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Review of RCMP actions at Argenta logging protest still ongoing a year later

Independent review panel says RCMP has been slow to supply information
The RCMP had a significant presence when logging protesters were arrested May 17, 2022, near Argenta. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission says the RCMP has been slow to supply information for its review of police tactics. Photo: Breanne Hope

An independent review of RCMP actions in shutting down a 2022 logging protest near Argenta is still underway a year after it began, and the lawyer representing the people who were arrested says the delay is predictable.

The review is being conducted by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC), which is independent of the RCMP.

It is investigating whether the RCMP “E” Division Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) followed its own policies and the law, and whether its policies and tactics comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The investigation is simultaneously probing enforcement tactics at Argenta and two other conflicts in the summer of 2022: the Coastal GasLink Ltd. injunction on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory and the Teal Cedar Products Ltd. injunction in the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island.

The CRCC’s investigation comes after widespread complaints about aggressive and militaristic police tactics at all three locations.

Noah Ross, a Denman Island-based lawyer representing the arrested protesters, said the delays are an indication that as Canadians we do not value “timely, impactful police accountability” as much as we value “getting people off the road so industry can happen.”

Ross thinks the investigation should be about “officer misconduct,” not just about policies and systemic issues.

“It’s not about what the complainants were most interested in, which was having an independent investigator look at RCMP conduct,” Ross said.

The CCRC website states that the review has been met with “significant delays in receiving the relevant materials from the RCMP … The CRCC has received little information or records from the RCMP “E” Division since July 2023, despite regular follow-ups and requests for updates.”

However, in a March 26 email to the Nelson Star, the CCRC stated that there has recently been a “significant improvement.”

The CCRC has commissioned the Vancouver firm Turtle Island Law to interview people who had interactions with the C-IRG at the three locations. The purpose of the interviews is to produce a “what we heard” section of the final report.

The CCRC told the Nelson Star it could not estimate how much longer the review might take. Ross said similar investigations often take two-to-three years.


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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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