The RCMP, which will lead the effort, would not say whether the team was assembled in response to specific threats, nor did it pinpoint which pieces of infrastructure it will focus on. However, Alberta hosts the vast majority of Canada’s oil assets, which have attracted international criticism and suffered security breaches. The province also has an extensive pipeline network, as well as upgraders and refineries, which protesters also target. Pipelines, for example, have been bombed in British Columbia.
The Tories have long stressed the importance of Alberta’s oil and gas to the entire Canadian economy, and are now taking measures to hinder critics’ ability to speak at regulatory hearings and shore up financial support. By establishing a counter-terrorism team in Alberta, the government is further emphasizing the importance it places on the western province and the threats it believes the energy industry faces.
Indeed, the federal government recently labelled some critics “radicals,” while the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believe protest groups like Greenpeace and other dissenters have the capability to attack critical infrastructure in Canada. Greenpeace insists it is committed to non-violent protest.
The new counterterrorism unit, with offices in Edmonton and Calgary, will be Canada’s fifth so-called Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
“Our government has made responsible, effective investments to fight terrorism and protect Canadians, including the creation of INSETs in major Canadian cities that are responsible for criminal investigations involving terrorist activities,” Vic Toews, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, said in a statement as the RCMP announced the new effort Wednesday.
Sergeant Greg Cox, a media relations officer for the RCMP in Ottawa, said there is “no indication that the threat level is higher” in Alberta. “However, as in any part of the country, we need to remain vigilant. The establishment of an INSET in Alberta ensures that we have the capacity to address these threats if they arise.”
INSETs were established following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Alberta’s INSET was “prompted by factors such as a growing population, a strong economy supported by the province’s natural resources and the need to protect critical infrastructure,” the RCMP said in its statement.
Public Safety Canada on its website says: “Critical infrastructure refers to processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government … Disruptions of critical infrastructure could result in catastrophic loss of life, adverse economic effects and significant harm to public confidence.”
Alberta hosts 400,000 kilometres of pipeline; more than 176,000 operating oil and gas wells; eight oil sands mines; five upgraders; and 250 in-situ oil extraction facilities, according to the Energy Resources Conservation Board. The ERCB does not tally refineries.
FULL ARTICLE HERE: Ottawa launches Alberta counterterrorism unit | Warrior Publications.