(RCMP tactical unit officers crouch in the grass during Oct. 17, 2013, raid on Mi’kmaq Warrior Society anti-fracking camp. APTN/File)
APTN National News
Public Safety Canada omitted last year’s explosive confrontation between police and Mi’kmaq warriors from a list of protests monitored by Ottawa’s national security nerve centre, records show.
The federal department on Sept. 15 released a list of hundreds of protests the Government Operations Centre (GOC) has monitored since 2006 in response to an Order Paper question from Liberal MP Scott Brison. While the list appears exhaustive, it omitted a heavily-armed RCMP raid on a Mi’kmaq Warrior Society-led anti-fracking camp in New Brunswick on Oct. 17, 2013. The raid led to 40 arrests and the torching of several police cars.
The list also omitted clashes between the RCMP, the Mi’kmaq and their Acadian and Anglophone supporters that continued for weeks following the October raid. Demonstrators twice burned tires on a New Brunswick highway in early December 2013.
It took Public Safety officials two workdays to respond to APTN National News’ question on how such a high-profile conflict escaped an appearance on the list.
Public Safety finally responded saying the omission was caused by “human error.”
Documents obtained by APTN National News under the Access to Information Act show the GOC was holding teleconferences with a number of federal departments and enforcement agencies to prepare for the possibility of nation-wide protests in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq following the raid in Rexton, NB. The agency also drew-up a map listing a large number of planned solidarity protests across the country.
Yet, Public Safety’s list of GOC monitored protest jsumps from an Oct. 14, 2013, demonstration in Romania about bees to an Oct. 18 protest on the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. The list also includes a Dec. 2 entry on shale gas protests across the country, but it doesn’t record any reports to GOC about tire burnings or continued arrests in New Brunswick related to anti-fracking battles.
The GOC is run out of Public Safety and describes itself as “an all-hazards integrated federal emergency response to events (potential or actual hazards, natural or human-induced, either accidental or intentional) of national interest,”
Liberal Aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett said the omission of the Oct. 17 raid compromises the accuracy of Public Safety’s list.
“This is a glaring omission of a really serious incident,” said Bennett. “I can’t possibly understand how they can leave it out and how we can trust the information they did put out.”
Public Safety’s list includes a number of small, localized protests in First Nations communities, but omits Idle No More’s Jan. 11 Day of Action in 2013.
That day, thousands of people converged on Ottawa for a massive protest while Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with a handful of chiefs. Solidarity demonstrations sprang up across the country and around the world the same day. Jan. 11 is seen by many as the high-water for the Idle No More movement.