They were there to deliberately cause trouble.' - Dave Coles, CEP president
Ottawa (23 Aug. 2007) - Did the police plant agents provocateurs among protestors at this week's Montebello summit to make demonstrators look bad and deflect criticism away from the Harper government's controversial trade policies? A lot of people think so.
Trade was the major issue at the two-day summit attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Specifically, the three leaders talked about the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).
Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), is convinced the police planted agents to stir up trouble on behalf of the government and he has a damning video to support his suspicions.
For his part, Harper smirked at Montebello when asked about the protesters, dismissing them as "sad."
Dirty work for Harper?
The video, now being viewed around the world on You Tube, shows three masked 'protesters' - one with a rock in hand - apparently ready to clash with riot police.
None of the men look like demonstrators and, when confronted by Coles, they refused to remove their masks. Moreover, the three were wearing boots identical to those of the police officers they were supposedly challenging - in this case the Surete du Quebec.
Conveniently, as tensions rose between the men and other protestors, uniformed police intervened to 'arrest' them and whisk them safely away. The men were not arrested and no explanation was given of who they were or where they went.
"I accused them of being police, and every time I yelled at them that they were police, you could tell by their facial expressions that they were really troubled," Coles told CTV Newsnet Wednesday.
The Quebec force denied using secret agents and so did the RCMP but few who were there, or who have seen the video, believe them.
Coles said the men were "not young kids" and he is sure what their role was. "They were there to deliberately cause trouble, to give the police a chance to try and get rid of these young kids that were exercising their right to protest peacefully," he said.
He is demanding an investigation of the incident by Harper's office in Ottawa and the office of Quebec Premier Jean Charest in Quebec City. "We have proof that the three individuals who were 'arrested' after being exposed as 'agents provocateurs' were, in fact, members of the Quebec police force," he said in a statement.
Footnote: On Aug. 23, the Surete du Quebec, the provincial police force, finally admitted it had 'undercover' officers at Montebello. However, the force said in a statement the infiltrators did not "act as instigators or commit criminal acts." Yet the issue of who approved their shady presence remains an open question, especially given that it was Stephen Harper's summit and he has had a penchant from his first days as prime minister of enforcing his personal stamp on virtually everything related to his government. Does anyone seriously believe the Quebec force was acting on its own - with the knowledge and cooperation and approval of federal authorities?
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring that our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
- Why Canadians should worry about the new SPP trade pact
- You Tube video: union leader stops provocateurs in Montebello