Will the Minister of Public Safety demand accountability from the RCMP C-IRG?

Feb 24, 2024 | 42-5, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 0 comments

In Question Period, I asked the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Hon. Mike Farnworth about accountability for the RCMPs Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG). Minister Farnworth suggested that when there are incidents that are described in the courts of discrimination and alleged criminality they should be held accountable. But who is responsible for doing that? Well, of course he is.

So the question the Minister failed to answer remains, is there investigations into the incidents? Is there accountability? And, if so, why is he suggesting there should be accountability instead of delivering it?

[Transcript]

RCMP COMMUNITY-INDUSTRY RESPONSE GROUP ACTIONS AND FUNDING

A. Olsen:

Last fall I drew a comparison between the amount of money that the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has invested in the RCMP’s controversial community-industry response group, the C-IRG, and the implementation of the calls for justice in the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls report.

The minister was furious with this line of questioning, yet transcripts released during court proceedings illustrate perfectly how the RCMP’s C-IRG unit has dehumanized Indigenous people. Much of the language used in the recordings is inappropriate for this House, Mr. Speaker.

Basically, the C-IRG officers were calling Indigenous people “ogres” and “orcs.” They made fun of a neurodiverse person and openly described a high-ranking member of that unit sexually assaulting somebody.

Human rights violations, excessive force, illegal tactics, unprofessional behaviour, racism, discrimination. A shame on the RCMP. A shame on this minister. A shame on this House.
To the Minister of Public Safety, is there an ongoing investigation of the alleged sexual assault described by the C-IRG members?

Hon. M. Farnworth:

What I can tell the member is that the kinds of comments that the member references are absolutely, obviously, and completely unacceptable. I think all members in this House would agree with that. At the same time, there are processes and protocols in place for complaint procedures and to deal with this kind of thing, some of which are underway — as you acknowledge, a court case.

I can also tell the member that part of the work that has been underway in terms of the reform of the Police Act is to deal with these kinds of things and to extend accountability and oversight on our police forces in this province.

The Speaker: House Leader, Third Party, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

I would imagine that when the police forces in this province are made aware of a potential sexual assault…. Perhaps an investigation would be necessary and not the requirement of the person who was involved in that to have to file a complaint. It seems like the conversation between the members of these units was quite open about what was going on there.

The C-IRG has vastly exceeded their projected budget year over year. In their first year, in 2019-2020, they were budgeted $920,000, yet they spent $10 million. Each year this unit continues to receive funding and then blow past their budgets.

The RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission is currently undertaking a systemic investigation of the C-IRG unit, an investigation that has experienced significant delays because the RCMP is not giving them information.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have called for the C-IRG to be disbanded due to the ongoing human rights violations and harm to Indigenous communities.

To the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. If the allegations that we heard on tape, the racist and demeaning comments on the record, the picking on neurodiverse people, laughing about an incident that basically amounts to sexual assault…. Does the C-IRG still have the confidence of this minister?

Hon. M. Farnworth:

I appreciate the question.

As I said a moment ago, we expect police to conduct themselves in line with the standards that are in place for policing. If they are not, then they should be held accountable for that. Again, I’d say that every member of this House agrees with that.

At the same time, the member talks about the budget for the C-IRG. Well, the C-IRG was established to assist those communities that have been dealing with some of the challenges that we’ve been facing in terms of protests and in terms of enforcing court-ordered injunctions in this province. The result of….

The budget is based on the amount that has actually had to have been spent in order for police to be able to do that job. The amount is based on a rolling average over the last three years. It started off, as the member said, at $900,000. What we have seen, in some different parts of the province, particularly on some of the LNG pipelines, is a significant amount of resources required in order to deal with some often extremely violent protests.

[10:45 a.m.]

Our expectation is that those engaged in law enforcement are obeying the laws and the standards in the province of British Columbia and Canada. At the same time, we also recognize that they have an important job to do in enforcing sometimes court-ordered injunctions to ensure that legal and lawful activity is allowed to take place in our province.

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