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Laying bare the RCMP’s efforts to evade public transparency

For its persistent efforts to impede the free flow of information to the public, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the CAJ’s Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the law enforcement category.

The Mounties received an unprecedented double-citation from this year’s jury. The first citation was bestowed on the RCMP for their efforts to impede journalists from covering public opposition to the logging of an old-growth forest at Fairy Creek, on Vancouver Island. In particular, the jury took note of the RCMP’s efforts to obstruct journalists’ access to the area through the use of illegal exclusion zones and other methods of obstruction.

“This summer multiple journalists, equipped only with pens, notebooks and camera equipment, were treated like criminals by the RCMP as they did their job, which was to document police activities and to tell a story of significant public interest,” said Brent Jolly, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ).

“This year’s Code of Silence jury agreed that the efforts demonstrated by the RCMP to suffocate press freedom and the public’s right to know about events taking place at Fairy Creek deserves the spotlight.” 

This year’s Code of Silence jury also awarded the RCMP a second citation for its outstandingly poor performance with respect to adhering to the rules of Canada’s federal Access of Information Act. 

The force was recognized for its excessive secrecy in 2017, after failing to respond to a single request for information filed under the Access to Information Act.

The Code of Silence Awards are presented annually by the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). The intent of the awards is to call public attention to government or publicly-funded agencies that work hard to hide information to which the public has a right to under access to information legislation.

This award completes this year’s Code of Silence program. In addition to the RCMP, Stratford City Council (municipal), the provincial government of British Columbia (provincial), and Indigenous Services Canada (federal) headlined this year’s winners.

FEBRUARY 13

7:30 PM | A 28-year-old Perth East man was charged with ‘causing a disturbance’ and ‘mischief – obstructs, interrupts, or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property’ after Perth County OPP were called to Fulton Street in Milverton for a person who was causing a disturbance. The accused was released from custody and is scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Stratford at a later date to answer to the charges.

FEBRUARY 15

7:12 PM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of a three vehicle collision at the intersection of Woolwich Street South and Ebycrest Road in Breslau. As a result of the investigation, a 24-year-old Guelph woman was charged with ‘turn not in safety.’

FEBRUARY 18

9:59 PM | Police received a report of a collision in the area of Hessen Strasse and Willow Way Road in Wellesley Township. A vehicle was travelling west on Hessen Strasse when it left the roadway due to poor weather conditions. A second vehicle was also travelling west on Hessen Strasse when it also left the roadway and struck the first vehicle. There were no charges laid and no physical injuries reported.

FEBRUARY 19

12:44 PM | Police received a report of a collision involving five vehicles in Woolwich Township. The vehicles were heading east on Bridge Street East near Hollinger Crescent when the collision occurred. The involved vehicles were slowing to wait for traffic ahead to clear. There were no injuries reported as a result of this incident. Weather and road conditions at the time were snowy.

12:50 PM | A collision took place involving three vehicles travelling west on Bridge Street East near Hollinger Crescent. A white Toyota rear-ended a white Kia which was slowing down due to traffic ahead. The white Kia then rear-ended a red Ford that was stopped on the road due to traffic ahead. There were no physical injuries reported as a result of this incident. Weather and road conditions at the time were snowy.

3:00 PM | Emergency services responded to a six-vehicle collision in the area of Wilmot Easthope Road and Concession Road in Wilmot Township. A grey Mazda travelling south on Wilmot Easthope Road slowed to avoid a vehicle ahead and was then struck by grey Honda also travelling south. The driver of the Honda proceeded to park their vehicle in a private driveway and the Mazda remained on the roadway. A short time later, as a passenger from the Mazda was out of the vehicle inspecting damages, a white Chrysler heading south struck both the passenger and the Mazda. The Chrysler was then struck by a blue Subaru and the Subaru was stuck by a black Chevrolet in turn. The passenger of the Mazda was transported to an out-of-region hospital with life-threatening injuries. Another involved driver was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Wilmot Easthope Road was closed for several hours for the collision investigation and to clear the roadway. The investigation is ongoing by members of Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Traffic Services Unit. Anyone who witnessed the incident, was stopped in the area at the time or has dash-cam footage that captured the collision, is asked to call the Traffic Services Unit at 519-570-9777, ext. 8856 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

3:14 PM | Police received a report of a two-vehicle collision in the area of Victoria Street North and Woolwich Street South in Breslau. A red Ford was travelling east on Victoria Street behind a white BMW when snow came off of the BMW. The snow hit the windshield of the Ford, cracking the windshield. There were no injuries reported as a result of the collision.

FEBRUARY 20

2:15 PM | Waterloo Regional Police were dispatched to the area of Hutchison Road and Weimar Line in Wellesley Township to assist with multiple vehicles in the ditch. Officers assisted with the drivers of six vehicles that had left the roadway due to poor weather conditions. There were no collisions involved.

8:30 PM | Police received a report of a single-vehicle collision in the area of Floradale Road and Listowel Road in Woolwich Township. A vehicle was traveling south on Floradale Road when the driver lost control and struck a hydro pole. There were no physical injuries report. A 25-year-old Kitchener man was charged with ‘careless driving.’

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