In the News July 11
Growing Concerns About Police Impunity in Canada
Investigation Exposes Collusion of Governments, Industry and Police
The RCMP are acting with impunity in their violent harassment of Indigenous and other land defenders in BC and this has to stop. A recent investigation by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) provides ample, well documented information of the brutal illegal and vengeful activities of the RCMP and corroborates that the governments of BC and Canada are violating Canada’s own commitments to Indigenous peoples as well as United Nations declarations.
Law Insider defines impunity as “the impossibility, de jure or de facto, of bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations to account – whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings – since they are not subject to any inquiry that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties, and to making reparations to their victims.” This is precisely what is happening in BC and it has gone on for far too long since British rule was brutally established on Indigenous territories in what is today called British Columbia. All over the world Canada protects mining interests and the plunder of monopolies such as Coastal GasLink at the expense of Indigenous peoples, in the name that they are blocking progress. The Indigenous peoples living on the territory called Canada are resisting courageously against well-armed police forces and a court system and system of injustice which must be repudiated by all Canadians.
The police forces of the Canadian state were established as instruments of colonialism and for the protection of private property and private interests starting with the theft of Indigenous lands. The RCMP and their predecessor organization the North West Mounted Police were organized to establish “law and order” after the Indigenous peoples’ lands were expropriated and they were criminalized for defending their interests and their right to be. In recent years as the resistance of the Indigenous peoples and their Canadian and Quebec allies intensifies to the destruction of Mother Earth through mega pay-the-rich schemes such as the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline, the state-organized violence through the use of the RCMP paramilitary and other police forces has taken on new dimensions.
In BC where some of the sharpest battles are taking place between private industry such as CGL and the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their allies, the Canadian state organized a special unit called the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), which according to the RCMP website, “was created in 2017 to provide strategic oversight addressing energy industry incidents and related public order, national security and crime issues.”
APTN News carried an article by its reporter Brett Forester on June 16 entitled “Behind the Thin Blue Line: Meet a secretive arm of the RCMP in BC.” The article summarizes an extensive months-long investigation of the C-IRG based on over 4,000 pages of court files and releases from more than two dozen federal and provincial freedom of information requests.
“APTN uncovered a broad suite of allegations against the unit that include intimidation, torture, brutality, harassment, racism, theft, destruction of property, arbitrary detention, inhumanity, lying and deceit.
“The investigation obtained evidence of vast spying – including casual surveillance of law-abiding groups engaged in the democratic process – collusion with private security, collaboration with industry lawyers and wilful violations of RCMP policy.
“Some of the allegations are backed by evidence and will be tested in court. Others aren’t. Some have already been proven. The unit denies them.”
Some facts uncovered by the investigation:
– the C-IRG’s foundational policing plans reveal that the unit was created to protect pipelines, specifically the Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) and the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
– the C-IRG was created by the RCMP on its own, without briefing or getting approval from politicians. It was the BC RCMP’s commanding officer who directed the establishment of a gold-silver-bronze command structure “for operational oversight, planning and coordination” of the TMX project in December 2016. The rationale for the structure, sub-bronze commanders in every RCMP detachment in the province, bronze commanders in every district, and silver and gold commanders at provincial headquarters in Surrey, was that it would be “scalable and subject to change based on protest-related activity,” i.e. a network of special officers throughout the province ready to go into action against “protest-related” activity.
– there is no set budget for the C-IRG. Costs are covered by the local impacted detachment through the standard federal-provincial contract funding stream. All C-IRG Mounties are volunteers. C-IRG deployments are secondary, as-needed duties for which officers are paid overtime. As decided by its first gold commander, Chief Supt. Dave Attfield, the C-IRG communicates directly with industry officials and “where necessary” shares police intelligence with them. Industry does not pay for this service.
– the C-IRG monitors the political activity of environmental groups and Indigenous groups and individuals that oppose the TMX and Coastal GasLink pipelines.
– C-IRG receives and uses intelligence from private security agents, who are almost without exception veteran ex-Mounties, and works closely with them during police operations. One such agent is Tim Neuls, TMX regional security manager who spent 28 years with BC RCMP before moving into private security for De Beers in the Northwest Territories.
– C-IRG has conducted three heavily-armed raids on Wet’suwet’en territory, the first in January 2019. The APTN investigation revealed that in 2019 “the Mounties employed unorthodox methods, violated RCMP policy, strayed from their assigned mission, obsessed over media, tried to manipulate coverage, deceived Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and made unnecessarily inflammatory comments.”
– C-IRG was deployed to Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island in 2021 where protesters were blocking logging company Teal-Jones’ access to old growth forests slated for harvest. Police colluded with Teal-Jones’ private security agents and helped them infiltrate Fairy Creek camps to conduct covert surveillance operations then feed this information back to the RCMP. In the Fairy Creek case, 121 people are seeking a stay of charges against them based on the claim that police engaged in a concerted “campaign of fear and violence” that warrants dismissal of the charges. APTN reports that “The Fairy Creek files reveal the same extensive surveillance, including through social media and aerial monitoring, and confirm [Superintendent John] Brewer, gold commander and head of the C-IRG unit, overrode RCMP policy by ordering C-IRG officers to remove their name tags and permitting them to refuse to identify themselves.” Chief Supt. John Brewer had served as silver commander from 2017 until June 2021, when Attfield retired and Brewer became gold commander.
For the full APTN article: click here.
1. The RCMP website describes the C-IRG command structure: “The group operates under the Gold Silver Bronze command structure, which is a framework for delivering strategic, tactical and operational response to an incident, operation or event. Under the GSB structure, processes are established to facilitate the flow of information in order to ensure that decisions are communicated effectively and documented as a part of an audit trail.”
APTN reports: “Under this scheme, the gold commander, the unit’s top Mountie, sets strategic objectives and deals with bureaucrats and RCMP higher-ups.
“This frees the silver commander to oversee daily operations, including enforcing injunctions and planning raids.
“Bronze commanders then deploy the resources and execute the silver plan.
“Under the C-IRG strategy, each of the RCMP’s regional districts in B.C. would have a bronze commander. Each of these commanders would be backed by a sub-bronze commander located in every detachment in every district.
“Bronze commanders would also be appointed based on function.
“For example, the bronze intelligence commander is tasked with spying on protesters, conducting threat assessments and reporting to the gold and silver leaders.”
(Sources: Law Insider, APTN, RCMP)
TML Daily, posted July 11, 2022.