They were East Germany's dreaded secret police. They spied on ordinary East Germans, tapped their phones, intercepted their mail, assessed their 'reliability', used informants, kept dossiers on persons of interest and ordinary citizens alike.
Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, INSET.
And just whose security is INSET enforcing? Yours? Mine? Canada's? Hardly. Don't be naive. They're the taxpayer funded security service of the fossil fuelers and especially the tar sanders, corporations like Enbridge and Kinder Morgan. Oh yeah, and the Peoples Republic of China.
71-year old Leslie Askin received a "visit" from state security officers. Why? She had taken some photographs of what she thought were Kinder Morgan storage tanks in Burnaby, B.C. She wasn't sneaking around. She wasn't trespassing. She stood a good distance away and took her photos. She wanted to show the condition of the 60-year old tanks to the National Energy Board.
Askin was spotted by Kinder Morgan security and they, in turn, set Canada's secret police apparatus on her.
Kinder Morgan says it reports all potential threats to police to "ensure the security and safety of our facilities and the surrounding community is maintained."
"It is our security protocol to record and file an internal report of any suspicious activities surrounding our facilities and to inform the RCMP of the incident," the company says.
Ten days later Askin had RCMP officers on her doorstep demanding answers.
In a statement, a spokeseperson for E-INSET confirms they did visit an individual who was seen taking photographs of Kinder Morgan's storage terminal.
"The protection and security of critical infrastructure falls within the mandate of E-INSET. Any and all tips reported to us are followed up on to the fullest extent." But, in Askin'scase: "there were no issues and the file was concluded with no further action taken."
Askin has filed an access to information to try and find out what is in her police file.
"I am now in the INSET’s database and I will be there, I guess, until I drop dead," she said.
When dealing with a state secret police agency, they're never entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Never. They're thugs who operate in the shadows, in service not to the country but to powerful, immensely wealthy corporations who could easily do their own security. But those corporations lack the intrusive powers of the state, they lack the professional spy apparatus, the very service that INSET serves up to them on a platter.
My father and my uncles went to war, sacrificed enormously, to fight this sort of thuggery. We're damned poor Canadians if we fail to stand up to it in our own time.
I have an idea. Let's catalogue Kinder Morgan and Enbridge facilities. Then let's organize groups of people to individually visit those facilities, monitor them, record licence plate numbers, and take plenty of photographs. 20 or 30 monitors a day, new faces rotated in daily. Nothing remotely illegal. No trespassing, no obstruction, no heckling. Just maintain a vigil at a safe and legal distance, letting Kinder Morgan and Enbridge and the Canadian Stasi and our despotic government know that we will not be intimidated and we will respond in kind in keeping with our democratic and constitutional right of dissent.
They want to gather intelligence on us. We should gather intelligence on them, every scrap we can collect. To the Stasi, being exposed was like the noonday sun to a vampire.
They can intimidate us, one by one, but they'll have a hell of a hard time doing it if they have 20 or 40 or 100 new names each and every day, a list that could quickly grow into many hundreds, perhaps even thousands. Watch, we can make them stand down, crawl back into the slime beneath their rocks.
The RCMP has served notice that it is quite prepared to criminalize democratic dissent. I won't have it. No, not in my Canada. What about yours?
And if the goons demand your name, tell them "Leslie Askin."