Statement by the Communist Party of BC Provincial Committee, Jan. 14, 2023

The revelation that almost $50 million has been spent over the last five years by a special RCMP squad assigned to shut down grassroots opposition to energy and forestry projects in British Columbia is the latest proof that the BC and federal governments prioritize corporate interests over Indigenous rights and environmental sustainability.

The Communist Party of BC condemns this ongoing waste of taxpayer dollars as a serious violation of Indigenous sovereignty, and an attack on the democratic and civil rights of all those working to defend the environment in British Columbia. We demand the immediate dismantling of the RCMP’s so-called Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), an end to injunctions and attacks against environmentalists and Indigenous land defenders and water protectors, and genuine action by Canada to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which explicitly states that resource extraction projects must not proceed without full consultation and approval by the Indigenous peoples whose lands are affected.

Established in 2017, the C-IRG has no defined territorial jurisdiction, and no set budget or staff size. The squad “goes where industry meets land occupations, blockades and civil disobedience,” as a CBC news report states. The C-IRG’s spending has included $27.6 million related to policing the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline across unceded Wet’suwet’en territories, where several massive and brutal RCMP raids have targetted Indigenous land defenders. Another $18.7 million has been devoted to enforcing injunctions and arresting over 1,000 protesters at the Fairy Creek old-growth logging project on Vancouver Island (on behalf of the forestry firm Teal Cedar), and a further $3.5 million on the Trans Mountain (TMX) project to expand the controversial tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the west coast.

Despite these expenditures, the C-IRG functions in secrecy, as part of a wider policy by governments and courts to expand resource extraction and exports. In the view of the Communist Party, the real criminals are the big resource monopolies seeking to maximize private profit. The use of the RCMP to promote this  strategy is appalling, but not surprising. The RCMP’s origins are rooted in the post-Confederation drive by the Canadian state to expropriate Indigenous territories, extract natural resources, weaken working class resistance against capitalist exploitation, and to attempt to smash radical and Communist movements which oppose this agenda.

This is not the first time an NDP government has used police and military violence against people who challenge the dogma of private capitalist control of the land.  For example, during the Gustafsen Lake case in 1995, BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh authorized a 400-member RCMP task force to attack and arrest a small number of Indigenous Sun Dancers and supporters on a ranch near 100 Mile House.

That history and this latest shameful episode show that politicians who speak in performative ways about Indigenous rights and a sustainable environment must be held to account for their actions and policies. We urge the labour and democratic movements in British Columbia to call for dismantling the C-IRG, and to give full support to struggles against the CGL and TMX pipelines, the logging of old-growth forests at Fairy Creek, cancellation of the Site C dam, and an end to taxpayer subsidies of the energy and forestry corporations.

For more information, contact Communist Party of BC leader Kimball Cariou, 604-255-2041, or the Vancouver Island organizer for the Communist Party, Tyson Strandlund, 250-883-7321.