Mendicino and Duheme acknowledge the RCMP’s role in “difficult and dark moments”, but will they abolish the C-IRG?
Duheme and Mendicino arrive at the RCMP 150 celebration in Ottawa, May 23, 2023.
On Thursday May 25 at 1:45 pm, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino will speak at the Change of Command ceremony for incoming Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Mike Duheme at the Charles-Michel-de-Salaberry Armoury, a National Defence installation in Gatineau, Quebec.
Earlier this week, on the 150th anniversary of the RCMP, Mendicino stated: ”In marking this anniversary, the RCMP is reflecting on its past with humility, recognizing that in 150 years there are a lot of accomplishments to be proud of, while also acknowledging that the RCMP has played a role in some of Canada’s most difficult and dark moments.”
Almost word for word, Duheme says in his statement about the 150th anniversary: “In marking this anniversary, we must acknowledge that the RCMP has played a role in some of Canada’s most difficult and dark moments.”
Even with the repetition, neither Mendicino or Duheme specify “Canada’s most difficult and dark moments” (or acknowledge that those “moments” were longer than moments and that they were most difficult for Indigenous peoples, not Canada per se).
Taking action by abolishing the C-IRG
Mendicino also says: “The RCMP is actively engaging in the continuous process of reconciliation, and working to strengthen trust and relationships with Indigenous communities across Canada by listening and taking meaningful action.”
That “meaningful action” could include, as a first step, the dismantling of the controversial Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG).
As Toronto Metropolitan University associate professor Shiri Pasternak recently wrote in the National Observer: “The Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) has targeted the peaceful occupations of the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, Gitskan solidarity blockades in New Hazelton, Secwépemc land defenders against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, conservationists at Argenta and Johnsons Landing Face, and anti-logging activists at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island.”
Pasternak adds: “The United Nations has issued three rebukes against the governments of Canada and B.C., alleging the police ‘have escalated their use of force, surveillance, and criminalization of land defenders to intimidate, remove and forcibly evict Secwépemc and Wet’suwet’en Nations from their traditional lands.’ As well, a scathing report was released by the Special UN Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples on the use of police forces in Wet’suwet’en territory.”
On March 9 of this year, the Ottawa-based Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) announced (in response to nearly 500 formal complaints against the C-IRG) that it would be conducting a systemic investigation of the C-IRG in part to “examine whether relevant policies, procedures, guidelines and training [are] consistent with applicable jurisprudence/case law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The Abolish C-IRG coalition has stated: “We demand that deployment of C-IRG in BC be immediately suspended pending full and fair resolution (review, determination and remediation) of each and all of the hundreds of complaints to CRCC alleging C-IRG use of force to unlawfully arrest, detain and assault people. These people were exercising protected rights to protest non-consensual corporate extraction and pipeline construction activities on the basis that these corporate activities cause irremediable damage to Indigenous, environmental, and community rights. The extent of the human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous inherent rights committed by the C-IRG has not yet fully come to light, therefore any investigation must look thoroughly at the C-IRG’s actions beyond known complaints.”
For more about the C-IRG, please see the Abolish C-IRG website and the RCMP Heritage Site. Through Leadnow, more than 5,000 people have called on Minister Mendicino to end C-IRG violence against land defenders.