G20 case reveals ‘largest ever’ police spy operation
RCMP collaborated with provincial and local police to monitor activists
Police Police organizations across the country co-operated to spy on community organizations and activists in what the RCMP called one of the largest domestic intelligence operations in Canadian history, documents reveal.
Information about the extensive police surveillance in advance of last year’s G8 and G20 meetings in southern Ontario comes from evidence presented in the case of 17 people accused of orchestrating street turmoil during the summits.
The court case ended Tuesday before it went to trial. Six of the defendants pleaded guilty to counselling mischief and two of those to an additional count of counselling to obstruct police, while 11 people had their criminal charges dropped.
Testimony previously under a publication ban describes how two undercover police officers — one male, one female — spent 18 months infiltrating southern Ontario community groups ahead of the June 26-27, 2010, gathering of world leaders.
They were part of a much larger so-called joint intelligence group (JIG) operation that the RCMP, in its internal post-summit review, called "likely the largest JIG ever assembled in Canada."
The Crown built its case against the 17 around the work of the two officers, Ontario Provincial Police members Bindo Showan and Brenda Carey. It was a massive case: 59 criminal charges in all, more than 70,000 pages of Crown evidence disclosed to the defence, and months of scheduled testimony.
Read the files
Documents obtained under freedom of information legislation reveal the extensive police surveillance operation against political groups and activists.
- G8 summit intelligence report.
- Undercover and plainclothes police.
- RCMP’s post-G20 internal review.
- Organizational diagrams.
Earlier this fall, Showan told the court about how he attended a meeting prior to the Toronto summit. There, a protest-planning group that included several of the 17 main G20 defendants was discussing whether to lend their support to a First Nations rally.
Adam Lewis, one of the 17 accused conspirators in the G20 case, interjected, “Kill whitey!” The group chuckled. Lewis, like all but one of his co-accused, is white.
When a Crown lawyer asked the officer what he thought Lewis meant, Showan said in complete seriousness, to "kill white people."
"Deliberately or accidentally, the undercover officers misinterpreted hyperbolic jokes as literal statements of belief," said Kalin Stacey, a community organizer, friend and supporter of the defendants. "This undercover case highlights the incentive for undercovers to ensure that charges are laid."