Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) to conduct a “systemic investigation” on the RCMP’s “community-industry response group”

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: RCMP Chief Superintendent John Brewer became the C-IRG’s gold commander in 2021. He was the silver commander in charge of operations when the squad was created in 2017. Photo by APTN.

The CBC reports: “The RCMP’s federal watchdog agency is opening a probe into the activities and operations of the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), a special unit that polices protests against resource extraction in British Columbia.”

That article adds: “According to the terms of reference, the watchdog will conduct a comprehensive review known as a systemic investigation and focus on the C-IRG’s authorities and accountability.”

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) posted this statement and the terms of reference for the probe.

The CRCC statement highlights: “The CRCC’s systemic investigation will examine whether relevant policies, procedures, guidelines and training: clearly define the RCMP’s and C-IRG’s authorities, roles, and requirements; are consistent with applicable jurisprudence/case law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and reflect previous relevant CRCC recommendations and other good/leading practices.”

The terms of reference notes that it will look at C-IRG actions at: “the Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd injunction on Salisbury Creek Forestry Road; the Coastal GasLink Ltd injunction on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory; and the Teal Cedar Products Ltd injunction in the Fairy Creek watershed.”

In May 2022, the RCMP arrested 17 people for blocking a logging operation in the area known as Salisbury Creek, near the small community of Argenta in the Kootenays. Photo: The RCMP arrest a police liaison representative. Photo by Louis Bockner/The Narwhal.

The RCMP have launched three militarized raids – in January 2019, February 2020 and November 2021 – against Wet’suwet’en land defenders opposed to the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline being built on their territory without consent. Photo: The RCMP arrest land defenders on Wet’suwet’en territory in November 2021. Photo by Dan Loan.

Between May and December 2021, the RCMP arrested about 1,800 people at the blockade against logging on territory on southern Vancouver Island. Photo: The RCMP arrest activists at the Caycuse blockade. Photo by Rainforest Flying Squad.

The CRCC announcement does not appear to specify a timeline nor does it suggest that there will be public hearings into the C-IRG. It also does not specify what measures, if any, will be put into place on C-IRG activities while the unit is being reviewed.

Past concerns with the CRCC process

While a systemic investigation is different than an individual complaint, there have been concerns about the length of time a report can take.

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.”


On February 21 of this year, PBI-Canada organized a webinar titled “Dismantle the C-IRG, end violence against land defenders” featuring Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks, international human rights lawyer Shivangi Misra, activist-academic Keith Cherry and PBI-Canada Board member Seb Bonet.

To watch the video of that webinar, please click here.

Now, we are part of an informal network of activists, academics, lawyers and organizations who are also calling for the abolition of C-IRG.

For an in-depth read, please also see The C-IRG: the resource extraction industry’s best ally by Molly Murphy and Research for the Front Lines (January 5, 2022).

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