Report finds stops, searches of protesters ‘unlawful’: “Watchdog, The report that has been completed is absolutely explosive,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said at a news conference in Vancouver by The Canadian Press, Feb 20, 2020, Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — A civilian police watchdog has released what Indigenous advocates in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are calling an “explosive” letter condemning RCMP actions against Indigenous protesters.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP alleging Mounties unlawfully restricted access to a remote logging road in northern British Columbia before they enforced an injunction this month on behalf of Coastal GasLink.
The association filed statements on behalf of eight Wet’suwet’en members and supporters who say they were turned away from the area when trying to deliver supplies, give legal support or visit pipeline opponents at a camp along the road.
Commission chairperson Michelaine Lehaie says in a nine-page response letter that she won’t begin a public interest investigation because she doesn’t want to delay the resolution of issues being raised.
She says similar issues and allegations against the RCMP have already been raised and investigated and she believes there is “significant” public interest in addressing them.
She says her unpublished report about RCMP actions in 2013 against Indigenous-led anti-shale gas protests in Kent County, N.B., found RCMP stop checks went beyond the limited purpose mandated by the courts and were inconsistent with the charter rights of vehicle occupants.
She says the Commission found there was no legal authority to require passengers to produce identification at stop checks in that case and that routine vehicle searches of individuals entering the protesters’ campsites were not authorized by law.
Lehaie sent her report to the Mounties in March 2019 but has yet to receive a response from the RCMP Commissioner.
“The report that has been completed is absolutely explosive,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said at a news conference in Vancouver.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafonde, director of the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School and Dialogue Centre, said the fact that the RCMP has not responded to the commissioner almost a year after receiving the report raises questions about the civilian oversight body’s power to compel the RCMP to act. [AND PROVES THERE IS NO RULE OF LAW IN CANADA, EXCEPT WHEN IT SUITS THE RICH, WHITE PRIVILEGED POWERFUL CANADIANS AND INDUSTRY, AND POLITICIANS.]
The people who filed the complaint in 2013 have yet to see the report and she said a seven-year delay in justice is unacceptable.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Turpel-Lafonde said.
RCMP Handling of Wet’suwet’en Protests Mirrors Complaints in New Brunswick, Almost 12 months after receiving report from complaints commission, RCMP still hasn’t responded by Amanda Follett Hosgood. Feb 20, 2020, TheTyee.ca
The RCMP set up a detachment known as a Community-Industry Safety Office on the forestry road in January 2019 following the enforcement of an interim injunction at Gidimt’en camp, 44 kilometres down the road. At the time, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs said the equivalent of 16 full-time officers were stationed at the detachment.
RCMP have been accused of over-policing the area while cases into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls remain unsolved. Those opposed to the pipeline have also pointed to last year’s final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which connects resource extraction projects to an increase in violence against women.
Coastal GasLink is building a work camp to house up to 400 people in the area. Transient workers housed in “man camps” are a major concern, according to the missing women’s report, as high-paying, high-stress jobs contribute to an increase in drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assaults and domestic violence.
At a news conference in Vancouver this morning, Delee Nikal, a Wet’suwet’en nation member from the Gidimt’en clan, named a half dozen close female friends and family members who have gone missing throughout her lifetime. She said it’s just one of the ways RCMP have let the Wet’suwet’en people down.
“There are no answers for the reasons they went missing. There are no perpetrators that have been found. [Are the RCMP not looking under orders from the oil and gas industry because the industry needs a steady supply of women and children for workers to rape and abuse to keep them on the job?] we can see militarized forces out on our territories, keeping us from our own land, from land that our ancestors took care of,” Nikal said.
Nikal was one of two complainants, along with Cody Merriman, named in a statement filed Jan. 14 by the BCCLA after Wet’suwet’en members were denied access to the territory by RCMP. Both Nikal and Merriman were delivering food and emergency supplies to camps cut off by the road closure.
“It was heartbreaking, because that’s where Cody lives,” Nikal said. “They live out there and they can’t go home. The yintah’s our home and we can’t go there and feel safe, because we know of the excessive force that could be used if we tried to.” [Ever since the RCMP invaded my private property in 2009, without a warrant, I no longer feel safe in my home, walking in my community, or on any roads or in public in Canada.]
Merriman’s partner, Gidimt’en clan member Molly Wickham (Sleydo’), spoke at this morning’s news conference about being cut off from her home.
“I’ve been prevented from accessing my civic residence for a period of time, criminalized as Wet’suwet’en while non-Wet’suwet’en were allowed to access our territory freely,” she said.
“[Wet’suwet’en] were prevented from accessing our territory while our people had guns pointed at them, had sniper rifles pointed at them, and while non-Wet’suwet’en people and other residents of the area were allowed to freely go and access their homes, were freely allowed to access our territory to go ice fishing, to harvest firewood and to do whatever it was that they felt free to do on our land.”
While an RCMP-implemented exclusion zone has been lifted, Wickham said police have a continued presence on the territory and have been stopping Wet’suwet’en members and supporters, including a supporter who was collecting firewood for one of the camps Wednesday.
“Although the exclusion zone is down, although the checkpoint is down, the RCMP continue to monitor and heavily surveil our people coming into our camps, coming into our homes, shining lights into our faces, identifying and surveilling and recording information about every single person who comes and goes from our territory,” she said.
Wickham expressed skepticism about Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s announcement today that RCMP will leave the area if Coastal GasLink workers are permitted to access the pipeline route. [I don’t trust the minister for one minute, and not any RCMP or any other politician in Canada]
“The RCMP clearly have not yet vacated or officially engaged with our hereditary chiefs, with our government. Respectfully, our chiefs and our clans require full engagement on this issue immediately, and it’s suspicious to me that government and RCMP would publicly state that they’ve met our conditions without having spoken to our hereditary leadership,” she said.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, director of UBC’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and a professor at the UBC Allard School of Law, said it is a matter of national interest that RCMP provide a timely response to complaints filed by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
“It is not acceptable that the RCMP for more than a year not respond to a report of this magnitude,” she said. “If you wait seven or eight years for a response to a complaint and the commission finds that in fact your rights were violated, that it was an illegal search, that it was an excessive police act, is it a meaningful thing to find that out seven years later?
“In terms of the safety of First Nations people and their human rights throughout Canada, including in Wet’suwet’en territory, these are massively important issues and they need clarity.”
The complaint previously filed about the RCMP relates to an October 2013 incident where more than 40 people were arrested in Rexton, N.B., after those protesting shale gas exploration clashed with police. Members of the Elsipogtog First Nation had implemented a roadblock to protest seismic testing being conducted by SWN Resources.
The project would have extracted shale gas using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the same method that would be used in northeast B.C. to provide gas for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
In her letter to the BCCLA, the commission’s Lahaie said she released details of the earlier complaint “as these are directly related to the issues you raise in your correspondence.”
A summary of the commission’s previous findings and recommendations deal with the use of arrest, use of detention and search powers, use of force and the adequacy of communication with members of the public.
“I also consider the issues raised in your correspondence to be of significant public interest,” the letter reads. “Reflecting the seriousness of these matters, the Commission has already conducted a comprehensive analysis of such issues, and other closely related issues, in its Kent County public interest investigation.”
Also mentioned are the handling of arrests at protest camps, the handling of spiritual items and practices and “the role of the RCMP in the policing of protests by Indigenous peoples pertaining to Indigenous land rights, and whether there was differential treatment of Indigenous peoples compared to other protesters.”
In the Kent County report, the commission found that RCMP had no legal authority to conduct checkstops for “the purposes of information gathering,” nor did they have authority to require vehicle passengers to produce identification.
“The RCMP, we see, has continued to engage in the very similar patterns of unlawful police operations in Wet’suwet’en territory,” said Walia of the BCCLA. “The RCMP has granted itself unlawful, discretionary and unjustified powers to set up and expand an exclusion zone, to arrest people within the exclusion zone who are not actually in breach of the injunction, and they have unreasonably stopped and checked passengers and searched vehicles.
“There is absolutely no legal precedent nor any legal authority for such an overbroad policing power. Simply put, RCMP operations in Wet’suwet’en territories have been unlawful.”
In an emailed statement, RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin said the “volume and complexity” of material provided in the commission’s report on police actions in Kent County made it difficult to estimate a timeline for response, but the report had been prioritized. [Oh such pathetic bullshit. The RCMP sound just like our corrupt oil patch law violation enabling AER]
“The RCMP believes civilian review is essential for ensuring public trust and confidence [THE RCMP DESTROYED THEIR CREDIBILITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS YEARS AGO. MY HOME WAS BROKEN INTO 3 YEARS AFTER THE RCMP INVADED MY PROPERTY. I DID NOT TRUST THEM ENOUGH TO REPORT THE BREAK-IN. I will never trust any RCMP in my home or on my property, or anywhere, ever again. They’re mostly oil patch thugs, absolutely not to be trusted,], and we fully support the [commission’s] investigative role,” she said. “Our objective is to deal appropriately and effectively with all complaints that are received.”
Fortin said the RCMP acknowledges delays in responding to interim reports and that efforts are currently under way to address this imbalance.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission said it is awaiting a response from RCMP before making final recommendations on the Kent County complaint. It concludes its letter by suggesting the BCCLA’s submission be investigated by the RCMP and if the association is dissatisfied with the result, that the commission could then conduct an independent review.
“It is my hope that the RCMP will be able to use the extensive guidance provided by the Commission in the Kent County case in order to examine the issues you raise regarding the current situation, and expedite its investigation of these allegations,” the letter states.
Walia said the BCCLA is undecided about whether it will pursue an investigation through the RCMP.
A few of the comments:
Political profit, corporate profit but no public profit. But this atricle is about the abuse of the public trust. All of us along with our first nations brothers have lost faith in the RCMP, the politicians and the governing bodies that should be able to protect all of our rights as citezens. That is what underlies all of the protests.
“The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission said it is awaiting a response from RCMP before making final recommendations on the Kent County complaint. It concludes its letter by suggesting the BCCLA’s submission be investigated by the RCMP and if the association is dissatisfied with the result, that the commission could then conduct an independent review.”
Why on earth would their be a need for the BCCLA to ask the RCMP to investigate? And why is the Commission prepared to wait 7 years for an interim report?
This is incredibly disturbing on many fronts and should cause all Canadians to be embarrassed and ashamed of our national police force.
This commission is undermining the integrity of every RCMP officer, the majority of whom I am sure are upstanding ethical people, by allowing such unacceptably long investigations into serious allegations of abuse of power, abuses that appear to be continuing during said investigation. What is the point of having what is clearly an inept commission? If they have no teeth then why haven’t they publically resigned to bring attention to this disgraceful behavior? Our police force, our citizens the Indigenous peoples of Canada deserve much much better than this. It is quite obvious that our National Police force and the Commission need an over haul. But who will do it?
Frank Sterle …. Also revealed in a Common Ground magazine article:
–Besides reduced property assessments and taxes, it receives $120 million a year towards infrastructure expenses, such as building roads, pipelines and powering fracking equipment. “When this is factored into the skimpy returns to the public purse, the fracked gas industry remits less to BC’s coffers than do parking fees and fines in the City of Vancouver”.
–Unfortunately for those already drooling over a perceived creation of a bunch of Canadian jobs, Coastal GasLink receives relaxed Temporary Foreign Worker rules, thus allowing it to import labourers. “Unlike Australia, Canada has not negotiated local employment guarantees for the construction and operation of LNG facilities and pipelines”.
–It’s exempt from the 25% import duty on machinery and equipment. “The industry is also appealing a ruling by Canadian International Trade Tribunal imposing a hefty anti-dumping tariff on LNG modules constructed in Korea and floated here for final assembly. Constructing these units abroad denies jobs to Canadian steelworkers and revenue to Canada”.
–It receives accelerated capital cost write-downs. “The Harper Government hiked the speed at which the LNG industry could write off its huge capital costs (to 30 percent per annum, previously 8 percent), effectively delaying income taxes and reducing borrowing costs for the industry.”
(Frank Sterle Jr.)
Doug Coastal GasLink is building a work camp to house up to 400 people in the area. Transient workers housed in “man camps” are a major concern, according to the missing women’s report, as high-paying, high-stress jobs contribute to an increase in drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assaults and domestic violence.
Let’s not kid ourselves, some of the RCMP personnel also pose a threat to First Nations women. Female RCMP members themselves have been subjected to chronic sexual harassment and assault from male members of the force.
You know you have a very serious problem when victims are awarded not one but two $100 million settlements.
There have also been serious accusations of sexual assault by RCMP members on First Nations women in BC.
The RCMP says it wants to get to the bottom of abuse allegations against its officers in British Columbia involving aboriginal women and girls, but says individuals making the claims must come forward to allow police to conduct a proper investigation.
Those comments followed the release Wednesday of a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch detailing the claims — which include police threats, torture and sexual assault. The report calls on the federal government to launch a national inquiry.
The RCMP aren’t acting as police in this affair, they are acting as an occupying army in the interests of the LNG consortium that isn’t even based in Canada let alone BC.Intimidation, tight control of movement and even assault are all part of tactics used by occupying armies to quell resistance. So is sexual assault. Look at the photos of the RCMP personnel there, would you feel safe when people armed and armored for war were occupying your home.
Sadie-Kay I’m glad the Wetsuweten people have hung those red dresses everywhere in plain sight. This addresses the other yet unresolved problems, which the RCMP, CGL, and mancamps would only aggravate. Namely, the missing and murdered women of the nation. Coastal GasLink is building a work camp to house up to 400 foreign workers in the area. Transient workers housed in “man camps” are a major concern, according to the missing women’s report, resulting in increased drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assaults, and domestic violence.
As the person most responsible for the egregious violations of Canadian’s civil rights that happened at the G20, Bill Blair should be in jail.
Refer also to:
2009: The Intimidation of Ernst: Members of Harper Government’s RCMP Anti-terrorist Squad Intimidate and Harass Ernst after her Legal Papers were Served on Encana, the EUB (now AER) and Alberta Environment
Down down down goes LNG!~ It “looks to be a damp squib.” In Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, gas “prices have slid below zero…that means producers are paying others to take their supply.” OUR AUTHORITIES, ARE ABUSING OUR RIGHTS FOR THIS MOSTLY FOREIGN OWNED CORPORATE GREED SHIT SHOW?