RCMP surveillance, searches breached anti-fracking protesters' rights, watchdog says
The RCMP watchdog has uncovered shortcomings with the national force's crowd-control measures, physical searches and collection of social media information while policing anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick.
In a long-awaited report issued Thursday, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP chastises the Mounties for their reluctance to take action on some of the findings and recommendations.
The commission received 21 public complaints related to the RCMP's management of protests in 2013 over shale-gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada near the town of Rexton and the Elsipogtog First Nation reserve in Kent County, as well as in various other parts of the province.
The report notes that a primary motivation for Indigenous protesters opposing the actions of SWN was their dedication to protecting land and water they considered their own, unceded to the Crown through treaty or other agreement.
A court-issued injunction limited protests and despite some progress through negotiations between the RCMP and demonstrators, the Mounties cleared an encampment on Oct. 17, 2013, sparking a melee and numerous arrests.
After reviewing the complaints and materials disclosed by the RCMP, the commission then initiated its own investigation in December 2014 to examine the issues more broadly.