There have recently been visits by members of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) to various local social justice organizers and activists. This community advisory is in response to those visits.
Visits by CSIS to activists in Montreal are nothing new; they have taken place before around specific events or projects. CSIS has recently conducted over 60 visits to about 40 activists in the Vancouver-area, related to opposition to the 2010 Olympics. In general, CSIS visits can have different purposes: they are not only about information-gathering but can also be attempts to create or exploit divisions between activists, plant misinformation, intimidate, develop psychological profiles, and recruit informers.
If CSIS comes knocking, we strongly encourage total and complete non-cooperation. A CSIS visit to your home or workplace will be a surprise, but we encourage you to be ready to not cooperate with them in any way.
If you are in a precarious position -- due to your immigration status, pending criminal charges, probation, parole, or any other reason -- we strongly encourage you to NEVER EVER talk to CSIS alone. Instead, tell them to contact a trusted lawyer that you have chosen, and then refuse to say anything else. You can contact the People's Commission Network for references to lawyers who can act diligently against CSIS intimidation tactics.
If you are comfortable doing so, ask for the names, telephone numbers and cards of the CSIS agents who want to talk to you. Insist they provide their names, and don't say anything else. You are under no legal obligation, ever, to confirm your identity with CSIS.
Sometimes CSIS agents might begin speaking to you and only later identify themselves. In that case, if you are taken by surprise, we encourage you to refuse to continue speaking with CSIS. You can always default back to being silent. In dealing with security services, silence is the golden rule.
In all cases, you are encouraged to tell CSIS to leave your home or workplace or cease following you. Tell CSIS clearly to leave, in whatever fashion you feel is appropriate. You can insist they leave, to the point of closing doors in their face.
Remember, although CSIS can act in very ugly ways, it has no arrest or policing powers.
We encourage you to get in touch with the People's Commission Network to report any CSIS visits or related incidents. Your correspondence with the People's Commission Network will be considered confidential. Consider any unannounced CSIS visit to be harassment against you. If possible, we encourage you to write down your experience so that you have the facts clearly noted.
CSIS' job is to gather information for the state and to disrupt movements of social justice. Their broad mandate includes monitoring any activities they deem to threaten the current political and economic order. Their intimidation focuses on indigenous peoples, immigrants, racialized communities, radical political organizations, labour unions, as well as the allies of these groups. CSIS' actions, which show clear evidence of gross incompetence, racism, as well as complicity in torture, are just even more reason why they deserve no cooperation whatsoever by anyone involved in movements for social justice.
Total non-cooperation with CSIS and other security agencies by the entire social justice community - broadly and inclusively defined - is our best way of maintaining unity and solidarity, as well as keeping our focus on our important day-to-day organizing and activism.
To recap: Do not talk to CSIS or share any information with them, no matter how harmless you think it is. Do consider reporting the visit to the People's Commission Network.
Please share this community advisory within your networks, and with members of your organizations and groups, so we can encourage collective non-cooperation with CSIS.
The People's Commission Network (Montreal) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 514-848-7583
Selected background information:
Contact the People's Commission Network: QPIRG Concordia - Peoples's Commission Network c/o Concordia University 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest Montreal, QC, H3G 1M8 email@example.com
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