NDP MP demands apology for RCMP Idle No More ‘bacteria’ comparison

Parliamentary secretary for Public Safety refuses to apologize

 Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The NDP’s Aboriginal affairs critic demanded Friday that Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney apologize for an RCMP comparison of the Idle No More movement to bacteria.

Churchill NDP MP Niki Ashton demanded the apology twice during question period.

Ashton said the bacteria comparison, made by the RCMP’s Aboriginal liaison for the national capital region in a report, was “discriminatory.” She said it damaged the relationship between the federal police force and First Nations.

“Would the minister stand in this House, apologize, and clearly tell Canadians that this kind of discriminatory language toward First Nations is unacceptable?” said Ashton.

Ashton’s question was fielded by Conservative MP Roxanne James, the parliamentary secretary for Public Safety, because Blaney was in Montreal. James said she found Ashton’s question “abhorrent” and refused to issue any apology.

“I absolutely reject the premise of that question. Painting the RCMP in that light is absolutely unacceptable,” said James. “These are men and women who risk their lives on a day-to-day basis in order to keep Canadians safe. I find it absolutely abhorrent that she would bring that up and say that in this place.”

An internal RCMP document obtained by APTN National News under the Access to Information Act said the Idle No More movement was like “bacteria.” The document was a site report from Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s camp which was set up during her liquids-only fast on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River within sight of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada.

The camp became a hub of activity during the height of the Idle No More movement between December 2012 and January 2013.

The site report was written by RCMP Cpl. Wayne Russett, that Aboriginal liaison for the national capital region, and sent to Insp. Mike LeSage, the acting director general for National Aboriginal Policing. LeSage passed it on to Carrie Ann McPherson, a senior analyst with the RCMP’s Operations Intelligence Analysis Section.

While the document primarily provided close to real-time details of the evolving situation inside Spence’s camp, it also included a discussion of the Idle No More movement.

“This Idle No More movement is like bacteria, it has grown a life of its own all across this nation,” wrote Russett, in the Dec.24, 2012, document. “It may be advisable for all to have contingency plans in place, as this is one issue that is not going to go away.”

The report also struck an ominous tone.

“There is a high probability that we could see flash mobs, round dances and blockades become much less compliant to laws in an attempt to get their point across,” said the document. “The escalation of violence is ever near.”

The document was titled, “Chief Spense’s Hunger Strike and the Idle No More Movement (sic)” and classified “for law enforcement only.”

APTN filed the request under the Act in April 2013 and only recently received the documents.

The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment as of this article’s posting.

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5 thoughts on “NDP MP demands apology for RCMP Idle No More ‘bacteria’ comparison

  1. Well, all life started from bacteria, and I know you trying to be insulting, but thank you for the compliment!

  2. Why would they need to apologize? These were not public statements but internal communications made by one individual; they only came to light because of an access to information request.

    1. There is a sickness if you are dependent on keeping such racism a secret.

      1. Racism? I asked a simple question. This was not a public statement by the RCMP but a single phrase by one individual buried in a report that was never intended to be public.

        Should we dredge through the private communications between AFN members looking for disparaging remarks toward non-natives? Seems like a silly way to try to heal wounds and overcome differences.

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