Archive for the ‘Vancouver APEC 1997’ Category

First of all, what is the APEC? APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. It is a forum consisting of 21 countries, which promotes free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC was established in 1989. Canada joined APEC in 1989. An APEC meeting is held yearly and attended by the heads of government of each member country. In 1997, this APEC meeting was held in Vancouver at the UBC campus on November 24 and 25. During this summit, a protest was held at a designated protest area at UBC.

These demonstrators were protesting against the heads of state that were responsible for human rights violations in their respective country. In particular, Indonesian President Suharto and Chinese President Jiang Zemin were singled out by the protestors as being violators of human rights in Indonesia and China. In fact, Indonesian President Suharto threatened to boycott the Summit if the demonstrations embarrassed or offended his dignity. Some of Suharto’s comments regarding the protest can be found here.

In the days leading up to the Summit, police and security officials were roaming the UBC campus in order to silence any protestors who were putting up signs in the name of human rights. Some anti-Apec organizers were arrested prior to the Summit taking place. The law was used for preventative security and public order purposes, rather than with the intention of criminal prosecution and punishment. Frustration had been mounting in the days leading up to the meeting day. During the Summit, protestors eventually knocked down a security barricade in the designated protest area and RCMP officers responded with pepper spray, police dogs and arrests. Even a CBC camera man was hit with pepper spray. Many allegations of police misconduct were alleged against the RCMP. One such allegation was made by Craig Jones, who was reportedly arrested, held for fourteen hours and released without charge for displaying signs of “Free Speech,” “Democracy,” and “Human Rights”. Due to the many complaints filed against the RCMP, a Commission or Inquiry was held, which investigated the allegations of misconduct by RCMP officers. The Commissioner of Inquiry found that the conduct of individual RCMP officers, in some instances, were inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that members of the public were affected by RCMP misconduct. The final report of this commission can be found by clicking here. Also, a chronological timeline of events relating to the incident can be found by visiting the this website.

After I typed in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit into the Google search engine, a wide range of websites relating to the topic popped up. The first website that comes up in the search is the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website. The federal government website details the 1997 Vancouver APEC Summit. There is no mention of the protest or abuse of police authority on this website.

The second link that came up was a Wikipedia link which described everything about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Under the heading of meeting developments, there are couple sentences that deal with the controversy that occurred with the RCMP using pepper spray against protesters in the 1997 Vancouver Summit. Other conflicts and threats to the other summit are also touched upon.

There is also a link to CBC archives. After clicking this link, a video of a news report taken after the UBC protest is shown. The video shows a heated conflict between RCMP officers and protestors, in which pepper spray is seen to be used. In the end of the video then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responds to the question of the use of pepper spray by saying, “For me, pepper spray, I put it on my plate.” I thought this remark was very interesting. Here is a link to the video:  http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/civil_unrest/clips/2016/

The fourth link linked me to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP website. Here the details of the Commission that resulted from the police misconduct at the protest are found. One link titled Fears of APEC-style Clash in 2010, referred to  protests and even had the following picture of the 1997 protests. When reporting on the fears of a conflict at the 2010 APEC Summit, plenty of mention was given to the Vancouver Summit. This website had interviews of some of the protestors and even with the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. No RCMP representative was interviewed and it seemed to me that the article was written in favour of the protestors.

Overall, after typing in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit, all but one link on the first page of the google search engine has some mention about the confrontation between protestors and RCMP officers. Interestingly, this one website without any mention of police deviance is the first link and is a government of Canada website.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was entrenched into the Canadian constitution in 1982. This Charter guarantees fundamental freedoms to everyone. According to the Charter, everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. Also, everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. To view the full contents of the Charter you can click here. During the 1997 Vancouver APEC summit, these fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Charter were brushed under the mat and violated by the police during their dealings with demonstrators.

The APEC Commission which was assembled after complaints were made about RCMP conduct during the APEC summit found that the conduct of officers was inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by section 2 of the Charter. This final report could be found here. The question that needs to be asked is who gave the officers orders to strip demonstrators of their fundamental freedoms? The answer to this question is simple when you look back at the history of similar events in Canada. The RCMP was given orders by the political sphere of Canada to strip protestors of their rights and engage in police deviance if the need arose. However, it is important to note that this accusation of political interference has always been denied by the police and the politicians during this event and similar events in history.

The APEC Summit was business as usual. In his article “Hand in Glove? Politicians, Policing, and the Canadian Political Culture”, Wiseman is quoted as saying “behaviour of police and politicians at the APEC summit confirms their long standing view that the state and its police organs engage in systematic repression of democratic voices”. Although, the police and politicians are seen as separate, according to Wiseman, the politician is able to hide behind the veil of the police officer. Essentially, the police are an arm of political administration. During the APEC summit, the politicians used their strong police arm in order to silence the fundamental rights of protestors. Allowing politicians to influence the way police work is done goes against the official paradigm of the police. In the official paradigm or code, police independence is a major feature. According to Punch(2009), the official paradigm is the institutional ideology that an organization is structured upon and the operational paradigm refers to the practices that deviate from the official code. Police conduct during the APEC summit deviated from the official paradigm by allowing political influence to affect their police independence. The police are supposed to be accountable to the government, not directed by it. As stated earlier, if we look back at Canadian history, we can easily find similar instances in which politicians hid under the mask of the police and engaged in politically influenced behaviour. Wiseman states:

“It is hardly new in Canadian history. Police were used by authorities to thwart union-organizing activity among autoworkers in Oshawa,Ontario in the 1930s, in Quebec’s asbestos industry in the 1940s, and among Newfoundland’s loggers in the 1950s. The RCMP’s covert operations targeting the Parti Québécois in the 1970s are well documented.”

“If something goes amiss in the field, as it did, the Prime Minister claims his hands are clean. When the police act heavy-handedly or in violation of the law, a dumb cop excuse is almost always effective in shielding politicians from their responsibility for what happened.”

It is evident after reading “Police Corruption – Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing”, by Maurice Punch that the dumb cop excuse is almost always an effective excuse to shield the police organization and politicians from their responsibility during such events as the Vancouver APEC affair. However, Punch argues that the rotten apples theory is false. The rotten orchards theory is one that holds true when looking in-depth at police deviance incidences. The Knapp commission of 1972 and later the Mollen Commission in New York are evidence of that the rotten apples theory or the “dumb cop” theory is false. Instead, “there are no individuals in organizations” like the police according to Punch.

Now we’ll come back to the issue of the police being used as a political tool by politicians. During the Vancouver APEC summit, the strong-arm of the police was used by Canadian politicians. The politicians were the true face behind the mask of police deviance during the event. These politicians promised the Indonesian and Chinese head of states that they would subdue protests that were directed at them. According to the article “Globalization and the policing of protest: the case of APEC 1997” by Ericson et al. (1999), the head of states of Indonesia and China expressed their concerns to Ottawa that they didn’t want their leaders to be publicly embarrassed by protests at the Vancouver APEC summit. Indonesian president Suharto was assured by Canadian authorities that they would police the protest in an effective manner. Thus, the leaders of Indonesia and China influenced our Canadian politicians to influence the police to violate the fundamental freedoms of protestors.  In his (1999) article Ericson et al. comments on the meeting between a RCMP Staff Sergeant and the Indonesian APEC delegation:

RCMP Staff Sergeant Peter Montague reports on an advance meeting he conducted with Indonesian APEC delegation: ’I assured them that if there was a demonstration on a major motorcade route, we would take an alternate route to avoid potential embarrassment. …They asked me several times to repeat this assurance and I did.’

It is evident by the above quote that the RCMP were willing to do whatever it took to save the embarrassment of the Indonesian head of states. Also, the above quote perhaps suggests that the RCMP were influenced not only by Canadian politicians, but also by Indonesian politicians. To me, this suggestion is very disturbing. The fact that Canadian politicians were influencing the police to act in deviant methods in order protect the reputation of an accused human rights violator is horrific. Maurice Punch explains this type of behaviour in his three level typology of police deviance and corruption. The form of police deviance that was demonstrated at the Vancouver APEC summit was externally driven through state domination. In this case, the police were linked to and influenced by the state (Ottawa) and their goals. During this event, the goal of Canadian politicians was to save the embarrassment of visiting head of states. As a result of saving this embarrassment, innocent demonstrators were pepper sprayed, they were illegally strip searched and their fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Canadian constitution were violated.

After the dust settled in the aftermath of the Vancouver APEC affair, a commission was held and the Ted Hughes recommended many things. A news article that comments on the conclusions of the Inquiry can be found here. The most important recommendation that Ted Hughes gave was in regards to relations between the police and Canadian government. Ted Hughes recommends:

“The Mounties should request “statutory codification” stating how they are independent from the federal government. The force’s officers need to know they must “brook no intrusion or interference whatever” in carrying out their duties.”

Although the above recommendation was stated by the head of the Commission, recent history has shown that the above suggestion had not been studied carefully. During the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, similar events took place in which the police violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of protestors and if you look at that event in detail, you will find that the politicians were again using their arm of the police to crack down on protestors. As Wiseman states in his article, “police power and its use for political and other unlawful purposes is as strong – and as wrong – as ever”.

In sum, the policing of protest at the 1997 APEC meeting was characterized by political intervention, which lead the police to make illegal preventative arrests, censored peaceful expression and assaulted protesters who were already dispersing. Furthermore, there was a departure from democratic norms. Even the Ted Hughes, head of the APEC commission, points a finger at federal officials for unwarranted “influence and intrusion” in the pepper spraying and arrests of students camped at the Summit. However, this political intrusion has always been denied by Canadian politicians. Interestingly, commissioner Ted Hughes invited Jean Chretien to testify at the Inquiry, but the Prime Minister refused and distanced himself from the APEC affair.

In my opinion, events in which police violate the rights of peaceful protestors will always occur. The police, alongside the military, represent the arm of the state. The separation of powers between the police and government is considered an important part of liberal democracy. This separation of powers was invisible during the APEC protest. Politicians were able to influence the police to act in a certain way. When needed, the police can be utilized by the state and powerful interests to silence dissent, violate the rights of protestors and to help maintain the status quo. In the past, the police have been used by the state  to silence dissent during anti-Vietnam protests and during the Black civil rights movement in the United States of America. Closer to home, the 1997 APEC protest and the G20 Toronto Summit are instances in which the police were influenced by the state to silence dissent and to uphold the status quo.

References

Punch, Maurice (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. Devon: Willan Publishing (Routledge)

Bronskill, Jim & Bailey, Patricia (2001). APEC report slams RCMP, Ottawa: Police conduct, meddling by officials called `inappropriate’. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from   http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/pqdweb?index=0&did=224999331&SrchMode=2&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1319713272&clientId=6991 on October 26, 2011.

Ericson, Richard & Doyle, Aaron. Globalization and the policing of protest: the case of APEC 1997. British Journal of Sociology. Dec 1999, Vol. 50 Issue 4, p589-608.

The 1997 APEC summit was known as the biggest and most-expensive private meeting in Canadian history. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (Link: http://www.apec.org/) is a forum for 21 countries that want to advocate free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia Pacific area. APEC was created in 1989 responding to the expanding interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional economic allied groups like the European Union in other parts of the world. APEC works to raise living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth and to make a sense of community and show interests among Asia-Pacific countries. Members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, 54% of the world’s gross domestic product, and 44% of world trade.(Wikipedia, Link)

If people at work started taking orders from their loved ones at home, of how to do their job, nothing would ever get done right. Not only that, but this would be totally wrong in itself. Well, believe it or not, this is exactly what happened during the 1997 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vancouver. These aren’t any type of workers were talking about; we are specifically talking about the federal police force in Canada, specifically the Royal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP). Now, the RCMP did not follow the fundamental principle of police independence. There was the big question of government interference. This is one of the key issues associated with the 1997 APEC incident. The RCMP came into violation of this fundamental principle.

There was lots of tension in Vancouver that was being built at this time. Politicians from around the world were all meeting at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference. This meeting was held on the grounds of University of British Columbia, where many students were carrying protest signs, angry that the issue of human rights wasn’t on the APEC meeting. The RCMP was trying to clear the area but chaos arose.  The protesters tore down a fence and pepper spray was shot into the crowds. (CBC Achieve, Link)

Protesters and members of the UBC community alleged that they were targets of police harassment before and during the event. It was end of the year in 1997 the world media eyes were on Vancouver to cover the APEC summit. Basically all the news that was on headlines was not much to do with APEC but rather towards police response to the crowds and protesters. The least that could be said was that the police response was out of the ordinary and shocking. “A crowd of students was pepper-sprayed, along with a CBC cameraman. The dramatic video footage of the incident that appeared on the evening news”(Pue, 2000) and everyone saw. The use of pepper spray to attack non-violent protesters is unusual and brings the ministry of justice into disrepute. All over the web there is a picture of the “pepper spray sergeant” using a huge canister of pepper spray and going all-out on the non-violent crowd.

Accoring to Pue(2000) APEC raised some serious questions about constitutional principle, the role of police in a democratic society, public accountability, and the effects of globalization on rights and politics. So how much power do the politicians really have?  Some of the authors, such as Gerald Morin, chair of the first RCMP Public Complaints Commission, and famous CBC journalist Terry Milewski, had a direct connection with the APEC situation that occurred. This was more than just a case of abuse of power and authority over a non-violent crowd by the use of pepper spray.

Surely enough there had been some special orders given to the police during the 1997 APEC summit. This is evident from the behavior of the police . The RCMP was really worried about making sure the leaders were protected, which was fine, but to an extent. The whole process of how it was done was really out of the ordinary. The police went about proactively arresting protesters and even taking down sings that protesters put up. The police went to the extent of using pepper spray on the non-violent protesters, this was really an outrage. This is a breach of individual’s rights to exercise their freedom of speech. When individuals were arrested (for no proper reason) there was special bail conditions, they had to sign bail papers with conditions such as “we will only release you if you promise not to go back and protest in the UBC area until such and such time”. There is no way the police were acting this way without special orders given to them.

Pue goes on to say APEC raise serious questions about constitutional principle, the role of police in a democratic society, public accountability, and the effects of globalization on rights and politics. So how much power do the politicians really have?  Some of the authors, such as Gerald Morin, chair of the first RCMP Public Complaints Commission, and CBC journalist Terry Milewski, had a direct connection with the APEC situation that occurred. This was more than just a case of abuse of power and authority over a non-violent crowd by the use of pepper spray. There must have been some special orders given to the police for this day.

Many law professors that wrote to Prime Minister Chrétien to report that a number of serious constitutional violations that had taken place on UBC campus during this ‘incident’. Later, an unapologetic Prime Minister Chrétien brushes away the pepper spray incident, saying “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate”(Link). This really makes no sense especially when according to Pue: there was a protester held by police extremely long period of time for just displaying a sign that said “Free Speech”. Furthermore, this initiated many legal proceedings with this case and more. “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian government were named as defendants in these cases, and a public inquiry was launched. A central issue was whether the Prime Minister’s officials gave orders of a political nature to the police that resulted in law-abiding citizens being assaulted and arrested.”(Pue, 2000)

Another important finding while conducting my research was that when a Search was conducted on Google –“Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit”, the first page consisted of one link from Wikipedia and many news articles of the 1997 APEC Summit. However, the best information came from the UBC Achieves. The news articles from the search only talk about the pepper spray incident. On Wikipedia it is more formal in the sense that it talks about solely about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and does wonders for explaining what it is and its history, purpose and goals, criticism, and expansion. The UBC Achieves had information about everything. Surprisingly there was no government websites talking about the incident or the inquiry.

The concept of police independence from government goes deep and can be confusing; it indulges on what has been referred to as a special delicate balance (Wiseman 2008). Contrastingly, the rule of law would be breeched if anyone told an RCMP officer that they must investigate or lay charges against a certain person or group. For example like during the APEC if officers were told to use force against protesters to make them stop. This kind of direction to the police comes in the way of police investigations and the course of justice. These kinds of directions bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Then again, the RCMP, like others in the government, must be accountable to superiors and ultimately to responsible Ministers and through them to other people. Entire downright independence “would run the risk of creating another type of police state, one in which the police would not be answerable to anyone.”(Wiseman 2008) Police independence from interference in individual investigations is definitely important, but so is the ability for the government to provide general direction to the whole police force and be accountable for police conduct.

In the book “Police Corruption Deviance, accountability and reform in policing” by Maurice Punch (2009), he talks about something called state domination corruption. He says it is when police are linked to state or local politicians and their illicit aims, with sometimes clandestine units, death squads and violence against political opponents and rivals in criminal enterprises and against out-groups such as terrorists, street children, and journalists. Well what happened during APEC was exactly this, because police were guided by political influence and there was no “police independence” that day. There is lots of evidence in the RCMP PCC exhibits which is about 1.3m of text records. It consisted of documents compiled by many government agencies and witnesses for display during the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. There was so much evidence of statements from police and witnesses, pictures, videos(about 80), and other relevant material.

An important testimony was provided by Annette Muttray from the UBC Library Archive (Link) . Muttray was a graduate student at UBC and became a target to police on that Nov, 25, 1997. She was arrested while looking for her friend Jamie Douchette during the protest, but he was already arrested himself. She was taken to the Richmond Police Detention Facility, where many other APEC protesters were. She, like all other females was subjected to a strip search by the police. In the end, Muttray’s allegations that her arrest had been inappropriate, and that her bicycle and backpack had been left unattended by police were rejected by the PCC Commissioner. In addition, while the strip search of female prisoners was, in general, deemed inappropriate by the Commissioner, he agreed that Muttray had been legally and rightfully arrested and that her strip search was, therefore, not unlawful. In a similar case another UBC student represent himself at the RCMP Public Complaints Commission hearings and was a vocal critic of the process insisting that it could have no lasting effect due to its inability to call then Prime Minister Jean Chretien to account for decisions made in and around the protests at UBC.

Annette’s story brings me to my point of the police and politicians using techniques of neutralization (Punch, 2009), which are accounts and rhetorical devices employed to neutralize the moral bind of law. Accounts are employed both before and after an act, in order to justify or excuse it. This is basically a form of denial. The RCMP officers that day at APEC could have been thinking to themselves sayings “these orders were given by our prime minister, so were only doing our job”. These are just ways of minimizing wrong things and making them justifiable. Another good example of this is when Prime Minister Chrétien brushes away the pepper spray incident, saying “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate”.(Link) Punch would say this technique of neutralization is the denial of responsibility from the Prime Minister.

In the Charter of Rights and Freedoms it guarantees some rights to everyone. Some of those rights in the Charter are the right to freedom of thought and expression, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. During the 1997 Vancouver APEC summit, these fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Charter were nowhere to be found. Special orders given to the police were in breach of these fundamental rights during their dealings with demonstrators. The demonstrators just wanted to be heard and issues about human rights to be discussed in the APEC agenda.

For some reason Canadian politicians promised the Indonesian and Chinese head of states that they would stop protests that were directed at them. They expressed their concerns to Canada that they didn’t want their leaders to be publicly embarrassed by protests at the Vancouver APEC summit.  RCMP Staff Sergeant Peter Montague reports that he too did make promises that they would try their hardest to stay away from protest routes and protestors. Clearly our very own Government and the federal police force of Canada took the head of states from China and Indonesia’s embarrassment more important than the very own rights and safety of their own citizens.

The final recommendations of the inquiry (link) from Judge Ted Hughes, he mentioned a few things like how the federal government exercised improper influence on security arrangements for the 1997 APEC summit and the RCMP displayed “inappropriate police conduct” during the raucous event, concludes a highly anticipated inquiry report. The interim report of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, put together by former judge Ted Hughes, pointed a finger at federal officials for unwarranted “influence and intrusion” in the pepper-spraying and arrests of students camped on the summit grounds at UBC.

The three main recommendations were:

1. Policing public order events

— “Generous opportunity” must be allowed for peaceful protests.

— University campuses are the wrong places for events where “delegates are to be sequestered and protected from visible and audible signs of dissent.”

— Mounties need to improve approaches to command structures, training, planning, Quick Response teams, and record keeping.

— The national police force needs to work with the leaders of protest groups before protests occur. Adequate warnings need to be issued if physical confrontation is possible.

— Decisions on body searches should be made taking into account the kind of protest and risks involved. Police, when releasing prisoners from custody, should consider whether it is late at night and a long ways from the place of arrest.

2. Public complaints procedure– The APEC inquiry was “lengthy, complex and expensive.” As things stand, any member of the public personally affected or not, is able to make complaints and have their expenses covered. There should be a way to streamline the process — British Columbia’s approach being a good example.

3. Relations with Canadian government– The Mounties should request “statutory codification” stating how they are independent from the federal government. The force’s officers need to know they must “brook no intrusion or interference whatever” in carrying out their duties.

All in all, it doesn’t matter if you naturalize your actions or not because they are wrong in themselves. The police should not use methods of neutralization and make themselves think it was okay for them to act unlawfully because they were given orders from politicians. Rather, the police should just do their job normally and independently and away from any influence let alone a political one. Now how often will officers go out and break their little rule of silence and go yapping “we were told to do this because of so and so”. The answer is never, but even without the police telling us directly, it’s not hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together of what happened that day during Vancouver APEC Summit 1997.

In 1997, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit was held in Vancouver at the UBC campus. During this summit a protest was held in the name of human rights, in which demonstrators exercised their right to free speech and freedom of assembly. The police, having no regard for these rights, responded to the protest by engaging in deviant conduct. A more detailed account surrounding this incident can be found in my first blog post.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was entrenched into the Canadian constitution in 1982. This Charter guarantees fundamental freedoms to everyone. According to the Charter, everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. Also, everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. To view the full contents of the Charter you can click here. During the 1997 Vancouver APEC summit, these fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Charter were brushed under the mat by the police during their dealings with demonstrators. The APEC Commission which was assembled after complaints were made about RCMP conduct during the APEC summit found that the conduct of officers was inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by section 2 of the Charter. This final report could be found here. The question that needs to be asked is, who gave the officers orders to strip demonstrators of their fundamental freedoms? The answer to this question is simple when you look back at the history of similar events in Canada. The RCMP were given orders by the political sphere of Canada to strip protestors of their rights and engage in police deviance if the need arose. However, it is important to note that this accusation of political interference has always been denied by the police and the politicians during this and similar events in history.

The APEC Summit was business as usual. In his article “Hand in Glove? Politicians, Policing, and the Canadian Political Culture“, Wiseman is quoted as saying “behaviour of police and politicians at the APEC summit confirms their long standing view that the state and its police organs engage in systematic repression of democratic voices”. Although, the police and politicians are seen as separate, according to Wiseman, the politician is able to hide behind the veil of the police officer. Essentially, the police is an arm of political administration. During the APEC summit, the politicians used their strong police arm in order to silence the fundamental rights of protestors. Allowing politicians to influence the way police work is done goes against the official paradigm of the police. In the official paradigm or code, police independence is a major feature. According to Punch(2009), the official paradigm is the institutional ideology that an organization is structured upon and the operational paradigm refers to the practices that deviate from the official code. Police conduct during the APEC summit deviated from the official paradigm by allowing political influence to affect their police independence. The police is supposed to be accountable to the government, not directed by it. As stated earlier, if we look back at Canadian history, we can easily find similar instances in which politicians hid under the mask of the police and engaged in politically influenced behaviour. Wiseman states:

“It is hardly new in Canadian history. Police were used by authorities to thwart union-organizing activity among autoworkers in Oshawa, Ontario in the 1930s, in Quebec’s asbestos industry in the 1940s, and among Newfoundland’s loggers in the 1950s. The RCMP’s covert operations targeting the Parti Québécois in the 1970s are well documented.”

“If something goes amiss in the field, as it did, the Prime Minister claims his hands are clean. When the police act heavy-handedly or in violation of the law, a dumb cop excuse is almost always effective in shielding politicians from their responsibility for what happened.”

It is evident after reading “Police Corruption – Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing”, by Maurice Punch that the dumb cop excuse is almost always an effective excuse to shield the police organization and politicians from their responsibility during such events as the Vancouver APEC affair. However, Punch argues that the rotten apples theory is false. The rotten orchards theory is one that holds true when looking in-depth at police deviance incidences. The Knapp commission of 1972 and later the Mollen commission in New York are evidence of that the rotten apples theory or the “dumb cop” theory is false. Instead, “there are no individuals in organizations” like the police according to Punch.

Now we’ll come back to the issue of the police being used as a political tool by politicians. During the Vancouver APEC summit, the strong-arm of the police was used by Canadian politicians. The politicians were the true face behind the mask of police deviance during the event. These politicians promised the Indonesian and Chinese head of states that they would subdue protests that were directed at them. According to the article “Globalization and the policing of protest: the case of APEC 1997” by Richard et al. (1999), the head of states of Indonesia and China expressed their concerns to Ottawa that they didn’t want their leaders to be publicly embarrassed by protests at the Vancouver APEC summit. Indonesian president Suharto was assured by Canadian authorities that they would police the protest in an effective manner. Thus, the leaders of Indonesia and China influenced our Canadian politicians to influence the police to violate the fundamental freedoms of protestors.  In his (1999) article Richard et al. states comments on the meeting between a RCMP Staff Sergeant and the Indonesian APEC delegation:

RCMP Staff Sergeant Peter Montague reports on an advance meeting he conducted with Indonesian APEC delegation: ‘I assured them that if there was a demonstration on a major motorcade route, we wold take an alternate route to avoid potential embarrassment. …They asked me several times to repeat this assurance and I did.’

It is evident by the above quote that the RCMP were willing to do whatever it took to save the embarrassment of the Indonesian head of states. Also, the above quote perhaps suggests that the RCMP were influenced not only by Canadian politicians, but also by Indonesian politicians. To me, this suggestion is very disturbing. The fact that Canadian politicians were influencing the police to act in deviant methods in order protect the reputation of an accused human rights violator is horrific. Maurice Punch explains this type of behaviour in his three level typology of police deviance and corruption. The form of police deviance that was demonstrated at the Vancouver APEC summit was externally driven through state domination. In this case, the police were linked to and influenced by the state (Ottawa) and their goals. During this event, the goal of Canadian politicians, was to save the embarrassment of visiting head of states. As a result of saving this embarrassment, innocent demonstrators were pepper sprayed, they were illegally strip searched and their fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Canadian constitution were violated.

So, after the dust settled in the aftermath of the Vancouver APEC affair, a commission was held and the Ted Hughes recommended many things. A news article that comments on the conclusions of the Inquiry can be found here. The most important recommendation that Ted Hughes gave was in regards to relations between the police and Canadian government. Ted Hughes recommends:

“The Mounties should request “statutory codification” stating how they are independent from the federal government. The force’s officers need to know they must “brook no intrusion or interference whatever” in carrying out their duties.”

In conclusion, although the above recommendation was stated by the head of the Commission, recent history has shown that the above suggestion has not been studied carefully. During the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, similar events took place in which the police violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of protestors and if you look at that event in detail, you will find that the politicians were again using their arm of the police to crack down on protestors. As Wiseman states in his article, “police power and its use for political and other unlawful purposes is as strong – and as wrong – as ever”.

References

Punch, Maurice (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. Devon: Willan Publishing (Routledge)

Bronskill, Jim & Bailey, Patricia (2001). APEC report slams RCMP, Ottawa: Police conduct, meddling by officials called `inappropriate’. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from   http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/pqdweb?index=0&did=224999331&SrchMode=2&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1319713272&clientId=6991 on October 26, 2011.

Ericson, Richard & Doyle, Aaron. Globalization and the policing of protest: the case of APEC 1997. British Journal of Sociology. Dec 1999, Vol. 50 Issue 4, p589-608.

If people at work started taking orders from their loved ones at home about how to do their job, nothing would ever get done right. Not only that, but this would be totally wrong in itself. Well, believe it or not, this is exactly what happened during the 1997 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit (Link ) In Vancouver. These aren’t any type of workers were talking about; we are specifically talking about the federal police force in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP). The RCMP did not follow the fundamental principle of police independence. There was the big question of government interference. This is one of the key issues associated with the 1997 APEC incident. The RCMP came into violation of this fundamental principle.

According to Pue(2000) APEC raised some serious questions about constitutional principle, the role of police in a democratic society, public accountability, and the effects of globalization on rights and politics. So how much power do the politicians really have?  Some of the authors, such as Gerald Morin, chair of the first RCMP Public Complaints Commission, and famous CBC journalist Terry Milewski, had a direct connection with the APEC situation that occurred. This was more than just a case of abuse of power and authority over a non-violent crowd by the use of pepper spray.

Surely enough there had been some special orders given to the police during the 1997 APEC summit. This is evident from the behavior of the police . The RCMP was really worried about making sure the leaders were protected, which was fine, but to an extent. The whole process of how it was done was really out of the ordinary. The police went about proactively arresting protesters and even taking down sings that protesters put up. The police went to the extent of using pepper spray on the non-violent protesters, this was really an outrage. This is a breach of individual’s rights to exercise their freedom of speech. When individuals were arrested (for no proper reason) there was special bail conditions, they had to sign bail papers with conditions such as “we will only release you if you promise not to go back and protest in the UBC area until such and such time”. There is no way the police were acting this way without special orders given to them.

The concept of police independence from government goes deep and can be confusing; it indulges on what has been referred to as a special delicate balance (Wiseman 2008). Contrastingly, the rule of law would be breeched if anyone told an RCMP officer that they must investigate or lay charges against a certain person or group. For example like during the APEC if officers were told to use force against protesters to make them stop. This kind of direction to the police comes in the way of police investigations and the course of justice. These kinds of directions bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Then again, the RCMP, like others in the government, must be accountable to superiors and ultimately to responsible Ministers and through them to other people. Entire downright independence “would run the risk of creating another type of police state, one in which the police would not be answerable to anyone.”(Wiseman 2008) Police independence from interference in individual investigations is definitely important, but so is the ability for the government to provide general direction to the whole police force and be accountable for police conduct.

In the book “Police Corruption Deviance, accountability and reform in policing” by Maurice Punch (2009), he talks about something called state domination corruption. He says it is when police are linked to state or local politicians and their illicit aims, with sometimes clandestine units, death squads and violence against political opponents and rivals in criminal enterprises and against out-groups such as terrorists, street children, and journalists. Well what happened during APEC was exactly this, because police were guided by political influence and there was no “police independence” that day. There is lots of evidence in the RCMP PCC exhibits which is about 1.3m of text records. It consisted of documents compiled by many government agencies and witnesses for display during the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. There was so much evidence of statements from police and witnesses, pictures, videos(about 80), and other relevant material.

An important testimony was provided by Annette Muttray from the UBC Library Archive (Link) . Muttray was a graduate student at UBC and became a target to police on that Nov, 25, 1997. She was arrested while looking for her friend Jamie Douchette during the protest, but he was already arrested himself. She was taken to the Richmond Police Detention Facility, where many other APEC protesters were. She, like all other females was subjected to a strip search by the police. In the end, Muttray’s allegations that her arrest had been inappropriate, and that her bicycle and backpack had been left unattended by police were rejected by the PCC Commissioner. In addition, while the strip search of female prisoners was, in general, deemed inappropriate by the Commissioner, he agreed that Muttray had been legally and rightfully arrested and that her strip search was, therefore, not unlawful. In a similar case another UBC student represent himself at the RCMP Public Complaints Commission hearings and was a vocal critic of the process insisting that it could have no lasting effect due to its inability to call then Prime Minister Jean Chretien to account for decisions made in and around the protests at UBC.

This story brings me to my point of the police and politicians using techniques of neutralization (Punch, 2009), which are accounts and rhetorical devices employed to neutralize the moral bind of law. Accounts are employed both before and after an act, in order to justify or excuse it. This is basically a form of denial. The RCMP officers that day at APEC could have been thinking to themselves sayings “these orders were given by our prime minister, so were only doing our job”. These are just ways of minimizing wrong things and making them justifiable. Another good example of this is when Prime Minister Chrétien brushes away the pepper spray incident, saying “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate”.(Link) Punch would say this technique of neutralization is the denial of responsibility from the Prime Minister.

All in all, it doesn’t matter if you naturalize your actions or not because they are wrong in themselves. For example, the police should not use methods of neutralization and make themselves think it was okay for them to act unlawfully because they were given orders from politicians. Rather, the police should just do their job normally and independently and away from any influence let alone a political one. Now how often will officers go out and break their little rule of silence and go yapping “we were told to do this because of so and so”. Even without the police telling us directly, its not hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together of what happened at Vancouver APEC 1997.

Sources:

Punch, M. P. (2009). Police corruption deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland: Willan Publishing.

Wiseman, N. M. (2008). Hand in glove? politicians, policing, and canadian political culture. In Policing and Accountablity (pp. 117-127).

Pue, W. P. (2000). The apec affair In Pepper in Our Eyes Toronto: UTP Distribution.

www.ubcpress.ca

Pecho, J. P. (2008). Apec inquiry collection (various collectors) . Retrieved from

http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_arch/apec_coll.html

Milewski, T. M. (Producer). (2005). Protest and pepper spray at apec conference. [Print Photo].

Retrieved from http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/civil_unrest/clips/2016/

Asia-pacific economic cooperation (2011). [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia-Pacific_Economic_Cooperation

First of all, what is the APEC? APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. It is a forum consisting of 21 countries, which promotes free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC was established in 1989. Canada joined APEC in 1989. An APEC meeting is held yearly and attended by the heads of government of each member country. In 1997, this APEC meeting was held in Vancouver at the UBC campus on November 24 and 25. During this summit, a protest was held at a designated protest area at UBC.

These demonstrators were protesting against the heads of state that were responsible for human rights violations in their respective country. In particular, Indonesian President Suharto and Chinese President Jiang Zemin were singled out by the protestors as being violators of human rights in Indonesia and China. In fact, Indonesian President Suharto threatened to boycott the Summit if the demonstrations embarrassed or offended his dignity. Some of Suharto’s comments regarding the protest can be found here.

Protestors eventually knocked down a security barricade in the designated protest area and RCMP officers responded with pepper spray, police dogs and arrests. Even a CBC camera man was hit with pepper spray. Many allegations of police misconduct were alleged against the RCMP. One such allegation was made by Craig Jones, who was reportedly arrested, held for fourteen hours and released without charge for displaying signs of “Free Speech,” “Democracy,” and “Human Rights”. Due to the many complaints filed against the RCMP, a Commission or Inquiry was held, which investigated the allegations of misconduct by RCMP officers. The Commissioner of Inquiry found that the conduct of individual RCMP officers, in some instances, were inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that members of the public were affected by RCMP misconduct. The final report of this commission can be found by clicking here. Also, a chronological timeline of events relating to the incident can be found by visiting the this website.

After I typed in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit into the Google search engine, a wide range of websites relating to the topic popped up. The first website that comes up in the search is the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website. The federal government website details the 1997 Vancouver APEC Summit. There is no mention of the protest or abuse of police authority on this website.

The second link that came up was a Wikipedia link which described everything about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Under the heading of meeting developments, there are couple sentences that deal with the controversy that occurred with the RCMP using pepper spray against protesters in the 1997 Vancouver Summit. Other conflicts and threats to the other summit are also touched upon.

There is also a link to CBC archives. After clicking this link, a video of a news report taken after the UBC protest is shown. The video shows a heated conflict between RCMP officers and protestors, in which pepper spray is seen to be used. In the end of the video then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responds to the question of the use of pepper spray by saying, “For me, pepper spray, I put it on my plate.” I thought this remark was very interesting. Here is a link to the video:  http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/civil_unrest/clips/2016/

The fourth link linked me to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP website. Here the details of the Commission that resulted from the police misconduct at the protest are found. One link titled Fears of APEC-style Clash in 2010, referred to  protests and even had the following picture of the 1997 protests. When reporting on the fears of a conflict at the 2010 APEC Summit, plenty of mention was given to the Vancouver Summit. This website had interviews of some of the protestors and even with the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. No RCMP representative was interviewed and it seemed to me that the article was written in favour of the protestors.

Overall, after typing in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit, all but one link on the first page of the google search engine has some mention about the confrontation between protestors and RCMP officers. This one website without any mention of police deviance is the first link and is a government of Canada website.

The 1997 APEC summit was known as the biggest and most-expensive private meeting in Canadian history. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (Link) is a forum for 21 countries that want to advocate free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia Pacific area. APEC was created in 1989 responding to the expanding interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional economic allied groups like the European Union in other parts of the world. APEC works to raise living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth and to make a sense of community and show interests among Asia-Pacific countries. Members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, 54% of the world’s gross domestic product, and 44% of world trade.(Wikipedia, Link)

There was lots of tension in Vancouver that was being built at this time. Politicians from around the world were all meeting at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference. This meeting was held on the grounds of University of British Columbia, where many students were carrying protest signs, angry that the issue of human rights wasn’t on the APEC meeting. The RCMP was trying to clear the area but chaos arose.  The protesters tore down a fence and pepper spray was shot into the crowds. (CBC Achieve, Link)

Protesters and members of the UBC community alleged that they were targets of police harassment before and during the event. It was end of the year in 1997 the world media eyes were on Vancouver to cover the APEC summit. Basically all the news that was on headlines was not much to do with APEC but rather towards police response to the crowds and protesters. The least that could be said was that the police response was out of the ordinary and shocking. “A crowd of students was pepper-sprayed, along with a CBC cameraman. The dramatic video footage of the incident that appeared on the evening news”(Pue, 2000) and everyone saw. The use of pepper spray to attack non-violent protesters is unusual and brings the ministry of justice into disrepute. All over the web there is a picture of the “pepper spray sergeant” using a huge canister of pepper spray and going all-out on the non violent crowd.

Many law professors that wrote to Prime Minister Chrétien to report that a number of serious constitutional violations that had taken place on UBC campus during this ‘incident’. Later, an unapologetic Prime Minister Chrétien brushes away the pepper spray incident, saying “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate”.(Link) This really makes no sense especially when according to Peu: there was a protester held by police extremely long period of time for just displaying a sign that said “Free Speech”. Furthermore, this initiated many legal proceedings with this case and more. “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian government were named as defendants in these cases, and a public inquiry was launched. A central issue was whether the Prime Minister’s officials gave orders of a political nature to the police that resulted in law-abiding citizens being assaulted and arrested.”(Pue, 2000)

Peu goes on to say APEC raise serious questions about constitutional principle, the role of police in a democratic society, public accountability, and the effects of globalization on rights and politics. So how much power do the politicians really have?  Some of the authors, such as Gerald Morin, chair of the first RCMP Public Complaints Commission, and CBC journalist Terry Milewski, had a direct connection with the APEC situation that occurred. This was more than just a case of abuse of power and authority over a non-violent crowd by the use of pepper spray. There must have been some special orders and political influence given to the police.

When a Search was conducted on Google –“Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit”, the first page consisted of one link from Wikipedia and many news articles of the 1997 APEC Summit. However, the best information came from the UBC Achieves. The news articles from the search only talk about the pepper spray incident. On Wikipedia it is more formal in the sense that it talks about solely about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and does wonders for explaining what it is and its history, purpose and goals, criticism, and expansion. The UBC Achieves had information about everything. Surprisingly there was no government websites talking about the incident or the inquiry.

 

Sources:

Peu, W. P. (2000). The apec affair In Pepper in Our Eyes Toronto: UTP Distribution.

www.ubcpress.ca

Pecho, J. P. (2008). Apec inquiry collection (various collectors) . Retrieved from

http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_arch/apec_coll.html

Milewski, T. M. (Producer). (2005). Protest and pepper spray at apec conference. [Print Photo].

Retrieved from http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/civil_unrest/clips/2016/

Asia-pacific economic cooperation (2011). [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia-Pacific_Economic_Cooperation