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Lessons Learned From APEC

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 64 Issue: 1 Dated: 2002 Pages: 7-9
Jolene Bradley
Date Published
3 pages
This article details the results of events that took place at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference in Vancouver in November 1997.
The event was attended by a number of high-ranking delegates from throughout the Asia Pacific Region, and resulted in numerous demonstrations where police and protesters clashed. Some of the protests turned violent and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was forced to take action. Some protestors deemed this action as excessive. This event was the first in an on-going series of international events characterized by increasing challenges to public safety and security. In response to 52 complaints against the RCMP, the Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) announced a hearing on three issues: the events at APEC, the appropriateness of the RCMP conduct, and whether such conduct amounted to a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The CPC is an independent Federal agency established to review in a fair and impartial manner public complaints about the conduct of RCMP members. During the hearing, critics and the media focused on issues such as the conduct of RCMP members and the alleged suppression of the rights of protestors. The Commissioner of the RCMP reviewed the recommendations and conclusions of the hearings. Errors that were made at APEC were identified in the areas of command structures, role separation, policy and planning, training, legal support, record keeping, and overall preparedness. It was recommended that when the RCMP is called upon in the future to police public order events, the leadership ensures that peaceful protectors have the opportunity to be seen in their protest activities by the guests to the event; the RCMP meet and work with protest group leaders in advance of the event; and the RCMP remain independent from the government according to certain principles. Other recommendations were allowing a private area to be used for the conduct of searches; keeping the CPC apprised of the Force’s continuing progress on these recommendations; and making further efforts to console those that were adversely affected by police conduct.