Enbridge pipeline company funding of police challenged in Hamilton, now seen in Minnesota and elsewhere
“200+ folks face criminal charges for protecting our territory from Line 3.”: Tara Houska, Giniw Collective
Emily Atkin reports in Heated: “Enbridge established a financial relationship with Minnesota law enforcement in May 2020, when the state Public Utilities Commission approved Line 3’s route permit. That permit required the oil giant to set up a special fund that would reimburse police responding to anything pipeline-related.”
Atkin adds: “The permit said law enforcement could get reimbursed by Enbridge for any activity related to public safety and the pipeline.”
Notably, Atkin cites an article in The Intercept that reports a Minnesota Sheriff’s Office has requested Enbridge reimburse them for nearly $72,000 worth of riot gear and more than $10,000 in other costs including tear gas, pepper spray and batons.
Jane Fonda, who was in a car stopped by police while in Minnesota to speak against the Line 3 pipeline, has commented on this situation.
Fonda says: “This is a public police force that’s been privatized by a foreign oil company, and every minute they spend harassing the water protectors—and assaulting the water protectors—they turn in an invoice and they get paid.”
The article further notes that the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is preparing to take legal action to challenge Enbridge’s financial relationship with Minnesota police.
Enbridge funded Hamilton police in 2013
In 2013, Hamilton 350 was fighting against the Enbridge Line 9B pipeline that puts at risk the Beverly Swamp in the headwaters of Spencer Creek, Hamilton’s largest watershed.
At that time, CBC reported: “Representatives from Hamilton 350 filed a policy complaint against Hamilton police services board for accepting $44,410 in donations from Enbridge Pipelines Inc. The money was given in two separate installments — $34,910 for a new ATV unit and $9,500 for mapping and GPS equipment in 2010.”
By November 2015, Toronto.com reported: “Enbridge Pipelines has stopped giving equipment grants to police services across Canada because of criticisms from Hamilton activists.”
Funding through police foundations
But companies can also direct money to the police through foundations.
In August 2020, The Tyee reported: “Canadian police forces have received millions of dollars from oil companies, banks and financiers, through shadowy charitable foundations that have little public oversight and increasingly serve as a ‘cash cow’ of private money.”
For example, that article cites: “Oil companies like Enbridge, Cenovus and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. helped kickstart the Calgary Police Foundation in 2012 with million-dollar donations, and pipeline company TransCanada is an annual donor, though the foundation would not say how much current donors give.”
“Cooperation agreements” in Colombia
Peace Brigades International-Canada has also drawn attention to the concern that the Canadian oil company Frontera Energy signed two agreements with the Ministry of Defence in Colombia for a total of US$1,343,106 to secure army protection for its activities.
In Colombia, the police are a part of the Ministry of Defence.
Not long after these agreements were signed, the police and army arrested eight social leaders who had been protested the environmental impacts of the company on their community of San Luis de Palenque in the department of Casanare.
There are reportedly more than 200 of these ‘cooperation agreements’ between the Ministry of Defence and more than 70 national and international companies.
PBI-Canada continues to follow these situations with concern.