations from 2013 were left out of the list, Public Safety Canada claimed "human error". 

The Government is Freaking Out Over First Nations Protests

While hundreds of protests have been tracked, some have obviously been more of interest to the government than others.  

June 14th to 30th, 2007 saw 35 reports issued on the June 29th Aboriginal Day of Action, an event that has occurred annually since 2007.  Fourteen different federal departments were tracking the day including the Department of National Defence, the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre and Natural Resources Canada. 

We Kinda Already Knew This

That the government has been tracking protestors is not news to any of those who have seen the signs of police and government agency presence at protests for…well decades. A few readers shrugged off the government surveillance:

Well, if nothing else, this is a really nice comprehensive list in case you need to remember where you were on a particular date.

Irina Ceric

 


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Gwalgen Dent (Gwalgen Geordie Dent)
Toronto
Member since August 2008

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