This was extracted from an article published in the September 2007 issue of Cannabis Culture Magazine, the full article, Tips For Canadian Citizens On How To Survive An Encounter With The RCMP, is still available here for free on the Cannabis Culture website.
The original article itself is very long with many sections, I recommend reading all of it.
I was one of the anonymous co-authors of this particular segment of the article, dealing with the RCMP’s history of political suppression, but I had young children at the time and a decent job that I liked and was not willing to take the risk of publishing it under my own name so I sent it to Marc Emery and he factored it into his article with some other historical research. With his current attempt to get transferred to Canada being delayed by the Federal Government, I think it’s a good time to say that his courage in publishing an article like this under his own name, in addition to the many many other risks he’s taken for causes he’s supported is something I’ve always appreciated as a supporter of most of those causes, and other people who support those causes and appreciate the effort he’s made should be joining the effort to apply pressure for his transfer.
A Brief History of RCMP Political Provocation, Racial Profiling, anti-Democratic Incidents edited from various sources by Marc Emery.
In 1873, the young Canadian government formed the North-West Mounted Police service. Officers were needed to pacify the native population that were now subjugated under Canadian law, and enforce various other laws put forth by the central government in Ottawa. The Northwest Mounted police were restricted to the western province of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. In the east part of Canada, a federally funded police service called the Dominion Police operated in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
During the First Great War (1914-1918), the North-West Mounted Police began extensive security intelligence operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, dropping the red serge uniforms and going undercover to enforce the War Measure’s Act. Under the Act, the Mounties investigated 1,200 persons of questionable loyalty — and often of German, Italian, Ukrainian, French-Canadian or Russian descent — and nearly 400 were interned in camps in Brandon, Manitoba and Lethbridge, Alberta. Possibly as many as 60,000 conscripts refused to go to Europe to fight World War 1 after the passage of the 1917 Conscription Act (the draft), largely from the ethnic enclaves of the Prairie provinces. When located, thousands were taken with force by Mounties and sent east to Nova Scotia to be put on ships to Europe chained and leg-ironed. By the end of WW1, the Mounted police controlled security in the four western provinces.
Following the war attention was increasingly drawn to civil and labor unrest. In May 1919, social pressures peaked in the Winnipeg General Strike and the Mounties were sent to suppress the general strike and restore order. By 1920, the Mounted police absorbed its eastern rival, the Dominion Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police came into being. The Mounties strengthened their position in 1927, replacing Saskatchewan Provincial police forces that arose in 1917, and in 1932, when the RCMP resumed policing Alberta. A dispute with the Government of Alberta over alcohol prohibition led to the creation of a separate Alberta Provincial Police from 1917 to 1932.
The survival and entrenchment of the RCMP was not simply accomplished by what they did. Even more significant was who they were and against whom they worked. The Mounties symbolized all that was important and powerful in the Canada of that period. They were Anglo-Canadian males who belonged to an organization with strong connections to the dominant British values of the Canadian elite. Between 1914 and 1939, RCMP increasingly directed both their regular policing operations and security activities against those who somehow represented a challenge to the status quo in Canada. Non-Anglo-Canadian minorities in Alberta and Saskatchewan, including those of Ukrainian and Chinese background, received a great deal of overt and covert Mountie attention in the interwar (1919-1939) period. The Canadian establishment — business and government — associated central and eastern European immigrants with the disorder that erupted in Canada in the concluding months of World War One and its immediate aftermath. The War had devastated working people around the globe, over 8,500,000 mostly young men had died, 21,000,000 returned to their homes wounded or maimed, and there were worker uprisings throughout Europe and North America, blaming the awful impact of the war on imperial empires and military-industrial profiteers. Canada, in four years of war, mobilized 620,000 young men as soldiers. 67,000 died and 170,000 were wounded, many permanently. Returning soldiers were bitter and seethed resentment, finding life difficult.
Labor unrest in Canada has always been blamed on « foreigners ». Laws ostracizing and restricting the rights of natives and Chinese were passed in the western provinces and enforced by the RCMP. The RCMP enforced the 1923 Residential Tenancy Act that separated all native children from their parents for the next three generations, and the 1923 Opium Act, which included cannabis along with cocaine and opium. The Opium Act was specifically aimed at deporting, arresting and segregating Chinese immigrants, while cannabis allowed targeting of blacks, Mexicans.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing to the current day, the Mounties in Alberta and Saskatchewan increasingly focused their resources upon those outside the middle-class white protestant mainstream: left-wing radicals who challenged the status quo; ethnic groups who refused to assimilate to the Anglo-Canadian ideal (Chinese, Doukhabors, Russians, natives, French-Canadians); other minorities who practiced activities deemed immoral by the Canadian majority; workers (employed or not) who protested against economic inequality; and especially the Communist Party of Canada (CPC), which was the RCMP’s special foe for 40 years (1919- 1959), because the CPC was made up mostly of immigrants from ‘suspect’ parts of central and eastern Europe.
In choosing these targets, the RCMP fulfilled their mandate to the Canadian state and made themselves invaluable in enforcing the rather hypocritical morality of the white, English-speaking British-born elite that dominated Canadian political and economic life. By enforcing a racial purity upon Canadians, the RCMP has had far more influence on Canada’s history than any police service ought to. It is one of the most powerful and dominating police forces, and it has been unassailable by any critic despite a spectacular history of outrageous political interference. By the late 1960s, the RCMP was engaged in surveillance, mail-opening, telephone monitoring, break-ins, attempted murder, disinformation, and infiltration of feminist, student, political, French-nationalist, native, left-wing, homosexual, drug reformers, academic groups and organizations.
After the North-West Mounted Police attempt at suppressing the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, the Mounties intervened in all major labor disputes, not as an impartial law enforcement agency, but to assist with breaking strikes. In one incident, RCMP officers clashed with striking coal miners for 45 minutes in Estevan, Saskatchewan in 1933 and killed three miners during the melee. Part of its strategy against labor organizing included extensive use of spies for surveillance of suspected Communists, which was revealed at the court trial that convicted the leadership of the Communist Party under Section 98 of the Criminal Code in 1932.
The On-to-Ottawa Trek was a 1935 social movement of unemployed men protesting the dismal conditions in federal relief camps scattered in remote areas across Western Canada. The men lived and worked in these camps at a rate of twenty cents per day before walking out on strike in April 1935. After a two-month protest in Vancouver, British Columbia, camp strikers voted to travel east to Ottawa and bring their grievances to the federal government. The initial plan was for the men to travel to Ottawa to present their grievances to Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in person. At the request of the federal government, the Trek was halted in Regina, with tragic results. July 1, 1935 was the day of the Regina Riot, one of the most infamous moments in Canadian labor history. Once the protesters reached Regina, Saskatchewan, Prime Minister Bennett invited eight leaders of the protest (including Arthur « Slim » Evans) to Ottawa to meet him on the condition the rest of the protesters stay in Regina, where a large RCMP contingent was located. The protesters who remained in Regina, meanwhile, were confined by the RCMP in a local stadium, while the Ottawa meeting turned into a shouting match, with Bennett attacking the group as radicals and accusing Trek leader Arthur « Slim » Evans of being an extortionist. Upon returning to Regina to unite with the rest of the protesters on July 1, 1935, a public meeting was called in Market Square to update the public on the progress of the movement. 1,500 to 2,000 people attended, of whom only 300 were Trekkers. Most Trekkers decided to stay at the exhibition grounds. Three large vans were parked on the sides of the square concealing RCMP riot squads. Regina police were standing by in a nearby garage. At 8 p.m. a whistle was blown and the police charged the crowd, setting off hours of hand-to-hand fighting throughout the city?s centre. The attack caught the people off guard before their anger took over. They fought back with sticks, stones, and anything at hand. RCMP officers then charged into the crowd and attacked with clubs. Driven from the Square, the battle continued in the surrounding streets for four hours. Trekkers on the speakers’ platform were arrested by plainclothes RCMP. Police fired revolvers above and into groups of people. Tear gas bombs were thrown at any groups that gathered together. Plate glass windows in stores and offices were smashed, but were not looted. People covered their faces with wet handkerchiefs to counter the effects of the tear gas, and barricaded streets with cars. Finally the Trekkers who had attended the meeting made way — individually or in small groups — back to the exhibition stadium where the main body of Trekkers was quartered.
When it was over, 120 Trekkers and citizens had been arrested. One plainclothes policeman had been killed, and one protestor would later die in the hospital from injuries sustained in the riot. The next day, constables armed with revolvers and machine guns surrounded the city’s exhibition grounds. A barbed wire stockade was erected around the area. The Trekkers in the stadium were denied any food or water. The police-instigated riot was front-page news across Canada. Prime Minister Bennett was satisfied that he had smashed what he believed was a communist revolt. The federal Minister of Justice made the false statement in the House of Commons that « shots were fired by the strikers and the fire was replied to with shots from the city police. » During the long trials that followed, no evidence was ever produced to show that strikers fired shots during the riot. For his part, Bennett characterized the On-to-Ottawa Trek as « not a mere uprising against law and order but a definite revolutionary effort on the part of a group of men to usurp authority and destroy government. »
The Mounties were frequently criticized for these activities by labor and the left, including one of its most prominent surveillance targets, Member of Parliament J. S. Woodsworth, the leader of the Co-Operative Commonwealth of Farmers (CCF) party. The RCMP continued this pattern of espionage on Canadian citizens routinely, but in the early 1970s the RCMP accelerated its subversion of Canadian politics.
RCMP Shenanigans in the Seventies and Beyond
More than 400 illegal RCMP break-ins were revealed by the Vancouver Sun reporter John Sawatsky on December 7, 1976 in his front-page expose headline « Trail of break-in leads to RCMP cover-up ». Finally, on April 19, 1978, the Director of the RCMP criminal operations branch admitted that the RCMP had entered more than 400 premises without warrant since 1970. Among the over 400 admitted incidents were the following:
* In April 1971, a team of RCMP officers broke into the storage facilities of Richelieu Explosives, and stole an unspecified amount of dynamite. A year later, in April 1972, officers hid four cases of dynamite in Mont Saint-Gregoire, in an attempt to link the explosives with the Le Front De Liberation du Quebec (FLQ). This was later admitted by Solicitor General Francis Fox on October 31 1977.
* In 1971, the RCMP chief superintendent Donald Cobb oversaw the infiltration of FLQ cells with federal agents, and the releasing of a fraudulent « Manifesto » on behalf of the La Minerve cell, calling for increased violence.
* On the night of May 6, 1972 the RCMP Security Service burned down a barn owned by FLQ member Paul Rose’s mother in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec. They suspected that separatists were planning to meet with members of the Black Panthers from the United States. The arson came after they failed to convince a judge to allow them to wiretap the alleged meeting place.
* A break-in at the Agence de Presse Libre du Quebec office on October 6, 1972 had been the work of an RCMP investigation dubbed Operation Bricole. RCMP speculated in the media that right-wing militants were responsible. The small leftist Quebec group had reported more than a thousand significant files missing or damaged following the break-in. One RCMP, one Surete du Quebec (SQ) and one Montreal police officer plead guilty on June 16th 1977 to the break-in, but are given unconditional discharges.
* A similar break-in occurred in late 1972, orchestrated by RCMP, at the office of the Quebec Political Prisoners Movement.
* In 1973, more than thirty members of the RCMP Security Service committed a break-in to steal a computerized list of Parti Quebecois (PQ) members, in an investigation dubbed Operation Ham. John Starnes, head of the RCMP Security Service, claimed that the purpose of this operation was to investigate allegations that the PQ had funneled $200,000 worth of donations through a Swiss banking account. The PQ has since governed Quebec from 1976-1985, 1994-2003.
* In 1974, RCMP Security Service Corporal Robert Samson was arrested trying to independently plant explosives at the house of Sam Steinberg, founder of Steinberg Foods in Montreal. While this bombing was not sanctioned by the RCMP, at trial he announced that he had done « much worse » on behalf of the RCMP, and admitted he had been involved in the APLQ break-in.
* On September 26, 2002, during a stopover in New York City en route from a family vacation in Tunisia to Montreal, Canadian citizen Maher Arar was detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, acting upon information supplied by the RCMP. Arar was sent to Syria where he was imprisoned for more than 10 months, tortured and forced to sign a false confession that he had trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. A public campaign ended in his release and a conclusion by Syria that he had no terrorist ties.
It is interesting to note that the US FBI was even more notorious in the 1970s in doing even worse things, including murder of Black Panthers and Native American Indians involved in liberation movements. The RCMP and FBI have long maintained a cozy relationship. In « Did John Lennon Get Killed For His Cannabis activism? » in CC #61, we outlined many of the black-ops perpetrated against rock and roll musicians and counterculture icons by the FBI, Immigration & Naturalization, and other US agencies. Today, the RCMP share training and security information with five US police agencies: Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF); The Texas Rangers; The FBI; DEA; and Immigration & Naturalization. Cops only really feel comfortable around other cops — that’s another result of their training. So much so that Canada’s national sovereignty is continually being eroded.
The Texas state troopers were in B.C. in the Spring of 2004 as part of an exchange program with the RCMP to spot and stop drug traffickers. Called Pipeline Convoy, the program involves training officers to detect people who are lying or trying to hide things from police, said RCMP Sgt. John Ward. Ward told the CBC, Canada’s national news service, « the Texas troopers’ profiling program provides great help to the Mounties. The Americans do a lot of this [profiling] and have been doing it for quite some time. So there’s a lot of opportunity on both sides of the border to become closer. » The program however, was only detected when BC resident (and off-duty Vancouver police officer) David Laing was driving on a highway near Hope, B.C., when he was pulled over by a man with a heavy Texas accent. CBC recorded the conversation with Laing on January 28, 2005, « In a very thick American accent from the southern states, he advised me it was a British Columbia road check. And he asked me for my driver’s license and my vehicle registration. I’m being pulled over and given directions by an American who won’t identify himself, and I was concerned about it. » Continues the CBC transcript, « A Vancouver police officer, Laing refused to let the officers search his car. Under Canadian law, police officers don’t have the right to perform that kind of search. The American was a Texas state trooper working with a member of the Hope detachment of the RCMP. The pair gave Laing a ticket for having two different addresses for his insurance and his registration. Seconds later, Laing says a different RCMP officer and Texas trooper stopped his car, decided he was driving under the influence of marijuana, and searched his vehicle and two-year-old son. The police found no drugs and despite saying he was impaired just moments earlier, let him go. »
« They still, knowingly, had a Texas trooper escort me to the front of the vehicle. I’m a constable with the Vancouver police. He’s a Texas trooper and yet I’m under his control, » said Laing. As to the merits of what the RCMP heralds as « opportunities to get closer », Vancouver police officer Laing disagrees, saying there is a significant difference between the two countries laws. « We have different freedoms than they have, » Laing says. « You don’t want to mesh too much. You don’t want your police meshing to the point where we start taking on other police jurisdictions’ policies. »
It appeared in the media only because the Vancouver policeman Laing threatened to sue for unlawful detention, and the RCMP, to avoid these disclosures in court, agreed to a cash settlement. The Mounties defended the search, saying Laing looked suspicious because his eyelashes were fluttering and his eyes were flashing, a sign of marijuana use learned from the Texas Rangers. That a cop sued other cops to protect Canada’s sovereign integrity is ironic. But you can see that the Mounties feel comfortable with other cops from any jurisdiction, more so than they have ever felt comfortable among the Canadian population.
Some nefarious RCMP activities have had political blowback. After RCMP brutalized the downtrodden at the Regina Police Riot of July 1, 1935, the Conservative Government of Robert Bennett was ignominiously defeated months later and would not rule the Canadian government until 1957, a 22-year exile from power. The RCMP dirty tricks and subterfuge in Quebec propelled the separatist movement from obscurity in 1970 to the governing power in 1976, so disgusted were Quebeckers of the RCMP’s anglophilic chauvinism.
The RCMP is the leading defender and lobbyist for the strict maintenance of Canadian cannabis prohibition. Marijuana arrests in Canada since 1965 have exceeded 1,500,000, and while this is a shared persecution between local, provincial police and the RCMP, marijuana ‘offenses’ are the most common offenses in Canada today — that is, there are more marijuana charges than for any other crime in Canada. The RCMP still regards marijuana users and growers as non-believer hippies who diminish the Canadian gene pool with our pacifism and one-love, multi-racial, tolerant world-unity view. The stereotypical pot user is everything an RCMP officer is trained to have contempt for. That is why, in addition to the obvious monetary benefits of prohibition to the RCMP, the cops are fanatical about pursuing marijuana offenders over all else. The pot smoker is everything the RCMP has contempt for. Trade unionists, Quebec-nationalists, feminists, Chinese-Canadians, homosexuals, Sikhs, Asians, European immigrants — all of these groups have been successful at politically mainstreaming themselves. In the absence of these traditional foes, the five million Canadian pot smokers represent perhaps the last remaining cultural group for Canada’s RCMP to persecute.