Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Province authorized more RCMP officers be deployed to Wet’suwet’en territory: letter

‘To be clear, no elected official in British Columbia directs police operations,’ Mike Farnworth says

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs are calling on Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to resign amid accusations that Premier John Horgan was not truthful when he said B.C. had no control over the RCMP and its enforcement of an injunction outside of Houston.

According to a letter released Friday from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Farnworth told RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan on Jan. 27 that he authorized the “internal redeployment of resources within the Provincial Police Services” to the Morice West Forest Service Road, where a group of Wet’suwet’en members and allies had set up blockades in protest of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Farnworth said the resources would be used to “maintain law and order, and to ensure the safety of persons, property and communities in the area.”

READ MORE: Canada doesn’t tell police what to do, Trudeau says of rail blockades

He agreed that the opposition to the pipeline construction had “intensified and evolved and the local jurisdictional police do not have sufficient resources to deal with the situation,” the letter reads, and declared a “provincial emergency” under the Provincial Police Service Agreement.

On Feb. 6, RCMP began enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against demonstrators who were blocking access to the Coastal GasLink construction site along the forest service road. Over the course of roughly two weeks, 28 people were arrested.

ALSO READ: ‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan not backing down from support of Coastal GasLink

ALSO READ: John Horgan’s MLA office hit with red paint amid pipeline protests

During this time, Horgan said on at least two occasions that the province doesn’t have the authority to direct the RCMP in its responsibilities – mirroring similar comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks said in a statement that its inconsistent for the province to legislate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while also authorizing the RCMP to deploy more officers.

“The province bears responsibility for the heavy RCMP deployment and for the policing of our people on our own territories,” he said. “In many of our discussions, the province was passing the buck for RCMP operations but this letter spells it out in black and white.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the letter “reveals the blatant hypocrisy and lies” of the Horgan government.

“The province’s rhetoric about reconciliation rings even hollower,” he said in a statement. “We call for the immediate resignation of Mike Farnworth for dishonourable conduct and for declaring the Wet’suwet’en people a policing emergency and a threat on their own territories.”

Black Press Media has reached out to the Premier’s office, but could not be immediately reached.

In an emailed statement, Farnworth’s ministry said that the RCMP has the ability to request additional resources for temporary situations and did so in this case.

“To be clear, no elected official in British Columbia directs police operations,” Farnworth said in a statement.

The chiefs reached a tentative deal with federal and provincial ministers on Sunday over the First Nation’s claims of Aboriginal rights and title. Now the details of the deal, which have not been made public, are being discussed in clan meetings.

More to come.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipelineRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sport utility vehicle and a Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools work van crashed on Bowen Road near the intersection with Caspers Way this afternoon. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Drivers taken to hospital after head-on crash on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

Crash happened near Caspers Way intersection Friday afternoon

École North Oyster. (Black Press file)
With more student drop-offs during pandemic, SD68 examines safety outside North Oyster school

Fewer school bus trips and more cars accentuating traffic concerns, say school district staff

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

(File photo)
RCMP warn of counterfeit bill use in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Police have received four calls in November regarding bogus bills

Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson takes her oaths of office virtually on Thursday. (B.C. Government YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson named B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister

Malcolmson succeeds Judy Darcy, who did not seek re-election

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Nanaimo ballerina Jillian Vanstone is giving a hometown performance at the Port Theatre on Dec. 12. (Photo courtesy Karolina Kuras)
National Ballet of Canada principal dancer returns for a hometown performance

Nanaimo’s Jillian Vanstone celebrates a favourite choreographer at the Port Theatre

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
Two Fraser Valley churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Most Read