RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday October 21, 2020. Lucki has responded to a long-delayed watchdog report on alleged surveillance of anti-oil protesters after a civil liberties group went to court to force her hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday October 21, 2020. Lucki has responded to a long-delayed watchdog report on alleged surveillance of anti-oil protesters after a civil liberties group went to court to force her hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

RCMP boss responds to watchdog report about alleged spying on anti-oil protesters

Complaints commission launched a public interest investigation and completed an interim report into the matter in June 2017

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has responded to a long-delayed watchdog report on alleged surveillance of anti-oil protesters after a civil liberties group went to court to force her hand.

The submission of Lucki’s comments on the interim report by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP means the watchdog can now prepare a final report for public release.

Paul Champ, lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, received a letter Friday from Lucki confirming her response to the commission.

The association has accused the Mounties of sitting on the 2017 interim report for more than three years, prompting the group to recently ask the Federal Court to order Lucki to complete her input.

Champ said although part of the court case is now moot, given Lucki has responded, the association plans to continue seeking a declaration that the commissioner’s delay violated the RCMP Act.

“Hopefully, we can improve the system for others and shine a light on this clear gap in the law.”

The association lodged a complaint in February 2014 with the complaints commission, saying the RCMP improperly collected and shared information about people and groups who peacefully opposed the planned Northern Gateway pipeline project and attended National Energy Board meetings.

The association also said monitoring, surveillance and information-sharing with other government agencies and the private sector created a chilling effect for those who might wish to take part in hearings or other public discussions on petroleum issues.

The complaints commission launched a public interest investigation and completed an interim report into the matter in June 2017, forwarding it to the RCMP for comment on the conclusions and recommendations.

The commission cannot prepare a final report until the RCMP commissioner responds, which also means the findings can’t be disclosed to the civil liberties association or the public.

In a June 23 letter to Lucki, Champ noted the RCMP Act imposes a legal duty to provide a response to the commission’s interim report “as soon as feasible.”

The civil liberties association’s notice of application, filed earlier this month, asked the court to order Lucki to respond to the interim report within 14 days, something she has now done.

It also requested an order declaring the “extensive and unconscionable delay” of the report has interfered with the association’s ability to speak about important public matters, breaching its charter right of free expression.

“We believe it’s important for the Court to provide some guidance and parameters about how long is ‘feasible’ to complete a response,” Champ says.

“The RCMP’s systematic disregard for the public complaint process is a serious and deeply rooted problem and needs to be addressed.”

The complaints commission is seeking the court’s permission to intervene in the case.

Nika Joncas-Bourget, general counsel for reviews with the commission, said in an affidavit filed with the court last week that the unreasonable delay of the RCMP commissioner’s response has thwarted the watchdog in carrying out its mandate.

“The delay also undermines the legitimacy, fairness, and efficacy of the public complaint process. Both the complainants and the RCMP members who are the subjects of the complaint must live with the stress and uncertainty of an unresolved complaint,” she said.

Any remedial action, such as training or policy changes, that the complaints commission recommends must also wait, she added. “This means that important lessons and systemic changes may wait for months or years past the time when they would be most useful and relevant.”

The complaints commission has a total of 148 interim reports awaiting a response from the RCMP commissioner, including 134 that have been outstanding for more than six months. In 119 of those cases the commission has been awaiting a response for at least one year. In one case, it has been waiting for over four years.

The RCMP acknowledges delays in replying to interim complaints commission reports and the police force has committed to doubling the number of personnel responsible for review and analysis.

The force says it intends to typically provide a written response within six months of the issuance of an interim commission report.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Just Posted

Comox Valley medical clinics are all open, including the availability to book face-to-face care (i.e. for a physical examination) as per your clinic’s protocol (most clinics operate a “virtual care first” policy). ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Northern Health launches virtual primary care clinic

Northerners without a family physician or nurse practitioner will now have access to primary care

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read