January 14, 2022
UBCIC Applauds BCCLA’s Win in Landmark Court Case Against RCMP Commissioner and Court’s Decision to Uphold Police Accountability
((Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – January 14, 2022) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) congratulates the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) on winning their precedent-setting lawsuit, which resulted in the Federal Court of Canada’s decision that RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki violated her statutory obligations by failing to respond to investigations into claims of Mountie misconduct. This case marks the first time the court has ruled RCMP must be held accountable for providing a timely answer to complaints filed with the force’s civilian watchdog agency, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC).
BCCLA’s lawsuit stems from their complaint filed in 2014 against the RCMP for spying on Indigenous and climate activists opposed to the now defunct Northern Gateway pipeline project and sharing the information it gathered with private oil companies and the National Energy Board. The complaint was filed with the CRCC, but Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s extreme delay in responding to the complaint hindered the complaints and investigation process. After their investigation, the CRCC completed a report outlining its findings and recommendations to the force in 2017, but without the RCMP Commissioner’s response, was unable to release its report publicly.
“For years after their initial complaint, the BCCLA waited for an answer from the RCMP – an answer as to why the force so negligently breached their commitment to justice and violated the rights of Indigenous land defenders and climate activists,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC. “Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s irresponsible conduct –her sitting in silence on the issue for years – speaks volumes and points to the overarching treatment of Indigenous people by police. Police continue to abuse their power and use intimidation, surveillance, and harassment to discount the Indigenous Title and Rights of land defenders and activists. The Federal Court’s decision recognizes the immense harm that was caused by the RCMP’s atrocious lack of accountability and its systemic delays to the complaints process. It is evident that Commissioner Brenda Lucki delayed and denied justice as she prioritized complacency over action, and with her history of failing to appropriately respond to systemic racism and violence against Indigenous peoples, we renew and support calls for her resignation.”
“This landmark court case sets a precedent and shows that institutions and those in power can and will be held accountable for their obstruction of justice and their violation of Indigenous Title and Rights,” continued Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of UBCIC. “We express our gratitude to the BCCLA for not letting the RCMP evade their obligations under the law and for highlighting how it is a critical matter of public interest when the RCMP Commissioner impedes the functioning and purpose of a police oversight institution. A systemic lack of police accountability continues to imperil the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, but BCCLA’s victory demonstrates to the public that we can successfully raise our voices to ensure that injustice does not go ignored and that colonial institutions answer to their criminalization and surveillance of Indigenous people.”
“It took seven years after the BCCLA launched their complaint in 2017 for the CRCC to release the findings of their investigation. This unacceptable delay and prolonged journey to justice speaks to the rampant police misconduct and abuse of power that continues to create divisive walls of fear and mistrust in the community,” concluded Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of UBCIC. “The bottom line is that the RCMP Commissioner failed to respond to the CRCC report about the BCCLA’s complaint “as soon as feasible” as she is required to do so under the RCMP Act. The Federal Court of Canada recognized this, and for the first time established that the RCMP must respond to CRCC reports in a timely matter and placed a strict limit on how quickly she must respond. Moving forward, the UBCIC hopes that the RCMP will learn their lesson from this lawsuit and recognize that all their policies, practices, and approaches must align with UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and be defined by swift action, truth, accountability, and respect for Indigenous Title and Rights.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 250-813-3315
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer, c/o 778-866-0548
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca