Rexton – An investigation into the conduct of the RCMP during shale gas protests in Kent County spent Saturday, March 14 in Rexton gathering evidence from area residents. People sharing their experiences and giving statements to investigators at a public meeting in Bonar Law Memorial High School, less than a kilometer from the site of a shale gas protest camp attacked by the RCMP in October 2013, were assured the report by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) of the RCMP will be made public.
Kent County residents know the two faces of the RCMP very well. They know the regular, rank and file members of the force who have been part of New Brunswick’s communities for years. For three years these officers observed strictly non-violent anti-shale gas protests and kept lines of communications with protesters open.
Local residents also know the face of the RCMP security forces. When the Province of New Brunswick decided to end shale-gas protests by force in 2013, security forces composed of special tactical units, snipers and armored vehicles rolled into Kent County. Their actions to crush peaceful shale gas protests here were characterized by mass arrests and violence.
Since then, people here have been demanding answers to the question of why the police suddenly turned on peaceful demonstrators in 2013 and began acting like a private security force for a foreign resource corporation. The answer may have come in mid-February with the leak of a secret RCMP security report labeling environmentalists and those concerned about climate change a “security threat” to Canada.
That report attempted to smear people demonstrating against climate change as dangerous radicals, and it has people here rolling their eyes. In New Brunswick, the ‘radical environmentalists’ the RCMP warned about are mayors and municipal leaders, doctors and other health professionals, religious leaders, and parents and grandparents trying to protect their families and communities.
Many people here think that the RCMP engineered the Rexton riot in October 2013, burning some police cars in the process, in an attempt to make believable their story about dangerous protestors posing a threat to law and order.
Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that governments in Canada have not been hesitant to use RCMP Security Services to attack their critics. In the process, Canada’s “security” police have repeatedly violated the civil and democrat rights of Canadians.
The following list of 10 examples of criminal actions or violations of people’s rights by RCMP security forces is only a sampling of such cases, and helps to illustrate why many people here have lost faith in the RCMP’s ability to provide impartial policing:
• In 2006 documents obtained by the Canadian Press reveal that the RCMP spied on Tommy Douglas for more than 30 years. Douglas, the ‘Father of Medicare’ in Canada, was voted the greatest Canadian of all time in 2004. Even after Douglas retired, and despite not a hint of wrong-doing after 30 years of covert surveillance, the RCMP recommended continued spying on him.
• In 2002 a Montreal man on his way home from a family vacation was arrested in New York. Acting on false information given by the RCMP, U.S. officials secretly shipped the Canadian to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured for more than 10 months, and forced to sign a false confession that he had trained in terrorist camps. A subsequent public inquiry showed that he had no ties to terrorism. Four years later, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was forced to apologize to the man and his family. No RCMP officer involved in the frame-up was ever charged.
• In 1999 the RCMP bombed an oil site in Alberta on the instructions of the Alberta Energy Company. An Alberta farmer who had been protesting oil pollution was blamed for the crime, and he and another farmer were held in jail without bail. Government lawyers eventually admitted that the farmers were innocent and that the RCMP had committed the crime.
• In 1997, an APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit was held in Vancouver. The RCMP attacked, with pepper spray, peaceful demonstrators protesting human rights crimes by some of the Asian dictators in attendance, and strip searched them. A subsequent public inquiry found that the RCMP was at fault, showed a lack of professionalism, and a failure to prepare properly for the event. The report also determined that the federal government interfered with police in an attempt to shield certain tyrants.
• In 1977, Quebec launched the Keable Inquiry into Illegal Police Activities. Following the inquiry, 17 members of the RCMP were charged with 44 offences.
• In 1976 Vancouver Sun reporter John Sawatsky, in a front-page story, exposed more than 400 illegal break-ins by the RCMP. Sawatsky’s exposé of the RCMP won the prestigious Michener Award for excellence in journalism that year.
• In 1973, the RCMP committed a break-in and stole a Parti Québécois membership list. It took four years before Federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted that the RCMP had committed the crimes.
• In 1972 the RCMP Security Service committed arson by burning down a barn in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec in an attempt to discredit the separatist group FLQ. The RCMP decided to burn down the barn after a judge refused them permission to wiretap it. Five years later, federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted the RCMP had committed the crimes.
• In 1972 the RCMP broke into the Agence de Presse Libre du Quebec. More than 1,000 files were taken or damaged, and ‘militants’ were blamed. A year later the truth came out. An RCMP officer and a member of the Sûreté du Québec pleaded guilty, but were given unconditional discharges.
• In 1971 a team of RCMP officers broke into the storage facilities of Richilieu Explosives and stole an unspecified amount of dynamite. In April 1972, RCMP officers hid four cases of the dynamite in Mont Saint-Grégoire in an attempt to link the explosives with Quebec separatists. It was not until 1977 that Federal Solicitor General Francis Fox admitted the RCMP had committed the crimes.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) Against the RCMP is currently investigating RCMP conduct in Kent County during shale gas protests here. Anyone who wishes to submit any evidence to the inquiry and/or share their experiences and perceptions of RCMP conduct during those protests, is invited to e-mail the CRCC and its Senior Reviewer/Analyst Rosemary Morgan at: email@example.com.