After studying her online presence, Emma Gilchrist comes across as a reasonable person. Her resume shows a work history with the Calgary Herald, the Pembina Institute, and more recently with the Dogwood Initiative in Victoria, BC. Building on her journalism background, Gilchrist has recently taken on the Deputy Editor position for the desmog blog.
So, considering this, it was a big shock last week when Gilchrist published her story titled The Day I Found Out The Canadian Government Was Spying On Me. What is this, the Putin administration? Or, perhaps, do Emma Gilchrist and the Dogwood Initiative really pose a threat towards Canadian society? The answer may surprise you.
Gilchrist begins her piece explaining how she learned from the Vancouver Observer’s (dodgy) story about government “spying” on activists that she herself may have been a target. She arrives at this conclusion because she was a former employee of the Dogwood Initiative- one of the organizations mentioned in the Observer’s story.
Her reaction to her discovery was supposedly quite emotional:
“My colleagues and I had been wary of being spied on for a long time, but having it confirmed still took the wind out of me.”
So much so that she took the time to discuss it with her father exclaiming:
“Did you know the Canadian government is spending your tax dollars to spy on your daughter?”
There are a few problems with this statement. First, the government wasn’t spying- the NEB emails clearly stated that everything in their report came from open-source intelligence (stuff found on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc). Next, had the government actually been spying on Dogwood, it’s a great big jump in logic to say they were therefore spying on Gilchrist too.
A couple days ago Gilchrist published a follow-up titled CSIS Involvement in Enbridge Hearings Makes National News– including a recording of her appearance on CBC radio. Published shortly after the accuracy of the Observer’s story was questioned on this website- Gilchrist begins to backpeddle.
Here’s how she explains the situation to the CBC:
“What these latest documents released by the Vancouver Observer indicate is that The National Energy Board was coordinating their security effort, parts of which are perfectly reasonable- that they were ensuring security for their staff and for members of the public at the hearings”
As you can see, Gilchrist is much more reasonable than the Observer was- it’s almost like she’s trying to call them on their deception (or, to slither out after having participated in it). But, just as the listener was getting hopeful Gilchrist was going to repent, she drops another bomb on us:
“…but beyond that, they were communicating with senior criminal intelligence officials at the RCMP, and with CSIS- which is Canada’s spy agency. And, so, when your organization is listed in emails to CSIS, then it becomes very concerning that you’re being watched by Canada’s spy agency”
This statement is very confusing because there’s nothing inside of the NEB emails that indicates that the Dogwood Initiative (or any other group mentioned in the emails) had their name listed in emails sent to CSIS- zip, nil, nada. So, unless there’s something Gilchrist knows that she’s not sharing with us, it appears that she’s either trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or she hasn’t done her research.
Why Would CSIS Spy On Emma And The Dogwood Initiative?
As we’ve established, there’s absolutely zero evidence that CSIS has spied on Gilchrist and/or her former employer Dogwood. But, just for fun, let’s ask the question- is there any scenario where such spying could be justified?
Judging from her online presence, Gilchrist looks like one of the least likely people in the activist community to be considered a security risk. By activist standards, she’s incredibly milquetoast; her only apparent connection to the militant revolutionary crowd was an article she wrote in Rabble.
That said, Gilchrist does have a history of working for lobbying organizations that are directly funded by foreign billionaires and foundations. CSIS’s primary responsibility is to collect intelligence on threats to Canada’s national security. Turning things around – would it not be highly irresponsible for CSIS to ignore the risk these billionaires and foundations might have ulterior motives?
The above chart is based on research by Vivian Krause who discovered that TIDES, Pew and Rockefeller are part of a US environmental umbrella organisation called the Consultative Group for Biological Diversity. The CGBD was created by USAID- a US government agency that’s been kicked out of Russia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and a host of other countries after accusations of meddling in foreign affairs. (Your Humble Narrator watched this happening first-hand in the former Soviet Union).
Is it only a coincidence that each of these countries produces significant amounts of oil?
Of course, none of this proves that these foundations and NGO’s are doing anything wrong. It could be true that the heirs of American oil barons have the best interests of Canadians in mind. Perhaps the Rockefeller Foundation has gone cold-turkey and stepped out of US foreign relations. Maybe there’s no significance to the fact TIDES’ Joel Solomon and his sister Linda at the Observer come from a family with deep connections with the Democratic party.
Yeah, that’s the ticket…
Eco-Terrorism & The Six Degrees Of Derek Jensen.
One of the key arguments in Gilchrist’s story was that the Dogwood Initiative is so distant from violent extremists that it’s laughable that CSIS and NEB security would be ‘spying’ on them. The Observer took a similar tack, complaining about Dogwood and LeadNow being on the list, while ignoring the presence of hardcore radicals like No One Is Illegal and the Council of Canadians.
Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely true. To demonstrate, let’s play the Six Degrees of Derek Jensen:
As you can see in the above video, Derek Jensen is exactly the type of person that CSIS was created to track. The leader of an end-of-the-world cult of anarcho-primitivists, Jensen preaches that the only way to save the Earth is to smash the machinery of industrialization.
One of the organizations Dogwood has partnered with on events is the Forest Action Network- a militant environmental group led by Victoria anarchist Zoe Blunt. Blunt is a member of Derek Jensen’s Deep Green Resistance who’s appeared on his end-of-the-world movie end:civ. The movie encourages people to take actions like blowing up dams and hydro towers. Blunt often describes her militant actions as “economic sabotage”.
This, of course, doesn’t prove that the Dogwood Initiative approves of or engages in violence any more than Gilchrist and the Observer proved that CSIS is spying on Dogwood. However, it does demonstrate another potential reason that CSIS would be interested in understanding what Dogwood has been up to.
The great NEB government spying scandal is one of the most poorly executed activist spin jobs in recent memory. Neither the Gilchrist nor the Observer proved in any way that CSIS was spying on Dogwood or other NGO’s. The only thing that can be confirmed from their emails is that CSIS was asked to provide an assessment of any potential risks (perhaps some Derek Jensen supporters were coming to town?).
There’s no question that government spying has been spiralling out of control. A big reason for this is because Canadians have been too lackadaisical about protecting their privacy- Gilchrist explained it quite well during her interview with the CBC:
“well some people say if you’re not doing anything wrong, then really what concerns do you have that CSIS may be watching, or reading your emails, or listening to your phone calls”
Its already difficult enough to engage Canadians to take action. We’re not going to achieve that if we can’t get people’s trust- crying wolf takes us in the opposite direction. And, for what, so a few hack politicians can have some sound bites?
Classy folks, real classy…