Questions remain about when the RCMP began planning its militarized raid on Wet’suwet’en territory
Gidimt’en Checkpoint photo.
On December 10, Brett Forester of APTN News reported: “The British Columbia government authorized emergency RCMP redeployment to Wet’suwet’en territory on the same day [Monday November 15] catastrophic floods ravaged critical infrastructure and deluged communities elsewhere in the province.”
The article adds: “Solicitor General Mike Farnworth approved a request for more Mounties under Article 9.1 of the Provincial Police Service Agreement on Nov. 15, which was the same day the request came in, according to a statement provided to APTN News.”
It was also on Monday November 15 that Farnworth commented in this media statement: “The right to protest does not extend to criminal actions.”
Following Farnworth’s approval of the redeployment, RCMP officers began arriving on Wednesday November 17 at the Smithers airport, which is situated about 65 kilometres from Houston and the entry point to Morice River Forest Service Road.
The militarized RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory then took place on Thursday November 18 and Friday November 19.
The APTN article also notes: “Chief Supt. John Brewer, who planned the latest operation … said the plan to open up the road was made before the extreme weather hit…”
In another APTN article published on December 2, Brewer, the Gold Commander for the RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (CIRG), says: “It certainly wasn’t planned during floods. The operation was being planned to open up that road before the floods hit.”
Questions about the timeline remain.
The heavy rains began on Saturday November 13, Gidimt’en land defenders radioed the evacuation order to Coastal GasLink workers on Sunday November 14, and the BC government says it approved the RCMP redeployment on Monday November 15.
If the operation was being planned “to open up that road before the floods hit” (and the heavy rains began on November 13) then the question lingers if the raid was being planned before the evacuation order was radioed (on November 14) and the Morice River FSR road disabled 10 hours later.
If that was the case, then the RCMP justification that the “enforcement was dictated by the actions taken by protesters that blocked the Morice River Forest Service Road that jeopardized the safety and wellness of hundreds of people whose provisions were at critical levels” appears even less credible.
And if the raid was approved on Monday November 15, it is also unclear why Marc Miller, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said on Tuesday November 16 that there was a window in the next week or so for a resolution to be reached.
In December 2019, scholar Jaskiran Dhillon and journalist Will Parrish reported on RCMP documents including transcripts from police strategy sessions, reports filed after the January 2019 raid on Wet’suwet’en territory and audio and video files.
Their article in The Guardian reported: “The documents show close collaboration between the RCMP and TC Energy: police officers attended company planning sessions and daily ‘tailgate’ meetings, and were privy to CGL’s legal strategy.”
Further research like this may be required to shed more light on what happened in the November 2021 raids.
We continue to follow this.