CRCC “exploring options” after receiving nearly 500 complaints about the RCMP C-IRG resource extraction protection unit

Published by Brent Patterson on

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The Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) blockade against logging on Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories. Photo by Mike Graeme.

The CBC reports: “The [Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP] is weighing its options after receiving nearly 500 formal complaints about a unit tasked with policing resistance to major resource extraction projects in British Columbia.”

The article adds: “More than 100 grievances accepted for investigation contain allegations of excessive force, illegal tactics, unprofessional behaviour, racism, discrimination and charter violations by the force’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG).”

On August 17, 2022, the Times Colonist reported: “Keith Cherry has filed a seven-page complaint on behalf of the Rainforest Flying Squad, Elders for Ancient Trees, Legal Observers Victoria and the Social Environmental Alliance with the [CRCC].”

In a statement last week, the CRCC says: “The CRCC is aware of the systemic issues raised by many of these complaints and is exploring options to determine how best to address these issues within our mandate.”

As CBC has explained: “[The CRCC] receives complaints, refers them to the Mounties for investigation, then reviews those investigations if complainants aren’t satisfied.”

CBC adds: “The CRCC offered the statement in response to a comment from Chief Supt. John Brewer, the Mountie in charge of the C-IRG, who told CBC News the watchdog is happy with how his unit investigates complaints. [Brewer] suggested the misconduct allegations often come from activists upset about being arrested or citizens who find the use of force, authorized by court-ordered injunctions, unpleasant.”

Concerns with CRCC process

In January 2022, APTN reported: “A federal judge says the RCMP Commissioner must respond to public complaints within six months of receiving them after a court challenge was launched over delays coming from the top of the national policing agency.”

The issue has been that the CRCC cannot make final findings and recommendations on a complaint until the RCMP commissioner respond to their interim report.

For instance, the CBC has reported: “In early 2014, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) first lodged a complaint with the [CRCC] alleging Mounties were spying on Indigenous and environmental protesters opposed to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.”

That article adds: “There is no statutory timeline the RCMP must follow in responding to CRCC interim reports.”

In this case, the CRCC launched its investigation in 2014 and completed its interim report in June 2017. The RCMP commissioner did not respond to the interim report until November 2020, more than three years later. The CRCC published its final report in December 2020 concluding that the RCMP’s monitoring of Northern Gateway pipeline protesters in 2012 and 2013 was for the most part reasonable.

Furthermore, the CBC has also reported: “If the CRCC concludes a finding of wrongdoing is founded, it can make recommendations to the RCMP, although they are not binding. …The RCMP itself — not the CRCC — decides whether the recommendations are logged as completed.”

Calls to abolish the RCMP and C-IRG

On November 23, 2021, Wet’suwet’en land defender Sleydo’ emerged from four days in police custody following the RCMP raid on her territory that enabled the continued construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline without free, prior and informed consent.

She said: “C-IRG and the RCMP need to be abolished. Anybody who is not into prison abolition should be after this experience that we’ve had.”

A year later, on November 24, 2022, the BC Federation of Labour unanimously passed a resolution calling for the C-IRG to be disbanded.

We continue to follow this.

Further reading: As the RCMP prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, Indigenous land defenders call for it to be abolished (January 3, 2023)

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