Railway tracks twisted from last year's flooding sit south of High River, Alta., on Tuesday April 1, 2014
Credits: Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency
The more that comes to light about the RCMP’s High River gun grab following last spring’s devastating flooding in southern Alberta, the more obvious it is the Mounties became obsessed with taking High Riverites’ guns. Rescuing people was secondary to breaking into homes without warrants and stripping the populous of their legal firearms.
It would appear that the incident is a tragic abuse of police powers against law-abiding citizens.
Through the exemplary work of independent firearms researcher Dennis Young, we already know that police broke into twice as many High River homes after the emergency had ended as they did while flood waters were still coursing through town.
The Highwood River overran its banks in High River early on the morning of June 21, just after midnight on the 20th .
Through access to information requests filed by Young, we learned earlier this year that by June 23, the RCMP thought the immediate crisis was over. This was an assessment shared by the units of the Canadian armed forces that were assisting the Mounties with search and rescue.
On June 24, High River RCMP reported to their bosses in Edmonton that they had completed their search of every home in town, 3,337 in all. There were still about 300 people living in the town of 13,000, despite the province’s mandatory evacuation order. But other than that, everything seemed calm.
That same day, units of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry from Edmonton were requesting a return home since there was “no further danger to civilians (life and limb) and evacuations not requested.”
All 31 people rescued by police and the military seem to have been plucked from their homes within the first 24 hours. Then things slowly settled down.
So how come Mounties felt the need to kick in nearly 1,300 doors after June 24, nearly double the number (674) they had kicked down in the first four days of flooding? The logical answer is that they had stopped looking for stranded survivors and had, instead, started focusing on disarming the civilian population.
Indeed, new documents just uncovered by Young show that Mounties kept seizing guns up until July 10, nearly three full weeks after the flood and more than two weeks after the first evacuees had been given the all-clear to return to their homes.
This information makes a mockery of the Mounties’ insistence that they only took firearms they encountered by coincidence. They claimed to take only those firearms they noticed “in plain sight” while they were in homes searching for survivors.
But nearly half the guns they seized, they seized on their second trip to most homes after they had been in them once already and determined there were no survivors cowering inside.
And as Young discovered last week in police records, Mounties also confiscated several pellet guns, bows and arrows, crossbows, “musket powder” and “2 bayonets.”
Apparently, in addition to concerns about retaliation by angry homeowners, Mounties also seemed paranoid about uprisings by Boy Scouts, First Nations, medieval Flemish yeomen, British Redcoats and Imperial Japanese infantry circa 1941.
Good thing they didn’t locate any disruptors or blowguns, so they didn’t also have to be on the lookout for Klingons or indigenous Kuna warriors from South America.
Want more proof of Mountie misbehaviour?
According to residents, members kicked in doors in neighbourhoods that had no flood damage: no water in the basement; no power, gas or sewer outages. There was no chance people needed rescuing in those homes. But doors were kicked down and guns take anyway.
It would appear that this was a despicable incident in which our trusted national police force far overstepped its powers, even in an emergency.