By Tom Fennario and Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
MONTREAL--An agent with Canada’s spy agency tried to entice a Kanesatake man to meet over “coffee” and discuss his recent trip to Greece before turning the conversation personal by bringing up the 1990 Oka Crisis, according to a recording of the phone conversation posted online.
The recording offers a revealing snapshot of the tactics agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service use to turn targets into informants.
The agent, who called himself Francois Allard, tried to first entice Clifton Nicholas with coffee to discuss the goings-on in Greece, a country which has been wracked by protests triggered by its financial collapse. When Allard faced resistance during the phone call, he then targeted what he believed to be Nicholas’ emotional pressure points.
Kanesatake, which sits near Montreal, was the Mohawk community at the centre of the Oka Crisis.
APTN National News phoned Allard using the phone number he gave Nicholas. At first Allard claimed APTN National News had the wrong number, but when told that his voice matched the one in the recorded conversation, he said he had no comment and suggested the reporter contact CSIS’ media relations officer.
“I have no comment sir, you are going to have to talk to public relations office,” said Allard. “All I can give you is a number which I don’t have on me.”
CSIS did not return calls seeking comment.
Nicholas, who was in Greece between May and June of this year, recorded the conversation on his iPhone off the speaker on his landline telephone. He posted the recording on YouTube under the heading “CSIS harassment.”
“It kind of creeped me out,” said Nicholas, who travels widely speaking about Indigenous issues and his experiences during the Oka Crisis. “It kind of confirms that I am being monitored, that my movements are being monitored.”
Nicholas said he often travels in “left-leaning and anarchist circles” and he hung out with communists and anarchists while he was in Greece attending a festival in Athens.
“It makes me nervous. When I travel to other countries are they going to flag me?” he said.
Nicholas said he believes the agent attempted to ‘turn him’ by trying to draw an emotional response from him during the conversation.
“He was trying to get an emotional rise out of me and I played his fame for a bit,” said Nicholas. “He was trying to get information from me by eliciting an emotional response.”
The recording begins when Allard asked Nicholas out for coffee.
“There are a couple of things I would like to talk to you (about),” said Allard, according to the recording.
“I’m not really interested in talking to CSIS,” Nicholas responded. “Don’t trust you and I’m not a rat.”
Allard then tried to assure Nicholas it had nothing to do with ratting out anyone.
“It has nothing to do with that…I want to talk to you about your trip to Greece,” said Allard.
“What is my problem with my trip to Greece?” said Nicholas.
“I want to talk to you about it,” said Allard.
“What is the problem with it, you didn’t like what I had to say about the truth of what is going on here?” said Nicholas.
Nicholas spoke at a B-FEST festival in Athens about mining, the Tar Sands and its impact on Indigenous communities. The festival also featured Canadian author Naomi Klein.
“Maybe not so about what is going on here, but what is going on over there,” said Nicholas.
Allard seems to realize he’s not getting anywhere with Nicholas and switches tactics, this time targeting his politics and Indigenous identity.
“Wait, wait, wait one more thing I want to talk to you [about], how do you reconcile your native roots with your anarchist activities?” said Allard.
“That is my business,” responded Nicholas.
“How can you reconcile both?” said Allard. “I would like to have your information on that.”
Nicholas tells Allard to figure it out on his own. Allard then focuses on Nicholas and his role during the 1990 Oka Crisis.
“Why do you claim all the time you were behind the barricades in 1990 when the people involved back in 1990 say you weren’t involved at all, why do you keep making that claim?” said Allard. “I am just addressing the question with you. I want to understand why you keep saying this when we both know it’s not true…that is your claim to fame.”
Allard then said Nicholas was only behind the barricades until the Surete du Quebec arrived.
“You know I am telling you the truth, admit it,” said Allard.
The conversation ends shortly after Nicholas informs Allard the phone call was being recorded and would be released publicly.
In a separate interview with APTN National News, Nicholas, who still lives in Kanesatake and maintains remained there throughout the summer-long crisis, said he has nothing to hide about his time during the crisis.
“I don’t need to justify myself to this guy,” said Nicholas. “I am not going to start explaining myself to this man.”
Nicholas said the incident left him puzzled.
“I feel like it’s a violation of my freedom of movement,” he said. “Why are they monitoring me? I don’t understand that, I am not a significant player in anything.”