If you have been keeping track you may have noted that some significant officers of the Executive rank of the RCMP have decided that now is a good time to get out of Dodge. Maybe most noteworthy is Kevin Brosseau the Deputy Commissioner, who was in the running for the Commissioners job; and a couple of months ago another Deputy Commissioner, Joanne Crampton, announced her retirement. She too had been in the running for the job of Commissioner. So both have announced their departure after they were jumped over in terms of rank, by the eventual winner of the Commissioner sweepstakes by Goodale friend Ms. Lucki. In Ottawa, where the Peter Principle seems to run freely and where nepotism is of second nature, one would have to assume that both saw the writing on the wall, that the ultimate brass ring was now officially out of reach.
Meanwhile, out on the West Coast, another darling of the political identity movement, Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr has also announced her retirement as head of E Divsion. She too was rumoured to be in the running for the Commissioners job and according to some reports was in effect the front runner. Many speculated that the person who was once trumpeted by the Vancouver Sun as a “trail-blazing First Nations leader” saw the grass growing greener on the other side of the political fence, time to put the resume to monetary use.
It is not unusual of course for people to depart, especially when most have a furtive eye on lucrative second jobs, and ex Mounties seem to have a knack for not wanting to retire, and often have ambitions of joining Canada’s 10% economic elite.
To accomplish this they seem to have developed the ability, like “Bumblebee”, to morph into jobs where their lack of expertise does not hinder their aspirations. There are many examples, such as Bill Blair who mysteriously found a new calling in the marihuana industry as a preamble to launching a political career with the Liberals; Julian Fantino, former Chief of the Toronto Police Service who once called the legalizing of marihuana equivalent to the legalizing of murder; and a former West Vancouver Police Chief, the illustrious Kash Heed, who never saw a camera he didn’t like, or a podium he didn’t want to stand on, has also been advising the marihuana industry for years.
Ms. Butterworth-Carr not letting any grass grow under her feet, has joined the ranks of the disaffected and announced her new 2nd job as the incoming Deputy Minister and Director of Police Services for the Province in Victoria; replacing Clayton Pecknold. Needless to say, she has raised a few eyebrows, and concerns about this possible conflict of interest.
Ms Butterworth-Carr was not in her current role as the titular head of the RCMP in British Columbia very long, only have taken the job with great fanfare in March 2017. So she has been in her current top post for two years, maybe long enough to get a cup of coffee at the in-house Green Timbers Tim Hortons, but clearly not enough time to undertake any initiatives of significance.
Her CV is replete with First Nations references and the requisite buzz phrases: “strategic planning” “coaching” “mentoring” and the always suspect assignments of community policing, employee safety and crime prevention. It is therefore fair to question her qualifications for the job as deputy minister where she will be “superintending” policing in the Province, “establishing Provincial Policy standards” and “inspecting and reporting on the quality of police services”, amongst and including the municipal police agencies.
Between her anticipated pension and her new salary, an educated guess will put her pension and salary income over $300,000.00. Clearly she will be joining the select few with a combined salary as much as the Chief of Vancouver City Police and far in excess of any other police chief in the Lower Mainland.
But qualifications and exorbitant compensation aside, what is more curious is both the timing and obvious conflict of interest in this appointment.
During her brief tenure, she saw the City of Surrey vote to pronounce that they are going to go to a Municipal force, a major move which must have sent some shock waves even to the often seemingly disconnected Ottawa RCMP establishment.
As Professor Rob Gordon of Simon Fraser University has said this move by Butterworth-Carr has left him “astounded by the bravado with which they have gone ahead and done this”. What he is referencing is that the City of Surrey must submit a plan to the Province to leave the RCMP, which will need the approval of Mike Farnworth the current Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. An advisor to this application will be none other than Butterworth-Carr in her new role, the former RCMP spokesperson and defender of the Surrey RCMP.
To be fair, Butterworth-Carr has never said she disagreed with the people of Surrey a possible indication that she is at least politically savvy enough to avoid the obvious pitfalls. However, since the election in Surrey, she has clearly been directed or taken her own initiative to show and demonstrate how the RCMP, in her opinion is doing an exemplary job in Surrey.
There was evidence of this public defence during a bizarre interview with Global news. She along with Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs and Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett presented themselves saying they wanted to speak to the Forces “successes and challenges”. So on December 17, 2018 the three sat, looking uncomfortable, to clearly try and curtail the buzz over the election in Surrey and all the negative news which has been circling the RCMP over the last several months.
They clearly were not prepared despite this interview being by their request. When asked what were the big successes in 2018 Ms. Butterworth-Carr pointed to the “technological advancement” of the RCMP; that they were “piloting digital evidence” and “advancing interactions with Crown”.
If that wasn’t head scratching enough, they promised they were going to be more “tenacious with the social media environment” and they were going to “get out in front of news stories”. They said that the RCMP needs a “progressive culture” and that they were working at improving the “workplace culture”.
Of course the Global news anchor recognizes government nonsense patter when she hears it, so she then asked about the Lemaitre inquiry. Ms. Butterworth-Carr said that she was not in “a position to respond to that”. There was no follow up question, so it was never asked why the head of the RCMP for the entire Province would not be in a position to respond to this issue. The RCMP have been perfecting for many years the old dodge and hide but this defied normal logic.
When asked about the Surrey election and the move to go to a municipal police force she said that it would be up to her Federal and Political masters (she of course did not mention that she was heading over to be one of the politicos -a fact that at the time of the interview must have been known to her)
She did say that the RCMP is “delivering an exceptional service”, which she also had mirrored in an internal memo to her RCMP brothers and sisters saying that there had been “great work done by the RCMP”.
Near the end of the interview, as if he had been jabbed under the table, Mr. Hackett then jumped in to this fragmented interview, with the observation that in travelling the Province with Mr. Stubbs they had noted that there was a lot of “positivity out there”.
So there you have it, the three top Mounties in the Province and their take on the current political and criminal climate in British Columbia. Is there any wonder this group is in trouble or that Ms. Butterworth-Carr is bailing out? With their promises to meet with Crown more often and maybe sending their files in PDF rather than on discs, the RCMP officers watching this display must have felt positively giddy about the future.
It was a glaring example of the total lack of leadership in the RCMP. From top to bottom there is a shortage of principled, dynamic, and informed leadership. Maintaining the status quo, doing the same thing over and over again and but expecting different results and expecting the general membership to fall in line, is in fact the sign of insanity,
The system is such that the commissioned officers of the RCMP need to comply with and be part of an accepted creed of conformity to government and political needs, and they literally spend hundreds of hours playing the system, learning the new terminologies, and gaming the new political identities.
But just once, you would hope that someone arrives at a higher level, with some vision of the future, with some solutions to the pressing problems, and with some ability to communicate that vision. Just once, you would like to see some of them stay around long enough to enact that commitment. Just once, you would like to see someone turn down the rolls of money being wafted tantalizingly under their noses because of their inflated sometimes conjured resumes, and instead hang around long enough to have some success.
This group needs to spend less time on LinkedIn, more time on honesty and integrity, and less time echoing their political masters. In the wise words of Sir Winston Churchill, “kites rise highest against the wind, not with it”.
Leaders become leaders when they step forward and only when they are accepted by their followers. The RCMP is in desperate need of a leader unencumbered or enamoured by trappings or future benefits.
In terms of Ms. Butterworth-Carr and the announcement of her new job, the management of the RCMP and the NDP lead government will likely put on their blinders once again ignoring the obvious conflict and maybe a little jealous of her financial windfall. The police rank and file will resignedly shrug their shoulders, give a ‘told you so’ smirk, and carry on, as there is no other choice.
Potter Stewart, a former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court said, that “ethics is the difference between what you have the right to do, and what is right to do”. Sadly, there seems to be no one in the upper echelons of the RCMP or in the current B.C. government that seems to understand that distinction.
Photo Courtesy of DVIDSHUB via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved