Civil Liberties Watchdog Concerned the RCMP has Informants in B.C. Anti-pipeline Groups

Photo: Warrior Publications

Photo: Warrior Publications

by Travis Lupick / Straight.com

A number of environmental and First Nations groups have said they want to know whether or not the RCMP has placed informants or undercover agents inside Idle No More and other anti-pipeline movements.

“We think that people ought to be able to gather together, to protest, to be engaged in community groups, and to be engaged in political groups, without having to worry that the person next to them might be providing information to the RCMP,” said Josh Paterson, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

On February 6, the BCCLA filed complaints against the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for allegedly illegal spying on environmental organizations.

The Straight previously reported that the complaints rest on information contained in a package of emails sent between RCMP officers, CSIS agents, and government entities such as the National Energy Board between December 2012 and April 2013.

BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson (right) was joined by ForestEthics Advocacy campaign director Ben West and other environmental advocates at a February 6 press conference protesting alleged government surveillance.

BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson (right) was joined by ForestEthics Advocacy campaign director Ben West and other environmental advocates at a February 6 press conference protesting alleged government surveillance.

Now, Paterson is calling attention to the significant portions of those documents that authorities redacted before releasing them to the Vancouver Observer in November.

In a telephone interview, Paterson told the Straight that the information he’s most interested in was blacked out under section 16 of the Access to Information Act, which pertains to the identity of confidential sources of informations.

He explained that the context of some sections withheld indicates that the RCMP likely has informants or intelligence officers placed within anti-pipeline groups such as Idle No More.

“What it strongly suggests to us is the RCMP had people who were funneling them information from within community groups or movements,” he said. “That is a huge concern to us.”

A February 6 media release states that the BCCLA is asking that RCMP be investigated for “improper and unlawful actions”.

“BCCLA is troubled that the RCMP would infiltrate and/or covertly gather intelligence regarding groups whose members are peacefully exercising their Charter-protected assembly and expression rights,” states the release.

“IF the RCMP is involved in infiltrating these groups or is otherwise relying on confidential informants or covert intelligence gathering, then an inquiry must also be conducted into whether such activities amount to an unreasonable search in violation of section 8 of the Charter.”

The RCMP declined a request for an interview. Spokesperson David Falls previously sent the Straight an email stating that the Mounties “will not comment on this matter”.

The BCCLA says emails released in response to an access to information request suggest the RCMP may be monitoring environmental groups closer than the law permits.

The BCCLA says emails released in response to an access to information request suggest the RCMP may be monitoring environmental groups closer than the law permits.

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