RCMP wary of coup

Regina Leader-Post - - News - By IAN MACLEOD Postmedia News

OT­TAWA — RCMP of­fi­cials have iden­ti­fied a new threat to na­tional se­cu­rity: a coup d’etat.

The ref­er­ence to a vi­o­lent over­throw of the fed­eral govern­ment is con­tained in the RCMP’s plans and pri­or­i­ties re­port to govern­ment for 2010-11. It lists na­tional se­cu­rity as one of five op­er­a­tional pri­or­i­ties for the year.

The doc­u­ment then cites four spe­cific se­cu­rity con­cerns: ■ Es­pi­onage and sab­o­tage. ■ For­eign-in­flu­enced crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties detri­men­tal to the in­ter­ests of Canada. ■ Ter­ror­ism. ■ And . . . “ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at over­throw­ing, by vi­o­lence, the Govern­ment of Canada.”

RCMP of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ately avail­able Fri­day to ex­plain the ref­er­ence, but such lan­guage has not ap­peared in pre­vi­ous RCMP re­ports.

Over the past year, the Moun­ties have sig­nalled a re­newed em­pha­sis on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues that have been pushed aside by law en­force­ment’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with global ter­ror­ism since 9/11.

In a ma­jor speech last fall, for ex­am­ple, RCMP Com­mis­sioner Wil­liam El­liott said while transna­tional ter­ror­ism and “home­grown” rad­i­cal­iza­tion re­main big threats, so too are eco­nomic es­pi­onage by for­eign states, transna­tional or­ga­nized crime, pro­lif­er­a­tion is­sues, il­le­gal mi­gra­tion and other border-se­cu­rity is­sues.

While hy­per­bolic, the men­tion of a coup threat ap­pears to re­flect the force’s re­turn to a broader op­er­a­tional ap­proach to guard­ing na­tional se­cu­rity.

It’s also not the first talk of a govern­ment over­throw. The 1999 book Agent of In­flu­ence al­leged the U.S. CIA plot­ted a de facto coup of Lester B. Pearson’s govern­ment in the early 1960s.

Cana­dian author Ian Adams claimed that af­ter the 1963 as­sas­si­na­tion of U.S. pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, CIA counter-in­tel­li­gence branch head James Je­sus An­gle­ton be­came con­vinced Pearson was an agent for Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence and sup­pos­edly had in­for­ma­tion from a Soviet de­fec­tor back­ing him up.

“The CIA took great per­sonal of­fence at Pearson’s in­de­pen­dent stands in for­eign pol­icy, his grain trades with the Soviet Union, his an­ti­war po­si­tions on Viet­nam, and es­pe­cially his friendly stance on Cuba,” wrote Adams.

To get at Pearson, the CIA set its sights first on Cana­dian diplo­mat James Watkins, Canada’s am­bas­sador to Rus­sia in the mid-1950s and a friend of the prime min­is­ter. Af­ter 27 days of in­ter­ro­ga­tion by the Moun­ties, the 62-year-old Watkins’ trou­bled heart gave out and he died, ap­par­ently with­out sup­ply­ing the con­fes­sion the spy­mas­ters hoped could bring down the govern­ment.

“I think what they wanted was to ex­tract some kind of com­pro­mis­ing con­fes­sion from him that would some­how put Pearson in a bad light and bring down Pearson and his govern­ment,” Adams told the Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen in an in­ter­view in 1999.

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