The BCCLA president Andrew Irvine wrote the following response to a letter which asked why BCCLA questions the "official abuses of power" in the case of the 1997 Apec protest, yet has been silent on the far more brutal abuses of power at the Gustafsen Lake siege of 1995. Irvine's letter makes the answer very clear. Though the necessary precondition of an effective monitoring body is plainly an arm's length distance from the state, the BCCLA, due to its membership, is effectively an adjunct to the state. Even in their letter of response, BCCLA avoids the question of their silence regarding Gustafsen, which was the main point of the original letter (included after the BCCLA response below).
John Shafer does not explain just why he thinks that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has a "cosy relationship" with the New Democratic Party (APEC protests weren't just about entertaining dictators, Letters, Oct. 13).
So we are left to guess.
Is it because the BCCLA is privileged to have people such as former premier Mike Harcourt and Member of Parliament Svend Robinson serving as honorary directors?
Likely not, since we are also privileged to have people like broadcaster Rafe Mair and former Tory prime minister Kim Campbell serving in this same capacity.
Is it because we have championed the free speech rights of people on the political left?
Again, likely not, since we have consistently done the same for people of all political persuasions, as many of our high-profile court cases attest.
Is it because the current attorney-general, Ujjal Dosanjh, is a former board member?
Again, likely not, since Mr. Dosanjh returns our calls no more frequently than any of his predecessors.
The simple fact is that the BCCLA is a local nonpartisan charitable organization whose mandate is to protect and promote the basic democratic rights and freedoms of all British Columbians.
For more than three decades, we have done so by becoming involved in public education, individual case work, government lobbying and public interest litigation.
We are also proud to be able to say that we receive much-needed support from people across the political spectrum.
As BCCLA president, I would work to change things if this were not so.
JS Russell and AD Irvine ask important questions regarding "official abuses of power" (APEC protest raises new questions on who's doing the spying; Forum, Oct. 2) This is appropriate and necessary given the serious implications of the issues and their position as directors of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Why then did not the association demonstrate any similar concerns with respect to actions taken by the state at Gustafsen Lake? Can it have anything to do with the cosy relationship the association has with New Democratic Party Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh? Some of the same RCMP brass and officials cited in Spray-pec were also involved in Gustafsen-Gate, including the Indonesian delegation's RCMP liason Peter Montague. Mr. Montague's famous "smear campaigns are our specialty" line was one quote that should not be forgotten from his time as the palsy-walsy RCMP media spokesperson at Gustafsen, the largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history.
Clearly, unlike the unfolding Spray-pec affair, there is no stomach for a long overdue and similarly probing review of the "blunt instruments of state power", intelligence gathering, and political involvement in the Gustafsen matter. We should all be asking ourselves why.
[S.I.S.I.S. note: On October 15, the Sun ran a letter from a participant in anti-Apec activities who similarly questioned the lack of attention to the Gustafsen issue. Many of the protestors involved have noted the "double standard" of Spray-pec vs Gustafsen Lake and joined the call for an end to the coverup of the largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history against the Ts'peten Sundance Camp in the summer of 1995.]
Last November I was a speaker at the APEC Alert - organized teach-in a day before the outrageous pepper-spraying incident at the University of BC. I have been interested in The Sun's recent coverage in part because New Zealand will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum next year. But given the massive media interest and public sympathy towards the victims of last year's security operations at APEC, I am intrigued that there has never been the same level of scrutiny, public outrage and hard questions in relation to RCMP tactics during the massive paramilitary operation against a small group of indigenous peoples at Gustafsen Lake in 1995.
There are plenty of parallels between the two operations, such as excessive force, widespread surveillance, and the involvement of a number of key senior RCMP officers in both operations. While November showed Canada's security forces playing the role of willing muscle boys for APEC's free trade, free market agenda, from what I have seen and heard, their politically directed, heavy-handed actions are unlikely to be news to people who continue to struggle for self-determination and sovereignty.
BC Civil Liberties Association: BCCLA@mindlink.bc.ca
Please cc to: SISIS@envirolink.org
"I must, therefore, ask that you requisition the following additional
equipment from the Canadian Forces: Four (4) .50 calibre McMillan Sniper
Rifles, complete with 4 x 40 Leupold Scopes, accessories and ammunition.
Your urgent attention and consideration is appreciated."
"Gustafsen Lake could help propel BC into a fall election, political
analysts said Sunday... NDP support has strengthened over the summer, a
phenomenon analysts say shows voters approve of the way the government of
Premier Harcourt has handled native Indian militants... One high placed
government source predicted Harcourt will call an election before next