Category Archives: First Nations

The Unanticipated Pricetag of Being an Olympic Corporate Sponsor

The Canadian Press: Threats against Olympic sponsors worry security officials.

They should be worried! I don’t know if they need to be $1b worried, but if you do the math, there is earned concern:

((The Olympics corporate welfare program) + (obscene reductions in government spending for human beings) + (radical and radicalized groups who object to the billions wasted on this spectacle, and what in our culture it has steamrollered) + (sponsors and government groups that flaunt their glee in the faces of those suffering) + (an opportunity to capture attention on a global scale)) x (an unpredictable economic depression [ooops, Great Recession]) = a perfect storm of wariness.

And while the CBC recently reported that the carnage that has become the lower mainland in the last 2 months is likely the playing out of choked distribution points in the Mexican drug war, the climate of fatal violence in and around Vancouver increases the likelihood of radicalized responses to the Olympics.

And if Gordon Campbell gets re-elected [by the way…did you know that Gordon Campbell hates you?] then we should all expect things to ramp up considerably once he implements his crowning agenda buoyed by being elected a third time!

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Threats against Olympic sponsors worry security officials

OTTAWA — Possible threats against sponsors of next year’s Vancouver Olympics have federal security agents wringing their hands over “extremist elements,” a newly released intelligence report reveals.

The report by the government’s threat assessment centre cites vandalism of a corporate backer’s premises, theft of the Games flag, and skirmishes between protesters and police during unveiling of the Olympic countdown clock.

The Royal Bank of Canada, a key Games sponsor, “has been named specifically in anarchist and anti-Olympic Internet postings,” notes the analysis, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: Terrorist Threat to Vancouver Area Facilities.

Between September 2007 and last May, anarchists claimed responsibility for four attacks in which large rocks were thrown through the windows of Vancouver Royal Bank branches, says the assessment under a section titled Domestic Non-Islamist Extremist Groups.

“Extremist elements . . . have publicly stated their intent to continue acts of protest and possible violence against both the Olympics and commercial symbols they perceive to represent the 2010 Olympic Games.”

The threat assessment also looks at Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and radicals inspired by the terrorist movement, as well as “Lone Wolf” attackers like Kimveer Gill, a gunman who killed one student and wounded 19 others at Montreal’s Dawson College.

The document was prepared last July by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, which includes representatives of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and several other security and police agencies. A copy was recently released along with other assessments to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Several portions of the threat assessments, labelled For Official Use Only, were withheld from disclosure.

Chris Shaw, spokesman for Games monitoring group 2010watch, found the reports amateurish.

“This is the best they can do?” he asked.

“These guys need to get a serious grip, frankly. I think they’re really confusing legitimate political dissent, however disruptive it might be, with a threat. And it’s simply not.”

More than 5,000 athletes are expected from 80 countries at the Winter Games, to begin next February in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

Numerous activists, from aboriginal groups to anti-poverty fighters, oppose the Games, saying the expensive mega-event will hurt Vancouver’s poor, damage the environment and drain provincial coffers.

The cost of Games security has been pegged at $900 million, far more than the original estimate.

Organizers are depending on corporate sponsors including the Royal Bank to support and promote the Games, but their participation appears to have heightened fears they will become targets for those who claim the Olympics have come to symbolize money more than sport.

The threat assessment centre prepared two briefs last September on possible actions against the Canadian Pacific Spirit Train that travelled to Montreal from Vancouver to drum up Olympic enthusiasm.

“There have been calls to boycott companies and organizations which support or sponsor the upcoming games,” says one assessment. “Acts of vandalism, criminal mischief and trespass against sites associated to the Olympics and its sponsors have taken place and now protest action against the train is being encouraged.”

CSIS referred a request for comment to the B.C.-based integrated unit responsible for Games security. However, a unit spokesman did not return phone calls.

Shaw fears the threat assessments cold be used to justify cracking down on groups that oppose the Games.

“No one knows who threw the rocks through the (Royal Bank) windows,” he said. “Just because somebody’s posted something to some obscure blog . . . assuming that therefore you’re dealing with anti-2010 anarchist protesters, to use their term, is just absurd.

“If the police knew who’d done it, they would have arrested them, and they haven’t. So it could be anybody.”

The Royal Bank refused an interview request, but said in a statement it believes most people don’t support vandalism against sponsors, adding that the safety and security of employees, clients and suppliers are the bank’s top priorities.

“We have numerous security measures in place to protect them and will continue to assess and enhance our security procedures as required,” the bank said.

“RBC respects the right of people to express their opinions as long as it is done in a peaceful and respectful manner. We accept that there will always be critics; we would only hope that criticism will be constructive and truthful.”

Moving Past Complacency in Protest

Activists need some inspiration. Salutin’s piece in the Globe today [see below] is key to reminding us of the necessity of a fight, not just a polite march through some streets to a park for a peaceful rally. That’s important. However, the injustices seeping into the fabric of our rapidly decaying democracy need to be challenged radically, in part to wake up a complacent public distracted by Canadian Idol, iPhones and the fall TV line up.

Neglect of social, political and economic for First Nations, the creeping SPP and our recent success in outing the agent provocateurs at Montebello [though we still need an inquiry and a government to topple because of it] all should remind us of what is at stake.

Indeed, the success with the rock-carrying masked cops in Quebec should let us know that the anti-democratic elites running our country are desperate to undermine dissent.

Their desperation is our vindication of the importance of what they are doing and what we need to do to stop them.

Mild social change can be polite. But when elites are transforming our democracies into soft fascism, the stakes are incredibly higher. Perhaps the biggest indication of this is in the USA where habeas corpus has now been declared optional and the population is largely unaware of it and certainly too complacent to do anything about it.

George w.Caesar is not Jack Bauer. In the backs of too many people’s minds, I think he is seen that way. This kind of complacency will be our undoing.

Salutin’s piece is a welcome tonic.

A Canadian labour moment: Don’t apologize, never placate
The Globe And Mail
Friday, August 31, 2007
Rick Salutin

Labour Day weekend, 2007.

Canadian labour had a good moment two weeks ago at the Montebello protest. Union leader Dave Coles denounced three undercover cops posing as anarchists and cradling rocks to give the protest a bad name. They retreated behind police lines, not a normal anarchist tactic. But he went a step too far for my taste, in shouting, “This is a peaceful demonstration.” He sounded perhaps overeager to placate TV viewers or police or maybe the people who write editorials in places such as The Globe and Mail. To be sure, it was a peaceful protest, but radical movements such as labour have been most effective when they had a touch of menace.

Uh-oh, I’m having a Dave Coles moment. I don’t mean they should be violent or threaten violence. But they need a sense of implacable determination that takes them beyond any desire to seem respectable. The best example is the movement for Indian independence led by Gandhi. He more or less invented non- violence as a political tactic. Yet, he didn’t shun violence when it arose and, in cases, courted it. He wouldn’t instigate or retaliate, but lots of bloodshed was involved. Here’s 90-year-old Baji Mohammed, “one of India’s last living freedom fighters,” interviewed recently: “On August 25, 1942, we were all arrested and held. Nineteen people died on the spot in police firing … Many died thereafter … Over 300 were injured. More than a thousand were jailed … Several were shot or executed. There were over a hundred shaheed (martyrs) … ” Others, such as Nelson Mandela, went to jail for causes that did involve armed resistance. But I’m saying the key is not violence, it’s relentless determination.

A sense of commitment at any cost draws the attention of others, and sometimes their respect, especially if every normal recourse has failed, sometimes for centuries. I’m thinking of the case of Shawn Brant, the Mohawk leader who spoke eloquently for native protests that recently closed Highway 401 and the CN rail line. He was jailed and has twice been denied bail. In an eloquent plea of her own, his wife, Sue Collis, compared his situation to labour protests against Mike Harris in Ontario 11 years ago. Then, she says, “economic repercussions … far surpassed” those of the recent one, “yet no labour leader was ever jailed, let alone charged.” So why is Shawn Brant in jail? I’d say there was an implacability in his expression; he cut his opponents no moral slack. He didn’t threaten, but he didn’t try to mollify, either.

In its heyday, the labour movement had this kind of single-minded, almost stoic conviction. Its main weapon, the strike, was non-violent but aroused feelings comparable to those during war, toward scabs or bosses. In that frame of mind, there is no need felt to placate the other side and none at all for respectability. What would you want it for?

I think a society benefits from this kind of challenge. It clarifies choices and discourages endless avoidance. Sue Collis writes that, after the Mohawk blockades in June, polls showed “71 per cent of Canadians wanting actions on land claims and 41 per cent of Ontarians prepared to acknowledge rail blockades as justified.” There’s also a social loss when fierceness and passion vanish almost entirely from movements such as labour or the environment. I sympathize with the dismay of green veterans at the rise as a green icon of Al Gore – who couldn’t even beat George Bush in his home state in 2000 or fight the battle of the Florida recount with bloody-mindedness, despite its dire implications.

Sue Collis writes that, after the second bail hearing, she found herself “contemplating the best way to tell my children that they would have to wait an unknown period of time before seeing their dad, and wondering how to explain … why.” From a very minimally comparable experience, I’d recommend playing them a Peter, Paul and Mary song: “Have you been to jail for justice? I want to shake your hand …”