The request cites 13 complaint against the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) which has also been criticized for its conduct around protests in Wet’suwet’en territories.
The below is from a press release by the groups involved.
FOUR GROUPS ON AUGUST 10 submitted a request to Chairperson Michalaine Lahaie of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. They want the Chair to immediately initiate a public-interest investigation into the improper and unlawful actions by the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) in the planning and execution of enforcement of a April 1, 2021 injunction in Tree Farm License 46 held by Teal Cedar Products Ltd. in the Fairy Creek area.
“No one is above the law including police officers. When those who are meant to enforce laws consistently and flagrantly disobey the law we have to act,” says Keith Cherry, one of the submitters of the request.
The groups submitting the complaint and request for an investigation include Elders for Ancient Trees, the Rainforest Flying Squad, Legal Observers Victoria and the Social Environmental Alliance. In total, 73 witness statements support the complaint, each with disturbing accounts of their experiences when facing the C-IRG unit officers.
Thirteen unlawful Charter of Rights and Freedoms infringements are noted in the complaint such as: denying Indigenous people access to their territorial lands; blocking access to public roads outside the injunction zone; deploying excessive force against people engaged in non-violent civil disobedience; disregarding human rights and dignity; subjecting individuals to unlawful and unreasonable searches; unlawfully destroying personal property; denying access to legal counsel; interfering with access of members of the media; denying access to the necessities of life such as shade, water, food and sleep; discriminatory treatment on the basis of Indigenous status, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation; arbitary detention without charge (catch and release); and, ignoring direct reprimands from the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
“C-IRG’s conduct raises troubling questions about the rule of law that requires action by provincial and federal officials,” says Ben Isitt, a member of the legal team representing several witnesses. “BC’s Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, is politically responsible for the operations taking place in areas without municipal police departments like Fairy Creek. The federal Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, is also responsible to ensure C-IRG operations and other RCMP operations are lawful and consistent with the RCMP Act and the Charter.”
The C-IRG unit has faced criticism since its inception in 2017. It became Canada’s protection from what they defined as critical infrastructure (natural resource extraction projects). Although about 90 per cent of what is considered critical infrastructure is not publicly owned, it is owned by private corporations.
Those who’ve submitted this request say that an investigation of the C-IRG is in the public interest. It will ensure that policing occurs in a manner consistent with the rule of law and respectful of Charter-protected rights and freedoms. They say the provincial and federal governments need to dismantle this violent CIRG unit and overhaul the RCMP stating that the C-IRG have simply become policing partners for corporations at public cost.
“The C-IRG unit has shown a consistent and dangerous disregard for the rule of law,” says Cherry. “From the Transmountain Pipeline to Wet’suwet’en territories, from Fairy Creek to Argenta, C-IRG routinely violates the rights of Canadians and Indigenous peoples to secure the interests of corporations. Something has to be done.”