Police Agents Provocateurs in Quebec?
On the 20th of August 2007, during the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) Summit at Montebello in Quebec, three police officers of the Sûreté du Québec were caught on video posing as protesters, each dressed in black with masks covering their faces. One officer, later identified as Sergeant Jean-Francois Boucher,* was carrying a sizeable rock in his hand. According to Dave Coles, President of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), who is seen in the video confronting the officers and insisting that Sergeant Boucher put down the rock, the three men were acting as agents provocateurs.
Initially, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Sûreté du Québec denied that the men were police officers, but three days later (after the video footage had been posted on YouTube) the Sûreté du Québec changed its mind and released a statement admitting that the three were indeed undercover members of their police force. Nevertheless, the Sûreté du Québec insisted that the men had committed no offence, explaining that "at no time did the police… act as instigators or commit criminal acts" and that "it is not in the police force's policies, nor its strategies, to act in that manner"; to which assurances the Quebec Police Ethics Committee added that the men's official task had been to "melt into the crowd to identify the perpetrators of crime and stop them."
But, as professor Stephen Kimber points out,** how plausible are such denials when the previous denial was obviously untrue? And what I would like to know is: If it was the officers' job to "melt into the crowd" - which by all accounts was protesting peacefully - why carry a rock?
"Police provcocateurs stopped by union leader at anti SPP protest"
(Please be aware that this video contains language that might offend.)
CBC News coverage shortly after the event
Sûreté du Québec admits the men were officers, but denies they acted illegally
Information drawn from the following sources:
- "Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello", CBC News (23 August 2007)
- *Tim Groves, "Questions Persist about Provocateurs at SPP Summit", The Dominion (30 March 2011)
- **Stephen Kimber, "Montebello Mistake : When Plausible Denial Becomes Impossible", StephenKimber.com (30 August 2007)