Submission to the Federal Government re: Consultation on the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51)

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December 13, 2016

To:         National Security Consultation, Public Safety Canada

From:   Ann Pohl, on behalf of the Kent County Chapter, Council of Canadians;

To the Attention of: 

I am writing to you today on behalf of the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians.

We are pleased to learn that your government is seriously considering how to undo the considerable damage to human rights enacted through the Anti-Terrorism Act (formerly known as Bill C-51).

Unfortunately, we only became aware of your government’s consultation process on this matter about a week ago. In this letter, we ask you to consider the grave social importance of having a public meeting in our area. What follows is the “back story” so that you know why we make this request.

Introducing Ourselves

Our chapter supporters are some of the Anglo, Acadian, Mi’kmaq, and Newcomer community members who determinedly protected our watersheds, soil, air, communities, properties, and the health of our family and neighbours, from the threat of deep shale unconventional hydraulic fracking in 2013.

Actually, we were educating ourselves and others on this issue since 2011, when people in this area first learned about this proposed resource development by SWN Resources Canada. The industry was still in its youth when we heard it was coming here. Still, we were not operating on a lucky hunch when we began to kick up a fuss about the proposal for this to happen in our neighbourhood of New Brunswick. We were warned of the serious issues by other communities in the United States, who had been in the first wave of those to be fracked. For that, we are extremely grateful..

Aside from documented cases of pollution of water, soil and air, this resource extraction 02335e37ded043bf5b18318a013bd7b9process is incredibly capital and water-usage intensive, It contributes terribly to global climate issues due to fugitive methane releases, flaring, and the carbon footprint of the industrial practices of drilling, transporting, etc. On top of that, this form of deep fracking has proven to have very low productivity after just the first year. When the wells become too unproductive to merit more fracks, they are no longer used. Most governments have not demanded a guarantee for close-down in the contracts with proponents. Sometimes wells get capped off properly, but these may remain hazardous unless monitored continuously. There are many time-bombs in aging frack plays, because the cost of proper decommissioning and monitoring is greater than the profit margin supports.

Subsequent to our success at stopping the proponent from commencing with drilling, we have been proven correct in our concerns. There is now conclusive scientific research on the risks and hazards of this form of fracking. Our concerns were acknowledged by the Government of New Brunswick earlier this year, when an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracking was announced.

In short, we have been exonerated: we were right to defend our families and our rural environment from this environmental threat. Yet, in 2016, there are road-level resistors/protectors who are still living with court “conditions.” The conditions imposed on many of our Indigenous allies are far more severe than what a non-Indigenous person would expect. All-out attempts were made to make an example of us and thus discourage other similar Water Protection actions across Canada.

The facts about fracking above illustrate that we did the right thing when it needed to be done. We did this despite having to face down our own provincial government, one of the largest oil and gas mining companies in North America, and the most powerful resource extraction corporation in this province who also controls the vast majority of the mainstream media. In a sense, we were on the side of the angels, but obviously some of the national security forces in Canada did not agree.

The Repression We Experienced

I do not need to drag you through everything we went through. It is all a matter of public record in the media, and in various government files. I want to bring your focus to the particular matters which underscore why the Peoples of Kent County NB deserve our own public consultation meeting on domestic national security and the Anti-Terrorism Act. I will focus on four points:

  1. Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment: Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry

    Around the same time as Bill C-51 was introduced to the federal parliament, a “top secret” RCMP 2014 document was somehow obtained by Greenpeace and released to the media. This document is an internal “security force” backgrounder. It clearly makes the argument for a stronger legislative framework to criminalize grassroots environmental protection action.

    It is significant to note that this document repeatedly suggests that peaceful protesters who assemble over climate concerns or other environmental issues are somehow a risk to national security. It is a disgrace that such a document would be produced in a country committed to respect for the civil and political rights of its citizenry.

    Throughout the document you will note that our allies and ourselves are specifically tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500portrayed in a very negative manner. Completely missing from this biased document is what we actually did for four years to protect the water and environment here in Kent County NB and why we did it. Also, the document suggests we were all dangerous and inclined towards violent protest.

    Exaggerations, lies, misinformation, and disinformation are propagated in this official document. This is only one example of how we Protectors and Defenders have been villainized, disrupted, and otherwise attacked in the so-called interest of national security. We do not expect an apology for these slanderous comments. We would like the opportunity to tell leaders of Canada about the damage your police and security forces have done to lives here with these and other attacks.

  2. SWN Resources sued gas protesters for losses

    Two civil court actions were filed by SWN Resources Canada in Fall 2013 against some of us and our allies. (A link to an article on the first suit is provided in this section’s heading.) It is evident that these claims were launched for the purpose of discouraging public involvement in resisting the destruction of our local environment. Typically, civil actions like these are known as “SLAPP suits” (Strategic Legal Action to Prevent Public Participation in social activism). They include a claim for damages, on the basis of which an injunction is sought against protestors.

    14368804_10154323458455932_5073778277126996304_nThese suits are simply corporate violation of human rights. To those directly named, they cause alarm, depression, trauma, anger, and much more. In the broader community, they create panic and confusion for those who are affiliated with the named individuals through organizations or actions. In almost all cases, the suits amount to empty bullying. Few are taken to conclusion, primarily because corporations know they would lose with their inflated and untrue assertions. In a subsequent news report, it can be seen that the 10 named individuals in this first SWN Resources Canada initiated SLAPP suit are accused by the corporations of a range of illegal and obnoxious acts. Although our Chapter does not personally know all the individuals named, we do know that several of those accused had not done the things that were published in the newspaper as their “crimes.”

    In many jurisdictions there is no legislation preventing corporations from launching these exasperating actions. As in our area, the names of all accused would be dragged through the mud in public while all these people are doing is exercising their civil and political rights. An increasing number of jurisdictions are bringing in legislation that prevents frivolous and noxious legal action like this. To protect the rights of all Canadians, federal initiative is needed to ensure that SLAPP suits cannot happen anywhere in this nation.

  3. Chair-Initiated Complaint and Public Interest Investigation into the RCMP response to the shale gas (fracking) protests in Kent County, New Brunswick, in 2013

    In 2013, we spent seven months on the roads of this county to stop SWN Resource Canada’s search for the best fracking drill sites. Many of us – especially our Mi’kmaq allies – were subjected to severe repression by the RCMP. Numerous abuses of power took place.

    The RCMP also completely and inexplicably flip-flopped on the question of whether it was their responsibility to enforce a private corporation’s civil suit seeking damages for their losses from community leaders. Initially the RCMP said it was not their job: there is a court affidavit dated October 9th that substantiates this. For some unknown reason, a week later they changed their opinion, and immediately initiated one of the largest police attacks on a public protest ever seen in Canada. Even this assault, and a myriad of trumped-up charges and release conditions, did not stop us. Resistance continued on the road for another almost two months.

    Many of us who were involved feel strongly that much of the non-peaceful conduct on 2013 was the work of outsiders, possibly provocateurs, conceivably working for a security force that wanted to make us look bad. Not coincidentally, no protector/protester was convicted of the most controversial activity that took place: the burning of police cars. Our feelings about this are based in reality. It has been previously determined that RCMP have burnt buildings and cars, and conducted other illegal activities to discredit dissenters and activists.

    Many of us were traumatized by the experiences we had at the hands of the RCMP.

    tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500Arising from all of this, hundreds of complaints about police abuse of powers were documented. These are being investigated by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. In December 2014, we were relieved to learn that the Civilian Commission has taken this matter so seriously that their own Commissioner also filed a complaint regarding RCMP activity. It is now more than three years since these abuses took place, and more than two years since the investigation began. It is very demoralizing that there has been no news about when we can expect a report from the Commission.

    Sadly, being disappointed by the Commission is not a huge surprise. In 2009, the Harper government removed outspoken Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, from his position. The government at that time also cut the budget of the this agency, and narrowed its purview. Subsequently, in December 2014, the Harper government finished off any hope for a valid independent process for review of RCMP actions through passage of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act. This closed the Commission for Public Complaints and replaced it with the current Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC), which is mandated under the RCMP Act and has no powers to order anything. The CRCC can only make suggestions and use moral suasion.

  4. 35 Indigenous anti-shale gas protesters in N.B. on RCMP ‘threat’ list 

    Recent media reports indicate that the RCMP’s National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre has a list of 313 Indigenous activists who concern them. 89 of these are on a priority “watch list.” 35 of these “potential threats to public safety” got on the list because of anti-fracking resistance here in Kent County NB. Jeffrey Monaghan, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice, filed the Access to Information request that uncovered the list of Indigenous persons of national security interest. Monaghan is quoted saying, “These are Charter-protected activities… public, political events that people are engaging with.”

    14963180_10154449656475932_3513501820441595556_nIn a follow-up new story on CBC, ‘We’ve always been seen as a threat,’ says former N.W.T. premier of RCMP surveillance revelations, former NWT Premier Stephen Kawfki makes the point that “some of our people stand up to protect our land, wildlife, our way of life, our community against development and against business interests, industrial interests… When our people stand up and take a stand it evokes fear and outrage sometimes from other groups and individuals and we need protection. That’s what police are for.” Deneze Nakehk’o, who works with Dene Nahjo in the NWT, comments, “All this surveillance really makes it difficult for Indigenous people to trust the state.” Kawfki is concerned that “Canada reverts to police state surveillance, when we should all be working towards working together.”

    That is exactly our point. When any of us are handled like enemies of the state, when civil and political human rights are violated by the state, all of us are injured. Then we are all affected and become extremely distrustful. That is the situation today in Kent County NB.

    There are no comparable information releases for non-Indigenous people involved in environmental protection or social justice action across Canada, or specifically here in NB. However, we can be sure there is a long general and a shorter “watch-list” for non-Indigenous persons as well. At the community level, we grassroots people are all in this together. As well some non-Indigenous people have been long involved in peace and justice civil disobedience, and many work together with Indigenous communities.

What A Public Consultation Meeting re: the Anti-Terrorism Act would Mean for People in Kent County

another-worldIn this submission, we have not touched on all the problems in Canada’s current national security legislation, policies and programs. As mentioned, only last week we accidentally learned of this consultation process deadline. There are certainly dozens of issues we would like to highlight, but shortness of time makes that impossible. For now, suffice it to say we endorse anything sent in by any chapter of the Council of Canadians, the national office of the Council of Canadians, or from KAIROS, Voices-Voix, or the Canadian Section of Amnesty International.

Our immediate request is that your Committee come to Kent County NB to hear from people directly how we feel about being made to look like enemies of the state. Speaking for our Chapter members, and advocating also for all our diverse Water Protection allies, you need to see our faces and hear our voices to understand what needs to change and why.

After the treatment many of us endured, we need to know you care enough to take the time to do this. It may be a first step to rebuilding trust. As former NWT Premier Kawfki says, we are all in this together. There is no Planet B. We need to figure out how to get along and pull this planet back from the brink of ecoapocalypse.

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copied to:
Scott Bardsley, Media Coordinator/Minister of Public Safety; scott.bardsley@canada.ca

Remarks to the Hon. Brian Kenny, the Most Important Cabinet Minister in New Brunswick Government

On March 2, 2016, 17 member groups in the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN) attended a 1.5 hours meeting with Brian Kenny, Minister of the Environment for New Brunswick, and three of his senior staff. Thank you to NBEN’s Mary Ann Coleman and Raissa Marks for organizing this opportunity for an exchange of information and issues.

Major items discussed included: how “regional planning” might help with environmental protection (eg. through increased mandates to the regional service district committees); water protection legislation – including wetlands, and enforcement of riparian buffer regulations; the Environmental Trust Fund; and, the urgency of climate action and moving on to renewables.

During this session, the Ministerial staff set out their current major priorities and here is what I recorded from their remarks in approximate order of urgency:

  • modernizing municipal legislation (now 50 years old apparently)
  • updating the regulations associated with this legislation
  • working with other departments to define priorities and capture these in “statements of interest”
  • a comprehensive water strategy
  • improvements to wetlands policies

Concurrent with all that is making the department’s work more transparent, and various digital information enhancements that are already underway.

While looking at this list, it is important to remember that Brian Kenny is Minister for the Environment AND Local Government (one department). On reflection, it appears that they are putting their eggs in the basket of local government as their approach to improving protection of the environment. An interesting idea – not adequate certainly, but might well help if done properly. A lot can be accomplished through land use planning tools if used properly. So folks, if you want to make a point on municipal or regional planning systems, policies, issues, concerns, etc. — now’s the time!

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I took this photo so am not in it. That’s the Minister at the head table, on the left in front of the screen. I attended on behalf of the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians. As always, when I have the chance to speak truth to power, I think about which of my closest allies are not “At this Table,” and what they might like me to communicate that seems appropriate to the situation.

Here is a picture of me and my confrere Mark D’Arcy who attended on behalf of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. image
Mark used his allotted time to speak about climate change issues and the need for the Government of New Brunswick to do its own EIA on the Pipeline proposal. Mark strongly emphasized the Minister’s Duty of Care in regards to the possibly serious, even lethal, risks related to both these issues. This photo was taken by Caroline Lubbedarcy, who represented Stop Spraying in New Brunswick, and used her alloted time to press for a full review of health and environmental hazards of herbicide spraying by forestry companies and NB Power, as well as an end to the spraying.

It is also important to mention Jim Emberger was present, speaking on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. He addressed many of the points included in NBASGA’s Statement on the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Report, including the lack of social license, the science case against fracking, and the urgency of NB government undertaking nation-to-nation relationship-building with First Nations . Later in the meeting, Jim spoke about the importance of government recognizing that each region of the province is very different, something he has learned through NBASGA.

Unfortunately, none of our Indigenous environmental protection allies were present. For me, a smudge and a reading of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would have been a welcome addition. Next time?

In the order of our NBEN agenda, I was given the opportunity to make the final presentation, before the wrap-up. Following are my remarks…


 

“The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, released last week, speaks of the distrust, mistrust, and alienation of New Brunswickers regarding our provincial government. The Commission heard this loud and clear in Kent County.  In fact, Commission members seemed to stop in their tracks and feel overwhelmed by our perspectives here, about how government has betrayed us.  (∗ : in the footnote on this post are links to submissions that prove this sentiment.)

“Another example of that betrayal connects to something that was discussed at the outset of this meeting today. Our Kent Regional District Service Commission passed resolutions unanimously opposing the new Forestry Management Act, and opposing Shale Gas Fracking Exploration in Kent County (actual vote 15-1 abstention, I believe). But, Mr. Minister, as you know, there is no systemic pathway for resolutions from the Service Districts into the government here in Fredericton. The fact that the Government of New Brunswick totally ignored the only local body that represents our municipalities and local service districts contributed mightily to our sense that government deserted us to our fate of being a “Sacrifice Zone” for resource extraction industries.

“I am going to assume that you, Mr. Minister, and your three staff at the head table, have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, perhaps godchildren… When thinking about the future they will face, it is clear and evident that your Ministry is the most important department in the Government of New Brunswick.

“At the core of your mandate is ensuring environmental sustainability in this province we all love. You have the tools and responsibilities for all manner of impact assessment, regulatory powers, inspection and enforcement services, in order to protect our environment. There is a huge urgency to bring all these into active service due to the ecoapocolypse that is lurking over our shoulders due to our rapidly deteriorating, changing climate.

“For us in Kent County, your department certainly has the most urgent and important mandate in this government:

  • We love our Acadian Forest, and all its inhabitants.  We want our Forest Relations to survive and thrive. This means stopping the rapacious clear-cutting, the softwood plantations, and the spraying of poisonous herbicides.
  • We want water protection legislation for our fresh drinking water, our inland fisheries, and our precious wetlands.
  • We want shale gas mothballed for the long term by legislation. Your department’s mandate re: “impact” and “sustainability” strengthen your hand at arguing this in cabinet.
  • We are passionate about biodiversity. The diversity of wildlife in our region — the forests, the waters, and the soils — contributes directly to the livelihoods of virtually everyone in Kent County, all the way down in scale to the bees we rely on to pollinate our fruits and vegetables in our gardens — so take a look at the neonicotinoids as well, please.
  • We fully support implementation of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process, proposed by the former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary to the NB Fracking Commission. The Commission endorsed this approach but in an inappropriate and ineffectual manner. An HIA trumps an EIA, and as Dr. Cleary pointed out, the current EIA processes will and can be addressed and included within the broader scope of the HIA process she outlined. This is what we want to see. It will begin to restore our confidence that government is capable of looking after us over here in Kent County.

“On behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, and all our united Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Anglo environmentalist allies in Kent County, I beg that you hear what I am saying. There is no time to lose on these matters. Please instruct your staff to walk into all interdepartmental meetings — and you, please,Minister Kenny, walk into all Cabinet meetings — with your heads held high, insisting on full implementation of the environmental protections your broad mandate offers.

“Yours is the most important Ministry in the New Brunswick government. Our future generations are depending on you.”

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter, March 2, 2016

 

 

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∗ See for example: “Powerless Citizen” and “Illusion of Certainty”,  Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking , Lise Johnson’s Story, No Shale…, Kent County Chapter Council of CanadiansNotre environnement, notre choix / Our Environment, Our ChoiceYvon Daigle’s Submission to the Commission, The Requirement to be InformedIt’s about Trust, To Make Critical Decisions, We Must Employ Critical Thinking, Personal Submission to the Shale Gas CommissionGroupe de développement durable du Pays de Cocagne Sustainable Development Groupe.

Question: is there a Conflict of Interest in the NB Commission on Hydro-Fracking?

Some Questions about the Legitimacy of the NB Fracking Commission

KENT NOT FOR SHALE

1   About the McLaughlins 

A man named Andrew McLaughlin was recently hired by Major Drilling. According to their website, Major Drilling “is one of the world’s largest drilling services companies primarily serving the mining industry,” and “provides all types of drilling services including surface and underground coring, directional, reverse circulation, sonic, geotechnical, environmental, water-well, coal-bed methane and shallow gas.” Sounds like this Andrew McLaughlin is closely associated with deep shale fracking operations.

Here’s the question: is Andrew the son (or other close relation) of John McLaughlin, the man who is the Chair of the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing? Someone told me Andy is John’s boy. Mind you, I did not want to believe that Premier Brian Gallant’s Fracking Commission could be skewed in favour of the fracking industry, who are known for their “drill, baby, drill” practices because that is the only way to make deep shale extraction possible. So, what’s the scoop on this?

2   About Major Drilling

The CEO and President of Major Drilling is Francis McGuire, the former Deputy Minister of Business NB and former head of NB Power during the failed attempt to sell NB’s electric system to Quebec. Here is some background info about Francis and his commitment to Major Drilling. This man seems to be motivated by money and the gambling challenge of private industry, at the cost of anything else perhaps…

For starters, Francis’ debacle on the NB Power sell-off issue makes it clear the man has no idea about the significance of “social license.” Now, he is not in government any longer, so a person might say he does not need to be concerned with social license issues, UNLESS he is flouting the integrity of the NB Fracking Commission by hiring someone who can use family connections to make sure the Commission comes up with the recommendation to proceed with fracking.

Here are the questions: Assuming for a moment that Andrew IS John’s son, and I have no way of knowing this for sure but someone told me he is, then which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did Andrew get hired by Major Drilling to sway the Fracking Commission, or did Andrew know the Fracking Commission will recommend lifting the Moratorium so he took this job to be in the right place at the right time? Or both perhaps?

3   About Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna, former Premier of our province, is a huge booster of fracking in New Brunswick. Frank is also buddy-buddy close with Francis McGuire.

Frank’s 2014 speech in Saint John is probably the best synopsis of his real views on the topic. He not only thinks shale gas fracking is the salvation of the province, he also derides the idea of listening to shale gas opponents, calling us an “extremely vocal, anti-fracking minority” and “blowhards” who “seize control of the agenda” using “mob rule.”

Here are the facts on the matter of whether those of us who oppose fracking are a minority. In all surveys done to date and released to the public, our province’s population is split just about 50-50 on the simple topic of shale gas extraction industrial development. However, as soon as the question is complicated with balancing this development against the priority of protecting our environment, the environment has won in all public opinion surveys. In one memorable one during the Alward government, more than 80% of the population said they would not support shale gas development if it could negatively affect the natural environment. We all know it is absolutely impossible to “do” shale gas without damaging the environment.

On November 5 2015, Frank spoke at a business conference in Saint John. Not normally a patient man, he is quoted as saying that the fracking moratorium (the same one he abhorred in 2014) is now fine with him. “When it comes to the provincial fracking moratorium,” he “is satisfied” with “the process,” and says we (industry) just “need to be patient.”

Here are the questions: Is Frank patient now because he knows his crony Old Boys network already has the fix in? Does this seem like a logical conclusion for Frank to reach, because of the direct line between Frank and Francis at Major Drilling, especially as it seems that Andrew may be the son of NB Fracking Commission Chair John? Or is there some other reason Frank all of a sudden feels the Fracking Commission is doing a fine job?

4   About the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing’s Work

The thing is, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) just took a gigantic step backwards on gaining social license for any industrial activities that could have or will have negative impacts on health and environment. In December, GNB fired for “no cause” the one person in the entire civil  service that the medical community and grassroots communities knew we could trust to speak the truth about whether provincial policies were good for people and the environment that sustains us. I am speaking of our former exemplary Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eilish Cleary. So, like many others, I am in a state of hyper-vigilance about what GNB has up their sleeves next.

As Cheryl Robertson, the member of the Fracking Commission who does their folksy communicating, has posted on their website, “one of the core findings of our work” is that “distrust of public institutions runs deep” among New Brunswickers. Good one, Sherlock! She continues, “There is anger, frustration and a strong sense of weariness on all sides…”

Here are the questions: given the obvious pro-fracking standpoint of Major Drilling can the Government of New Brunswick set to rest the questions that are floating around right now, about whether Andrew McLaughlin may or may not be directed related to the Commission’s Chair John McLaughlin? If this suggested malfeasance is indeed true, can the Fracking Commission Chair explain how this is compatible with the Commission’s online Code of Conduct? Is this perhaps a true conflict of interest? Was it declared? If it was declared, where and when? And even if it was declared, does that make it right?

 

It is an unfortunate thing when a citizen of this province is forced to address
a major issue like this one in an online blog, simply asking questions…
From my standpoint, if this is confirmed, it totally justifies the public’s
deep distrust of GNB, and would be one more nail in the coffin of social license.

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— Ann Pohl wrote this on February 1, 2016 —

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

We are in a real mess.

Continue reading

Other Policing Issues — directly relevant to RCMP Conduct in Kent County during 2013 Anti-Fracking Protests

November 12, 2015

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To:      The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP

From:  Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians
(Author: Ann Pohl, Chairperson <coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com> )

Introduction

Our Kent County chapter of the Council of Canadians, a group of citizens previously known as Upriver Environment Watch, has been corresponding with your office for more than a year. In addition, many allies in Kent County NB have been cooperating with Commission staff on your investigation into policing conduct during the 2013 anti-fracking environmental protection and protest activities in our region. Following is supplementary information on several issues that are very closely related to your investigation.

It is likely you are as frustrated as us about the length of time it is taking to produce your final report: almost 2.5 years from original complaints. We believe it is not the writing process that is slowing you down. Your Commission has the task of slogging through a mass of complicated complaints, attempting to verify information presented to you, reconstructing events, and seeking interviews with the RCMP to corroborate or deny these complaints. Then there are the tasks of reviewing pertinent RCMP policies and procedures (or lack thereof), and analyzing your findings. Not the least of your problems must be actually getting relevant RCMP paper and digital files.

Still, this time delay is worrisome for a very practical reason. While your commission carries on this investigation, some of the same experiences we had with the RCMP are being repeated in other regions of Canada.

If your report addresses only 2013 circumstances without at least acknowledging the matters we present below, there is risk of producing a “freeze frame” document that makes it look like the issues are in the past. To our knowledge, Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment: Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry remains the RCMP’s perspective on united groups of people acting to protect the environment. If this document is still central to RCMP analysis, nothing has changed or will change. We hope this is already within the scope of your investigation.

We do not wish to further delay your work with the information below. However, we do think it is important that you consider, as you write this report, the “2015 reality” regarding RCMP operations and strategies at protests and protector camps that involve Canadian settler and indigenous environmental activists.

Standard Operation Techniques Still Being Used,
…and Sometimes Not Used, in Telling Ways…

Much of the information in the next few pages comes from a Forum on Fracking sponsored by KAIROS, an ecumenical Christian network that unites eleven national churches and religious orders on work related to ecological justice and human rights. Motivated by this mission, KAIROS sponsored a two-day national forum on fracking, environmental justice and human rights, held October 30/31, 2015.

I was a speaker at the Moncton end of the forum, which was linked by digital technology to a simultaneous forum in Vancouver. Two indigenous women at the Vancouver portion spoke about policing abuses of rights that occurred in the environmental protection campaigns with which they are involved. Some of the matters they raised are identical to some of the issues we have raised here in New Brunswick in regards to RCMP conduct against our united anti-fracking movement. Following is some information about this, from my notes from their presentations, intermixed with some commentary from me.

From the Unist’ot’en Camp, Freda Huson:

In Unist’ot’en, for six years, one family has led a peaceful occupation of their territorial lands to assert protection of that area. Their family territory is threatened by environmental disruption from a pipeline and a mine. Their non-violent direct action has met continual challenges by the industry and government. From what I understand, the indigenous people there developed their own checkpoints on a logging road, at their territorial boundary. This checkpoint was based on “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” protocol as a condition for entry into their territory. 1

This year, as the resource extraction industries were becoming more impatient about entering Unist’ot’en territory, the RCMP constructed their own checkpoint outside the indigenous territory on the same logging road. They were stopping cars, and asking all people in them to show their ID, thus intimidating them. RCMP were also doing such things as telling visitors from other countries that they could be deported for this

This report is very similar to what we experienced here in Kent County in 2013: on Airport Road in July, and on Highway 11 in November and December. RCMP stopped people going into, and sometimes away from, protest sites. They asked for ID from drivers and passengers. When people passed police checkpoints frequently, it seemed their names were cross- checked. Some felt intimidated, possibly even targeted for harassment.

john with rcmp

Above is one photo of this actually happening. In this occurrence, which was in November 2013, I was riding in the small backseat of a half-ton truck. We had left the protest site on Highway 11, and there was another passenger in the front seat on the right. It was a cold day and we were on our way to the nearby town to pick up coffee for our allies. Just a few kilometers down the road, we noticed there was an RCMP car behind us. As we made our way up the ramp at our exit, the cruiser’s lights and siren went on, and it was clear they wanted us to pull over. When we pulled over, the two officers in the cruiser came to either side of the truck. We first noticed the one by the driver (shown here). The driver rolled down his window, and was asked to present identification for himself and the vehicle. When he asked why, he was told this was just a “document check.” As the driver was gathering the paperwork together, we noticed that the second officer was standing by the front passenger window. That passenger rolled down her window, and the officer asked for her identification. She began looking for her wallet. At that point, I intervened and told her that she did not have to provide this, under these circumstances. She told the officer what I said, and the officer went away. Sadly, these officials carry guns and have the capacity to turn violent, to arrest, and to otherwise make civilian lives miserable, so all too often people allow their rights to be violated — or perhaps do not know they have the right to decline.

check stop Irving Road

The only reason I was aware passengers absolutely did not have to provide ID during a so-called routine “document check” is because, in July 2013, human rights lawyers told us so,  because this form of direct intimidation was happening so frequently. The July 2013 photo above shows a “document check” on Airport Road. This is akin to the discredited practice of “carding.”

As Unist’ot’en spokeswoman Freda Huson explained, the RCMP document checks were really making their supporters fearful. I am not certain of the chronology of events, but they did report this to the BC Civil Liberties Association. Around the same time, the RCMP tried to facilitate the signing of an MOU (Memorandum of Agreement) that would cover conduct on both sides. Huson said that they noticed one of clauses buried in the document said that the indigenous people were agreeing that the RCMP could enter their territory to “keep the peace” while the pipeline company got their work done. They eventually had to get a lawyer to send a letter to the RCMP, and for now things are not as confrontational. 2

Here are two big questions. Why do the original Peoples and other citizens of Canada need to get lawyers to remind the RCMP what they can legally do or not do? Why is it up to us to put them in check when they are operating outside the law?

Although this was not mentioned during the KAIROS forum, according to social media and eyewitness reports, apparently there was recently a massive, hopefully temporary, influx of RCMP tactical units and such personnel in communities around the Unist’ot’en camp area. There was serious concern that this huge build-up of RCMP presence signaled the onset of preparations for an intervention/invasion similar to what happened here in Kent County on Route 134, in mid-October 2013. Public call-outs for support seem to have averted this for the time being. Unfortunately, that chapter of their ordeal may not be behind them.

From the Speaker for Lax Kw’alaams, Christine Martin:

Lax Kw’alaams is a territory in what is now called British Columbia where nine of the fourteen Tsimshian tribes reside. More than seventy days ago, in August 2015, Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donny Wesley) began a continual occupation of their territory to protect the salmon habitat and other ecological features of that region, for future generations of all life.

A core issue in this campaign is that this is one of two most important habitats in Canada for salmon, who are now a species at risk on both coasts, due to industrial activity and perhaps other causes. Specifically, the place called Flora Bank is of enormous importance to the salmon, and is a sacred place to the indigenous people of this region. The young salmon go to this place where fresh and salt waters mix, to “get tough enough to leave” the estuaries and travel out into the open saltwater sea. Destruction of this water habitat is inevitable if the industry (“Petronas” in this case) proceeds with its plan to construct an LNG terminal in that vicinity.

The reason I am introducing this to you is to make sure you understand that the people who are trying to protect this area are doing so for the very best of reasons. More about this issue is covered in this editorial blog Council backs Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief’s letter to prime minister opposing LNG project, which was written by Brent Patterson, the Political Director of our parent organization, the national Council of Canadians. As you will see in Brent’s column, the people already voted to not accept the corporation’s offered financial package of $1B in return for consenting to construction of the LNG terminal.

Up until a few weeks ago, a modest amount of “test drilling” was already taking place there. Damage has already begun, which was reported at the KAIROS forum in some detail. (See the link to both Ms. Martin’s and Ms. Huson’s presentations at this forum, in endnote #2 below). As I understand it, very recently the B.C. government over-ruled the Indigenous Peoples vote and announced that permits had been issued for test drilling. This resulted in an immediate increase increase in the number of drilling-rigged ships now working in this water – to a total of six! These permits were issued on the grounds that test drilling of the river bed would not impact the salmon and other sea-life habitat. The indigenous protectors see damage happening, but as Ms. Martin pointed out in her presentation, all the environmental protections that used to exist, including the DFO patrols themselves, were eliminated in recent years by the federal government. So the indigenous protectors have no one in the public service to call on for help.

While relating all of this and much more, Christine Martin also mentioned that they had to contend with the RCMP escorting and protecting the corporation’s drill-rigs. That comment immediately brought to mind this picture from our region in 2013.

RCMP guarding Thumper

Is it any wonder that so many environmental protectors believe the RCMP is only in our communities to protect the corporate agenda and their equipment, and that they care nothing about the destroyed natural environment we will be passing down to our grandchildren?

It is worth noting a comment made by another panelist at the Moncton portion of the forum. Kim Cornelissen, past vice-president of the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique, was presenting on how a defacto moratorium against fracking was achieved in Quebec. After listening to presentations from these women in B.C. and from me, Kim commented that in Quebec they did not have the same issues with police. I thought about this and concluded it was because the Indigenous Peoples of Quebec region did not have a significant organizational role in their alliance. It makes me embarrassed about our government and our national police force to say this.

On a related note, I just returned from a protest action in Ottawa called Climate Welcome, organized by 350.org. The purpose of this action was to bring climate justice and renewable energy to the attention of our new Prime Minister, prior to the very important global climate issues conference being held in Paris in a few weeks. A sit-in was part of the plan, and 350.org is a very responsible organization. So, there were numerous legal information sessions and briefings for those of us who were willing to risk arrest to bring our message to the Prime Minister. I found it hard to believe what I was being told during these pre-action briefings, about the civility and laissez-faire attitude we might expect from the RCMP. Once out on the road, I was utterly dumbfounded that we did in fact illegally block driveways and roadways for multiple hours on several days and not even one arrest occurred. We did not even get severe warnings from the RCMP. Clearly there are diverse sets of standards for how activists are to be handled, depending on: how much media is at hand; how many indigenous people are involved; and, what seems the most effective way to muzzle our message that business-as-usual is killing our planet.

A Comment on Catch & Release of Protestors and Protectors

In a Kent County backgrounder from the cusp of 2013-14, we sardonically used the fishing expression “catch and release” to describe an RCMP tactic for intimidating anti-shale gas protestors and environmental protectors in our region. (Although some of the links in that blog are now broken, the information is still valid.)

In this article – Revealed: Police using pre-charge bail to muzzle protesters (from the respected periodical The Guardian), the term “pre-charge bail” is used to denote the same practice by UK police. It is clear that this practice is a violation of human rights as police are acting as judge, jury and executioner without even or ever pressing charges in the majority of cases. We hope that you are looking into this practice in your report. Numerous – too many to count – protestors were scooped up in 2013, read the injunction, and to avoid further legal consequences they were told to sign a statement that they had been read the injunction and would adhere to it. This process amounted to what in the UK is called for “pre-charge bail.” There are just so many ways that this is wrong!

Conclusion

These additional sources of information are being brought to your attention because we want to underscore that the abuses and intrusions we experienced in 2013 in Kent County were not unique to that time and place.

While your Commission struggles to assemble your report on events of that time and place, in 2015 the same violations of human, civil, political, and indigenous rights are taking place in British Columbia and perhaps other places in Canada.

We ask that you consider the information presented above, and hold it in your minds and hearts as you move with all diligence and speed to prepare the report on what happened here in Kent County (Sikniktuk District of Mi’kma’ki) in 2013.


1 Here are some references for more information on “Free, Prior and Informed Consent (“FPIC): See Articles 10, 11, 19, 28, and 29 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is signatory, and also FPIC 101: An Introduction to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

2 For more on this, please take the time to listen to Ms. Huson’s presentation and follow-up questions on the video recording uploaded from the KAIROS Forum. Ms. Huson’s presentation begins at 1:09:30 at that link. After her presentation, and that of Christine Martin (see next page), there is a brief Q & A period which is also relevant. So, kindly stay tuned to the video recording up to c. 1:55:00.

Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking

elsipogtog-ossie-michelin-protest-photo

NovemBer 12, 2015: Second Submission

TO:  NB COMMISSION ON HYDRAULIC FRACKING

FROM:  Kent County Chapter Council of Canadians
(author Ann Pohl, Chairperson)

On Saturday October 31st, at the KAIROS forum on fracking and human rights issues, I happened to meet Commissioner Cheryl Robertson, who was in attendance for that portion of the forum. Ms. Robertson confirmed for me that the Commission is not yet informed on the two matters I address in this submission, which relate to the first and fourth points in the Commission’s mandate.

Civil Rights Violations are a Solid Barrier to
Obtaining Social License for Fracking

The material in this section is extracted from a memo submitted by our Chapter to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, who are investigating RCMP conduct during the 2013 anti-fracking protests here in Kent County. The serious nature of many underlying issues and complaints about RCMP conduct is underscored by the fact that, midway into this investigation, the Commissioner for this civilian oversight body filed his own complaint with the RCMP. This text below was forwarded to the Civilian Commission on September 25, 2015, from our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. It was written to respond to a specific request for submissions from the Civilian Commission – on a matter not directly relevant to your Commission on Hydraulic Fracking. For your convenience, the text below has been slightly edited. Should you wish to refer to the original version for context, this is the link. Here, then, is an account of some of the civil and political human rights violations experienced during the anti-fracking protests in 2013.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP acknowledges hearing from many witnesses and complainants who expressed that the conduct of the RCMP during protests against fracking had led to a lack of faith and trust in the police force…

It is very clear to us that we became targets of a public relations war. From 2010 on, the Government of New Brunswick was determined to shove deep shale gas industrial development down the throats of rural New Brunswickers. This meant we had to accept the new style of hydraulic refracturing – called “fracking” – which is clearly dangerous. Communities across the province were in an uproar over this. There was and is no evidence that there are any real benefits to the communities that get fracked, but initially the provincial government used simple bluster and positive assertion to try to convince the public about the economic benefits and safety of deep shale gas fracking. As the truth started to come out, especially in peer-acclaimed research on benefits, risk, and hazards found in the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (September, 2012), it became evident that the government was losing its public relations war.

By 2013, it became patently obvious that corporate and public officials (both federal and provincial) were concerned only with promoting climate-killing “extreme” petrochemical industrial development. The pro-fracking elite was desperate. They needed a new public relations strategy, and decided to demonize those of us who wish to protect the environment and community health from fracking. Their public relations war was tweaked a few times, and ultimately re-aimed to focus on the danger of indigenous people and their environmentalist allies.

As mentioned below, we can even identify the time period when the focus telescoped from saying we were all dangerous, to zeroing in on indigenous protectors as the primary targets. The “wrongs” committed in 2013 by officials during the anti-fracking actions are many – most severely: removals, arrests, charges, conditions, and sentences. These were often done in disregard for the pain inflicted, or the cultural and spiritual world of the protestors and protectors…

1.  It is apparent that the RCMP have not been educated on the common knowledge about the Peace & Friendship Treaties, in which there was no surrender of land or resources by the Mi’kmaq People. It was evident as well that the RCMP have not benefited from cultural competency or anti-oppression training.

2.  The issues at stake were basically a civil matter, where a corporation wanted to do something in and around communities that opposed this activity. People have a right to non-violent protest against such activity, a right that is guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution as well as the various international human rights accords to which the Government of Canada is signatory. The people involved in protest and protection resistance were well aware of their rights. This is why there were so many elders, women and children involved in the actions. No one expected the things that happened.

3.   The “Crown” failed in its obligations under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and additional legal precepts established by the Supreme Court of Canada and international law. The “Crown” in this case is the Province of New Brunswick, because management of natural resources falls under provincial jurisdiction.

4.   The underlying purpose of all this activism was first and foremost to protect the water. This is a poor region where there are few actual jobs. Most people of all cultures here make their livelihood at least in part from the land, rivers, ocean, and forests. Water is essential for the survival of people and these natural resource areas. People were concerned that the loss of good fresh water would mean having to leave the area where their family and cultures have lived for many generations, and in the case of the Mi’kmaq People since time immemorial. There appeared to be no understanding by the RCMP that protection of the water was the underlying issue for all community members involved in resisting the corporation’s activities, and a core issue for the extended communities supporting these activists.

5.   The Government of New Brunswick contracts the RCMP as the NB provincial police force. Because the force is first and foremost a federal one, Indigenous people in particular have established expectations and protocols regarding the RCMP. To a certain extent, so do all Canadians. To enforce its pro-fracking policy, the New Brunswick provincial government exerted extreme influence and pressure on the RCMP to “break” the non-violent resistance of Kent County environmental protectors and protestors. This alone was the major factor creating the alienation between community members and the force. We knew that the RCMP were being used politically to advance a corporate/government agenda we opposed. None of the authorities cared to consider the relationship damage they were creating.

With this mandate, the RCMP operated as a military-style force to implement the government policy that shale gas development would go ahead despite community uproar across the province. The criminalization of protestors and protectors was a choice made by RCMP commanders who instructed the forces on the line.

6.   During the initial days of the corporation’s activity in Kent County (June 3 – June 20 2013), the RCMP appeared to be equally concerned with criminalizing both non-Indigenous and Indigenous activists, as they faced non-violent resistance from a united front of Acadians, Anglophones, Mi’kmaq, and other allies. However, by June 21, which is ironically National Aboriginal Day, the focus of the RCMP switched to total concern with Indigenous activists. The Civilian Commission for RCMP complaints heard from various individuals (both non-Indigenous and Indigenous) about this biased conduct, related to June 21st and the following weeks and months.

7.   Ours is a tightly networked rural area where most people know or are related to each other in some way, across all three founding cultural communities. Many of the protestors and protectors also have extended family members employed in the RCMP. Informally through community networks, it is our impression that many officers with local Kent County RCMP detachments were not in agreement with the way that the force was commanded to operate during these months. The voices and reasons of these local peace officers, as to why they disagreed, should have been heard and considered fully. That is the way good community policing is done.

8.   The events of October 17 2013 were the most obvious breach of people’s constitutional rights. Looking at an affidavit by Mark Lenehan, prepared by legal representatives for SWN Resources Canada on October 9 2013 (this has already been submitted to the Commission), we see quotes from an RCMP operational commander at the protest site. Sgt. Robichaud tells Mr. Lenehan that going into the 134 camp with Lenehan to serve papers re: the civil action injunction would amount to “inciting a riot” and “igniting a powder keg.” Ann Pohl is one of the people specifically named in the injunction related to this affidavit. Prior to October 13 2013, when Ann visited the camp, she was assured by RCMP on duty at the police blockades (located at either end of the protest area) that she could enter the area without risking arrest. Specifically, she was told it was not the RCMP’s job to enforce a civil action injunction.

Despite all the apparent tolerance and understanding by RCMP on duty during the weeks leading up to the October 17 commando raid on the protest site, we all saw what happened that day. On October 17, the RCMP’s callous disregard for human rights and safety of people was a stark contrast to their easy-going attitude in the weeks before. This deeply hardened community attitudes against the force.

9.   There are a number of specific issues of great concern relative to the October 17 dawn RCMP commando raid on the protest camp. Just a few are mentioned here:

     ♦    A sacred gift of Tobacco was provided by the RCMP to some of the Mi’kmaq protectors the night before the raid. Everything that happened after was a complete violation of the significance and protocols associated with this gifting.

     ♦    As it was being launched, all Kent County roads leading to the site were closed EXCEPT the roads that go from Elsipogtog First Nation. To many people, this suggests that the RCMP were actually baiting First Nations people to come into the fracas that the RCMP troops were creating at the site, so that it would appear to the media and the outside world that the only people involved in the protest were Indigenous.

     ♦    Two very different stories were used to explain the rationale for the police assault. Early that morning, the RCMP brought in trucks equipped with powerful public address systems. These were used to proclaim the civil law injunction as a pretext for the invasion. Yet, hours later, the RCMP commented they had to invade the protest camp because they had “intelligence” about a build-up of weapons on site, and feared things were going to turn very dangerous. As there was almost no verifiable evidence of a weapons buildup, both excuses contradict what RCMP said a week earlier (see Lenehan affidavit). Dishonesty undermines public faith in the trustworthiness and credibility of our public servants.

     ♦    The burning of the police cars was major news across the country. We are all convinced that it was not done by anyone who was part of our united movement to protect the environment. Among all Kent County protestors and protectors, and our allies, there is a wide-spread belief that agents working for some arm of the RCMP or a sister federal force are responsible for the burning of the police cars.

            Your Commission is well aware of this view, from complaints and comments you have heard: unusual RCMP activity immediately before the fires appeared; querying what accelerant could actually cause the fires to start so quickly; failure by RCMP to protect the crime scene of the burned cars; why the cars appeared to be lacking standard police communications equipment; the possibility that the cars were deliberately decommissioned at a specialty shop the week previous; the cars were left at the road for so long after the burning; knowledge that such provocative acts have been done before by the RCMP (eg, at the G-20 protests, etc.); and many more points.

            The evidence points to this conclusion: the RCMP burned their own cars, or hired someone to do so, in order to affect public opinion. This is a kick in the teeth to the entire community, making those of us involved in non-violent resistance to protect our environment for future generations look like hoodlums.

     ♦    Many people continue to face charges and other legal and financial consequences as a result of this RCMP action. For some, this has been devastating. Some people pleaded guilty as they had no financial means to defend their rights through the justice system.

At the heart of all the issues related to policing during these protests is ethics and fairness, as well as the use of tired old military strategies such as “divide and conquer.”

The RCMP have consistently attempted to insinuate that there are significant differences between those of us involved in the protests and protection actions, and that these differences follow cultural boundaries. There is no truth to this. It is an undeniable fact that greater than 90% of Kent County residents are united in our determination to protect the natural environment that sustains us all. Local environmental groups and communities did a research survey in the summer of 2013 to ascertain this fact. The findings were subsequently reported to the Kent County Regional Service Commission, who on July 18 2013 passed a resolution by a vote of 16-1 to ask the provincial government to stop the corporate exploration, until Kent residents can be provided with “a guarantee for our environment and we can inform citizens about what’s going on.”

We are now, in fact, more united than ever in our collective determination to protect this territory we share in “Peace and Friendship.” Some of the community members being interviewed by the Civilian Commission‘s investigators were led into a field of inquiry about divisions between activists based on cultural heritage. We sincerely hope that these questions do not reflect biased attitudes by Civilian Commission personnel. We hope these questions were asked only to determine the relative validity of information provided by the RCMP to the investigators and staff of the Civilian Commission. But, we have learned not to trust.

That said, we have clearly stated above that we note that Indigenous protestors and protectors were handled in a much rougher and meaner manner by RCMP than non-Indigenous ones. Most of the issues that arose over this period in regards to the Indigenous protectors and protestors are addressed in the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, submitted by The Honourable Sidney B. Linden (Inquiry Commissioner) on May 30, 2007 to the Government of Ontario.

Echoing specific points highlighted in that report, it was clear from the conduct of RCMP officers here in Kent County that the members of the force were never briefed on why people were engaged in these protests, occupations, and actions of non-violent civil resistance. RCMP were also not made aware of the significance of the “colour of right” (another point highlighted in the Ipperwash Inquiry report), in regards to the sincere motivations of all protestors and protectors. People engaged in actions were making a good faith assertion of their right (even obligation) to defend their water, land, air, communities, and family health, because the threat being posed to these things would result in their irretrievable loss. It is the fault of the provincial government that Kent County neighbours and allies felt this desperate, but the RCMP needs to be a peace force for all the people, not for the government.

The most important fact for your NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracking to retain from this entire excerpt above is that we have learned the hard way not to trust anything GNB says on this topic. We know that the RCMP work for the Government of New Brunswick, as do you, as did the discredited Louis LaPierre, and as do many civil servants who have participated in the ongoing attempt to force us to accept something that we have rejected.

Through all the above (and much more not in that brief summary), we the Peoples of Kent County stand united in our non-violent, unbending determination to protect our homes, our communities, the health of our families and neighbours, our water, our air, our soil, and the rest of the natural environment that sustains us all. We do so at great cost and sacrifice for many of us, because we want all our grandchildren to have a future here.

We believe that GNB should abandon its retrograde love affair with the very substances that are killing our planet, which have brought our global climate to the precipice of ecological apocalypse. GNB should stop spending our money on deals for petroleum and other related industries, and commissions such as this one (etc.). GNB should massively invest in upscaling of renewable energy research, development and innovation.

The Provincial Government’s Duty for Free, Prior and Informed Consent from Indigenous Peoples

This is the most basic and fundamental requirement of any evaluation about whether or not deep shale gas extraction can be permitted in this region. The previous sentence is all the more true because there is no mention of surrender of resources or land in Mi’kma’ki under the Peace & Friendship Treaties, which are the legally binding agreement documents governing title and shared use of the land in the province of New Brunswick. In short, the Government of New Brunswick holds no true title to the land it has leased to shale gas extraction companies, and it has never consulted properly with First Nation communities on the issuance or terms of these leases.

SWN Resources Canada made this severely cautionary observation in their memo, dated December 22, 2014, addressed to Michael Pearson in the Premier’s Office: “…(T)he necessity for the Crown to effectively execute its obligations to the province’s First Nations under the government’s Duty to Consult Policy remains a primary concern for us… the ultimate responsibility rests with the Crown and we believe the government needs to do more to advance this file.”

Please do not follow the proponent’s (SWN’s) suggestion that the 2011 GNB Duty to Consult Policy sets out a reasonable path, which simply needs better implementation. That policy is wholly inadequate.

Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution specifies the obligations of the Crown to Aboriginal Peoples, and on matters of natural resources the “Crown” is the provincial government. These obligations mean that valid consultation processes are an essential precursor to any infringement on Aboriginal treaty, original, or unceded, territories. In regards to First Nations in specific, this is well-established law in Canada. Several important Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) cases uphold and augment the law on this section of the Constitution.

To address this fourth point of the five conditions that are to be met to lift the moratorium, any process your Commission conducts, or recommendations you develop, will not be adequate. The Government of New Brunswick must understand and implement a “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” (FPIC) process for consultation with the Indigenous Peoples of this region.

The first place you need to go to understand this, and what is meant by “FPIC,” is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Government of Canada is signatory to this Declaration, but under former Prime Minister Harper’s regime this was a long time coming. It only happened because Canada was shamed into it both domestically and internationally. The Harper government was ideologically opposed to recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. It actively promoted Canadian public acceptance of this corporate-based goal, leading to the totally militarized relationship that currently exists between the governments of Canada, and indigenous earth protectors and their environmentalist allies. Through policy, act, law, and covert means, the Harper government enlisted the active support of the RCMP and other state security forces to promote their agenda of repression and oppression. This government did so despite judicial reprimands from the Supreme Court of Canada and massive civil society protests. When the Harper government finally signed the Declaration, it raised specific objections to the text.

On October 18 2015, Canadian voters, including record numbers of Indigenous Peoples, rejected the Harperist vision of a Canada that valued, above all, “Old Stock” Canadians and regressive fossil-fuel corporate agendas. We are now in a new era of Canadian politics. It seems there is interest in restoring Canada’s reputation as a land where fairness, kindness, decency, and respect for diversity are highly valued as social objectives. The newly elected government of Canada under Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has pledged to fully implement the UNDRIP:

“When I say that we must complete the unfinished work of Confederation, I mean that Canada needs a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Aboriginal communities. A relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. One that is rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One that is guided by the spirit and intent of the original Treaty relationship, and one that respects the decisions of our courts… Reconciliation starts with recognizing and respecting Aboriginal title and rights, including Treaty rights. A Liberal government will do just that. Not only in accordance with Constitutional obligations, but also with those enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…”

To proceed, as New Brunswick seems to be doing, to ignore the huge “elephant in the room” – the issue of Indigenous Rights – is mind-boggling idiocy. This approach is so far out of line with the reality of 2015, one can only wonder: in what century is GNB stuck? New Brunswick has had its head in the sand for far too long, in far too many ways. There is no point continuing in this vein.

To reiterate, reading UNDRIP in tandem with the Treaties, the Canadian Constitution, and relevant SCC decisions, makes it clear that your Commission cannot undertake FPIC. FPIC is the responsibility of the Crown under domestic and international law, and cannot be undertaken by a commission of inquiry such as yours, which has no mandated power to dialogue or negotiate directly on behalf of the Crown.

What your Commission can do is take the time to:

  1. understand where, why, and how these things have been done in the wrong way in New Brunswick up until now;

  2. learn about how they can and must be done in a proper way; and,

  3. report back to GNB as soon as possible that it will be impossible for your Commission to report on that portion of your mandate, while taking care to include in this “report-back” what you have learned during your inquiries into points 1 and 2 immediately above.

In regards to the matter of consultation with Indigenous Peoples, this would be the only option for accountable, transparent, and responsible action on your part.

Responding to request for submissions on improving community relations with the RCMP in Kent County NB

drummers n cops

Date:   September 25, 2015
From:  Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians
To:      Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for the RCMP

Introduction

On August 27 2015, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP issued a call for written submissions and recommendations on “how the RCMP and Kent County residents can re-build a positive relationship.”The Commission’s request for submissions arises from it’s ongoing investigation into the conduct of RCMP members during the 2013 environmental protection “anti-fracking”
actions in Kent County.

swn security

This is a response to that call. In the online request for submissions on hpw to “rebuild” the “relationship,” the Commission acknowledges hearing from many witnesses and complainants who expressed that the conduct of the RCMP during protests against fracking had led to a lack of faith and trust in the police force.

The Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians also made a call-out: for ideas to be included in this response. Many people expressed profound doubt that anything could help with healing these wounds, the specific details of which are too numerous to mention here.

It is very clear to us that we became targets of a public relations war. From 2010 on, the
Government of New Brunswick was determined to shove deep shale gas industrial  development down the throats of rural New Brunswickers. This meant we had to accept
the new style of hydraulic refracturing – called “fracking” – which is clearly dangerous.
Communities across the province were in an uproar over this. There was and is no
evidence that there are any real benefits to the communities that get fracked, but initially
the provincial government used simple bluster and positive assertion to try to convince the public about the economic benefits and safety of deep shale gas fracking. As the truth started to come out, especially in peer-acclaimed research on benefits, risk, and hazards found in the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (September, 2012), it became evident that the government was losing its public relations war.

1509225_10152144083755775_1560719470_n

By 2013, it became patently obvious that corporate and public officials (both federal and
provincial) were concerned only with promoting climate-killing “extreme” petrochemical
industrial development. The pro-fracking elite was desperate. They needed a new public relations strategy, and decided to demonize those of us who wish to protect the
environment and community health from fracking.

Their public relations war was tweaked a few times, and ultimately re-aimed to focus on the danger of indigenous people and their environmentalist allies. As mentioned below, we can even identify the time period when the focus telescoped from saying we were all dangerous, to zeroing in on indigenous protectors as the primary targets. The “wrongs” committed in 2013 by officials during the anti-fracking actions are many – most severely: removals, arrests, charges, conditions, and sentences. These were often done in disregard for the pain inflicted, or the cultural and spiritual world of the protesters and protectors.

From our side of the fence, we had made a pledge to one another to stick to non-violent
strategies. This pledge came from all sectors within our united movement. We were never the aggressors. Although the clear abandonment of care-taking responsibilities by
Canadian governments, and the actions of the RCMP in the field, including physical and
spiritual attacks and illegal tactics such as “kettle-ing” did provoke some allies to lose their tempers, we were always standing firmly but non-violently in protection of our environment that sustains us.

bleeding mouth

Our members acknowledge the inevitability of having a system for law and order in our
communities. We need a “peace officer” police force in whom we can have some trust and respect, and this is not presently the case. The first priority of the RCMP has to be the care and protection of the people in our communities. The RCMP must disassociate themselves from direct or indirect corporate control, whether this attempt to control comes through direct orders, or by persuasion from the corporations, or from governments who are promoting the corporate programs that threaten our communities.

Now, two years later, our group is guided on the matter of this request for submissions by some of our closest allies, who speak from and for the community of Elsipogtog. In the traditional manner of true warriors, residents of Elsipogtog “bore the brunt” of the
campaign to protect the water and region for all of us. We have heard that if something
meaningful is not done to improve local relationships between the RCMP and the
community, anger will continue to rise. The consequences of that could be alarming.

After considerable discussion on whether we could regard this request for submission as being made in “good faith,” we decided to prepare this response in an attempt to dialogue about the need to initiate some healing. Commitment on all sides to initiate healing requires courage and trust in faith that some good may come from it. Only after the healing is underway, can we begin to talk about how to “build a positive relationship.”

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The Facts from Our Point of View

1.   It is apparent that the RCMP have not been educated on the common knowledge about the Peace & Friendship Treaties, in which there was no surrender of land or resources by the Mi’kmaq People. It was evident as well that the RCMP have not benefited from cultural competency or anti-oppression training.

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2.   The issues at stake were basically a civil matter, where a corporation wanted to do something in and around communities that opposed this activity. People have a right to non-violent protest against such activity, a right that is guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution as well as the various international human rights accords to which the Government of Canada is signatory. The people involved in protest and protection resistance were well aware of their rights. This is why there were so many elders, women and children involved in the actions. No one expected the things that happened.

3.   The “Crown” failed in its obligations under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and additional legal precepts established by the Supreme Court of Canada and international law. The “Crown” in this case is the Province of New Brunswick, because management of natural resources falls under provincial jurisdiction.

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4.   The underlying purpose of all this activism was first and foremost to protect the water. This is a poor region where there are few actual jobs. Most people of all cultures here make their livelihood at least in part from the land, rivers, ocean, and forests. Water is essential for the survival of people and these natural resource areas. People were concerned that the loss of good fresh water would mean having to leave the area where their family and cultures have lived for many generations, and in the case of the Mi’kmaq People since time immemorial. There appeared to be no understanding by the RCMP that protection of the water was the underlying issue for all community members involved in resisting the corporation’s activities, and a core issue for the extended communities supporting these activists.

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5.   The Government of New Brunswick contracts the RCMP as the NB provincial police force. Because the force is first and foremost a federal one, Indigenous people in particular have established expectations and protocols regarding the RCMP. To a certain extent, so do all Canadians. To enforce its pro-fracking policy, the New Brunswick provincial government exerted extreme influence and pressure on the RCMP to “break” the non-violent resistance of Kent County environmental protectors and protesters. This alone was the major factor creating the alienation between community members and the force. We knew that the RCMP were being used politically to advance a corporate/government agenda we opposed. None of the authorities cared to consider the relationship damage they were creating.  With this mandate, the RCMP operated as a military-style force to implement the government policy that shale gas development would go ahead despite community uproar across the province. The criminalisation of protesters and protectors was a choice made by RCMP commanders who instructed the forces on the line.

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6.   During the initial days of the corporation’s activity in Kent County (June 3 – June 20 2013), the RCMP appeared to be equally concerned with criminalizing both non-Indigenous and Indigenous activists, as they faced non-violent resistance from an united front of Acadians, Anglophones, Mi’kmaq, and other allies. However, by June 21, which is ironically National Aboriginal Day, the focus of the RCMP switched to total concern with Indigenous activists. The Commission has heard complaints from various individuals (both non-Indigenous and Indigenous) about this biased conduct, related to June 21 st and the following weeks and months.

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7.   This is a tightly networked rural area where most people know or are related to each other in some way, across all three founding cultural communities. Many of the protesters and protectors also have extended family members employed in the RCMP. Informally through community networks, it is our impression that many officers with local Kent County RCMP detachments were not in agreement with the way that the force was commanded to operate during these months. The voices and reasons of these local peace officers, as to why they disagreed, should have been heard and considered fully. That is the way good community policing is done.

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8.   The events of October 17 2013 were the most obvious breach of people’s  constitutional rights. Looking at an affidavit by Mark Lenehan, prepared by legal representatives for SWN Resources Canada on October 9 2013 (this has already been submitted to the Commission), we see quotes from an RCMP operational commander at the protest site. Sgt. Robichaud tells Mr. Lenehan that going into the 134 camp with Lenehan to serve papers re: the civil action injunction would amount to “inciting a riot” and “igniting a powder keg.” Ann Pohl (one of the contact people for this document) is one of the people specifically named in the injunction related to this affidavit. Prior to October 13 2013, when Ann visited the camp, she was assured by RCMP on duty at the police blockades (located at either end of the protest area) that she could enter the area without risking arrest. Specifically, she was told it was not the RCMP’s job to enforce a civil action injunction. Despite all the apparent tolerance and understanding by RCMP on duty during the weeks leading up to the October 17 commando raid on the protest site, we all saw what happened that day. On October 17, the RCMP’s callous disregard for human rights and safety of people was a stark contrast to their easy-going attitude in the weeks before. This deeply hardened community attitudes against the force.

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9.   There are a number of specific issues of great concern relative to the October 17 dawn RCMP commando raid on the protest camp. We will mention here just a few that must be acknowledged and addressed within any healing process:

♦  A sacred gift of Tobacco was provided by the RCMP to some of the Mi’kmaq
protectors the night before the raid. Everything that happened after was a
complete violation of the significance and protocols associated with this gifting.

♦  As it was being launched, all Kent County roads leading to the site were       closed EXCEPT the roads that go from Elsipogtog First Nation. To many         any people, this suggests that the RCMP were actually baiting First Nations people to come into the fracas that the RCMP troops were creating at the site, so that it would appear to the media and the outside world that the only people involved in the protest were Indigenous.

♦  Two very different stories were used to explain the rationale for the police assault. Early that morning, the RCMP brought in trucks equipped with powerful public address systems that were used to proclaim the civil law injunction as a pretext for the invasion. Yet, hours later, the RCMP commented they had to invade the protest camp because they had “intelligence” about a build-up of weapons on site and things were about to turn very dangerous. As there was almost no verifiable evidence of a weapons buildup, both excuses contradict what RCMP said a week earlier (see Lenehan affidavit). Dishonesty undermines public faith in the trustworthiness and credibility of our public servants.

♦  The burning of the police cars was major news across the country. We are all convinced that it was not done by anyone who was part of our united movement to protect the environment. Among all Kent County protestors and protectors, and our allies, there is a wide-spread belief that agents working for some arm of the RCMP or a sister federal force are responsible for the burning of the police cars.

Your Commission is well aware of this view, from complaints and comments you have heard: unusual RCMP activity immediately before the fires appeared; querying what accelerant could actually cause the fires to start so quickly; failure by RCMP to protect the crime scene of the burned cars; why the cars appeared to be lacking standard police communications equipment; the possibility that the cars were deliberately decommissioned at a specialty shop the week previous; the cars were left at the road for so long after the burning; knowledge that such provocative acts have been done before by the RCMP; and many more points.

The evidence points to this conclusion: the RCMP burned their own cars, or hired someone to do so, in order to affect public opinion. This is a kick in the teeth to the entire community, making those of us involved in non-violent resistance to protect our environment for future generations look like hoodlums.

♦  Many people continue to face charges and other legal and financial consequences as a result of this RCMP action. For some, this has been devastating. Some people pleaded guilty as they had no financial means to defend their rights through the justice system.

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Reinventing the Wheel: No Need for It!

At the heart of all the issues related to policing during these protests is ethics and fairness, as well as the use of tired old military strategies such as “divide and conquer.”
The RCMP have consistently attempted to insinuate that there are significant differences between those of us involved in the protests and protection actions, and that these differences follow cultural boundaries.

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There is no truth to this. It is an undeniable fact that greater than 90% of Kent County residents are united in our determination to protect the natural environment that sustains us all. Local environmental groups and communities did a research survey in the summer of 2013 to ascertain this fact. The findings were subsequently reported to the Kent County Regional Service Commission, who on July 18 2013 passed a resolution by a vote of 16-1 to ask the provincial government to stop the corporate exploration, until Kent residents can be provided with “a guarantee for our environment and we can inform citizens about what’s going on.”

We are now, in fact, more united than ever in our collective determination to protect this
territory we share in “Peace and Friendship.” Some of the community members being
interviewed by the Civilian Commission’s investigators were led into a field of inquiry about divisions between activists based on cultural heritage. We sincerely hope that these questions do not reflect biased attitudes by Civilian Commission personnel, and were asked only to determine the relative validity of information provided by the RCMP to the investigators and staff of the Civilian Commission.

That said, we have clearly stated above that we note that Indigenous protestors and
protectors were handled in a much rougher and meaner manner by RCMP than non-
Indigenous ones. Most of the issues that arose over this period in regards to the
Indigenous protectors and protesters are addressed in the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, submitted by The Honourable Sidney B. Linden (Inquiry Commissioner) on May 30, 2007 to the Government of Ontario.

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Echoing specific points highlighted in that report, it was clear from the conduct of RCMP
officers here in Kent County that the members of the force were never briefed on why
people were engaged in these protests, occupations, and actions of non-violent civil
resistance. RCMP were also not made aware of the significance of the “colour of right”
(another point highlighted in the Ipperwash Inquiry report), in regards to the sincere
motivations of all protesters and protectors. People engaged in actions were making a
good faith assertion of their right (even obligation) to defend their water, land, air,
communities, and family health, because the threat being posed to these things would
result in their irretrievable loss. It is the fault of the provincial government that Kent County neighbours and allies felt this desperate, but the RCMP needs to be a peace force for all the people, not for the government.

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Proposals

We are suggesting the following as first steps towards opening a productive dialogue
between the RCMP and the traumatized and embittered communities in Kent County:

1.   Establish a small planning group mandated to initiate a healing process. It is
requested that there be a maximum of three RCMP members in this initial planning
group, of whom two would be Sergeant Jarrett Francis and Retired Corporal Chris
Ward. As well, the committee would include a minimum of three additional
community representatives from the Mi’kmaq community, and a total of three from
the Acadian and Anglophone communities. Participation in this planning group
would be entirely voluntary (no fees for services) although incidental expenses for
food, etc., would be covered by the Commission.

2.    This planning group will develop a plan to begin the healing process. Only after this
monumental task is accomplished can we begin to speak about building a positive
relationship.

3.   The sooner this planning group begins this work towards healing, the shorter the
path to a productive dialogue on relationship building.

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Here are two additional broader scope recommendations:

4.   Additionally, the Commission must recommend to the RCMP that a special team be
created to review the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, and that the Inquiry’s
Recommendations be adapted for relevance across Canada, and used within the
RCMP at all levels for professional development and training for environmental and
land rights protests (exclusive of recommendations 16, 19 and 20, which pertain
specifically to Ipperwash matters).

5.   Treaty and indigenous rights education is essential for all personnel in the RCMP,
and must be led by Indigenous educators from the regions where the RCMP serve.

Please Contact Us for Further Discussion

If the Commission is interested in pursuing further consideration of this submission, you
are invited to contact these three individuals via the email address for the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians at coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

♦    Ann Pohl, Bass River resident
♦    Kenneth Francis, Elsipogtog First Nation resident
♦    Roger Richard, St-Louis-de-Kent resident

KENT NOT FOR SHALEjason okay

bleeding protestor - was carrying water -- now arrestednew-brunswick-frack-off-rally

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We are Demonized by the Top-Secret “Leaked” RCMP Report

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…Was the RCMP Report “leaked” to Justify Bill C-51?

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.

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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…

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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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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. AM at protest
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

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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 — 

GETTING READY to be “SLAPPED” AGAIN!

– credit: Daniel St. Louis –
me at river

“Activism is the rent I pay for being on this planet.” – Alice Walker

I am the daughter of two great science fiction authors, prominent from back in the day when sci-fi was truly a prophetic voice of social criticism and environmental portent.  Much of their generation’s work focused on the destructive nature of certain types of human society and activity, and how humans’ prejudices and attitudes interfere with banding together to protect our Mother Earth. So I was raised to be an activist or a writer, or both.

For the record, I was involved in a lot of unified, non-violent earth-protection (aka “protest”) activity in 2013 here in Kent County. I also was not involved in a lot of what happened, because I work a fulltime unrelated job and need to sleep and eat sometimes. But I almost always knew what has going on and where. And I trust that my allies were all determined to protest non-violently. Our goal was to prevent shale gas fracking from destroying our drinking water, the health of people in our diverse communities, the value of our properties, and the natural environment that sustains us all.

KENT NOT FOR SHALE
– credit: Brian Branch –

RCMP Secret Report on anti-Canadian petroleum activists

Thanks to the recently leaked RCMP report: Anti-Petroleum Extremists Threat to Government & Industry (dated January 24, 2014, but only leaked last month), I am now apparently part of a “highly organized and well-financed anti-Canadian petroleum movement.” Without even a penny for my efforts and with full accord from all my fellow activists that we were only using non-violent strategies, I am accused of taking part in the “most violent anti-petroleum protest to date.” I am therefore one of a collective of “extremists who pose a realistic criminal threat to Canada’s petroleum industry, its workers and assets, and to first responders.”

If for no other reason, it is worth reading this top secret RCMP report to see how dinosaurs might have been thinking – or failing to reason — just before they went extinct.

Two Worlds Colliding: Climate Change “asserters” vs.  Climate Change “denialists”

The RCMP report is completely wrong-headed. They miss the point entirely. On pages 1 and 2 of RCMP report (see link above) it is stated that activists like me “assert” that “climate change is now the most serious global environmental threat.” Point taken: yes! It is also true that “extremists” like me “believe” that “climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions… directly linked to the continued use” by human beings, and dirty mining technologies “of fossil fuels” industries.

Anyone who has lived through recent Canadian “unusual” and “extreme” weather “events” can see we are rocketing towards the brink of ecological disaster.  Peer-acclaimed global expert scientists agree: see Climate Change 2014: Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.  The IPCC Summary Report states:

“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history… Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2010… Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.”

The RCMP report never acknowledges the valid science contained in this IPCC report. Instead, the RCMP persistently couches any reference to climate change as an “assertion” or “belief,” inferring that we (activists, earth protectors) are not being rational.

Given the RCMP’s significant omission of valid science on the core cause of our protests, their position is discernibly climate change denialist. In fact, the impact of fossil fuel extraction from tar sands and through shale gas fracking does directly contribute in geometric proportions to climate change. Along with a host of related issues, like wanting to protect ourselves from this extreme industrial pollution, this is why we protested and will do so again if need be.

Enter Bill C-51

Bill C-51 is the knock-out punch for troublemakers like me, or so they seem to hope. The government says this Bill is about stopping terrorism, but in fact Bill C-51 is really about stripping indigenous rights activists and environmental protectors of all our charter guarantees and other rights established by case law precedent. As you can hear in Evan Solomon’s Power & Politics show (cue to 1:43:20), the Bill proposes to make it possible to arrest people like me, my Anglo and Acadian neighbours, and my Mi’kmaq allies.

kopit flag
– credit: Gerry LeBlanc –

Bill C-51 is being rammed through federal parliament when this blog is being posted. It will ensure that natural resource extraction industries face no impediments  Federal scientists have already been terminated or muzzled. Experimental research facilities that could produce information that might provoke concern about the deteriorating state of our environment have been closed. Literacy funding is all but gone, so many Canadians will never have the chance to inform themselves on environmental and human rights issues. The entire country has been stripped of all substantive environmental law protections in previous omnibus federal bills. Now, Bill C-51 will mop up the resistors. This will cement profit options for the 1%, as science fiction-style “sacrifice zones” abound throughout resource-laden, rural, indigenous, regions of Canada.

In 2013, we Earth Protectors were right!

In 2013 here, many earth protectors were harassed and arrested. We were not conspirators. We were seldom coordinated or even organized. We are simply a spontaneous unity of diverse grassroots people whose common interest is to protect our One Earth for ALL future generations.  Some of us were actually charged. Some of those charged were convicted of relatively minor offences. The most severe punishment was handed out to indigenous activists, who had doubly valid reasons for objecting to the development.

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The over-the-top, 9.5M$, and too often brutal, RCMP response to our legitimate protests lasted for seven months and terrorized most local residents. I say legitimate because for several years we had complained that government had not done enough prior research and consultation. This background checking should have been done before the leases were signed with Big Oil & Gas. In the September 2014 provincial election, shale gas was the core issue. A new government was elected. After admitting that more research and consultation is needed on fracking, they imposed a moratorium on shale gas industrial development. If many of us had not risked arrest for NON-VIOLENT protest that obstructed SWN’s activity, experimental fracking development would already be underway here in Signigtog Mi’kma’ki region. Governments can make mistakes: this is why non-violent protest is such an essential human right.

Old-style Corporate SLAPP lawsuit

Going back to when the protests were still underway, in October 2013, I was named in the initial SLAPP suit by SWN Resources Canada. SLAPP suits were designed a few decades back, by soulless corporate hot-shot lawyers to scare people who are identified as protest ring-leaders. SLAPP suits name key organizers as responsible for loss of money to the corporation and threaten to seize personal assets to recover these costs. SLAPP suits come with an injunction that says we have to stop being environmental protectors while the matter wends its way through the courts, or face arrest.

In this 2013 civil action, I am accused of being part of a collective of activists who did all sorts of dreadful things that obstructed their progress, and cost the company a huge amount of money. In my Statement of Defence I refute all their allegations. Actually, SWN’s losses arise from government incompetence: allowing the company to begin exploration work when the government had not done proper prior environmental review and informed consultation processes. The matter is still before the courts: I still could lose what little I own to help the fifth largest Oil & Gas company in North America recover its losses on this job.

SWN
– credit: Mike Constable –

Big Oil & Gas, governments of the day, RCMP secret report-writing consultants, and other climate change denialists realize that the tired old corporate SLAPP suit strategy is not working well any more. Persons being SLAPPED are supposed to get so scared that we shut up, go home, and turn on the sit-coms. It did not work with me. Like many of my neighbours, I am poor.  Most of us have little to lose through a suit like this. All of us have a lot to lose by having our drinking water and garden soil contaminated, our rural homes and communities transformed into a mega-industrial zone, and then our district left gasping and dead when the fracked gas dries up in a very few years.

The Corporatocracy that is actually running Canada is increasingly anxious: so many emerging economic indicators seem to support a shift away from fossil fuels, and in favour of prioritizing action on climate change. Even former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, now Bank of England Governor, has warned that “fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change,” and he has “called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions.”  Ouch! Carney’s concern about climate change must have hurt the Big Boys when it hit the wires services. Also, the Supreme Court of Canada clearly ruled in the Tsilhqo’tin decision that Canadian governments cannot use or alter indigenous territory or resources in such a way so that future generations of First Nations people cannot exercise their rights or enjoy the lands and the benefits that flow” from this territory. Because the understanding of indigenous territory was also transformed through this decision, is clear that Original Peoples have the right to assert sovereign control IF something threatens their traditional territories, when the Crown’s obligation of free, informed, and prior consent has not been met.

In the face of all this, the Canadian Corporatocracy needed a tool that might actually stop this grassroots movement to bring back the future. Instead of doing what we ask – nix on further fossil fuel development, and full speed ahead investment into renewables and sustainable industrial development – they decided to come up with this government SLAPP suit approach.

Bill C-51: a SLAPP suit approach on steroids

In the Evan Solomon interview, Mi’kmaq lawyer Dr. Pam Palmater calls this agenda the “Trojan Horse” of Bill C-51.  Under Bill C-51 provisions, instead of the corporation threatening to take away what we own, now we will be subject to a law-of-the-land that criminalizes protest to protect our homes, drinking water, communities, health, and surrounding environment. This proposed legislation will make a target of environmentalists concerned with climate change and other petroleum industry side-effects such as ruined water, air and land, as well indigenous rights activists whose territory is “needed” as sacrifice zones for the industry. Worst of all will be those of us who straddle both activisms: here in Signigtog, that means me and my close allies.

Ed's poster
 credit: Ed Kwong –

It won’t work. I am a mother and grandmother and I want to protect what is left of our environment for future generations. Most of my allies are guided by the same intense motivation. A recent gathering in Halifax confirmed that Indigenous activists opposing Energy East don’t fear proposed anti-terror bill. It will simply clog up the courts.

But it does not matter that it will not work. As with the corporate SLAPP action, the Bill C-51 SLAPP approach is not really designed to win. Its intent is to hamstring key activists with lengthy, extensive and expensive legal battles. Eventually, when a case finally reaches there, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) will uphold our human rights and the law will have to be changed. There seems to be just one little problem with pinning our hopes on the SCC…  I hope I am mistaken in this, but I also understand that Bill C-51 allows people to be held for exceptional periods of time without a charge. I imagine it would be difficult to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court without a charge first being laid and heard before the courts.

Civilain Commission investigates RCMP conduct in 2013 NB anti-fracking protests

Right here, close to home, the Civilian Commission is investigating the actions of the RCMP during the anti-fracking protests here in Kent County in 2013. In addition to many other matters, the Civilian Commission has been speaking with complainants who say that RCMP actions, policies, planning, and internal directions are directly responsible for the violence that took place in Signigtog region of Mi’kma’ki (Kent County, NB). This investigation will produce a report that offers a glimpse into the climate change denialist and fossil fuel boostering backrooms of Canadian governments and their handmaiden RCMP troops. By clicking here, you can find the Notice of March 14-15-16 Meetings of Civilian Commission into 2013 RCMP Activities (it can take a while to load). These will be held in Rexton, in Saint Louis, and then in Moncton, and storm dates are provided.

I hope many of us are able to get out to these meetings. This is your entry point to meet the Commission staff and arrange to share what we saw and/or experienced in the woods and on the roads in 2013, re: oppression of non-violent dissent to protect our environment. It would be wonderful if some of you have time to read through the leaked RCMP report. You could make use of the opportune timing of these meetings to counter some lies told about us and our allies.

We have only one planet. My allies and I are very determined: we will do our best to keep it as habitable as possible.

membership image
 credit: Nancy Alcox –

In Unity for All Future Generations – Granny Annie

Investigation into RCMP Response to Kent County NB Anti-Fracking Protests, June – December, 2013


firekeeper arrrest bleeding mouth

Two weeks ago, I met with Bill Brydon and Gord Barnett, the investigators contracted by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to look into the issues about policing during last year’s antifracking protests here in Kent County NB – here is the Commission’s June 2014 annual report saying this investigation is ongoing.

This is a lot like a lottery: its unlikely you will win, but for sure you cannot win if you don’t buy a ticket! Yes, I agree with critics who say that this Public Interest Investigation into RCMP activities may not resolve anything. But, if we don’t come forward with the information on all the harm, abuses, violations, and other damage done by the RCMP, there is NO CHANCE at all that anything can change in how the RCMP “handle” protests like ours.

I saw this as my opportunity to tell them about some of the human rights violations I witnessed, as well as things the police did NOT do, like look into abuses by the company or their contractors when they should have, etc.

I found Gord and Bill were interested ONLY in what I came to tell them, and they did not press me for personal details or attempt in any way to collect evidence against me or any of my allies. After they listened to me, they asked specific questions about what I saw the RCMP doing. They also seemed very focused and concerned about how this affected individual trust or respect for the RCMP as an organization.

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RCMP guarding Thumper

I went in with a lot of questions about:

  • the mandate for this investigation,
  • how the findings will be compiled and published,
  • if there will be an opportunity for comment on the proposals that come forward from this investigation, etc.

Most of my questions could not be answered by Bill or Gord, who are simply field-based information collectors. However, they forwarded my questions to the Commission’s Senior Reviewer/Analyst, Rosemary Morgan, who is responsible for the management of this Public Interest Investigation. In her response to my questions, Rosemary emphasized that “the opportunity to be heard is during the investigation interviews. Should you feel you have not been properly heard at that time, I encourage you to advise the investigators, or myself, at your earliest opportunity.” (Here is Rosemary Morgan’s email and her phone number is 613-952-1318.)

Here, following, are the answers to the questions I asked about this investigation. Perhaps this will help you decide whether or not to contact them and ask for a meeting to share your experiences during the protests.

  1. The Chair of the Commission decided to initiate a Public Interest Investigation in July 2013, after several public complaints about the RCMP’s response to the June 5, 2013 antifracking protest. The public complaints cumulatively made numerous allegations pertaining to RCMP use of force, attitude, arrests, searches, breach of protocols and failure to respect spiritual objects and practices, etc. In addition, one of the initial public complaints was from the Halifax Coalition Against Fracking, which was based upon a petition signed by 245 individuals. Since that time the Commission received about a dozen more complaints about the RCMP response in June, October, November and December 2013. These have been added to the Public Interest Investigation as well.Mikmaq-protest-Nov-14-e1384456554762
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  2. The investigators’ contracts may be secured (with personal information redacted) following an Application for Access to Information. If anyone wants to make that application, there are resources on-line. If anyone interested to do this finds the online info and the system difficult to navigate, Rosemary will try to assist.
  3. The mandate of the investigators (Bill Brydon and Gord Barnett) is to secure and review all information relevant to the complaints from the complainants, witnesses and RCMP members who are willing and able to speak with them. They will also interview the RCMP management responsible for the RCMP response to the protests. The Investigators do not make final findings or recommendations – they simply compile the information with their own observations, and then submit their “Investigation Report” to the Commission. Commission staff (Rosemary and a colleague of hers) will then review the investigation report.
  4. Gord and Bill are very senior investigators. For the most part, during their investigation they make their own determination of avenues of investigation, including whether or not to interview additional witnesses as additional information is gathered. If information not previously identified by the complainants or the RCMP disclosure is obtained during witness interviews, Gord & Bill will determine whether to conduct additional interviews or other forms of investigation. In any event, at the conclusion of their investigation they will provide the Commission with all information gathered, whether that information is referenced in their investigation report or not. All the information gathered will be reviewed by the Commission to assess the need for further investigation and in preparation of the Chair’s Final Report.
    man down ivan getting pepper-sprayed one more oct 17
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    injured by nonlethal ammo
  5. Rosemary will make the investigation is complete, ie. if it meets the legal requirement of “reasonable thoroughness”. Generally, if further investigation is determined necessary on the basis of that legal standard, the Commission will arrange for further inquiries, either by retaining the investigators to make further inquiries, or retaining additional investigators, or sending a Commission employee who is trained and experienced in investigation.
  6. When no further investigation is deemed necessary, Rosemary will prepare a draft report for the Commission Chair’s consideration. The Chair will finalize the report with Findings and any Recommendations he deems fit, and it will be disclosed to the parties in accordance with Part VII of the RCMP Act (PART VII PUBLIC COMPLAINTS Receipt and Investigation of Complaints).
  7. Rosemary could not provide an anticipated release date. Until the investigators have completed all complainant and witness interviews, it will be impossible to assess the extent of the necessary RCMP interviews, which will be the next step for Bill and Gord. This has already taken a long time. The following factors have contributed to delay: the breadth of the complaints, the duration and extent of the events and the RCMP response. Before the investigators could start their public interviews, they had to review all the available RCMP information. After they read the “disclosed” RCMP reports (anything the RCMP makes available to them), then they started seeking out public witnesses. The breadth and seriousness of this matter has predictably led to a broadening of the number of potential witnesses, which broadens the Commission’s requests for relevant information from the RCMP, and they continue to receive new information from the RCMP and from complainants. They would very much like to wrap this up sometime during this winter, but until the investigators have completed all complainant and witness interviews, it will be impossible to assess the extent of the necessary RCMP interviews, which will be the next step.
  8. Each formal complainant, the Commissioner of the RCMP, RCMP members named in the complaints, and the Minister of Public Safety will receive a print copy of the Chair’s Final Report. The Commission does not send every witness a copy of the Chair’s Final Report. According to past practice, a bilingual and printable copy of the Report will be posted on the Commission’s website (via a link to the Canada.ca).
  9. Information provided by the complainants and witnesses, is not automatically provided to the RCMP. However, If information IS used in the assessment of the overall public interest investigation, it may be incorporated into the Chair’s final report, and ultimately released to the RCMP, and the public, in the Chair’s Final “Report Following the Public Interest Investigation into the conduct of the RCMP in New Brunswick in respect of matters involving the anti-shale protests in 2013”. RCMP members, complainants and witnesses, are treated the same. No one is given an opportunity to comment upon the Chair’s report before it is finalized, with the exception of the Commissioner of the RCMP, who is given that opportunity by right under the RCMP Act. However, anyone may write to the Chair following release of the report to comment upon the report or any other matter relating to the Public Interest Investigation. If, upon completion of the Chair’s report, you feel that there are factual errors, and you have information to correct the factual errors, you may contact the Commission; the Chair will review your submission.

My Comments:

As a result of both police activities and strategic police inaction we witnessed last year, the public has lost confidence, trust and respect for the RCMP. This is a major concern because the RCMP is the local police force in almost all of NB. These losses are due to the conduct of some RCMP members, as well as the overall tactical decisions and operations carried out by the force over many months.

support for  public inquiry

As Rosemary outlined the process to me (see bold text in my point #7 above), it became evident to me that the investigators begin with a review of all records voluntarily provided by the RCMP because this provides the investigators with a chronology of the action. HOWEVER, in my opinion, in this instance, this skeletal first “story” or “narrative” may have influenced the investigators to view the entire investigation in a faulty manner. A major complaint about the RCMP’s conduct last year is that they made this into a campaign against First Nations protestors from the get-go. In part, it was the educational community work by non-Natives that brought many Mi’kmaq People on side on the matter of the risks of shale gas development. In fact until the RCMP started targeting and brutalizing protestors, Anglos and Acadians were as deeply involved in the protests as the FN. Non-Natives remained deeply involved in the protests in various ways throughout the entire period.

Therefore, it is importan that the Commission’s investigators hear not ONLY from FN people, and that their outreach for witnesses should not happen ONLY in Elsipogtog First Nation. The RCMP started this by targeting their response to the protests against FN people, and this biased emphasis is reinforced by having public access to the interviewers only happen at Elsi.

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MANY, MANY PEOPLE in all three founding cultural communities of Kent County, and indeed across New Brunswick, want to know that the authorities are looking into the serious issues we have witnessed. I have proposed to Rosemary Morgan that the Commission make their process more meaningful and inclusive, by convening one or more public meetings to explain the investigation’s basis, mandate and process to concerned citizens – and also provide some assistance to those who still want to file formal complaints. Rosemary has passed these requests up the ladder in the Commission, and perhaps there is a small chance that some such actions will be taken.

There is one earth, one water, and we are all in this together. There is widespread cross-cultural community concern about the role and actions of the RCMP. This is a crowded world. Our species needs the “rule of law,” human rights codes and guarantees, and policing systems we can trust in the complexity of negotiating how we all get along. Encouraging affected people to speak to the investigators could be a very important first step towards healing.

AM at protest

ABOUT THE RCMP RIOT, and those burning cars…
As It Happens speaks with Allan Marsh, the elected
Chair of the Local Service District for Saint-Charles, N.B.
He was at Thursday’s protests to support the anti-shale gas activists.

I want to encourage every one, who possibly can, to take the chance that this will actually do some “good.” Meet with the Commissioner’s Investigators: Gord Barnett <gordonabarnett@yahoo.ca> and Bill Brydon <bbrydon@commissionaires.ns.ca>, cell: 902-579-6410, and tell them what you saw and experienced and how this has affected you and those you know.