Groups which have protested against the 2010 Games say a report by Canada’s spy agency stating it is prepared for violent acts from demonstrators shows that activists are being targeted.
“The Anti-Poverty Committee and others have been receiving the brunt of the attack already,” said organizer Anna Hunter.
“The important point that we want to get out there is that we have been saying that Vancouver and B.C. are going to look like police states during the Olympics and people thought we were crazy. And now it is coming out through this report that it is actually going to be a police state.”
But the report won’t change how the APC works said Hunter.
The comments come following the release of a highly censored copy of a 2007 annual report by Canadian Security and Intelligence Service director, Jim Judd, to the Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day.
The report states: “…the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics may lead to protests with potential for violence.”
Jason Gratl, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association was not surprised to hear that the Games were included in the CSIS report.
“We would fully expect that CSIS would be engaged with the Olympics to ensure the safety and security of foreign officials, diplomats, and athletes from disparate countries,” he said.
“But it is of some concern to us that CSIS is concerned not only in actual or planned violence but in protests that might lead to violence. Our concern is that an overenthusiastic spy agency might want to infiltrate or undermine the activities of lawful protest groups.”
The Conservative government has been under pressure to look again at how the police are policed in Canada after a series of recommendations came out of the Maher Arar Inquiry.
“The Arar commission recommended enhanced oversight powers in relation to RCMP and other agencies engaged in security activities and to date the Harper government has failed to act on those recommendations,” said Gratl.
The Integrated Security Unit, with the RCMP as the lead agency, is handling security for the 2010 Games. Security costs are currently budgeted at $175 million.
“There has always been a strong partnership,” said RCMP Sergeant Pierre Lemaitre, adding that it wouldn’t be appropriate to single out any one partner for comment.
The RCMP has also created the Community Relations Group, specific to the Games, said Lemaitre, to help facilitate peaceful and lawful protests.
“We will work to facilitate any lawful demonstration or protest because that is part of the fabric of our country but by the same token we want… to find anybody who wants to go past that,” he said.