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Militarized Police from Coast to Coast

An Open Letter and a request for info about RCMP Tactical Armoured Vehicles

by Dianne Varga Dominion Stories

One of the RCMP Tactical Armoured Vehicles deployed across Canada. Photo: RCMP.
One of the RCMP Tactical Armoured Vehicles deployed across Canada. Photo: RCMP.

Also posted by DVarga:

Dear VMC and Media Co-op readers: I'm looking into this issue elsewhere and would appreciate hearing from you if you have information about the location of the other tactical armoured vehicles (TAVs) deployed across Canada.  Likewise, please get in touch if you have your own concerns about their deployment or if you want to organize to try to have them removed from Canadian communities.


Sent: March 17, 2013

Subject: RCMP Tactical Armoured Vehicles
Importance: High

Dear Minister Toews,

One of the 18 MXT tactical armoured vehicles (TAVs) commissioned by the RCMP was delivered to Kelowna some six weeks ago.  My concerns about this are numerous.

First, as the managing editor of one of our local newspapers put it, do we really need a quasi-military vehicle here in the Okanagan that’s one step below that which troops use in Afghanistan?  This is not hyperbole – the MXT platform is currently in operation in Afghanistan with the British Army.  U.S. Defense reporter Sydney J. Freedberg has pointed out that before roadside bombs and guerrilla ambushes made even supply convoys a combat operation, the military could use unarmoured trucks.  What is it about contemporary police operations in Canada, or police operations that are imagined across the 15-year expected lifespan of these vehicles, that justify the purchase of armoured vehicles?

At the RCMP webpage that describes the model of TAV that was procured, it makes no mention of roadside bombs or guerrilla ambushes.  It says that possible scenarios for use include hostage takings, armed standoffs, barricaded persons and search and rescue operations.  Across Canada, has there been any difficulty handling such scenarios using only unarmoured vehicles?

It’s certainly the case that if or when Kelowna has experienced situations of hostage takings, armed standoffs, barricaded persons or search and rescue operations, we’ve been able to handle the situations without a TAV.  Actually, my friend the managing editor can’t remember there even having been any hostage takings, armed standoffs or barricaded persons.  Why does Kelowna need a TAV now? 

Drilling down, where exactly are all 18 of these TAVs to be stationed, and what was the criteria for determining that a particular location needed one?  Did Kelowna meet any special criteria that other locations did not?

A second concern of mine is that these quasi-military vehicles are custom built, signifying additional cost.  “We could not use just any vehicle,” stated RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson in a press release. “We needed a very specifically designed, multi-use armoured vehicle tailored to the unique needs of a national police force in Canada.”  What were the particular needs of a national police force in Canada that could not be met by any armoured personnel carrier currently sold on the open market?

A third concern is that these vehicles were built by an American company in Mississippi.  An RCMP webpage says that the contract was competitively sourced.  Can you please tell me why a Canadian company was not selected to manufacture these vehicles?  In addition, if procurement of these vehicles and the various possible sources were debated in parliament, can you please point me to the relevant Hansard pages? 

When examining different sources, was the American LENCO G3 BearCat armoured vehicle considered?  For your convenience, I note that in 2009, the Ottawa Police Service approved the purchase of that far more developed police vehicle, featuring remote weapons system, radiation detection, thermal imaging, night vision (the Navistar MXT has ‘50s-era infrared night lighting), battering ram, CBRNE readiness (protection against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives), and high lift – for $341,147 CDN, less than half the price of the Navistar MXT.

Of course, the cost of the Navistar vehicles, more than $14 million USD for all 18 of them or $778,879 USD each, is a major concern of mine.  I noticed with the TAV delivered to Halifax that the province was contributing 70 per cent of the cost and the federal government, 30 per cent.  Who is paying $778,879 USD – or, putting it another way, who is paying $51,866.66 on average per year for the next 15 years – for the TAV that was delivered to Kelowna?

I look forward to your response to these questions. 

In closing, I want to express the horror I feel at having a vehicle like this introduced to our community.  Instead of feeling safe or safer, I’m afraid this vehicle will be used because, to adapt Bill Clinton’s rationale, we can.  In this era when Canadian security and police agencies have been conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organise petitions, protest and question government policies, according to Jeffrey Monaghan of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University in Ontario, and when those same agencies have been viewing protests and opposition to Canada's resource-based economy, especially oil and gas production, as threats to national security, I’m even more afraid that this quasi-military vehicle will be monstrously misused.

Dianne Varga
Kelowna, BC

Sent: March 29, 2013

Subject: RE: RCMP Tactical Armoured Vehicles
Importance: High

Just following up here, Mr. Toews.  I look forward to your answers to my questions in my letter of March 17, as do many readers of the Kelowna Daily Courier, where the same was published as an open letter. 

You may be interested in knowing that the Daily Courier is running an online poll asking the question:  Do you think Kelowna needs an armoured police vehicle?  84.4 per cent of respondents have answered ‘No’.

In addition, two days ago citizens of Kelowna met to discuss the future of policing in our city after the retirement of Detachment Commander McKinnon on March 28, 2013.  A community declaration will be produced detailing the expectations of residents with respect to the priorities of law enforcement as a community function.  I have asked that a clause be introduced to the declaration requesting that the Tactical Armoured Vehicle be removed from our community as it is something we are not comfortable with and don’t think we need or can afford. 

Thank you.

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Sweet ride!

This kind of thing makes a great case study for how police budgets are drawn up and "justified". I don't need to be any more cynical about bloated security spending but for anybody who does, cops with tanks (in Kelowna of all places) neatly captures the mindset of law enforcement. Spend spend spend on fancy toys like a bunch of gleeful kids who found their dad's credit card and bought ninja swords and nightvision goggles for sci-fi combat scenarios from their wet dreams. Just keep giving blank cheques to these idiots until they kill somebody out of sheer boredom. 

I mean, we're talking about overgrown children (the cops I mean) giggling because tanks are cool. They practically fondle this thing every time they take it out on a training exercise, you know they do. They pose for pictures next to it and fight over who gets to drive. I'm a huge nerd with spare time and testosterone too so I get it, I really do.

I hope the cop who periodically has to skim-read this website at least gets a chuckle from this post because YOU KNOW I'M RIGHT ... fuckers ....


In need

Prince George, BC needs all it can get to fight off these nut cases. 

attack vehicles bought by tax payers to be used against them

and why do you think he bought them ?? after provoking all of the needing people and first nations he knows it is going to back fire on them and he stirred and sowed enuf wind and hardship to harvest a hellstorm on his ass so he needs crowd control when is he going to get impeached what is going on with the opposition anyone giving a !@#$ anymore????????????????????anything  against use of unnecessary force used come to anybody's mind??It is military vehicles used against the people do we  have an act in our laws  that states  no military should be used against its own population ????????

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