Ottawa Reoccupation and State Repression – Against Snitch-Jacketing!

Recent confirmation of state surveillance of pro-Indigenous sovereignty mobilization by mainstream media have raised a lot of concerns among activists in Ottawa and elsewhere. What we have learned so far is that the federal police forces, the RCMP, were actively spying on the anti-colonial Reoccupation mobilization around Canada Day this year, both while it was being planned and while it was occurring, and that they reportedly singled out the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP) and the Revolutionary Student Movement (MER-RSM) as noteworthy among the active participants of the mobilization. While this isn’t the first time the RCMP reveals its close monitoring of both anti-colonial Indigenous and co­mmunist organizers, and while we were only shown a small glimpse of what the secret report says, this confirmation has led to mounting worries about the presence of RCMP informants. In turn, the revelation has been seized on by other skeptical activists who hold hostile views towards communism to slander PCR-RCP and MER-RSM directly, through the accusation that a supporter affiliated to one of the groups must have leaked information, allowing the RCMP to prepare itself for the planned physical occupation of the hill around Canada Day. In this statement we will share our insight on the suspicions of police surveillance and respond to the allegations involving our organization and supporters.

As revolutionary communists who seek to dismantle this colonial prison-house of nations that is Canada and overthrow the capitalist ruling class, we of course expect to come up against the armed repression and surveillance of the Canadian state. This state is the ultimate rampart of capitalist and colonial order in this land, and it will throw all its force and use all the dirty tricks at its disposal to beat back attempts to overthrow it, including without surprise the use of secret intelligence. The PCR-RCP, through its branches across the country as well as its pre-party incarnations, has grown familiar with the array of repressive tactics, and this latest revelation comes as no surprise. In more than one occasion, intelligence officials have raised their deep concern that a united movement of Indigenous liberation forces and revolutionary anti-capitalists could pose a serious threat to the integrity of the Canadian state. As such, Reoccupation, as well as the wider movement to oppose the colonial Canada 150 celebrations, was certainly closely monitored from the beginning.

It is worth noting that the use of informants by the RCMP in the Indigenous sovereignty movement in Ottawa in particular has been observed before. The Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement, for instance, has publicly revealed the infiltration work of an agent active within its organization a few years ago. The mobilization against the G2O Summit in Toronto in 2010, which took on an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist character, was also later revealed to have been extensively monitored, infiltrated and partially disrupted by multiple levels of police forces across Ontario. As such, it is safe, and even essential, to assume that there are police agents active in our environment. In order to counter this, we need to learn lessons from the past, understand the full implications of infiltration and respond in a cohesive manner that maintains, and reinforces, the revolutionary people’s front that the state is seeking to destroy.

It is important in particular to understand the tactic of snitch-jacketing, which is in effect being deployed by individuals hostile to the PCR-RCP and MER-RSM, and to understand also its historical importance in bringing down some of the most important revolutionary movements of the capitalist era. Snitch-jacketing is a classical tool of the repressive state apparatus, which consists of laying false accusations of snitching at one or more militants in order to sow division within a movement. The classic examples consist of the tactics employed by the FBI in the United States to repress the revolutionary organizations arising from the civil rights movement, particularly those rooted among the oppressed and colonized peoples, such as the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. One of the FBI’s most effective measures was to plant agents within those organizations and have them launch false accusations of snitching at its organizers; they would also take advantage of existing internal contradictions, based on ideological divergences and abuse of power with the goal to sow division and distrust, leading the organizations to collapse, often amid brutal internal and lateral violence.

Since then, the tactic of snitch-jacketing has taken on a life of its own, without having to be deployed by secret services. The distrust and paranoia caused in those organizations lives on to this day, effectively neutralizing experienced militants while also leaving behind many burnt bridges. Current uses of snitch-jacketing, first to target a specific supporter of our organization, and then against an unspecified number of people associated to us, is a dangerous and destructive tactic on the part of an individual who we feel is not considering its long-term ramifications in grassroot organizing. In these cases, snitch-jacketing must be treated as a serious threat to local anti-colonial and anti-capitalist movements. It not only fosters an immediate threat of violence against those targeted by it, but it also fosters a climate of distrust and paranoia in the wider left circles, while hindering efforts to identify and remove actual infiltrators.

With this said, let’s analyze the surveillance concerns surrounding Reoccupation. The argument used to attack the PCR-RCP supposes that information about the Reoccupation plan to take Parliament Hill in the days leading up to July 1st must have been leaked to the RCMP. This leak of information is what supposedly allowed for the RCMP to muster the forces that ended up blocking, harassing and arresting members of the crowd who was carrying the Teepee. In addition, the snitch-jacketer suggests that it was an individual from either the PCR-RCP or MER-RSM, offering no concrete evidence other than the fact that those organizations are named in the RCMP report. We will analyze here first how events unfolded around Reoccupation and then address what we perceive this snitch-jacketing effort to mean.

Available information do not support the accusation of a leak of details about Reoccupation. The article published by Vice on November 10th offers no actual information about intelligence the RCMP may have gotten their hands on and which one they have used to inform their tactical response. Further, and this needs to be emphasized, the plan to take over Parliament Hill for the duration of the action was announced publicly weeks in advance. Some Reoccupation organizers took to various media outlets and social media to discuss the plan, and the name given to the action itself was unambiguous. The action was also an answer to the call by Idle No More militants to mobilize across the country against the Canada 150 festivities and assert Indigenous sovereignty. Reoccupation was to be the Ottawa manifestation of the “UNsettling Canada 150: National Day of Action” campaign. In turn, the PCR-RCP and MER-RSM, after being approached to lend their support, publicly expressed its support weeks in advance before showing up the 4 days that it took place.

It is also worth pointing out that, in spite of all the prior information the feds may have gathered from the public announcements and possible alternative leaks, they were unable to prevent the success of the mobilization. Water protectors and their supporters made their way through and resisted hours of police efforts and violence to literally push the Teepee back and turn the people away from Parliament Hill. On the first night, Reoccupation organizers negotiated with the police to keep the Teepee in a corner of Parliament Hill, which was later moved to a better location. The ceremonies planned by the Bawating Water Protectors proceeded until the end of the Canada Day festivities. Reoccupation thus became a major focal point of the national movement seeking to undermine the colonial Canada 150 celebrations; it successfully centered the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty in their own terms while humiliating the Canadian state.

Given all this information, the scenario mounted by the snitch-jacketers does not stand. While the possibility of infiltration itself remains realistic and needs to be carefully studied, we have no evidence of an actual information leak like the one that was suggested, and no reason to believe the RCMP had specific inside knowledge to allow them to prepare adequately for the action if they wanted to nip it in the bud. We also have to remember that only a small glimpse of what is written in their report was made available to the public, through a mainstream media outlet, which means that we should remain cautious with speculation, at least until a more complete picture is available.

What seems clear amidst all of this is that a critic of the PCR-RCP is using these revelations, spinning them with his own interpretations and interspersing his accusations with his own political criticisms of communists, to create a well-worn image of antagonistic enemies of the movement. While the PCR-RCP and MER-RSM were singled out in the RCMP report because they are flagged as a particular concern for the Canadian state, and have been for years, yet this information is now used to isolate the PCR-RCP and MER-RSM further. This action is one out of many that unfortunately contributes to the mounting neoliberal convergence between the Canadian state and the NGO-academic complex.

In short, the accusations leveled at the PCR-RCP are unprinciple­d and bogus; they only serve the narrow short-sighted interests of individuals who have casted communism as the enemy, a division that conveniently works in favour of the colonial and capitalist state. The fight against informants is real and is best served by principled and accountable organizing; it will also require a relentless struggle against gossiping, rumour-mongering and organizing based on affinity cliques and individualistic goals. We strive to pursue this to the best interest of all oppressed peoples and will not let slide any attempts at snitch-jacketing revolutionaries and coopting liberation movements.

With regards to resolving the interpersonal conflict that erupted with this controversy, we respect the Indigenous tradition on this land and will defer to a process of their own choosing. For the sake of revolutionary organizing and resisting state repression however, we call on all organizations to be vigilant of snitch-jacketers and to engage with them accordingly until they no longer represent such a security risk.

The Canadian state has repeated time and time again how it fears the unity of the broader radical left and of the movements for Indigenous national liberation and self-determination. This unity of anti-capitalism and anti-colonialism, which can mean an authentic revolutionary movement, would shake Canada to its core. We hold true that revolution and the end of oppression here are necessarily bound up with the anti-colonial effort. If settler-colonialism is not destroyed, if Canada is not put to an end, if Indigenous nations do not have full and uncompromising self-determination, then capitalism and oppression will never go away from this land.

The Revolutionary Communist Party is dedicated to these principles and we have and will continue to put this into practice in spite of state repression. The revolutionary united front of workers and oppressed peoples is the most important task at hand and we are dedicated to upholding this united front against all adversaries that threaten it, be that the state or individuals. We will continue to uphold and support the struggles of Indigenous nations against settler-colonialism. We will actively provide as much support as our capacities allow and will continue to build those capacities and relations. In the end, our dedication to this revolutionary cause will reflect itself in our words and actions.

Endorsed by:

  • RCP
  • RSM uOttawa
  • RSM Carleton
  • Ottawa Against Fascism