RCMP spend $25 million to enable construction of CGL pipeline, while UN committee calls for police to leave the territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, January 2019. Photo by Michael Toledano. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has urged Canada to withdraw the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory and “to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, against indigenous peoples.”

Amanda Follett Hosgood reports in The Tyee: “An ongoing RCMP presence on the Morice Forest Service Road in northern B.C., where a gas pipeline is under construction through Wet’suwet’en territory, has cost Canada’s police force more than $25 million.”

Her article notes: “The most recent accounting, obtained by The Tyee through federal access to information laws, covers policing costs from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, and shows that, over the course of a year, the force spent $6.8 million policing the area.”

It adds: “Most of those expenses, roughly $4.5 million, were accrued during the first three months of this year, based on a separate accounting that showed the RCMP had spent just over $21 million by Dec. 31, 2021, three years after the conflict began.”

CBC News has previously reported that $13.1 million had been spent on the RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en territory; $3.6 million for the fiscal year 2018/2019 and $9.5 million in 2019/2020. The Tyee now provides us with updated spending figures.

The RCMP has launched three raids (on January 8, 2019; February 6-10, 2020; November 18-19, 2021) on Wet’suwet’en territory to enable construction of this fracked gas pipeline to continue without free, prior and informed consent.

Fourteen people were arrested in January 2019, twenty-eight people in February 2020.

Follett Hosgood notes: “Last November, the RCMP arrested 30 people over two days after those opposing the project established a camp at the drill site and spent two months occupying the site. Among those arrested were two journalists who spent several days in custody. Coastal GasLink later announced it would not pursue charges against the journalists. Among the others arrested, 19 others now face criminal contempt charges.”

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has repeatedly called on Canada to withdraw the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory.

This was conveyed in this resolution dated December 13, 2019, and in follow-up letters sent to Leslie E. Norton, Canada’s Ambassador at the United Nations in Geneva, on November 24, 2020, and April 29, 2022.

On September 28, Kim-Mai Vu of Peace Brigades International presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during the Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

She stated: “The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory. Canada ratified this International Convention in 1970 and said in 2016 that it supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, however, the construction of this gas pipeline without consent continues as does the criminalization of land defenders.”

The video of this presentation (made in Spanish, with English translation) can be seen here (starting at 28:55).

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To read the full article about policing costs in The Tyee, go to RCMP Spending on Pipeline Conflict Reaches $25 Million: As Coastal GasLink begins drilling under the Morice River, police presence on Wet’suwet’en territory appears to be on the rise.

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