RCMP collected licence plate numbers of people at United Church meeting, says watchdog

Plains clothes RCMP officers collected licence plate numbers of United Church attendees at a January 2013 meeting in Kelowna as part of a covert intelligence investigation into the anti-pipeline movement, says a federal watchdog in a new report released on Tuesday.

The revelation was part of a long-overdue report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission into allegations that the RCMP used illegitimate tactics — including covert surveillance — to monitor Indigenous and environmental protest groups opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project, a 1,100-kilometre pipeline that would have stretched from the oil sands of northern Alberta to the deepwater port of Kitimat, B.C.

Read more: Watchdog reported on RCMP surveillance of Indigenous-led action in 2017. Mounties never responded

The watchdog also noted that the federal police force retained video recordings of demonstrations after determining that they were peaceful and that there was no reason to suspect any criminal activity.

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While the civilian oversight body said it was reasonable for the plainclothes officers to attend the meeting and to record the license plate information, it is calling on the RCMP to create stricter rules for how it collects and stores personal information, including video recordings, licence plate details, and social media posts, of peaceful protestors and demonstrators who do not engage in criminal activity.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki responded to report saying she agreed with nearly all of the findings and that the force will either implement or review the recommendations.

— More to come…

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