CRCC Chair Michelaine Lahaie comments on the systemic investigation of the RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG)

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On Friday June 9, Michelaine Lahaie, the chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC), presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) on Bill C-20.

In short, Bill C-20 proposes to replace the existing CRCC that reviews complaints against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with a Public Complaints and Review Commission (PCRC) that would be a review body for both the RCMP but also now in addition the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

In a response to a question from Member of Parliament Peter Julian during the committee hearing, Lahaie commented: “We are now looking at the Community-Industry Response Group in British Columbia. That’s a big investigation. It’s taking up a lot of my resources but it’s absolutely critical that we do it. But we had to wait for additional program integrity funding to come in before I could actually launch that investigation.”

That’s at the 9:19:02 mark in this video of her testimony.

On January 23 of this year, the CBC reported: “The RCMP’s federal watchdog agency 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. 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).”

From Ms. Lahaie’s testimony, it’s possible that the weighing of options included waiting for the additional program integrity funding.

The investigation into the C-IRG was launched on March 8, 2023.

This past week, three months into this systemic investigation, PBI-Canada asked the CRCC about the status of this work.

While the CRCC Communications and Media Relations Team told us they “will not be providing interviews at this stage of the ongoing investigation”, they did note:

At the launch of our systemic investigation on March 8, 2023, the CRCC submitted a request for extensive information to the RCMP.  We have received some of that information so far, and are awaiting confirmation on when the RCMP will be able to compile and provide the remainder.  At this time, we are also procuring independent counsel and other experts to support the investigation.

The CRCC strives to complete its systemic investigations within 12-18 months; however, the timely provision of requested information and access to RCMP personnel will largely determine when the CRCC’s report will be available. All systemic investigation reports are made available on the CRCC website. This includes the RCMP Commissioner’s response to our findings and recommendations and the final report.

The Abolish C-IRG coalition has called on the CRCC “to expand the current Terms of Reference (TOR) to include a broader public inquiry with more robust investigatory powers, as was done during the Commission’s investigation at Elsipogtog (aka Kent County, NB), via a parallel Chair-initiated investigation under s. 45.66(1) of the RCMP Act.”

The letter further highlights: “The CRCC’s TOR does not include any opportunity for affected communities to inform the process directly by giving evidence or commenting on the accuracy of the RCMP’s evidence or practices. The current TOR also does not explicitly reference the Commission’s powers to compel witnesses or to deal directly with the unlawful conduct of specific officers.”

We continue to follow the CRCC systemic investigation of C-IRG actions against land defenders and reaffirm the call from the Abolish C-IRG coalition for the C-IRG to be suspended during the period of this investigation.

Video: The C-IRG on Wet’suwet’en territory, November 2021.

Video: INVESTIGATION: RCMP misled the public about pepper spray incident at Fairy Creek (Capital Daily)

Article: I watched my mom get arrested at a logging blockade (Louis Bockner, The Narwhal)

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