RCMP’s million-dollar fortnight sees bulldozer strategies and civilian complaints: Access to Information Requests Reveal

Internal Documents show RCMP considerations, and politicians misleading the public, on Coutts Blockade.

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A series of recently obtained Access to Information (ATI) requests shed light on Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) tactics and expenditures while handling the Coutts blockade and other Freedom Convoy related demonstrations.

The Coutts blockade emerged as the Freedom Convoy was arriving in Ottawa. These unprecedented peaceful protests of vaccine mandates and COVID restrictions sparked demonstrations worldwide. Alberta demonstrations saw provincial COVID restrictions lift and catalyzed former Premier Jason Kenney’s resignation as UCP leader.

From considering using bulldozers at the blockade to spending over a million dollars during a fortnight covering Alberta protests, these documents reveal a wide range of government communications and considerations. Provided in this article are key notes from each ATI package, and links to all available documents.

ATI request A2022-007 for the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, sought out any emails, email attachments, reports and briefing notes from the period of January 15 to February 28 relating to complaints filed concerning the protests in Coutts, Alberta.

Revealed is a significant number of complaints lodged against RCMP, many in response to their sabotage of three excavators near the Coutts blockade. In email communications dated February 15th, we identified that video footage supplied to the RCMP alongside complaints was a redacted Rebel News report. 

The report is likely the one below, in which we break the news of excavators sabotaged:

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP received over 126 complaints during the protest period from January to the end of February 2022. At the time of this correspondence, three complaints had been submitted to RCMP for investigation.

Click here to read ATI request A2022-007 in full.

ATI request A-2022-02520 for the RCMP was to provide a breakdown of expenses and all costs associated with police enforcement in relation to the Coutts blockade.

It’s noted that not all costs have been processed yet, putting $1.2 million dollars as a starting point for RCMP costs in handling Alberta Freedom Convoy demonstrations between January 29 and February 16 2022.

ATI request A-2021-00188 for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requested all records relating to animals in transport trucks affected by the Coutts border blockade from January 29 to February 7 2022.

This came after Coutts Mayor Jim Willett told journalists that cattle liners were stuck at the blockade.

Members of the CFIA quickly investigated, in part coming to the assertion that Mayor Willett was providing inaccurate information, as we see in this follow-up remark:

I disagree with the comments from the mayor of Coutts and would say this is not accurate.

Click here to read ATI request A-2021-00188 in full.

ATI Request A-2022-01054 of RCMP suggested that 'officers were assaulted, including one instance of people trying to ram members of the RCMP leading to a collision with a civilian vehicle Coutts, Alberta car camera (carcam) footage/official reports.'

During the blockade, former Premier Jason Kenney broadcasted that demonstrators assaulted RCMP officers. We confirmed with RCMP that this was untrue, and no officer had been assaulted.

The request showed no records supporting these allegations, further affirming that Kenney misled the public regarding the events at the blockade.

Click here to read ATI Request A-2022-01054 in full.

ATI Request A-2021-00413 sought all communications between Public Safety Canada and the Alberta government, pertaining to protests near the Coutts border crossing and/or in Ottawa from January 01 to March 04 2022. Inside we find email communications from February 13 2022, which show conversations suggesting that the biggest operational challenge for the Alberta government was finding towing/wrecking equipment and skilled workers to break apart the blockade.

It turns out they were looking for demolition equipment, notably in the form of a bulldozer.

Click here to read ATI Request A-2021-00413 in full.

These communication notes were sent the same day that RCMP vandalized and disabled three excavators of Coutts blockade supporters nearby demonstrations on private property. Excavator owners have now filed a six-figure lawsuit against RCMP over these actions. Legal representation for this is being crowdfunded through Rebel News at TruckerLawyer.ca, retaining Williamson Law to represent all three plaintiffs.

ATI Request A-2022-00069 to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada requested all correspondence between the Government of Alberta and federal Crown prosecutors about federal prosecutions related to the Coutts blockade.

You may have heard of the drama CBC is trying to gin up around Danielle Smith and the Coutts Blockade, but this new ATI shows clearly that no records exist of correspondence between the Alberta government and federal crown prosecutors about federal prosecutions of Coutts blockade supporters.

No records exist for ATI request A-2022-00069.

ATI request A-2022-03492 of RCMP sought all briefing materials, including emails, email attachments, notes and issues management reports related to the Coutts protest.

Within this package are two situational reports by RCMP detailing events of certain days, and current statuses.

The first one dated 9:30 a.m. on February 14 shows that search warrants were executed on three separate trailers located on a residential property a short distance from Smugglers Saloon. A total of 11 individuals were arrested and a significant cache of weapons were seized.

The Second Situation Report from RCMP dated 1:00 p.m. February 15, details the 13 arrests on February 14 and tells us a little more about the weapons found during the execution of warrants on a property in Coutts.

Click here to read ATI Request A-2022-03492 in full.

ATI Request A-2022-01313, for RCMP, sought all records including emails held by and prepared for Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki and his office regarding the blockade in Coutts, including threat assessments and briefing materials specific to Coutts.

This larger ATI request sought all records held by and prepared for Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki regarding the blockade in Coutts, which will be fully reviewed in upcoming reports.

Click here to read ATI Request A-2022-01313 in full.

ATI Request A-2021-798, for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, sought all intelligence briefs related to the Ottawa Convoy, the Coutts blockade and affiliated groups.

This request remains outstanding, once received, it will be made available and reviewed.

Listed on the Government of Canada’s completed Access to Information Requests webpage, are A-2023-00684 & A-2022-05718.

Respectively, these ATI request packages are contained within A-2022-03492, A-2022-03492, and A-2022-01313.

The only ATI not sought for review was A-2021-03227, as it does not directly hold relevance to the Coutts blockade.

Recently, The Democracy Fund announced that 14 Coutts Blockade charges were dropped. "The truckers, who were all charged with parking violations, were exonerated after TDF’s lawyer pointed out that the law in question did not apply to vehicles parked in an urban area," their press release on May 5 2023 read. 

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