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"How can indigenous people be considered terrorists on our own homeland?"

by omni Thursday, Nov. 07, 2002 at 12:19 PM

This story starts with planes flying into buildings on the other coast, in another country. It was just over a year ago, and in the heady months that followed, our elected representatives in Ottawa rushed to approve anti-terrorism legislation intended to protect Canada's national security. In recent months, two Vancouver Island activists found themselves on the wrong side of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police unit created to enforce that legislation.

Hello friends,

We will finally be in BC Supreme Court to argue the main points against

the ill-gotten RCMP Search Warrant on Wed. Nov. 13. Although we were

granted permission earlier to cross-examine the RCMP member who swore out

the Information to Obtain the Search Warrant, we have decided to not

proceed with this cross-examination because we believe nothing useful

could be further garnered from such a procedure, and, we believe that the

arguments we have against the Search Warrant are strong enough to stand on

their own. I remain extremely optimistic about the outcome.

Below is a recent article from a Victoria, BC alternative news weekly that

is very well-done, and I thought you'd be interested in reading it. It

offers a pretty good perspective on the RCMP so-called anti-terrorism


For those of you living in or around Vancouver, here is the information on

the hearing:

Wed. Nov. 13

9:30 AM

BC Supreme Court

Vancouver, BC

I would love to see friendly faces in the court on that day, and it's

expected to be quite an interesting hearing, for those of you


Thanks once again for all your support, it has truly helped me deal with

this harassment.

Love and Light,

David Barbarash


Monday Magazine

Oct. 24, 2002

Anti-terrorism police harass island activists

Under the new federal anti-terrorism law, dissent becomes a suspicious



This story starts with planes flying into buildings on the other coast, in

another country. It was just over a year ago, and in the heady months that

followed, our elected representatives in Ottawa rushed to approve

anti-terrorism legislation intended to protect Canada's national security.

In recent months, two Vancouver Island activists found themselves on the

wrong side of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police unit created to enforce

that legislation.

"How can indigenous people be considered terrorists on our own homeland?"

asks John Rampanen. Early in the morning on September 21, the RCMP's

anti-terrorism force, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team

(INSET), followed an anonymous tip and raided Rampanen's family's empty

home in a Port Alberni suburb. They were looking for unauthorized guns.

The INSET team didn't discover anything at the home, says Rampanen, but

later when they found him and his family at his parents' house, they made

"veiled threats towards the safety of our children." He plans to lodge a

formal complaint about the threats.

While Rampanen sees the need for the police to investigate such serious

allegations as posession of illegal weapons, he says, "It baffles me that

they would be so aggressive in their approach."

As a member of the West Coast Warriors, an aboriginal activist group,

Rampanen has figured prominently in high-profile confrontations at Cheam

on the Fraser River and at Burnt Church in New Brunswick. He also delivers

drug and alcohol education programs to first nations communities.

The warriors don't shy from confrontation, he says, but they aren't

terrorists and it doesn't make sense for them to be under the scrutiny of

INSET. "It's been over three weeks now, and I still don't understand."

David Barbarash, a spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front, had two

computers, computer disks, videos, photos, files, papers and other

documents seized from his home and office in Courtenay on July 30, by

INSET officers. He says he understands only too well why INSET might take

an interest in activists.

"It used to be people could take these kinds of actions and they'd be

labeled protesters," he says. "At some point in time there was a move to

criminalize dissent. What's happening now, post-September 11, is it's

shifted again. Now we're not even criminals, we're terrorists."

The July raid on Barbarash's property stemmed from an ALF action in Maine

three years ago. A group there broke into hunting clubs, spray-painted

messages on walls, broke windows and stole stuffed animal heads which they

later "returned to their natural environment to rest in peace." Damage was

estimated at ,700.

He acknowledges that the ALF actions were criminal, but stresses the group

doesn't physically harm anyone and that what he calls "economic sabotage"

has a long, dignified history that can be traced back to the Boston Tea

Party and further.

As with other animal rights actions, Barbarash received information from

sources he says he does not know, and has no way to contact, and

communicated their message to the media.

"I'm not committing any crimes, I'm simply voicing my support for these

kinds of activities," he says. "I don't see why our resources should be

spent in this way, as if this is some kind of terrorist activity. I think

it's outrageous."

According to RCMP background information about INSET, funding comes from

the federal government's -million budget meant, over five years, to

"strengthen Canada's ability to detect, deter and respond to existing and

emerging national security threats."

After INSET's creation in June, the CBC reported that in the

organization's four field offices - in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and

Montreal - there are no agents who speak Arabic.

The RCMP, of course, will not comment on specific cases. Nor would

spokespeople in Vancouver or Ottawa describe the kinds of files INSET

investigates or even how many they've been assigned. In fact, the

spokesperson in Vancouver was so badly informed she couldn't say for

certain whether there were three or four INSET teams.

"Lets face it," says Barbarash. "This is Canada. There isn't a lot of

terrorism. million is a lot of money to investigate something that

doesn't really exist."

So instead of infiltrating al-Qaeda sleeper cells, he says, INSET officers

are being used to investigate more mundane criminal matters.

"When they're going after people like me who just speak to the media, it's

pretty pathetic," he says. "They've got to justify their expense account


But there is a darker side to how INSET seems to be used, he adds, one

that should be worrisome for all Canadian activists.

"It's very ominous to me that a national police force is being used to

disrupt people's lives and political activity when they are no threat to

national security," he says. "I think they're being used essentially as a

political police force."

The problem, says Murray Mollard, executive director of the British

Columbia Civil Liberties Association, stems from an overly broad

definition of "terrorism" introduced in Bill C-36, the federal

government's anti-terrorism legislation.

Included in the definition is any action that "causes serious interference

with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system,

whether public or private."

"What is that?" asks Mollard. "It's almost anything. What is 'serious?' I

don't know . . . Everything flows from the definition."

As has been pointed out many times, one person's terrorist is another's

freedom fighter, making it difficult to write a clear definition of

terrorism. However, says Mollard, the definition from C-36 "will include

things that it is not." He worries that widely accepted forms of civil

disobedience, such as environmentalists blocking logging trucks, will also

fall under the label of terrorism.

"There's always concern among civil libertarians where if the state gives

itself an inch, it'll take a mile," he says. "Constraint is always the

best policy from our point of view."

He says questions need to be answered about who oversees INSET, how broad

a mandate the unit has, what the constraints are on its activity, and

whether there's a "threshold" on how serious a crime committed in a

foreign country has to be before INSET will pursue it. There's also the

question of how to decide when a case is criminal and when it's a matter

for the anti-terrorism squad.

Benoit Desjardins, an RCMP spokesperson and corporal in the Ottawa

headquarters, could say little more than what is posted in a backgrounder

on the RCMP website, a document that tosses around terms like "terrorism",

"national security" and "potential threats" without defining them.

"I know the answer will be case by case," says Desjardins. "If anything

touches national security, the information will be passed to the INSET . .

. What happened with September 11 made people quite aware of what should

be passed to INSET."

But what is "national security?"

"I guess national security, it's more like capacity to affect Canadian

security, it could be safety of people. To me it would have to show a

threat to Canadians."

Later, he calls back with what he says is the RCMP's working definition:

"National security is the defence and maintenance of social, political and

economic stability of Canada."

According to Mollard, the confusion and the vagueness of terms is

frustrating, but not surprising.

"There's never been a piece of legislation that was so rushed through," he

says. "When you create legislation at a moment of heightened emotion and

anxiety, you're not always creating the best legislation."

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