Documents reveal that former NDP Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips was monitored by Lethbridge police in a fishing expedition for information to attack her because she had proposed environmental policies that they were personally opposed to. There is also a report that there was a plan to drug her in a local bar. This kind of behaviour needs to be strongly disciplined because if there are no or weak consequences when it is discovered, it will fuel even more of this kind of activity, of which I am sure there are numerous other examples not yet out in the open. Furthermore, with the police tending strongly towards right-wing ideology and governments, most of those unjustifiably monitored, whether politicians or not, are on the left. I also suspect environmentalists to be a top target. A friend of mine was banned from the US during the Trump era with his only problem being he had done a PhD in environmental physics and spoken about the risks of global warming.
Over the last four years, Lethbridge NDP MLA Shannon Phillips has had suspicions that some members of the southern Alberta city's police force have been monitoring her. A cache of newly released documents shows she was right.
Back in 2017, when Phillips was Alberta's environment minister, Lethbridge police officers took surreptitious photographs of her at a diner and posted them anonymously on the internet. But Phillips believed there was additional evidence she was being watched. So in August 2020, she put in a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (known as FOIP) on herself and the Lethbridge Police.
The result, which she received late last year, was 9,308 pages on a compact disc. Almost all of it is blacked out in full or in part, but the several hundred unredacted pages released and viewed exclusively by CBC News contain startling revelations.
Over the course of 11 months in 2018, Phillips's name was searched eight times by five different police officers, one of whom is now retired, as well as one civilian employee.
Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Monday afternoon that he was "outraged" by the report, and the fact that it happened "to an elected official is even more disturbing." Madu said that "the men and women of law enforcement possess a great deal of power, and all Albertans should be outraged when that power is abused." The minister said he would be meeting with Lethbridge's chief of police and the chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission on Tuesday to discuss the matter. ...
The searches revealed in the FOIP request were "a fishing expedition, for reasons of snooping or wanting to engage in gossip," Phillips said in a recent interview with CBC News. "There is no reason associated with the search in those records." The FOIP request also revealed that a complainant told police they believed Phillips was meant to be drugged at a Lethbridge bar in 2016 — an allegation that police never shared with Phillips. ...
The records indicate that:
- On Jan. 9, 2018, Phillips's name was searched by civilian employee Alyson Dunsmore and one police file was accessed.
- On Feb. 9, 2018, now-retired Const. Ross Bond searched Phillips's name three times and opened two police files with Phillips's name.
- On March 5, 2018, Const. Joel Odorski searched Phillips's name and opened one police file.
- That same day, Deputy Chief Scott Woods and Staff Sgt. Peter Christos also searched Phillips's name and opened police files.
- On Nov. 29, 2018, Const. Derek Riddell searched Phillips's name and opened a "person entry," which means he did not access a specific police file.
Both Woods and Christos are associated with the Professional Standards Unit, but Lethbridge Police will not confirm if there was an active investigation that required them to access Phillips's records. There is no investigative or professional standards purpose listed in the documents. ...
Michael Bates, Phillips's lawyer, wondered just how far the information obtained in the searches might have gone. "If they were [done] for a personal reason, a non-law enforcement reason, what happened with the information? Where was it spread? How did it get used?" Bates said he hopes the ASIRT investigation tracks what exactly was done with Phillips's personal information. "Those are really key, important pieces to try and get to the bottom of." The searches of Phillips's name are not the only explosive details the documents revealed. While going through the documents, Phillips was chilled by a March 2016 complaint made to police by a person whose name was redacted. The person told police that six days prior, they believed they had been "drugged while drinking at the Owl Bar," a reference to a popular pub in Lethbridge. ...
Phillips said she wasn't told anything about the alleged drugging. Despite being listed as a complainant on the police report, she only learned of the unsettling allegations while combing through the documents released to her under FOIP. "So this was March of 2016 that this evidently happened," said Phillips. "I'm listed as a witness in the police report and I find out about it on December 8th, 2020?"