Fredericton (Nov. 15, 2020) – After seven years, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP has issued its Final Report on the RCMP raid on indigenous people and shale gas protestors in Rexton, Kent County, in 2013.
It’s appropriate to immediately state that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Except for those who were there, few may remember much about the event beyond pictures of burning cars. Many who testified as eyewitnesses may read this report and marvel that some of its conclusions directly contradict their testimony, more often than not simply because there was no video evidence.
However, most disquieting is that the RCMP has refused to accept several of the Findings that concluded the RCMP likely violated citizens’ Charter Rights on issues of warrantless searches, stops and seizures, and the retention of personal and social media data after establishing no criminal or security concerns, among others.
Without offering any new evidence to support its views, the RCMP rejected the Commission’s findings on these issues. In fact, it clearly implied that only the RCMP could judge the constitutionality of actions by its officers.
NBASGA Spokesperson, Jim Emberger, asks, “Does the RCMP feel that it is accountable to anyone outside of its own ranks?’
This report also cast doubts on the RCMP’s competence and judgment. The Commission found that RCMP negotiators had reached an agreement with the protestors to calm down the situation, just as the tactical force was finalizing the next morning’s raid. The two groups did not communicate with each other.
A leading reason to justify the raid was ‘unverified rumours’ of weapons at the encampment. Yet RCMP testimony revealed that its infltrators, spot checks, vehicle searches and continuous suveillance had not turned up a single obsevation of any firearms. They had simply ‘heard rumours’ about weapons.
Emberger noted that “this focus on RCMP actions does not excuse those who were ultimately responsible for this tragedy.” For years the Alward government refused discussion with a united province-wide opposition, despite huge demonstrations, petitions from tens of thousands, and expert testimony. Its intransigence–and its collusion with industry–led directly to Rexton. Ironically, that may have been the event that finally doomed shale gas and spelled the end of the Alward government.
Unfortunately, current events, like the RCMP’s violent actions against Wet’suwet’en opposition to Coastal Gas in BC, illustrate that the RCMP, governments and fossil fuel interests have learned no lessons. And without real accountability they never will.