Judge rules Trans Mountain must release correspondence that may show bias in the arrest of Secwepemc land defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: A Secwepemc land defender arrested by the RCMP on Secwepemc territory (Kamloops, BC) on December 10, 2018.

A British Columbia provincial court judge has ordered the Government of Canada-owned Trans Mountain Corp. to hand over security correspondence relating to the arrest of three Secwepemc land defenders in 2018.

The Secwepemc land defenders were arrested on December 10, 2018 when they protested a consultation on the pipeline being held by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC.

Defence lawyer Joe Killoran has suggested the altercation was a result of over-policing and a bias among the RCMP and three Trans Mountain security officers (two of whom were previously RCMP officers). Killoran suggested the documents may shed light on alleged racism and bias toward the land defenders.

While land defence is a matter of human rights, the Canadian spy agency CSIS prepared a “top secret” assessment in June 2018 that characterized Indigenous resistance to the Trans Mountain pipeline as a “developing intelligence issue.” The RCMP has also described Wet’suwet’en land defenders opposed to a fracked gas pipeline on their territories as holding a “radicalized ideology.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline would cross 518 kilometres of Secwepemc territory and move 890,000 barrels per day of bitumen from Treaty 8 territories in Alberta to Coast Salish territories on the British Columbia coast for export on super tankers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first approved the Trans Mountain pipeline in November 2016. In May 2018, the Canadian government bought the pipeline.

Then in August 2018 the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the government had not sufficiently consulted with Indigenous peoples before approving the pipeline. Iacobucci was appointed in October 2018 to lead a new consultation process. It was shortly after this that the Secwepemc land defenders were arrested in Kamloops.

The government approved the pipeline a second time in June 2019.

In December 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, called on Canada to stop construction on the pipeline until it had secured the free, prior and informed consent of the Secwepemc peoples.

The five-day trial for the Secwepemc land defenders begins on November 16. A FundRazr to help raise funds for the legal defence of Secwepemc land defenders is here

The annual meeting of the Canada Development Investment Corporation, the Crown corporation that owns Trans Mountain Corp., will be held on November 17.

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