The Community Industry Response Group (C-IRG) is an RCMP unit that’s been accused of unlawful use of force, arrests, detentions, & assaults. They are facing several lawsuits and an internal investigation for misconduct. And still the BC NDP is allocating them $36M.
C-IRG was created in 2017 to support the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion projects in the face of broad public opposition and Indigenous assertions of jurisdiction.
Since then C-IRG has been used by industry as a personal paramilitary force to push forward resource extraction projects and clamp down on massive public backlash as they flout our laws and environmental regulations.
The RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission announced two weeks ago they are conducting a “systematic investigation” of C-IRG. A national coalition is calling for the suspension of C-IRG operations while the CRCC investigates.
The CRCC reviews can take years to complete. The extent of the human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous rights committed by the C-IRG has not yet fully come to light. It is irresponsible to have this unit continue operations during that time.
It’s why I asked Minister Mike Farnworth if they are going to move forward with allocating C-IRG $36 million dollars and how they can justify doing so instead of ordering the unit to stand down until investigations are complete.
Minister Mike Farnworth chose to not even acknowledge that C-IRG is under investigation for human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous rights. As we spoke this unit was rolling against Indigenous land defenders in their own territory.
The BC NDP seem to have no issue with industry using our police forces as a private security force and footing British Columbians with the bill. Until a full investigation is complete the RCMP’s Community Industry Response Group should be forced to stand down.
Mr. Speaker, we’ve heard the Minister of Public Safety say that he takes the rights of victims seriously. How about the rights of the victims of colonialism?
In November, the B.C. NDP government announced that it would provide $230 million to bolster staffing in rural police departments. It appears $36 million of those funds were designated for “police response to unlawful protests.”
My question is to the Minister of Public Safety. Is this $36 million allocated to the RCMP community-industry response group?
Hon. M. Farnworth:
I appreciate the question from the member. What I want to tell him is that $36 million is over three years. It is based on an average that we have spent in this province over the last number of years in terms of dealing with the enforcement of court ordered injunctions. We have in this province an independent judiciary — courts who make court orders — and it is the responsibility of the police to enforce those court orders. That comes with costs.
So as part of the budget process, we have to ensure that there is money in place to do just that. We put in place an average of what has been spent over the last number of years, and that is a three-year sum that the member is talking about. It works out to about — I think last year, it was around $11 million.
House Leader of the Third Party, supplemental.
Of course, those injunctions are protecting the rights of corporations, not the rights of Indigenous people that have existed and belonged to the lands that these resource projects are being undertaken on. The Community-Industry Response Group, or CIRG, as it’s known, was created in 2017 to support the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion projects in the face of broad public opposition and Indigenous assertions of jurisdiction.
The CIRG has been accused of unlawful use of force, arrests, detentions and assaults against Indigenous and non-Indigenous land defenders, many of whom are my constituents and many of whom I would consider Elders from my riding.
Right now, this crew is rolling, and the minister knows this, on Indigenous people in their own territories, as we speak. The RCMP unit now faces several lawsuits and investigations for misconduct. The RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission announced two weeks ago that they are conducting a “systemic investigation” CIRG. A national coalition is calling for the suspension of CIRG while the CRCC investigates these hundreds of complaints against the unit. The CRCC reviews can take up years to complete.
The extent of the human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous peoples on their own lands by this unit has not yet fully come to light. How does this government justify giving a controversial RCMP unit tens of millions of dollars, and will this B.C. NDP government stand this militarized police unit down while they’re under this investigation?
Hon. M. Farnworth:
I appreciate the question from the member and I would like to make a couple of points. First off, we have an independent judiciary in this country that makes rulings and issues an injunction. It’s the responsibility of the police to enforce that and you cannot, on one hand, say, “hey, we like this ruling, so, great that we’ve got an independent judiciary,” and on the other hand, say, “oh, we disagree with this ruling, so the whole process is nothing,” just to protect a special interest group.
Hon. M. Farnworth:
No, that’s not a false argument. It’s the fact we have an independent judiciary in this country, which is a cornerstone of our democracy. It’s one I think that does a very effective job.
Hon. M. Farnworth:
What I would also say — it’s not giving money. The police have a job to do, which is to enforce a court ordered injunction. It costs money to do that. We have to pay for the costs of the policing that takes place in the course of the enforcement of these injunctions. We budget for it based on the amount of money that has been spent on an annual basis over the last number of years. That is our best estimate. In some cases, it may cost more. In some cases, it may cost less. If it costs less, that money can go somewhere else.
But it is not a case of just giving money and saying: “Do with it what you will.” It’s because the courts have said, “we want the injunction enforced,” and they have the responsibility to do that, hon. Member. I understand that you don’t like it, but that’s the fact.