Lesslie Askin was shocked that she was investigated by the national security police after taking pictures for a public pipeline hearing.
Photo Credit: CBC

Senior shocked to be deemed a terror threat

A 71-year-old grandmother was shocked to learn that her research for a public hearing on an oil pipeline triggered a national security investigation.

Lesslie Askin took photographs of an oil company’s aging storage tanks near Burnaby Mountain in the western province of British Columbia on August 3rd. She wanted to use them for a presentation at the upcoming National Energy Board (NEB) hearings into Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline for shipping oil products through from the neighbouring province of Alberta to the Pacific coast.

Lesslie Askin says she did not trespass when she took pictures of aging oil tanks to use at a pipeline hearing. © CBC

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’

“In order to show the NEB the condition of these tanks, which is the focus of my opposition—these tanks are over 60 years old—To bring that fact home, to me, a picture is worth a thousand words,”Askin said.

Ten days later, Askin discovered she was a terror suspect. “There’s a knock on the door, and there are two RCMP (national police) officers at the door,” she told a reporter with the public broadcaster, CBC. “The chap who asked all the questions [said he] was an investigator with the national security division.”

Askin questions why she received so much attention from the RCMP E-Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (E-INSET), which is made of up RCMP officers, Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Parliamentary representative Kennedy Stewart says Askin is the second oil pipeline opponent to come under police scrutiny and he wants to know why. © CBC

Not the first investigation of a pipeline opponent, says MP

“I have never had any interaction with the law,” she said. “I’m 71 years old. I have no criminal record. I’m not a threatening person.”

The member of Parliament who represents the area says Askin is the second pipeline opponent to complain about police attention and he wants to know why it’s happening.

‘It’s a big concern’

“It is very intimidating and a big concern with me,” New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart told CBC News. “A Kinder Morgan employee decides that it’s worth triggering a terrorist investigation: The company owes us an explanation as to why they think this 71-year-old woman in a potential terrorist.”

Kinder Morgan issued a statement with regards to the incident: “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.”

Askin has filed a request under Canada’s Access to Information Law to try to 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.

Categories: Environment & Animal Life, Society

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