Coutts Trial: Crown invites third female RCMP undercover investigator as witness

Like her two earlier counterparts, the third female RCMP undercover operator testified that she did not use digital recording devices during her undercover investigation at Coutts.

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The Crown invited a third RCMP undercover operator (UCO) – a female, like the previous two – to testify as a witness during Monday’s proceedings in the trial of Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick in Lethbridge, AB.

Olienick and Carbert are charged with conspiracy to murder, with the Crown alleging that the two men conspired to murder police officers during their participation in the 2022 Coutts protest and blockade, which was a peaceful and civilly disobedient protest against governmental decrees, edicts, and mandates issued as “public health” measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

The two men are also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon with a purpose dangerous to the public peace, and mischief causing damage over $5,000. Olienick is additionally charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device for a purpose dangerous to the public peace.

Unlike with the first two female RCMP UCOs, Steven Johnston, the lead prosecutor, did not ask the third female RCMP UCO if she had used “romance” or “sexuality” as an investigatory “tactic” during her investigation of the Coutts blockade and protest. The prior two female RCMP UCOs testified that they did not violate “sexual integrity” when denying that they had used “romance” or “sexuality” as an operational “tactic”.

Like her two earlier counterparts, the third female RCMP UCO testified that she did not use digital recording devices during her undercover investigation at Coutts. The first female RCMP UCO said she did not know why such technology was not used in the RCMP’s undercover investigation of the Coutts protest. The first two female RCMP UCOs both testified that such tools have been used in other undercover operations executed by the federal law enforcement agency.

The undercover female officer testified in a courtroom inaccessible to the public and members of the news media in order to protect her anonymity. Public and media observers sat in an adjacent courtroom with a live audio stream of her testimony and the broader day’s proceedings.

Justice David Labrenz, the judge presiding over the trial, instructed the jury not to draw negative inferences about the RCMP’s lack of use of digital recording devices. He said law enforcement agencies require judicial approval to record audio or video of investigatory targets, and that such judicial authorization for this type of surveillance was not sought by the RCMP. He did not mention what other types of judicial authorizations for other types of surveillance, if any, had been sought by the RCMP in the context of its investigation of the Coutts demonstration.

The third female RCMP UCO testified about the joyous atmosphere of the Coutts protest.

Marilyn Burns, Olienick’s defence attorney, asked the third female RCMP UCO if the Coutts protest was "a very, very happy time for a number of days". The witness agreed with Burns’s assessment, saying, “Yes, people were very happy to be there.” She noted that she observed a number of families and children in the final days of the protest.

The focus of the female RCMP investigator’s testimony was on Anthony Olienick. She stated that Olienick described the Coutts protest as “a war he was meant to fight". She added, “[Olienick] was talking about how they should all die" while he performed "a slit his throat action" by running his thumb across his neck from side to side. When asked by Johnston who “they” was a reference to, the witness said she did not know.

Olienick spoke of a “run and gun” scenario in the event of a violent confrontation with police officers, the witness claimed. She also said that Olienick claimed to be able to provide firearms to many other protesters in the event of conflict with law enforcement.

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