Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
When it comes to its colonial, racist regime of borders and prisons, the Canadian state, in its police headquarters and technocratic backrooms, sees trouble on the horizon. With a network of border posts, patrols, surveillance technology, detention centers, courts, “alternatives to detention”, and deportation squads, this country’s rulers hope to secure the authority to determine who can make a life on the territory they fraudulently govern, who can find a place to live, who can send their kids to school, who can access health care, who can go about their days without fear. They are supported in this project by mass media always ready to dramatize any new trend in irregular border crossings, by cultural myths positing Canada as friendly and welcoming, concealing a murderous, cruel reality, and of course by the far right, who have the vital task of mis-directing poor and working people’s anger towards fellow victims of the global economic system at the root of their sense of powerlessness.
Yet this web of domination is far from impenetrable. Canada’s land border with the United States is too massive to completely control; clandestine crossing points abound. Likewise, overstaying a visa and keeping out of CBSA’s sights is not impossible. Across the country, migrants organize solidarity networks to ensure that no one needs to face the serious challenges of accessing services without status and confronting a racist immigration system alone.
This year, a list of CBSA agents’ names was published, encouraging people to hold them responsible for their destructive effects on our communities and comrades. And over the past two years, in response to the government’s effort to build new migrant prisons, Montreal-area contractors who have accepted work on the prison slated to open in Laval in 2021 have faced protests and a series of attacks, beginning with the release of crickets into prison architect Lemay’s building in spring 2018. This past July, a Lemay vice-president’s BMW was burned outside his home. On the night of October 26, the general contractor for the prison, Tisseur, appears to have lost a truck to a targeted arson. Most recently, this month, vehicles parked at the headquarters of subcontractor DPL had their tires slashed.
Such actions have an impact, both material and psychological; as the president of excavation firm Loiselle told the media after its headquarters was vandalized, “we don’t want trouble with these people.” Should these attacks continue and spread, they could quickly change the landscape of the state’s capability to maintain and expand the enforcement of borders, immigration, and citizenship.
It is no surprise that police agencies, of which at least 4 in the Montreal area have unsolved events related to the migrant prison within their territorial jurisdiction (SPVM, SPL (Laval), SPAL (Longueuil), and SQ), would join forces to share resources and coordinate a more intensive investigation. In fact, a La Presse article in July revealed that such a move was in the works.
The week of October 28th saw the first clear signs of this escalation in repressive resources, as a small number of long-time activists received house visits and phone calls from RCMP officers on the island of Montreal. The officers belong to an INSET (Integrated National Security Enforcement Team), the unit that has coordinated security for summits like the G7 and investigated other instances of what they call “violent extremism”. Each INSET is made up of RCMP officers, CSIS agents, and members of local police forces, as well as members of CBSA and Citizenship and Immigration Canada [source: Wikipedia].
The officers who paid these visits in October had no warrant, and they said they wanted to discuss migrant justice organizing, as well as anti-gentrification movements, in relation to criminal acts that are under investigation. Those visited did not let the cops in or speak with them.
We consider these events important to share publicly so that comrades can take appropriate precautions, recognize patterns, and avoid the spread of false information. Anyone who is contacted by the RCMP, other police, or CSIS in a similar way or in relation to this investigation is strongly encouraged to let comrades know as soon as possible.
In past investigations, the Montreal INSET has used tactics that include bugging phones and houses, tailing suspects, surreptitiously entering houses and offices to make observations unbeknownst to suspects, and infiltrators and paid informants. Even combining these methods and others across several years, the INSET has been unable to bring charges in the past. Collectively, it’s clear where our power lies when faced with this type of investigation: the value of silence and total non-cooperation with any police can not be overstated. There is nothing to be gained by letting officers into your home or saying anything to them. Without a valid warrant, police have no right to enter your home or office (see the COBP’s “Guess What! We’ve Got Rights!?”). Contact a trusted lawyer if you are unsure of your rights in any situation.
Moreover, we benefit from continually reflecting on our security practices and striving to build a security culture that keeps us and our comrades as safe as possible while allowing us to fight with conviction and expand our capacity. This recently published reflection on security culture has much to offer both as an introduction to the topic and a prompt for re-assessing and refining our practices.
By bringing other struggles to which anarchists have contributed, namely anti-gentrification, into their sights, and by brandishing the spectre of “terrorism”, despite investigating mere arson and broken windows, the RCMP shows that it is not simply trying to solve specific crimes; they want to disrupt our movements’ ability to challenge the racist and colonial foundations of the Canadian state and the capitalist imperatives that govern it everywhere. With or without legal proceedings, they want to assign criminality to ideas that threaten them. They want us to be afraid to take the risks necessary to build something different. They want to break down solidarity between those speaking publicly and those acting clandestinely, so that public organizing contains itself within the approved channels of protest, and anonymous interventions are denounced and isolated. Importantly, they are also signaling that our movements are a threat to their ability to carry out their functions, a reminder that now is not the time to shrink away.
We know that the mere threat of repression can be effective at disrupting movements. While the information about this investigation and INSET tactics is concerning, we see no reason for paranoia or panic. This much is simple: if the cops have questions, it shows that they don’t know what they want and need to know. The struggle continues, and it is through the continued and increasing involvement of a wide variety of groups and individuals dedicated to keeping each other safe, sharing information and resources, and refusing to allow the state to sow divisions between us that we will all be the most formidable opponents to the police and the border regime.
When targeted by repressive forces, it can be tempting to appeal to discourses rooted in legality, decrying the ‘excesses’ of the state or demanding protection for ‘civil liberties’. But our movements will be stronger in the long run by acknowledging that if we want to see their world of confinement and control in flames, it’s inevitable that they will attempt to shut us down, by any means at their disposal. Once we step away from the myths of public opinion, it should be clear that there is nothing to gain by portraying ourselves as victims. It’s a question of practicing an unyielding solidarity and denying the state the power it seeks.
Call for Solidarity
In the event of raids or arrests related to the RCMP/INSET investigation, we call for offensive solidarity in Montreal and beyond against border enforcement infrastructure, or whatever targets are most relevant in your area! 🖤