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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of Vanderhoof municipal office. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof district rejects FOI request for business name

Officials will release more information about the restaurant on May 21

Audrey McKinnon is seeking the NDP nomination for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon puts name forward for NDP for federal election

McKinnon preparing for a contested nomination for Prince George-Cariboo riding

Michael Rees at his studio on the first floor of the old Burrard Market Square building. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Painter and print-maker showcased at Vanderhoof Street Art Show

Michael Rees uses narrative in a majority of his work

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Most Read