RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) to receive $36 million to “put in place permanent funding for dedicated officers”
To date, the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) in British Columbia has been made up of officers who volunteer to take part in the unit with some officers earning $100 per hour working 18.5-hour shifts.
Molly Murphy has written: “[C-IRG Gold Commander John] Brewer said those in the C-IRG are RCMP officers who are temporarily reassigned from their regular duties.” Her article with Research for the Front Lines also quotes a source who reveals how officers are asked to join the C-IRG: “They’ll send out an email, saying, ‘Hey, we need more C-IRG people.’”
In January of this year, CBC reported that it had determined through access-to-information requests, the C-IRG has received at least $49.9 million since 2017-18 for its actions to enable the construction of the TC Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory, the Government of Canada-owned Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline on Secwepemc territory, and Teal Jones logging in the Fairy Creek watershed.
That article further explains: “Formed in 2017, the C-IRG has no defined territorial jurisdiction, an unknown number of members, and no set budget. It goes where industry meets land occupations, blockades and civil disobedience.”
Now, Amanda Follett Hosgood reports: “In November, B.C. announced it would give $230 million to the RCMP for specialized and rural policing. … Documents obtained by The Tyee that $36 million, about 15 per cent, is going to the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group. …The funding begins April 1 and will be spread over three years.”
Significantly, Follett Hosgood adds in her article that the Public Safety Ministry says the RCMP requested the funds to enforce injunctions and “standardize C-IRG within the BC RCMP, support deployment operations and response requirements, and put in place permanent funding for dedicated officers.”
It’s not entirely clear what “standardize C-IRG” and “put in place permanent funding for dedicated officers” means, but it suggests a change and perhaps a new formalization/ entrenchment of this controversial unit.
One implication of “permanent funding for dedicated officers” is that the provincial government might be less directly implicated in the deployment of C-IRG officers.
The Tyee has previously reported that “high-ranking Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General officials [were] working to provide provincial police resources” to the C-IRG for its action on Wet’suwet’en territory in November 2021.
That article explains: “[Public Safety minster Mike] Farnworth gave verbal approval to deploy provincial resources” and later wrote “I am authorizing the temporary internal redeployment of resources from within the Provincial Police Service to the extent necessary to maintain law and order, and to ensure the safety of persons, property, and communities in the area.”
“Permanent funding” suggests this step might be avoided.
While the provincial funding announcement by Premier David Eby was made on November 23, 2022, there is no indication yet that this $36 million will be withheld from the C-IRG given the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) announced on March 9, 2023, a systemic investigation of the unit.
The terms of reference for this investigation note:
“Where appropriate, the systemic investigation will also identify the extent to which C-IRG’s operations and actions meet, reflect, consider or are consistent with the standards and expectations set by Bill C‑15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the British Columbia Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and the calls for justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry (MMIWG).”
Meanwhile, Noah Ross, a lawyer representing Last Stand West Kootenay activists arrested by the C-IRG at a forest road blockade in May 2022, has told the Nelson Star that the C-IRG should be disbanded or least have its operations stopped while it is being investigated.
Even prior to the announcement of the CRCC investigation, there have been calls to defund the C-IRG and even dismantle the RCMP.
Murphy and Research for the Front Lines have commented: “To protect the Earth and climate that we all depend on, we must defund the police. We should start by defunding and dismantling the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG).”
Mi’kmaq lawyer Pam Palmater has also written: “Canada through the RCMP continues to violently oppress and dispossess Indigenous peoples. Peaceful land defenders, water protectors, and Indigenous rights advocates are vilified, criminalized, surveilled, suppressed, and incarcerated at ever increasing rates. This stands in stark contrast to Indigenous lands defenders’ goals of protecting the lands and waters for our future generations.”
She has further argued in Canadian Dimension magazine that: “The only way we are ever going to stop RCMP racism and brutality against Indigenous peoples is to declassify, deconstruct and defund the institution itself.”
And on November 23, 2021, after four days in custody following being arrested during the third militarized RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, land defender Sleydo’ commented: “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.”
We continue to follow this with concern.
PBI webinar on the C-IRG, April 16