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

The Quartz Creek watershed is located in the area behind the small community of Ymir south of Nelson. Photo: Tyler Harper
Timber companies swap management of controversial Ymir watershed

Fruitvale’s ATCO Wood Products is now overseeing Quartz Creek

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer near Argenta in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read