In the News April 1
BC Government’s Authorization of Police Violence
Against Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks Says RCMP Easy Access to Funds and Manpower “Unsettling”
In response to internal records showing government approval of an RCMP request for more police officers for a raid while BC was hit with historic flooding, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks said he found it “unsettling” to see how easily the BC RCMP’s secretive Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) obtained cash and police resources from the provincial government, even in the midst of last year’s historic floods.
In a March 29 press interview, Na’Moks, also known as John Ridsdale, said this reveals an “industry driven” approach to policing. “Clearly it shows who’s directing it, which is industry along with the elected officials.”
“That manpower could’ve been used in the flooding that happened in the lower mainland. That manpower should’ve been used there,” Na’Moks asserted. “Instead they put taxpayer money out here to protect the pipeline that, to us, is illegal. We’ve evicted them. We’ve never agreed to it.”
“They get a rubber stamp,” Na’Moks said during the interview. “They are supporting industry, and that’s with the help of the provincial and federal government. They know exactly what they’re doing.”
In a response to the RCMP request for more police, BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a letter that all provincial resources should be exhausted before pulling from municipalities and that he would appreciate an appraisal “if the situation escalates” and requires police from federal or out-of-province police groups.
“Please continue to notify the ministry of the planned actions and further developments,” it instructed, adding that “Further requests may be authorized upon consultation with Assistant Deputy Minister, Wayne Rideout.”
Rideout had been the director of police services for only a few months, moving into the position after Brenda Butterworth-Carr announced she was quitting “to focus on personal matters and spend time with my family.” Just a few days after she announced that she was leaving, the press reported that she was among the subjects of a criminal investigation into obstruction of justice. Butterworth-Carr was the RCMP’s second in command in BC at the time of the killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007. Investigators are looking into the actions of senior RCMP officers at that time.
It appears that Rideout also played a leading role in the investigation of Dziekanski’s death, including taking the decision not to correct misinformation released in the first days after the killing that minimized the role of RCMP officers.
In 2013, Rideout was also the senior officer overseeing an undercover counter-terrorism sting in which the RCMP entrapped, charged and obtained convictions of two marginalized individuals accused of planning to detonate explosive devices in Victoria during Canada Day 2013 celebrations. In 2016, BC Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce stayed the proceedings against the two accused on the grounds that state misconduct had undermined the integrity of the justice system.
In her decision, Justice Bruce wrote that her decision was warranted “due to an abuse of the process.” She found that the police had engaged “in a multifaceted and systematic manipulation of the defendants to induce them into committing a terrorist offence.”
She also wrote: “The spectre of the defendants serving a life sentence for a crime that the police manufactured by exploiting their vulnerabilities, by instilling fear that they would be killed if they backed out, and by quashing all doubts they had in the religious justifications for the crime, is offensive to our concept of fundamental justice. Simply put, the world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.”
Her decision noted that the officer who supervised the project reported to Rideout and another senior Mountie at the local level, as well as to a senior officer at national headquarters.
She also pointed to the fact that one of the police officers was concerned about putting ideas into the head of one of the defendants and balked at giving this direction to another officer and that “It was only after the undercover shop learned that this direction came from A/Commr. Rideout that they complied.”
Na’Moks reaction to this was: “I don’t know why they can get away with such an illegal tactic and then have the courts and government say, ‘It’s OK, a slap on the wrist. We’re going to promote you later.’ How on earth does that work in a so-called democratic country?”
In February, the RCMP announced it is investigating an alleged attack on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Na’Moks said that he is aware that police are probing two persons of interest.
Based on the past practices of the RCMP and its former senior officer Wayne Rideout, people should remain extremely leery about that investigation’s future findings.
(With files from APTN National News, The Tyee, Georgia Strait, CTV, Supreme Court of British Columbia)
Renewal Update, posted April 1, 2022.