Public safety minister asks RCMP for clarity over Indigenous blockade strategy

Public safety minister asks RCMP for clarity over Indigenous blockade strategy

OTTAWA — The federal public safety minister’s office says it has spoken to the RCMP over concerns about language reportedly used by the agency in planning how it would deal with First Nations protesters blockading natural gas pipeline construction in northern B.C.

Bill Blair’s office says it is concerned by what it called “unacceptable words and phrases” that British media outlet the Guardian said were used by the RCMP in strategizing for its removal of the blockade.

In late 2018, Wet’suwet’en members had set up checkpoints preventing pipeline project workers from accessing the site, arguing their hereditary chiefs hadn’t given consent.

A court injunction allowing the company’s work to continue was granted, and the RCMP were called in to enforce it, dismantling one checkpoint early in January 2019 and arresting 14 people.

Late last week, the Guardian reported it had seen notes from a strategy session suggesting that RCMP commanders instructed officers to use as much violence as they wanted, and that they argued for “legal overwatch,” a term the newspaper said is used to represent the deployment of snipers.

The RCMP says the Guardian denied a request for the police force to see the documents, and can’t verify the validity of the statements and whether they were understood in their correct context.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2019.


The Canadian Press

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