Documents obtained by The Canadian Press through a freedom of information request, revealed that the RCMP spent $900,000 in overtime pay during a five-month investigation into terrorist activity in Canada.
According to the document, Canada’s Mounties paid approximately $911,090.54 to 200 people, mostly police, for their part in Operation “Project Souvenir”, an investigation that culminated in the arrest of common-law spouses John Nuttall and Amanda Korody for their part in planning to blow up the B.C. legislature on Canada Day 2013.
Despite this, Nuttall and Korody have still yet to be convicted for their crimes with their defense claiming that the couple had been manipulated by police into allegedly placing their “pressure-cooker” bombs on the property.
Further, the defense has portrayed the victims as poor, recovering meth-addicts before the courts which is a departure from the Crown cases which argues that the couple had embraced a radical form of Islam and were allegedly ready to kill “infidels”.
All-in-all, the operation itself had over 240 police officers cooperating with Operation Souvenir, with the majority of the over time, some $519,039, being spent on 100 constables working the case.
In addition, 30 corporals received $128,369.76 and 24 sergeants received $69,494.65 for their part in the investigation as well as the Vancouver Police Department which received over $92,397 for their part in Project Souvenir.
Despite the request being issued via the freedom of information request, the overall cost of the operation was still not provided, as well as the specifics of which officer by rank worked how many specific hours for the case.
In light of this and several other cases in the past in which the RCMP spent vast sums of money in overtime pay, it seems reasonable that this issue will gain more public attention and could even have an impact on the drafting of legislation that specifically addresses overspending.
“Here, the concern very much is that all of this money may have been wasted because police may have overstepped an ethical mark about encouraging people to do things,” stated Rob Gordon, professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.
Gordon said “If they’re encouraging them, what was the purpose? The answer to that is, well, to get a conviction: to show that they’re doing something about terrorism issues.”
“That’s a cynical view,” he added.
To-date, there are more undercover operations being conducted currently than in the past decade, leading to the government coming under pressure to be proactive in the war against terror. According to Gordon, this pressure is being passed on directly to police agencies.
A 2014 report from Human Rights Watch that focused on the apparent “Illusion of Justice” present within the USA, stressed the risk of counter-terrorism operations currently targeting vulnerable people and those who are allegedly seeking “spiritual guidance”, both arguments that Nuttall and have raised in their own defense.