B.C. approved deployment of more RCMP officers in Wet’suwet’en territory, say groups

RCMP walk through the Unist'ot'en camp on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, as they conclude a five-day enforcement of a court injunction clearing access to the area for gas pipeline crews. Sarah MacDonald / Global News

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Premier John Horgan wasn’t truthful when he said the province had no control over the RCMP before Mounties enforced an injunction against pipeline opponents in northern British Columbia last month.

The chiefs have jointly released a letter with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs that they say was sent by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan on Jan. 27.

READ MORE: Proposed agreement reached between Wet’suwet’en chiefs, gov’t ministers after 3 days of talks

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

The Ministry of Public Safety says the RCMP has the ability to request additional resources for temporary situations, which it did following the B.C. Supreme Court’s granting of the injunciton.

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It said it is the minister’s responsibility to ensure police have adequate resources, but that it is up to the RCMP to decide whether, when and how enforcement takes place.

The RCMP and a spokesperson for Horgan could not immediately be reached for comment.

WATCH: (Feb. 20, 2020) B.C. watchdog on RCMP operations in Wet’suwet’en territory

Click to play video: 'B.C. watchdog on RCMP operations in Wet’suwet’en territory' B.C. watchdog on RCMP operations in Wet’suwet’en territory
B.C. watchdog on RCMP operations in Wet’suwet’en territory – Feb 20, 2020

In the letter, Farnworth declared a “provincial emergency” under the Provincial Police Service Agreement and authorized the internal redeployment of resources within the provincial police service.

READ MORE: ‘We’re backed into a corner’: Wet’suwet’en bristle as RCMP control access to anti-pipeline camp

Ten days later, the RCMP began enforcing an injunction granted by the B.C. Supreme Court to Coastal GasLink, which is building a natural gas pipeline across northern B.C., on Feb. 6 and ultimately arrested 28 people on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.

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In a statement, the chiefs point to comments by Horgan to the media before and after the letter was sent claiming government does not direct the RCMP.

-With files from Global News

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