A top-secret RCMP report was “leaked” to La Presse in between the smooth First Reading of the Harper CON’s Bill C-51 – aka the “Security of Canada Information Sharing Act” – and the Bill’s Second Reading. This report portrays Canadian and Indigenous environmentalists as violent crazies who threaten Canada’s “economic interests“ and could be physically dangerous to the assets of petroleum industry assets as well as first responders, etc.
The RCMP Report was more than a year old when it became public. The timing of this “leak” synchronized precisely with the debate over Bill C-51. Most people assume it was leaked by someone sympathetic to environmental activists — or someone concerned about the way Bill C-51 could undermine human rights across Canada — or perhaps both.
The Harper CON government relies on disinformation, dirty tricks, and misinformation to ram through its political agenda. This nasty, lying and ignorant report just happened to emerge into the light of day at a crucial time and its release has certainly fed the flames of alarm on all sides of the debate around Bill C-51.
It all smells bad to me. I regretfully imagine that it could perhaps have been strategically “leaked” — i.e., “planted.” The Harper CONs must want to reassure the Big Oil/Gas/Mining Corporations who bulk up their election funds that the RCMP will soon have tough laws to get rid of those pesky environmentalists.
RCMP Ignorance on Display
The RCMP’s no-doubt high priced security analysts seem ridiculously unaware of the urgent necessity to do something to limit CO2 emission and try to save all life as we know it on this planet. The “leaked” report makes patently clear that the RCMP is in complete denial about climate change trends and impacts.
The ignorance of the RCMP about the biggest social issue facing humanity at this time — skyrocketing climate change impacts — is especially frightening. The RCMP’s institutionally sanctioned denialism calls into question how much time is being spent training our national police force for effective response to increasing climate change-based natural emergencies. Yes, I am scared by this and not much scares me.
The RCMP report Discredits Me and My Allies
Whether leaked or planted, and whether by friend or foe, the RCMP report totally maligns us. It mocks and shreds the motivations, intentions, and conduct of our diverse, global, climate protection grassroots movement. Its deceitful content appears designed to undermine public confidence in our integrity and values.
In addition to reassuring Big Oil, Gas and Mining corporations, its release could be part of a white noise-style public opinion campaign, intended to bolster support for Bill C-51 among Canada’s sheeple. It says my New Brunswick anti-fracking allies and I conducted “the most violent of the national anti-petroleum protests to date.”
The report makes us look like we have actually been found guilty of things that have never been proven. Right on page 1, those famous burning police cars are trotted out as evidence that my allies and I are – quite simply – thugs.
Who “We” Are
None of “us” wanted violence. We entered into this unified effort to protect our environment with a firm mutual commitment to non-violence. Local protectors from all cultures agreed not to initiate any violence and not to use or threaten violence. I know this for a fact. I was very clear in several diverse community meetings that this was an essential condition for me to work with others. No one disagreed. Everyone who spoke agreed. Up to mid-October when the RCMP changed the rules of the game, on countless occasions many of us worked to support allies who were starting to lose their self-control. Here is the code we shared:
We are committed to non-violent civil resistance, emphasis on:
• “non-violence” in the traditions of Martin Luther King and Ghandi;
• “civil” meaning dignified, respectful and serious;
• “resistance” to protect our communities, families, health and environment..
Our communities here are small and close-knit; somehow or other we know everyone else in this rural area. We had six months of early morning protests, urgent meetings, and late night conversations by the road side, to really become familiar. We fed one another, and we frequently ride-shared, as well as standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the road and in the woods. Despite historic differences and some current tensions based on these differences, we truly learned to trust one another. We became family in our unified grassroots struggle to protect our water and the rest of our natural environment for all future generations. As the Mi’kmaq say, “No’kmaq.”
Over time and under serious provocation, tempers got frayed, but still there was no violence until the RCMP launched their militarized invasion to free SWN equipment on October 17, 2015.
While the RCMP report judges us as guilty of burning those cars, my allies and I do not believe that any of “us” set those cars on fire. Someone set those cars on fire, but many of us believe it was provocateurs, possibly: being paid to disrupt our Unity Camp, in support of the oil and gas industry; and/or, working indirectly with the very security forces that were supposed to remain neutral and protect everyone (the RCMP). We do not know where the arsonist or arsonists came from, but they were not from among “us.”
Talkin’ About Those Burning Cop Cars…
The secret “leaked” report says those burning police cars demonstrate how dangerous we are. I say there is no proof whatsoever that we torched those cars. Following are a dozen points that suggest a very different scenario regarding who burned the police cars.
- I am named as a defendant in the SWN Resources Canada lawsuit launched on October 3, 2013, which was specifically designed to prevent my participation in protests. This type of lawsuit (SLAPP) is specially and frequently used against non-violent environmental protectors who would not be liable for any criminal charges. I mention this because I have to bring to your attention “Tab 11” in the 4” binder with which I was eventually personally served by Atlantic Document Services (ADS) on behalf of SWN. In that affidavit, an employee of ADS explains that as of October 10, he was unable to gain access to the Unity Camp to serve notice of this lawsuit to named parties. The ADS employee swears under oath that RCMP Sgt Robichaud told him if they entered the encampment and “attempted and/or served the document, we would be inciting a riot…,” and while “they [RCMP] would not stop us from going into the site, they could not guarantee our safety and we would be on our own. The RCMP would not accompany us. They did say we would be igniting a powder keg if we attempted service” (bolded words are my emphasis).
- Many people have speculated on why the RCMP decided to swerve from the position articulated to this ADS employee (above, point #1). Why did the RCMP decide to risk “igniting a powder keg” and attack the Unity Camp to serve the injunction accompanying this lawsuit? The most prominent theory is that the corporate/political powers had lost patience with the hands-off attitude of the RCMP, and were putting on the pressure to take action against us. On October 18th, the Court of Queen’s Bench was going to hear arguments for and against extension of the injunction against protesting at that location, which was based on that lawsuit. Many of us were preparing to go down and speak against the injunction as a violation of our civil, political and other human rights. SWN and the government may have put on a lot of pressure on the RCMP to end the encampment before the injunction was overturned.
- A lot of work had to be done to manufacture an excuse for the RCMP to change its frequently reiterated position of non-intervention in this civil litigation matter, which the RCMP said was not their business and was simply between a corporation and private citizens. In the two or three days just before the October 17th police riot, there was a lot of provocative-style destabilization at the Unity Camp. Some of what Unity Camp protectors witnessed or experienced is covered in this article Prelude to a Raid. It is written by Miles Howe, an environmental activist and a journalist who was on the front line throughout the entire period.
- As you continue reading through this list it is important to remember that all the Warriors and many other dedicated activists had already been arrested and removed from the scene, or dispersed, when the cars were set on fire. Who was left on the site at the time? For the most part, after the mass arrests, tear-gassing and less lethal ammo rounds fired by police, the people witnessing were residents from the surrounding area who went down after the predawn raid commenced. These witnesses were kept out of the primary protest area by police. There were also perhaps some curiosity seekers and maybe some “outside” troublemakers.
- Despite so many officers at the site, the police left these cars completely unattended. In fact, although there was no threat to them at that time, they all ran down the road, got in other vehicles, and drove straight away from their own squad cars.
- The cars went up in flames almost instantly, in what seemed a totally choreographed motion, and they burned a very long time. This all suggests very organized and professional arson involving an exceptionally effective accellerant. Looked at in isolation, without comment on the strategy, these actions and resources seemed to me to be technically way beyond the capacity of our remaining ragtag collection of non-violent environmental protectors.
- After the flames died down, witnesses and neighbours who looked at the torched police cars saw no evidence of computers or radios inside. It appeared that these had been removed before the cars may have been deliberately parked where they were, with the plan that they would soon be torched. I heard this from numerous people, including two people who told me they personally saw empty places where communications equipment is located in police cars. At the point they saw this, the cars were still smoldering and too hot to be touched, so no one had removed them post-combustion.
- Word of the cars having been previously prepared for decommissioning spread during the weeks after the police riot. I cannot find the material I saw online about this, but I clearly remember reports that a week or more previous to the police riot, these particular cars were all serviced at a shop in an eastern New Brunswick that has previously done specialty work for the RCMP.
- The witnessing of events by former military policeman Allan Marsh, a local resident and community politician who opposes fracking, both reiterates and supports some of my points about the person who lit these cars on fire not being one of us. Allan spoke to As It Happens about this the day after the police riot.
- The burned cars were left on the road for several days. No yellow crime scene tape was put up. If any evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, samples of the accelerant used, or anything else was gathered by the RCMP, it was done in complete secret. No one told me they saw the RCMP step in to gather evidence at this crime scene in a timely manner. Someone who is 100% reliable and a committed non-violent environmentalist was emotionally devastated that the burnt cars were being blamed on us. Two days later, he went to the local RCMP detachment to ask whether the burning of the cars was being investigated. He was met by a frozen silence, followed by a terse statement that they were investigating. Then he was told that the results of the RCMP investigation into this would not be made public. When this person’s questions continued, he was told to leave. To recap, there was no protection of the crime scene, which suggests that the RCMP did not want to gather evidence on who burned them.
- Someone I know who is also a determined, peaceful and mature anti-fracking activist and environmentalist, was appalled by the mere thought that someone might think we burned the cars. She told the RCMP she had quite a good look at the person who set the cars on fire, and did not recognize him as one of “us,” but knew what he looked like. The action angered her so much, his image was burned in her memory. She offered to look at any photos the RCMP had, to try to identify the person in question. She waited many months for the RCMP to come back with photos, during which time her offer was not taken up.
- Much noise is still being made by apparently pro-climate change politicians and security forces that the burning of these cars is our work and demonstrates how dangerous my allies and I are. No charges were ever laid against the arsonists who lit these cars on fire. In general, in regards to the events of October 17th, so much public effort and resources went into getting a few convictions on public mischief and dangerous handling of weapons, etc. If it had actually been possible to argue that some of us burnt those cars, certainly charges would have been laid.
Unscrupulous Slander and Chicanery
To celebrate the National Day of Action Against Bill C-51 on March 14th, I will be speaking my mind in a forum where I hope the truth might have some impact. I hope some of you will decide to join me…
I am going to a public meeting of the independent federal agency that is mandated to investigate and report on public complaints against the RCMP. The “Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP” received several public complaints about the actions of the RCMP during the anti-fracking protests in Kent County in 2013. In the middle of their investigation, on December 17, 2014, the Commission’s Chair initiated his own complaint to into the RCMP response. In response to community requests, the Commission is sponsoring public meetings in Eastern New Brunswick. We can voice concerns and ask questions about this particular investigation…
At this meeting I will raise a few points about the content, insinuations, omissions, quality and intent of top-secret intelligence reporting by the RCMP, using this leaked or planted report as my case example. I will call the attention of the Commission staff to:
- the report’s unfounded and unproven, controversial accusation that our grassroots unified non-violent environmental protection movement somehow caused the riot, violence and burning of the police cars on October 17th;
- this “leaked” report’s total reliance on pro-petroleum industry sources for supporting material;
- the biases and ignorance evident throughout this report, especially in regards to the RCMP’s climate change denialism:
- my concerns this denialism is a strong indicator that Canada’s security forces are hugely unprepared to assist the most vulnerable part of the general public (those of us in rural and low income regions and in Indigenous communities) from the unfolding onslaught of climate change-based natural disasters.
The Commission has a legislated mandate to recommend education, training and policy changes to RCMP management, in order that the RCMP might improve how they protect and serve the public.
Our own police force, that we pay for with our tax money, and on whom we must rely in emergency situations, should not be involved in activities that are designed to discredit and criminalize people like us. We are simply trying to protect what remains of the natural environment that sustains all life on our planet. Above and beyond all other considerations, we must protect our right to be vocal and active in human society on these matters. I have a special interest in this, but so do we all.
Please join me at this meeting:
Public Meeting of the Civilian Commission
Saturday, March 14 2015, starting at 1 pm
Bonar Law Memorial High School, Rexton NB
— stormdate: March 21, same time same place —