On Wednesday, CBC News reported that a surveillance notebook had been misplaced and later found at the former home of RCMP Const. Shane Busch.
The notebook contained daily observations of the comings and goings, as well as photographs, of suspects in the Surrey Six gangland slaying investigation.
It also revealed that Busch, who was an undercover surveillance officer with the Special O team, was tracking a number of other people between December 2008 and July 2009, including UBC neuroscientist Chris Shaw.
Shaw was a vocal anti-Olympic activist in the years leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
According to an entry dated May 27, 2009, the RCMP followed Shaw from a home in North Vancouver to a nearby park where he walked his dog with an “unidentified female,” a “black dog” and a “small child.”
Busch watched him from 9:30 a.m. PT until 4 p.m. that day.
‘I find that very threatening’
CBC News contacted Shaw in Paris, where he is currently on sabbatical.
When told he was being watched by the same officer who was shadowing major criminal suspects including the alleged Surrey Six killers, he said: “I find that very offensive. I find that very threatening.”
Shaw said he suspected he was being watched at the time.
"We weren't paranoid, we weren't conspiracy theorists, we weren't making this stuff up,” Shaw said.
At the time, a spokesperson for the 2010 Integrated Security Unit told a newspaper reporter that “there is nothing covert or surreptitious about what we are doing.… We are not tailing or following anyone. This is not surveillance."
Concerns over RCMP ‘surveillance’
Rob Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, said the notebook’s revelations were "troubling."
"This really does smack, I hate to use the phrase, smack of a police state," Gordon said.
"British Columbians should be disturbed to think that those engaged in legitimate political opposition or who are organizing it or deemed to be organizing it are going to be subject to RCMP surveillance."
Micheal Vonn, policy director with the BC Civil Liberties Association, said the RCMP’s actions were unacceptable.
"That kind of chill is incredibly dangerous for a democracy, and to pretend that it strikes at anything other than the heart of democracy is ludicrous."
Vonn said the BCCLA received reports from other political dissidents who said they were being watched or followed.
"My concern really is with people who are trying to exercise their charter right to dissent, to oppose a government agenda or government policy," Shaw said.
"They’re going to find themselves facing the exact same thing. This will go on until people decide to stop it."
The RCMP would not comment on its surveillance of Shaw.
"We do not typically confirm or deny whether an investigation is, or was, taking place," RCMP spokesman Rob Vermeulen told CBC News.
"This is done not only to protect the integrity of our investigations, but also to protect individuals that may be subject to a police investigation where no charges are laid."