Anti-shale protesters shrug off RCMP tactics

Anti-shale gas protesters are shrugging off indications that police had paid confidential informants inside their movement.

Use of confidential informants revealed in court documents made public this week

Protesters react to new information about RCMP enforcement of injunction in Rexton 2:12

Anti-shale gas protesters are shrugging off indications that police had paid confidential informants inside their movement.

The use of four confidential informants is one of the revelations in court documents filed by RCMP in support of their successful motion to have five media outlets, including CBC, turn over raw video and photographs gathered in Rexton on Oct. 17, 2013.  The RCMP wanted the media's material to try and identify who set six RCMP vehicles on fire during the day-long clash with anti-shale gas protesters.

Susan Levi-Peters is a former chief of Elsipogtog First Nation. (CBC)
Almost 300 RCMP officers were mobilized in Rexton that day as police enforced a court injunction against the long-standing protest camp.

That the RCMP had informants within the protest movement doesn't surprise the protesters.

"Paying people for information is always a bit equivocal in terms of the quality of the information that you're getting," said Denise Melanson. "And are you just getting information or are these people acting on your behalf or acting as agent provocateur? You know, what is their role exactly?"

"It kind of breaks my heart if they're my own people," said Susan Levi-Peters. "I think instead of being an informant they should have tried to work with all parties."

The RCMP's allegations in the court document, which were not subjected to cross-examination in court, say the level of hostility within the protest group started increasing in June 2013 after eight "Warriors" from Nova Scotia arrived in Kent County.

Warrior Chief John Levi of Elsipogtog. (CBC)
Warrior Chief John Levi of Elsipogtog First Nation says that allegation is not surprising either. Levi calls it a way for the RCMP to divide the protesters.

"From the beginning there was stuff going on in the camp," he said. "People were getting mad at each other. They were calling people informants.

"So we settled that right there. I told the people, `Don't worry about it. Even if we have RCMP with us all the time. We don't have anything to hide.'"

Levi-Peters, a former chief of Elsipogtog, says the resources police poured into breaking up the protests is troubling. She says that money could have been put to better use.

"They could have used that money for consultation, for talking to the people," she said. "And they would have had money left over to build houses, you know?

"There's a better way of spending money and a better way of doing business. And I think after this whole investigation is done, we're going to learn a lot from it.

 Levi-Peters says she and other protesters don't condone the burning of the RCMP vehicles. But she says, the protests were mostly peaceful, and those responsible for the fires do not represent the majority.

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