Toronto – The RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit (ISU) of the G20 is refusing to rule out the use of Agent Provocateurs to get protesters to commit illegal acts, the Toronto Media Co-op has learned.
During a G20 forum on April 30th held by Toronto City Councilors, Constable George Tucker, a member of the G20 planning team responsible for Public Affairs, Communications & Corporate Relations, was asked if Agent Provocateurs would be used.
He responded: “"I'm not at liberty to discuss security issues in an open format".
However, a question remains that police have not been asked: is the use of Agent Provocateurs legal? If not, why won’t police rule it out?
Gary Davidson, a retired RCMP officer who was active in VIP security, says they are illegal, although he does not think the RCMP uses them: “I cannot speak for other police forces [such as Toronto Police Services, the Ontario Provincial Police, etc.] but I can say that although the RCMP probably would have plain clothed police mixed in with the crowd, the RCMP has never used provocateurs. Basically, they hope all the protesters just go away. To the best of my knowledge, the use of Agent Provocateurs is illegal in Canada and that the RCMP would not and has not engaged in such practice,” he explained in an e-mail.
During a phone interview with the Media Co-op, Constable Meghan Gray with the TPS G20 Planning Team responsible for Public Affairs, Communications & Community Relations, was also asked directly whether Agent Provocateurs would be used.
Toronto Media Co-op: Can you confirm or deny that you will be using agent provocateurs? Do you think they are illegal?
Meaghan Gray: “Like [my co-worker], George Tucker, those are operational issues, I can’t speak to that.”
TMC: “A source from the RCMP has told me their use is illegal. Are you saying you can’t rule out an illegal activity will be used?”
Gray: “Well…I’d have to ask someone else about that….I’ll get somebody to get back to you.”
Gray responded via e-mail 2 hours later.
“I have spoken with my colleagues on the Public Affairs Team and as I stated, with respect to your questions regarding Agents Provocateurs, the Integrated Security Unit for the G8-G20 Summits will not discuss operational details,” she wrote.
Though Gray stated that “all police efforts will be lawful”, this is not the first time that an ISU for a summit has been asked about Agent Provocateurs. Nor is it the first time they have refused to respond.
In 2007, well-documented actions by police in at a summit in Montebello spawned numerous claims that undercover officers tried to incite violence. Youtube videos posted after the summit clearly show three protesters with bandanas covering their faces being confronted by protesters for being Agent Provocateurs and then retreating behind police lines.
Quebec provincial police later admitted the three were undercover officers but denied they were trying to incite violence.
In light of the actions in Montebello, a number of inquiries were made about the possible use of Agent Provocateurs by the ISU during the Vancouver Olympic Games.
When the Vancouver-weekly Georgia Straight asked about the use of Agent Provocateurs Corporal Jen Allen of the ISU responded: “We are not in a position to detail a specific operational plan as to how we are going to fulfill that obligation.”
Robert Holmes of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association also asked the ISU in Vancouver about the use of agents provocateurs during the Olympic Games. Speaking in the Straight Holmes says he was told by the ISU that “all plans were confidential.”
This is the first in a three-part series. Gwalgen Geordie Dent is a sustaining and contributing member of the Toronto Media Co-op.