Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Alex Hundert, one of 17 people accused of conspiracy to cause mayhem for last year's G20 summit, stands outside during a break in the preliminary hearings at the provincial courthouse in Etobicoke, Ont., on September 12, 2011. (Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail/Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail)
Alex Hundert, one of 17 people accused of conspiracy to cause mayhem for last year's G20 summit, stands outside during a break in the preliminary hearings at the provincial courthouse in Etobicoke, Ont., on September 12, 2011. (Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail/Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail)

How the undercover operations surrounding the G20 developed Add to ...

For a year and a half, undercover police officers Bindo Showan and Brenda Carey befriended activists in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, searching for people who might pose a threat to the G20 summit. The following chronology is based on court testimony by Const. Showan, a member of the anti-terrorism section of the Ontario Provincial Police’s intelligence bureau, and the recollections of some of those he and Const. Carey met.

More related to this story

November 18, 2008 -- A screening of Five-Ring Circus, an anti-Olympic movie, at the University of Guelph was Const. Showan’s first foray into the activist community. He went by the alias “Khalid Mohamed,” which he invented himself.

January 12, 2009 -- Const. Showan joined Land is More Important than Sprawl (Limits), a group opposing the construction of a business park on Hanlon Creek in Guelph, attending weekly meetings.

January 17, 2009 -- Const. Showan attended a conference at the University of Guelph organized by the Social Action Network, with workshops on rights and screen printing. Afterwards, he watched local musicians perform at the campus pub.

March 13, 2009 -- A fundraiser for a First Nations group, where Const. Showan said he first met Mandy Hiscocks, one of six people who pleaded guilty for encouraging mischief. Ms. Hiscocks also pleaded guilty for counselling people to obstruct a peace officer. Const. Showan said his mission was to “get to know the people, gauge the atmosphere and find out what was going on.”

April 20, 2009 -- Const. Showan rented an apartment in Guelph. One of his new acquaintances, whom he met the month before at a panel discussion with members of Limits and city council, helped him move in. Around this time, Constable Carey also turned up in Guelph, activists said, under the alias “Brenda Dougherty.” She told people that she was fleeing an abusive relationship.

June 6, 2009 -- Veteran activist Julian Ichim said he first got to know Const. Showan at the Hamilton Anarchist Bookfair. The two quickly developed a friendship based on ebullient personalities and, Mr. Ichim said, shared friction with student activists. He said Const. Showan showed him photos of a girl he said was his daughter from a previous relationship. He also demonstrated compassion for Mr. Ichim: “He was always concerned about my health, whether I was eating,” he said. “[He was]energetic, outgoing, sometimes he’d play the strong, silent type. He was a good listener.”

July 2, 2009 -- Const. Showan attended a talk by a member of the Grassy Narrows band in northern Ontario. He later said this is when he first met Alex Hundert.

Summer of 2009 -- Protesters camped out on the site of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, where some said “Khalid” seemed keen on damaging construction equipment and using other aggressive tactics. “He was always saying, ‘OK, what are we going to do that’s direct action?’” Kelly Pflug-Back recalled. “People would be sort of on the fence about it, but he would always be like, ‘No, no, no we have to go all the way.’” Some activists said Const. Showan exacerbated divides between some of the occupiers: “He...made friends with Julian and a couple of the other guys that weren’t white university activists and he started playing people off against each other, saying...‘these rich white students don’t really care,’” said Dan Kellar. On one occasion, Mr. Ichim said, Const. Showan accompanied him and other protesters to the home of the man who owned the construction company building the park, where activists read a letter asking that he stop work on the project. Two days later, Guelph police issued a media release warning against “attempts to intimidate.”

Fall of 2009 -- Const. Showan and Mr. Ichim picked up “Khalid’s” “cousin” at Pearson International Airport, then went to a Mississauga steakhouse for lunch. They discussed politics in India, impressing Mr. Ichim with their knowledge: “It was as if they knew exactly what to said,” he later recalled. Shortly after, Mr. Ichim took a job in Inuvik and Const. Showan, he said, tried to discourage him from going.

October to December, 2009 -- Protesters targeted the Olympic torch relay as it made its way through Southern Ontario. When activists held a rally in Kitchener, they said Const. Showan was at the front of the group, dressed in a clown costume and gas mask. Some activists also targeted businesses sponsoring the Olympics, such as the Royal Bank and McDonald’s, where they would run in, unfurl banners and give speeches.

Nov. 7, 2009 -- Activists hired a bus to drive to a march for First Nations in Brantford. Const. Showan sat next to lawyer Davin Charney, who tried to suss him out: “He was clean-cut,” Mr. Charney later recalled.

Nov. 12, 2009 -- Const. Showan said he became a member of Anti-War at Laurier, a student-based activist group. Members said he always offered up his van -- which he told people he used for his job, moving items for a dry-storage company in Kitchener -- for actions. He socialized often, attending movie nights and fundraisers at the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice and buying beer for activists at bars. Those who met him at the time said he wanted to plan actions and banner drops, but took little interest in other things activists were doing, like handing out free food. He also told them he could not get arrested, since his mother did not have status in Canada: “[He was]really friendly, talkative, but mainly trying to get conversations going more than adding useful information to them,” Mr. Kellar said. “He would just allow people to kind of go on more than he went on.”

January 2, 2010 -- Protesters travelled to Northern Ontario to block a bridge during the torch relay. They said Const. Showan drove them and was among eight people arrested at the side of the highway before the demonstration. They were released after half an hour.

Late winter/spring of 2010 -- Planning for the G20 summit kicked into high gear. Both Consts. Showan and Carey joined the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR) and the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN). At meetings, Mr. Kellar recalled, Const. Showan didn’t make many suggestions but scribbled in a yellow notebook. Around the same time, Const. Carey moved into a Guelph house with several activists. She was considered competent and professional, and Mr. Hundert later said he believed there was no question about the officer’s support for what activists call a ‘diversity of tactics.’ “She was right alongside the staunchest defenders that there would and should be property damage that will occur [during the summit]” said Mr. Hundert.

Early June, 2010 -- Const. Showan showed up to a spokes council -- a meeting for co-ordinating between various groups -- to which he wasn’t invited. This aroused suspicion and he was kicked out of SOAR soon after. According to activists, he became upset and said: “I helped plan this party and now I don’t get to attend it.” He continued to hang out with Mr. Ichim and his friends, who were organizing protests separately from SOAR.

June 23, 2010 -- After a protest on Monday of that week, Mr. Ichim returned to Kitchener to rest while Const. Showan stayed in Toronto. Mr. Ichim said he spoke over the phone with Const. Showan on Wednesday and the officer told him the protest that day went well. They made tentative plans to meet up Friday and Const. Showan left a voicemail that day, but they never connected, Mr. Ichim said.

June 25, 2010 -- Police obtained a judge’s authorization to record a final spokes council, and Const. Carey wore a wire to the meeting.

June 26, 2010 -- Starting before dawn, police rounded up many of the people Consts. Showan and Carey had been spying on. At 4:55 a.m., officers kicked down the door of Mr. Hundert’s house in west end Toronto, arresting him, Mandy Hiscocks and Leah Henderson. Shortly after, they arrived at a home in Roncesvalles Village where Peter Hopperton was staying. Others were arrested on the street throughout the day or turned themselves into police. They were all charged with conspiracy. Later that day, G20 protesters smashed windows and torched police cars in downtown Toronto. Within a few days, activists realized that “Khalid” and “Brenda” had been police officers.

August and November, 2011 -- First Mr. Kellar, and then Mr. Ichim were charged for posting information about the undercover police officers online. Mr. Ichim’s conspiracy charges had previously been dropped, five months after the summit.

Sept. 12, 2011 -- A preliminary inquiry began for the 17 remaining defendants.

Nov. 22, 2011 -- The case concluded. Six people pleaded guilty to counselling to commit mischief, two of them (Mr. Hundert and Ms. Hiscocks) were also convicted of counselling to obstruct police. Eleven others had all charges dropped. A publication ban on the undercover officers’ identities was lifted; Mr. Kellar and Mr. Ichim continue to face charges.

Follow on Twitter: @adrianmorrow

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories