Don’t look in the Microwave

Reams of paper flow down the Federal government pipeline, not often drawing any attention or comment. Regulations, policies, new legislation, amendments to old legislation, reports and findings by committees and oversight groups. They are for the most part ignored by the public, unless of course they touch upon current popular narratives: discrimination, racism, and Covid, topics which push all other stories aside. If you can find or elicit tears and find victims willing to reveal themselves you have the prescription for all the news and the tik tok’ing social mediums.

The recent report by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) into the Colten Boushie homicide investigation had all the ingredients to fill that thirty second vacuum of profound insight. Police wrong doing mixed with that witches brew of allegations of racism, is too heady a mixture for the scribes and pundits. Stir it up and feed it out in small doses. No relevance or examination required. The medium is now the message.

The ringing cries of racism in this country are predictable, commonplace, often formed around the flimsiest of circumstances and often supported by a warped historical interpretation. On almost every occasion it quickly and effectively prods the government of the Liberal and progressive left to jump into action or reaction. These outbursts of discrimination and racism spur the government into paroxysms of apologies and statements by the Prime Minister that “we need to do better”.  

For the messengers the ability to prove those accusations is secondary to achieving the reaction. We no longer demand authentication or even allow it. This latest report and the reporting of it is no different; further proof over how far we have fallen from the the factual record.

This latest government chronicle, took a total of 107 pages and over four years to produce. (the RCMP Senior Executive are almost equally culpable for the time expended— apparently it took on average 17 months for the RCMP HQ  to respond to a request for information from the Commission during this investigative period)

Like all government inquiries, if left unchecked, they tend to grow in size and scope with little prompting. This review was no exception. It grew to include whether or not there were any errors in the overall criminal investigation itself.

However, the headlining focus of the complaint and their inquiries came to focus on one particular day. It was on that day when the officers attended to the Baptiste/Boushie residence. That day the officers had a dual purpose; to both search for a missing, possibly armed and intoxicated suspect from the shooting, while at the same time notify Ms Baptiste of her son’s death. This large question took four years to investigate: did they discriminate against Ms. Baptiste during their twenty minute visit to the house and in performing these two uncomfortable tasks?  

The RCMP had already conducted its own internal investigation in December 2016. The results of that internal investigation were delivered to the family in October 2017. The family didn’t like the results, deemed it unacceptable, and then filed another complaint to the CRCC. The RCMP, undoubtedly due to the continuing indigenous cries of racism and discrimination and the need to relieve the political and  media pressure, then joined in the asking of the CRCC to review the matter. 

This writer blogged about the trial and Gerald Stanley’s subsequent acquittal on February 13, 2018 so there is no need to go over old ground. The written narrative of that blog was admittedly heated due to what was believed to be the outrageous reactions by our government to the verdict at the end of the case. Our Prime Minister and our then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, upon hearing the jury findings, quickly went on to  misstate the facts, blame shaming the jury, while also opining that there was a drastic need to change parts of the judicial system. “We needed to do better”. 

Those government reactions at the time of the trial were fuelled solely by a manufactured narrative. The Indigenous, and their legal and social representatives, once outside the courtroom and in the comforting arms of the media, contorted both the evidence of the case and the jury system to fit their cause. 

Now, the Indigenous and their usual support groups are back at the same old barricade. Now claiming that this latest CRCC report finally confirms all of their suspicions. Once again the facts on which they rely for their arguments are weak, their statements to the news media are spurious, and once again Mr. Trudeau is telling us “we must do better”. 

The CRCC report had forty-seven findings; and of those, twenty-five were ruled as having no errors or misconduct. In fact the report states that the police “were generally professional and reasonable”. That “arrests were lawful and reasonable”. That the “investigative team was adequately staffed” and that the interview of Mr. Stanley was reasonable”. 

Basically, they found “no discrimination except in talking to Mrs. Baptiste”. 

The allegations of discrimination after examining a lengthy investigation and court case according to the CRCC narrowed down to the 20 minutes at the Baptiste residence.

Before examining those minutes that according to family spokespersons “caused unnecessary suffering to his family” it is insightful to first look at the  comments about the actual investigation, so one can get a sense of the level of 2nd guessing that was replete throughout the report.

There were comments such as“interviewers failed to establish trust with the witnesses”. That they should have been made to “foster a state of mind that was conducive to witness cooperation”; after all the witnesses were “hungover, tired” and suffering from “trauma and shock”. The report ignores the fact that these individuals were also “suspects”, none of whom, suspiciously have ever faced charges. 

The CRCC was concerned that the Major Crime Unit who were traveling to a local hotel after completing their work should have attended that crime scene that night— where others were already in attendance— “to gain an appreciation of ongoing activities”. 

The Indigenous found especially egregious and the CRCC concurred was that the police attended to the “wake”. They were there to speak with Mrs. Baptiste and update her on the investigation and this was deemed “unreasonable”. This attendance, where the officers asked if they could speak with Mrs. Baptiste after she emerged from the funeral “disrupted their ability to enact their cultural protocol in relation to the death….where four days are needed and each day has its own meaning”.  

They report that there was an “unreasonable delay” in obtaining the search warrant. They feel in their report that a 12 hour delay in waiting for an experienced affiant was unacceptable. Having spent countless hours of my life waiting on search warrants and writing those search warrants this complaint is specious no matter how much one can relate. The precious irony here is that this group took four years to right a report but can not imagine a search warrant taking 24 hours.  

The primary evidence of a “botched” investigation that was often brought forward during the media conferences concerned the blood in the vehicle. The vehicle which contained only the blood of the victim, went uncovered and rain washed some of it away by the time the vehicle was examined by the Forensic Identification Section. Again, according to the CRCC this disturbed the ability of the “blood spatter” experts to be able to obtain crucial evidence they argued. 

In the best of circumstances the covering of the car could and should have been done. That would be normal operating procedure as the vehicle was part of a crime scene and there was going to be a delay in its eventual examination. But this has become the Indigenous “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” moment.  

Was it crucial to this case? No, not in the slightest.

The blood was that of the victim Colten Boushie.

The evidence of the case was that Boushie was shot as he was sitting in the vehicle. The blood spatter analysis would under the best of circumstances show the direction of travel and the proximity of the shooter. None of that was in doubt in this case. It was an already admitted set of circumstances and that is what the court ruled at the time in the case. That the case was mishandled is quite simply misstating the implication and facts of the blood found in the vehicle.

The toning down of the culpability of Boushie and the others is toned down throughout the report.They weren’t conducting an armed rural home invasion —which the case facts detail —they were merely “interacting with others vehicles”. Misguided youth “interacting” with the Stanley family. 

The CRCC brushed over the firearm in the vehicle, which they apparently accepted was going to be used for “hunting”. This firearm that had been stolen from a residence they were at previous to coming to the Stanley farm.

The CRCC constantly brushed over inconsistent statements by the witnesses, one of whom later even admitted to making a false statement.

The spokespersons for the Baptiste’s said that even the  RCMP media release at the time was biased. The release saying they had “entered private property” and thus painted Boushie as a “thief” and and “sowed discord in the community”.

Up to this point, there is little that could even constitute mention in any government report, let alone forced the Commissioner of the RCMP to agree with the conclusion that Baptiste was “racially discriminated” and that what happened later during the next of kin notification was “handled insensitively”

Evidence, in any case of discrimination is usually evidence that unless rebutted, would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact. In this case the police rebutted the evidence, but apparently the CRCC felt that the family and their seven witnesses was more believable than the thirty officers who also took notes. Even though the Crown at the time of the trial even warned the jurors that there were “contradictions” in the stories of the witnesses.

So it came down to this. The RCMP according to the CRCC “treated her (Ms. Baptiste) with such insensitivity that her treatment amounted to a prima facie case of discrimination”. (An interesting use of the legal term prima facie; which means, what something looks like on its face, or at first glance.) The CRCC stated their findings of discrimination were framed and influenced by “colonial assertions, stereotypes, and a troubled history of police and indigenous relations”. 

Chris Murphy’s version (the lawyer for the Baptiste’s in their ongoing civil suit against the RCMP), of what happened at the residence, sensing that this was his Johnny Cochrane moment, exclaimed that “they swarmed their house” and then “you search her home” and “you call her a drunk and you call her a liar”.  

Let’s deal with Mr. Murphys exclamations separately.

First the “swarming” consisted of seven officers attending to the residence, to look for an armed missing suspect. The cops needed to also advise Ms. Baptiste of her son’s death at the same time. Doing both tasks at the same time was an unusual set of circumstances, but also clearly unavoidable. To cover off all four sides of the house as well as search the residence. is unclear as what Mr. Murphy would consider a good number for such an event; three, four?

As to the second allegation that they called Ms. Baptiste a drunk. They did not, they asked if she had been drinking. There is a world of difference. 

If the person being advised of horrific news of a family members death, has in fact been drinking or is high, then the approach by the officer responsible needs to be nuanced. Any officer needs to be assured that the person receiving this information has all their faculties, can understand, and can absorb that horrible information.  If someone is intoxicated, another party or family member would have to be brought in and included in the conversation. You need to ask the question to assure comprehension if you have concerns about someone’s level of understanding, or their ability to cope with the situation.   

The liar allegation.

Ms. Baptiste upon their arrival said that she had been waiting for Colten to return for dinner; in fact she had put his dinner in the microwave. The officers discriminatory act according to the CRCC and Commissioner Lucki was to open the microwave and thus corroborate what she was saying. 

The CRCC doesn’t seem to comprehend, nor apparently does Commissioner Lucki, that Police need to confirm everything they hear and are told. Whether you are a witness or a suspect. Whether you be Irish, German, or from Mozambique, police do not take anything at face value and some minor observation like that may help to establish a time line or act as some corroboration of information already known. A good police officer believes no one at face value, cynicism is your bread and butter in the investigative world.  Every good officer falls back on the axiom, don’t believe anything you hear, or half of what you see.

So there is the prica facie case of the heinous deeds by the police which has prompted extensive CBC news coverage and the crying and the shouting of abuse and trauma. They asked if she had been drinking and they looked into her microwave. None of it had anything to do with the colour of her skin. We should also take this time to point out that some of the officers involved in this investigation self-identified as Indigenous themselves.  

The biggest question should be, can the police expect anything approaching fair comment in this age of unbounded liberalism? No, seems to be the obvious answer. The government and the powers to be in this country, when it comes specifically to the Indigenous have driven off the cliff, they are in free fall, unable to reverse their position of everything being systemic and discriminatory. Honest and truthful comment has long disappeared as a principle of discussion.  

As the Mounties prepare to add another course of “Cultural Awareness and Humility” to their already 29 learning programs with Indigenous content, they will need to mentally file this report along with a lot of others– on the dust covered shelves of government. It does not deserve further comment. Does the civil suit initiated in 2018 by the Baptiste family central to understanding these latest publicity appearances? They are in point of fact, surrounded by their lawyers during all these press conferences.  All in attendance are vested in the suit outcome. 

Commissioner Lucki in agreeing to the discrimination finding is actually now in counterpoint to her own officer executives in Saskatchewan, who up to now have been defending the civil suit by saying there was in fact no discrimination. One can only assume she has not helped their cause and that suit too will be settled out of court— undoubtedly to the benefit of the Baptiste family. 

All of the Commissioner’s supplication to the Indigenous is not even helping her profile. They are still calling for her removal. She hasn’t gone far enough they say, and how far far enough is, is yet to be defined. She has clearly given up on the support of her police officers. The need for honesty is still a non-negotiable element for most police officers and will not be forgotten.  

This betrayal of the facts, this wandering away from the reality is both frustrating and dangerous. Further polarization in this country will continue, this crying wolf syndrome is damaging, not healing. 

This is not the first case, nor it will be the last, where a special interest group tries to take over the proceedings or bend the courts to their cause. For those of us that enjoy a democratic government and a judicial system founded on due process, we have to be guarded and vigilant against any that strive to tear or warp it to their benefit. We are not always successful, but the effort has to be made. 

Power, money, and political gain are the three fundamentals that are often at the root of any process —in this case the fight against discrimination was a distant fourth.  

Dilia Opekokew, an often quoted Indigenous lawyer and advocate in offering favourable comment on this report said: 

“There must be truth before reconciliation”.  

You’re right. 

Let’s start there. 

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons –Mike Maguire–Some Rights Reserved

So, how is that “Defunding” going?

We seem to be now living in a world of catchy phrases, facile answers, and overly simplistic diagnosis. We can no longer tolerate complexity. We can no longer live in the world of the grey— black and white answers are being demanded. Daring to disagree or present a counter-point can only lead to banishment. The video and sound bite world is today’s dialogue, inflamed, exaggerated– a fire hose  of outrage, discontent and victimization. We have lost the ability to reflect or to understand nuance. 

It is in this world that the trial of the Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin is about to begin. Accused of the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd. It is in this world that todays frenzied headlines talk about an anti-Asian serial killer who targeted the massage parlours of Atlanta. 

But beneath the obvious conjecture and quick assumptions that instantly become facts there is a deeper layer. It is found in the folder of corroborated and tested information where historically you would have gone first. Once opened, you would be exposed to something completely at variance to the various assertions voiced by the indignant social warriors. 

Joe Biden is travelling to meet up with the Asian American community today, to console and pledge to fight the anti-Asian racist scourge, yet, there is literally no evidence that the killings in Atlanta were perpetrated or targeted against Asians. After 24 hours of exclaiming that this was evidence of the xenophobia in America, we are now learning that this individual was sexually twisted and fighting the demons of his religion. 

The “can’t breathe” seconds long George Floyd video that tumbled around the world and generated massive black outrage is not quite the facts that are now reluctantly being exposed. Is it pertinent that Mr. Floyd was screaming that he couldn’t breathe long before he was on the ground? Is it relevant that the subduing of Mr. Floyd was actually a taught restraint position by the Minneapolis Police Department? Is it also relevant that the autopsy showed overdose levels of drugs? It doesn’t matter in this world. The damage has been done, the points scored, the leaders of the day have proclaimed the guilt of officer Chauvin many months ago. 

Even more spine chilling is that even if the world is corrected about the circumstances; there will be no stepping back, no correction for the record, no recanting of the story as originally told.  One needs to go deep into Google search to find any actual circumstances of the Floyd incident. Even then, the inference and headlines remain the same. The City of Minneapolis who seem to have caved to the social guilt, long before trial, have now settled a civil case against the City and awarded the family $27 million. A staggering amount with highly suspicious timing.  

It was the George Floyd incident of course that sent the Black Lives Matter movement from simmering into full boil. Banners and protests filled the news screens for days on end, chants of indignation in front of every thrust microphone. No one could countenance the over-whelming injustice of it all.

Their answer: “Defund the Police”.

These three words had all the characteristics of the perfectly designed cry of anger. It swivelled the focus of the t.v. cameras and the radio talk shows. It was short and easily shouted, obvious in its conclusions, and proposed a simplistic understandable solution. Perfect for the masses who convene on Twitter and Instagram. The police must be “broken” the argument goes, unable to cope with the societal needs of the progressives, ill equipped to recognize this new age of victims and the vulnerable. Like all the headlines of the day this was an inarguable cause.

However, once one got past the slogans and a few months went by, the purveyors of this belief have stumbled. They are unable to deal with the obvious follow up question of how? Their demands and solutions it would now seem were simplistic if not blatantly ignorant.

Nevertheless, most politicians were undeterred and once again the principles of honesty and fairness ran a distant second to the need to appease. Picture the Prime Minister on bended knee on Parliament Hill. Picture Commissioner Lucki forced to kneel with him at the alter of “systemic” racism.  

So, now that a few months have gone by, after a year of COVID ravaging any critical thought in this country, where are we with this defunding?

How is the defundthepolice.org coming along? Have they figured out what they are going to defund? Have they figured out the actual role the police play in this country and how they are going to be replaced?

A search for signs of progress for this movement in Canada is indeed sparse.

One thing that they have managed to do on their .org web site is add up the amount of monies spent on policing in this country.  It is a large number and hard to miss. In this country, policing on the municipal, provincial and Federal level amounts to $15.1 billion.  So the proponents of de-funding almost invariably point to the large amount and then simply conclude that these budgets need to be cut for the mere fact of its overall size. Too big must fail.

The thrust of their main and central policy argument is that “others” are better equipped to respond. They propose that social workers and doctors attend to calls for mental health services. They recommend civilians take over “traffic services”.

They make statements such as “police intervention into an ongoing violent crime is rare”. Domestic disputes and abusive relationships seems to be beyond their level of comprehension or life experience. It is truly a utopian future in their world of alternate policing options. 

Since these more complicated issues are proving to be difficult to countenance they have lately been transitioning their policy options to more simplistic levels. A recent favourable solution is to ask for the removal of the police from the “school” programs. Or if the laws can’t be enforced by their solution matrix then let’s decriminalize all the drug laws.

In this country, thankfully, their efforts are for the most part being completely stymied. They are running headlong into the wall of reality and they are getting an obvious headache. 

In June of 2020 even the City of Vancouver (with its left leaning city government) rejected a 1% cut to their $339 million budget. 

This same month the City of Toronto rejected a 10% cut to their $1.12 billion budget. 

In Victoria, home to those deep political thinkers the “Raging Grannies” were unable to reject the progressives completely; the city settled for a review of the “gender and ethnic component of the police force” but the police have now asked for a 1.5% budget increase.

In NDP led British Columbia, a government who never ignores a good cause, are trying to appease the left by “reviewing” the Police Act to “examine the scope of systemic racism”. Premier Horgan does admit when pushed that the defunding mantra is “a simplistic approach”.

 In Saskatchewan they are moving to more body cams for the police while in Regina, the City counsel have rejected outright any de-funding as the “crime rate is too high”. 

In Manitoba, Premier Palliser says that de-funding is a “no go”. 

In the North West Territories where normally the Indigenous cause reigns supreme, even there, the Justice Minister says that “Indigenous led justice systems” is “not practical”. 

In Montreal the mayor, Valerie Plante says that a cut in funding of $300 million “would be a big and trying conversation”. They have now voted to increase the police budget.

Halifax, no doubt under the influence of its relatively large African American community could only manage to defund its plans to buy an armoured vehicle for the police— giving the monies to the local housing authority. 

The Edmonton Police Service seems to have gone the farthest down the road to placate the disenchanted. It has cut its funding by $5.5 million per year for the next two years, amounting to a 3% budget cut from their $388.8 million dollar budget. They are forming a “four step” process which includes a “community safety and well-being task force”. The Edmonton activist Tesa Williams calls it a “slap in the face”.  

In many ways the activists in Canada are only imitating their counter parts in the United States. After all, aren’t their problems our problems? Isn’t their racism our racism, the long discrimination of African Americans and its often shameful history is our history. Of course, this isn’t true, but nevertheless what’s playing in video feeds in the U.S. now stokes the narrative of this country. So the “defunding” formula is imported in all its silliness no matter its relevance, no matter its history. 

The NYPD, led by the failing Mayor de Blasio, which policies a city of 25% African Americans has gone the furthest, slashing $1 billion from its policing budget. How have they done this? They have reduced or eliminated uniform and civilian overtime by $352 million; and they have moved the School Safety Agents out of the NYPD and moved them to the Department of Education, for another savings of $307.5 million. They have done sundry other small reductions like moving School Crossing Guards from the NYPD at a savings of $55 million. 

The LAPD who police that bastion of wokeness, Los Angelas, slashed $150 million by cutting police hiring. This hiring freeze has a more meaningful effect to be sure, as now the LAPD is at the lowest manpower it has been at in 12 years. It was proposed that the money saved would go to street paving and sidewalk repairs, but that was voted down. 

L.A. even had a plan to send crisis intervention workers to “non-violent 911 calls” but that has not passed the committee stage, no doubt hung up on the fact as to how one would ever determine that a “crisis” would not always have the potential for violence. 

So where does this all leave the police of today? Should recruiters stop going to “career days” at the local high school? Should mid career police officers look to change into carpenters and plumbers or take that on-line course on photography? Seems unlikely.

One just has to remember that everyone wants to play with the lights and siren but no one is rushing into the blood and the guts.  The activists, the politicians of every stripe, and the talking heads will no doubt continue to shriek to the converted of the injustice and the “systemic” discrimination. 

One must be patient, even though it’s not easy to ignore the absurdity. Remember that they are just toggling the sirens and staring in awe at the blue and red lights. They don’t really want to be in the position of answering the calls. As that oft quoted Mr. Einstein said, “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”.

Photo Courtesy of Backbone Campaign via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Pandering

Under the cloak of COVID, while monies are raining down from on high, the Canadian government has decided that this is an opportune time to pander to the select groups who hold the Federal Liberals dear to their socially active and political hearts. Their slobbering self interest doesn’t seem to know any bounds and it is certainly not constrained by any concern for budget. 

Is it all aimed at a near future election call by the Liberals? Most likely. Is it cynical, opportunistic and ethically questionable? Yes it is. Do their actions have any merit? Possibly, but it would be difficult to measure. However, their motivations are obvious. 

On February 19th of this year, in a single day, the Prime Minister announced three items with that somber voice designed to instil righteousness and clearly aimed at those of us with Grade 8 education levels.  

The first, which is economically debatable but politically obvious, was the extension of the CERB benefits for an additional 12 weeks. Sick benefits were extended as was Employment Insurance for a cumulative total of 54 weeks. The pros and cons of doing this is one for the economists to debate. Clearly though, the handing out of funds never seems to engender any liberal or social antipathy and Mr. Trudeau seems to relish the daily ritual coverage of the doling out of monies, as he guides us to health and prosperity and implores us to save lives.

The second announcement was the re-tooling of the Official Languages Act, which Mr. Trudeau described as legislation to further enhance that “beautiful french language”. In this “modernization” of the Languages Act  as presented by Ms.Joly (a rumoured “favourite” of Mr. Trudeau) should raise some concern and debate; although admittedly no one seems to be paying close attention to an Act to do with languages. It seems like strange timing in terms of priority, until you read what the changes entail. The Bloc Quebecois and the NDP who are currently supporting the minority Liberals must be aware that Mr. Trudeau is preparing to try and pull the rug out from under them— by usurping their claim as being a better representative of the people of Quebec. 

The first amendment is to Section 83 —which states that “nothing in the Act abrogates or derogates from the rights of other languages, by explicitly mentioning Indigenous languages”.  This is lawyer inspired convoluted language but the intended results are that Nunavut and the North West Territories will officially recognize English, French and “indigenous languages as official languages”.  Surprisingly, little fanfare to announce that Canada has another “official” language? It may also seem trite but compliance to this could have profound effect on the courts and the providing of government services.

Also in this Languages Act the government is proposing to “encourage” further funding for french immersion across the country– including the hiring of more french immersion teachers, and even stream lining a “Francophone immigration corridor”. All this to aid them in their search for French speaking teachers outside of Quebec. 

No matter how meritorious this promotion of the french culture and language it is coming at a time when French as a language and culture is dwindling. Using their own statistics, the francophone population outside of Quebec in 1971 was 6.6%. It was 3.9% in 2011 and is anticipated to be at 3.0% by 2036.  One has to question whether an “immersed” Canada outside of Quebec is a relevant and achievable goal. The Liberals clearly think so, but they are likely more concerned in how it will “play” in Quebec. 

Finally, since 2016 the Government of Canada has been “committed” to appointing “only functioning bilingual judges to the Supreme Court of Canada”. However, there was an exception clause in the act under Section 16(1) which was purposefully placed there in consideration of the need for geographic representation on the courts and a possible lack of bilingual judges in the unilingual West. The Liberals are now going to remove this exemption, so that all will have to be fluently bilingual to serve on the highest court in the land. This could have a direct impact on the makeup of this highest court, more francophone than representative.

As an oblique aside, the Government says that “it will be necessary to keep in mind the importance of representativeness of Indigenous peoples in the highest institutions of our country….”. They then direct the Government to “actively envision the appointment of Indigenous judges to the Supreme Court of Canada”.  One has to admire the “actively envision” language as camouflage for a direct order.

Which brings us to the the third announcement of this busy day.

It pertained to Bill C-22, which is to deal with the “Mandatory Minimal Penalties (MMP) as outlined in the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  They are announcing changes to the fourteen offences in the Criminal Code and six in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Why? If you follow this Liberal government you probably have already guessed. Because, minimum sentences “targets black, indigenous and racialized communities”. 

Their blatantly stated goal is to bring down the numbers of the Federally incarcerated who are there due to “systemic discrimination and racism” and a system which they believe punishes “black and indigenous people”.   Mr. Lametti seems to want us to believe that this “over representation” was some form of pointed racist selection process, not the result of persons having committed the crimes.

The statistics are bold and clear.

 From 2007-2017 they argue “black and indigenous were more likely to be admitted to federal custody for an offence punishable by a MMP”.  Although only 5% of the population is indigenous, they make up 30% of the Federal inmate population; blacks represent 3 % of the population but represent 7.2% of the incarcerated. The answer, according to the social progressives, is not to try and stem the crime by fighting the obvious crime instigators like poverty and unemployment in these communities. Their solution, if parties are caught in a criminal offence, is to promote “judicial discretion”. They are directing Judges that they “must take into consideration the individual and their experience with systemic racism”. 

They will even be funding $28 million to “social contracts training” for  Judges in case they are missing the message. 

Is there evidence that mandatory sentencing doesn’t work? Yes, but there is also evidence that it does work, so this reformation is not necessarily based on the evidence— what it is based on is playing to a certain minority.  

In 2008 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that minimum sentencing was constitutional but maybe not an “appropriate response” to Section 12 of the Charter which deals with cruel and unusual punishment. 

The pros of minimum sentencing point out that it eliminates disparity, provides consistency, and avoids Judge shopping. If one holds that the law should reflect the peoples wishes, in 2005 —74% of Canadians felt that sentencing was too lenient. It should be remembered that the minimum sentencing was brought into effect under the dreaded Stephen Harper Conservative government in response to Canadians and their complaints about the lack of justice. 

But none of this seems to have been the motivating factor for Justice Minister Lametti. What may be more relevant is that the multi-party “black caucus” issued a call to action  and “demanded the elimination of mandatory minimums”. Mr. Lametti a signatory to this document.  

There is little doubt that Mr. Lametti has been emboldened and given comfort by the courts, which are allowing him to play to the minority audience. 

In 2016 in R vs Lloyd, when dealing with some drug offences, the court thought that the drug offences and sentencing for them did not take into account “indigenous heritage and the impact of colonialism”.  In R vs Gladue the Judges said that a different “analysis and approach is required by Judges when sentencing aboriginal offenders and that “imprisonment is a less appropriate or less useful sanction”.  

Far be it for this writer to be in disagreement with the learned judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. They are a distinguished group of scholars, but their voting records seem to have a very natural lean to the left. Mr. Lametti and the Liberals are also playing in the Biden band and trumpeting whatever is currently playing in the North American media. The riotous Trump entourage is now thankfully gone but we now have the Trudeau and Biden love-in which could prove equally destructive and divisive with its approach to social issues, or rather its dogmatic adherence to Twitter driven policies.

Having lived most of my life in the criminal world, the positions of this Liberal government when it comes to crime and minority rights, seems at times completely ludicrous. We have been traveling down this left branch of the victim road for an interminable many years now. One has to wonder and ask that with each further step— are we getting any closer to some ill-defined justice utopia ? By creating different classes of criminals with different levels of personal and cultural responsibility are we moving towards justice and fair and equal treatment, or away from it? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the definition of justice is a concept on ethics and law “that means people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone”. Minimum sentencing seems to fit that definition whereas the policy of Mr. Lametti feels that the principal of proportionality applies and one should allow for “the role of the social context”, which seems counter-intuitive.

The symbolic scales held by the Roman Lady of Justitia symbolizes giving fair and objective consideration to all evidence, without showing bias one way or the other. Mr. Lametti and his Liberal colleagues are unhesitatingly standing on those scales and even trying to influence who hold those scales. They are brazen in their efforts, choosing a time when debate and accountability have been Zoomed out.

The fifth estate have been completely coopted by the the social agenda, content to just count the number of COVID cases and their variants. To them, application of justice, or the breach of charter and constitutional rights are far less interesting than Oprah, Harry, and Meaghan. The pablum of celebrity successfully diverting us from worthy debate on issues of importance; and, that is what the Liberals are counting on.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Let them Eat Cake

As you or may not be aware, there are three classes or categories of employees within the RCMP according to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act.  The first are those that have representation; those officers now being represented by the novice union, the National Police Federation (NPF), and the officers are now dutifully paying union dues. The second category are those who are managerial, but are excluded from representation, civilian members for the most part. The third and final category are the officers of the RCMP who have no representation. This final category are the upper managerial ranks —Inspector and above, purposely distinguished from the rank and file by their “white shirts” and their brass laden uniforms. 

No doubt you are wondering how these “white shirts” are faring in this day and age when the RCMP is being pummelled from all sides. They have had no pay increases either since 2017— despite this loftier status.

To be sure many of those in the elevated ranks have already gathered up their challenge coins and headed for the exits, driven out by old age or a sense of foreboding. Some are clearly worried about their perceived paltry pensions and are seeking salvation and further riches on the civilian horizon; bound for guarding the pipeline, the Independent Investigations Office or dare one mention the new Surrey City Police.  

But for those that remain behind and for all those that aspire to become one of the knighted, there is still some hope. 

The general public may be a little amazed to to learn that these officers, who have gone from one disaster to another in the last number of years, feel that they need a pay raise and an increase in benefits, usually the reward for a job well done.

However, in the policing world, pay raises are the result of a constant ratcheting effect, a keeping up with the Jones’ kind of rational. 

That aside, the difference this year is that for the most part, their pay and benefits are going to be paradoxically tied to the unionized rank and file and the capabilities of the union negotiators of the National Police Federation.  

Recently, I listened in to a recorded zoom style meeting, billed as a “Town hall” meeting which was open to all of the white shirts of the RCMP.  Admittedly, it was a bit like crashing a get together at a Masonic Hall, as one could not help but feel that by listening in, without an invitation, was somehow illicit. 

The meeting was chaired by C/Supt Leslie Ohare and Supt. Bert Ferreira who have been overseeing the “Officer Consultative Committee”. This committee is designed to be an intermediary or representative body for the officers with the Treasury Board Secretariat. The TBS will end up making the final determinations as to the white shirted officers in terms of pay and benefits and is the same Treasury Board Secretariat that is currently negotiating with the NPF. 

So things have now changed with the coming of age of this union movement. The white shirts are for the first time facing Treasury Board, cap in hand as usual, but this time dependent on the NPF settlement. The reason is that Treasury Board must know the end results of those negotiations, before they can make a determination as to the rates of pay for the senior executive. 

There were two terms heard when listening in on this meeting with reference to the demands of the executive and that is what they call the “pay line” and the need for there to be “no inversion”.  In simple terms, they just mean that depending on what a Staff Sargent gets will by necessity determine what an Inspector gets. The accepted labour relations argument being that there is a need for pay separation and also satisfying the need to incentivize these higher positions. They don’t want some lower position getting greater pay and benefits than the white shirted, which would be an “inversion” of the salaries. It is a caste system after all, so one could not bear the thought that some operational lower rank could surpass an administrative manager, no matter what their respective roles and responsibilities. 

So, now the white shirts are cheering on the NPF. Ironic to say the least considering that for decades these same managers argued and fought the battle against unionization.

In terms of the current ongoing NPF negotiations, Treasury Board confirmed during this meeting that the negotiations are currently scheduled into June 2021. They are meeting monthly (the next meeting is scheduled for March 2-4, 2021) and all  are hoping to have a deal done by the summer –which would require ratification by the rank and file and a possible pay raise by the Fall of 2021. 

Should no agreement be reached and arbitration needed, it was also learned that this would delay any settlement for at least another year. One would think that this would not be a very sellable position for the NPF.  

Originally, the NPF was arguing publicly for a 17% pay request, but lately in their news releases or interviews they seem to be avoiding those bald numbers in terms of what they are asking, likely thinking that it is better to slightly dampen expectations. One would have to think, that inflation alone for the last few years would probably guarantee an 8% increase. That in itself would bring the 131st rated RCMP constable from $86,110 to $92,998. This is still a long way from the Delta Police who are currently ranked number one at $107,840. Even third ranked Edmonton is at $106,262, still leaving a discrepancy of $13,264 per year. 

Of course no one knows what the free spending Liberals are thinking. The Treasury Board makes recommendations to the Cabinet and they base their recommendations on three major factors; the size of the total compensation package, the internal relativity to other similar agencies, and the “state of the economy”. One of the negotiators with Treasury Board described the negotiations with the NPF as “the mood being receptive” but added that there were still “many issues outstanding”. 

During this “town hall” the officers asked why they couldn’t get their pay raise immediately, but were given the standard answer of needing to wait for the NPF.  These same officers are  also now demanding (or asking for) : – unlimited sick leave, an increase in their pay to make up for the fact that they do not get overtime, and forty more hours of annual leave. They were also seeking greater benefits. On their list were increases in the dental service allowance; an increase in the PSHCP dependent coverage and an increase in life insurance from $160,000 to $500,000 with the employer paying all premiums. 

These demands would or should not be considered out of line in terms of executive compensation. However, it will be difficult for the general public to rationalize demands for pay raises with the demonstrated fallibility of the RCMP senior ranks. The RCMP has hit a new low in terms of recruitment, morale, pay, and the implementation of the diversity and inclusion agendas. 

The last few years has also watched them pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the harassment suits, has seen report after report demanding changes of the RCMP. Shortages in manpower have been termed a “crisis” and over 3,000 complaints were filed against the RCMP in 2017 alone. The use of force during this era of Freddie Gray has risen 10% in the last three years. It has overseen operational and investigational disasters such as Mark Norman and are now waiting for the fallout from Port au Pique, and Cameron Ortis. An internal audit in 2020 said that the Mounties were accepting applicants who were poorly qualified and some even with criminal records. That the emphasis was now on “the quantity of applicants with less focus on the quality”. The solution to these recurring pitfalls is not either obvious or on the horizon.

The senior ranks throughout history have promoted their distinct and honourable position in the RCMP. They are to be saluted when passing, paying deference to their wisdom, experience and at having reached the upper echelons of a world class police department. All of these perceived notions can now be effectively argued and challenged. Promotion to this group has become diluted by policy, dwindling experience and best intentions. The red serge is becoming threadbare, exposed threads being pulled on a daily basis.

This fraying of this once proud organization has been overseen by this same group who are demanding, in fact assuming, they are to be rewarded nevertheless.

Like Marie Antoinette telling the throngs to eat cake in lieu of enough bread to eat, they seem to have “a frivolous disregard for the starving peasants and a poor understanding of their plight.”

Their personal financial goals on the other hand are seemingly quite clear. The senior ranks of the RCMP will continue to demand their cake.

Photo courtesy of Irina via Flickr Commons – some Rights Reserved

Commissioner Lucki and Her New (but Old)”Strategy”

This headline and announcement came on January 26, 2021, relayed to all members of the RCMP in the form of a Commissioners Broadcast. One would have thought on first glimpse that finally there was finally some addressing of the multiple concerns now facing this organization. Had the Chief Executive of your National Police Force finally awoken from her semi-slumber to finally deal with some of the many issues plaguing the boys and girls in red? 

Well you would be both right and wrong. You would be right in assuming that there is in fact a new announced strategy. You would be wrong in thinking this was a strategy that was new in terms of goals and or objectives. You could also be right if you paid it little heed and put it in the category of the never ending pablum which continues to spill forth from Ottawa.

There will be a very select few within this vast organization who will be nodding their heads in affirmation of this new “strategy” but we would be equally safe in saying that those that would applaud this new development are not the same people that are working the night shifts in Coquitlam or Burnaby tonight.  So what is it?

 Is it a strategy to deal with recent gun violence?  No.

 Is it a strategy to deal with the lack of ability to recruit new members? No. 

Is it a strategy to deal with the current salary structure of the RCMP? No. 

Rather “today is an important day for the RCMP” because on this date, the RCMP has launched (with the fanfare of an Elon Musk Space X rocket) the “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy”.  If this was not enough excitement, she also announced that this strategy would also be part of the “Vision 150 Agenda”.  Most of you will have to admit that you have no idea what Vision 150 is, but apparently this is a good thing so nod your head approvingly.  

Not only is this a “new” strategy; but it is a “LIVE” strategy.  (Someone will have to explain to me how a strategy takes on the qualities of a human being—but remember that this is coming out of Ottawa –the generator of all acronyms and inanities).

We should also note, that neither the RCMP in general or Ms. Lucki in particular came up with this strategy on their or her own. This is not an original thought. No, they admit, this strategy came from “consultation” with the National Council for Diversity and Inclusion; other Federal employee “networks”; and “policy centers with direct impacts on EDI”.  One could cynically translate this to mean that this policy was being pushed down to the Mounties– causing them to now on bended knee genuflect before those very busy gods of correctness.

According to the announcement, “this robust and comprehensive strategy introduces fundamental changes to the RCMP’s systems that will allow us to promote an inclusive organization that values diversity and serves employees and communities with dignity and respect”.

“It also focuses on identifying and reducing workplace and service delivery barriers for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (believe it or not, even this has an acronym BiPoC) women, persons with disabilities and members of LGBTQ2+ communities”.

It goes on. “The EDI strategy identifies clear, concrete and transparent actions under four “pillars” that will embed equity, diversity and inclusion into the way we think about, and perform all aspects of our mandate.” What are those four pillars you ask:

-Provide Leadership and Governance

-Be Clear, Accountable and Transparent

-Enhance Awareness and Education

-Change Culture and Transform. 

You will be forgiven if none of these general life statements mean anything to you. It is the language of LinkedIn resumes, supervisor assessments, or senior RCMP executive speeches. Does anyone remember Mission Statements? This is a similar exercise. It says a lot, but its beauty in its crafting is that it says nothing. 

 They are going to “review workplace policies and practises through an “EDI, GBA+ and anti-Black racism lens to combat systemic racism”. (Remember when Ms Lucki didn’t’ think there was systemic racism and then within 48 hours recanted—she clearly has now been fully indoctrinated into the cult of goodness)

Even more specifically, there will be more “representation on selection boards” and they will be establishing “talent development plans for occupational groups with low diversity”. They will be “linking EDI goals to Performance, Promotion and Compensation”. 

As said before, this will all be aligned with “Vision 150”, a description of which you can find on the government website, that is if you have endless mindless hours and a propensity to like watching paint dry. If you dare to dive down on this government site you will find a Vision 150 “tracker”, which is divided into the four “pillars” once again. Deeper still, you will find a “tracker” for each program that is being initiated. 

It is here where you will see most of the proposed programs such as; the increase in body cams, further training in cultural understanding and diversity, a number of programs which involve consultation with the Indigenous and Indigenous women, promotions to advisory boards of various minority representative groups, and oversight programs in the major crime areas. There is even a program designed to hire civilian investigators in the area of financial crimes. 

There is an uncomfortable dystopian feel to all this. A new type of Republic of Gilead. The RCMP has even created the ominous sounding position of “Special Designated Officer for Diversity and Inclusion” and named Nadine Huggins as its first leader. Ms. Huggins of course, is “looking forward….to bring a results oriented approach to establishing an inclusive workforce and workplace.”  

One could make an educated guess as to the eventual goals of Ms. Huggins with a quick check of her resume. Her masters thesis was entitled: “Canadian Nationhood and the Identity Discourse: Incorporating Minority and other Groups”. In this thesis she refers to the French and English as the “Charter groups”  and all others make up the “marginalized”. Her Twitter universe is filled almost entirely with all the requisite black lives matter tweets or tweets on reconciliation and inclusion. The Federal government has always been her home, and all her jobs have a heavy emphasis on Indigenous representation and working at such things as the Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Huggins fits the woke stereotype and her solutions will be patently obvious and predictable.

None of this is news. These policies of inclusion have been around for decades, although the terminology has changed. Affirmative action to inclusion and diversity, the French and English in this country are no longer the founding nations, now according to Ms. Huggins they are the “Charter groups”. The RCMP have been flying gay pride flags over detachments, holding diversity and inclusion detachment strategy sessions for quite some time. The RCMP in other words have been “awoke” for some time.

Forty years ago, discussions in RCMP management circles were concerned about how physical requirements for admission often precluded those coming from the Asian community. To address this problem height and weight requirements were altered and a point system was developed. The pendulum then swung towards the need to recruit females in the late 1970’s and 1980’s and the physical training was changed to accommodate. 

The solutions then were the same as now, greater inclusion and representation which almost always translates to more hiring and promotion. The only difference in this strategy from those of thirty years ago is that the target beneficiary for greater inclusion keeps moving and that marginalized pendulum has now reached its full arc.  

One can not argue that the idea of greater representation of the Canadian mosaic in policing is a wrong-headed idea. It is not. The flaw is in the belief that the barriers are “systemic” within the current system. They are not, that is only an easy and convenient simplification. The barriers are much more complicated and broader in scope. Culture, language, education, and economic well being are much greater contributors to a lack of entry and inclusion. 

The other blemish in these simplistic academic theories is the fundamental assumption that policing– meaning in its simplest form, the investigation of crime and the enforcement of laws can be bent by a cultural, colour or gender bias.

The conduct of investigations are based on simple concepts and on answering the five w’s. Techniques can change, but ultimately, all investigations follow a practised format based on experience which form a type of checklist. Straying from the orthodoxy would be rare. The checklist is largely unaffected by cultural or ethnic influence.

The creation and passage of laws is done by the duly elected in the various legislatures and the Federal Parliament. They laws are based on a perceived or pre-determined need by those elected representing the citizens at large. It is highly subjective.

However, enforcement of those same laws is objective and should be by its very nature, immune from influence by outside factors.

If these future strategies are aimed at infusing cultural or gender differences into the course of an investigation or imply choices in enforcement of those laws –we are going to find ourselves in a very dangerous neighbourhood. 

As this next chapter begins, one must realize that this strategy is a pure, made-in Ottawa “strategy”, and as such it will have little to no impact on the general population of the RCMP involved in day to day operational policing. What it is doing is enshrining for the future years a gender and culture check-list for promotion and advancement.  That is already in full swing, so this “strategy” is only serving to codify and legitimize advancement based on factors other than competency. 

This is a long bumpy road but is largely an academic exercise being played out by mandarins in the hushed halls and padded conference rooms of the Ottawa cognoscenti. The topic is in the wheelhouse of Commissioner Lucki, fitting nicely into her comfort zone and is likely part of her bid to retain her job. However, it is unlikely to be part of the conversation at one in the morning when uniformed officers are hunched over their 7-11 coffee.

Photo Courtesy of Serge Saint via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Old Mounties are the New Guard in Surrey

As many of you are now aware, a new Chief has been anointed by the Surrey City Counsel Police board. The signalling white smoke has come out of the Surrey Detachment chimney officially proclaiming that Norm Lipinski has metamorphosed once again and become the head of the brand new Surrey Police Department. The selection process was described as an extensive “world wide search” and after casting this wide all encompassing net, it was then conveniently discovered, that they only needed to look a couple of miles west of Surrey to find the perfect candidate in the hamlet of Delta.  

The Police Board said they chose Lepinski because he was “a seasoned leader in community level policing”. Further, Mr. Lepinski after this thorough vetting, showed “demonstrable experience promoting progressive policing policies, including commitment to de-escalation training and ability to foster a diverse and inclusive environment”.

Now, many of you readers, will at this time begin the slow roll of the eyes skyward, but one must accept that this is after all the “new” policing world. Clearly, Mr. Lipinski has reached master class level in professing and promoting the politically acceptable —the lauded dialogue of “consultation” “progressive” “diversity” “representation” and “equity in policing” and he can probably put them all in one sentence.  

These professed qualities will undoubtedly be tested early. The large South Asian community in Surrey has already begun expressing displeasure at the choice of Mr. Lepinski.  

What may be more questionable is that Lepinski has now decided that at least two of his three Deputies should be from the Mounties— the same Mounties, they are striving to replace. The fact that he has chosen from the Mounties is somewhat perplexing, but even more baffling may be the two he has chosen for those Deputy positions. 

To help us better understand maybe we need to review the curriculum vitae of Mr. Lepinski, who is orchestrating this controversial transition, as it may provide some clues.  

Mr. Lepinski spent thirty years in the Edmonton Police Service before deciding that he wanted to re-settle into this land of the lotus. He seemed to use his time in Edmonton wisely. He achieved a Masters of Business Administration degree as well as a Bachelor of Laws Degree while there. 

He left Edmonton in 2010 after thirty years and then in a somewhat unusual move applied to be a red serge Mountie. This proposition was apparently received with wide open arms. In fact they were so taken with him, they immediately assigned him the high rank of Assistant Commissioner for E Division British Columbia. One could assume that this move was approved by the then Commissioner of the RCMP Bob Paulson.   

Then in 2015,  Lepinski, after a relatively brief five years with the RCMP (maybe long enough to find the way to the Tim Hortons in Green Timbers) then applies and becomes Deputy Chief of the Delta Police Department, a small 200 person department on the geographic boundary with Surrey. Here he joins his old alumni from Edmonton Police Service— Neil Dubord —who had become the Chief of Delta PD. No doubt this was a coincidence.  

Chief Dubord himself had spent twenty-five years with the Edmonton Police Service eventually rising to the rank of Deputy Chief in Charge of Community Policing. He left Edmonton in 2012 and he too headed for the milder climate of British Columbia where he too impressed the locals and won the job of Chief of BC Transit Police. 

After three short years Dubord also got itchy feet and then applied and won the competition to become the Chief of Delta PD . That was also in 2015. Dubord is also academically inclined and managed to earn a Masters degree in Leadership and Training and now lists himself as a Canadian Human Resource Professional. He has also written a dissertation for his PHD in business.

It may be a little cheeky to point out that, although academically gifted, loyalty would not be the single foremost characteristic for either of these individuals. 

But for Lepinski the career march continued once again. Lepinski spent five years in Delta and despite now having spent forty years in police work—having already reached the normal declared age of retirement at sixty-five— decides that he should apply and indeed warrant the job to become the  Chief of Surrey. 

It may be pertinent in the future to note that Lepinski’s spouse of many years is former Global television reporter Lynda Steele— who now has a radio talk show on CKNW the preeminent station in Vancouver and Surrey. CKNW throughout the development of MacCallum’s vision of a separate police agency was very anti-MacCallum. It will be interesting to note if the coverage changes in the next few years. 

So now, Lepinski after picking up his third pension cheque, has now assumed his new role as Chief of the  Surrey Police Service. 

Clearly, Mr. Lipinski is well versed in RCMP and Municipal police politics. It is equally clear that he has a deft ability to self-promote. However, he is now facing problems in Surrey that he would not have seen in Delta or during his brief stay in the Mounties. Surrey is unique in many ways in both its makeup and the problems that come with it; extensive gang activity, disparate ethnic communities, massive population growth, and a large immigrant contingent will create a fire hose of daily problems and emergencies– and that is not even considering the logistics of changeover of equipment and personnel. It will all demand an enormous amount of operational competency and a dextrous administration in this city which proclaims “Where the Future Lives Here” 

One has to constantly remember that the Mounties are being dispatched from Surrey because the policing need was not being met in that city; at least according to the majority of the voters and taxpayers of that City. The underlying enormous structural and cultural problems within the RCMP are at the root of the various issues and those issues can be placed squarely at the feet of the upper management of this organization over the last number of decades. It is not the individual police members. 

Therefore there is a singular issue of paramount importance in this transition and that is the need to transform the RCMP current structure. The normal organizational pyramid one expects, in the Surrey RCMP, is upside down. It is ridiculously top heavy.

The general duty officers, the uniforms, need to once again become the largest and dominant component of the detachment. Advancement and promotion need to be contingent on first coming through the rank and file where experience lurks, not in the carpeted cubicles of the current over bureaucratized offices. It is at the first attendance level that your future professional police officers are fed and cultivated and grow to be professional and competent officers of the law and would form the backbone of any professional service.

With deference to the background of Mr. Lepinski; his speciality in “community policing” or “diversity” is not either the main problem nor is it the solution to making Surrey a viable and professional police service. 

If one accepts the need for change and recognizes the obvious mis-management that has been occurring and accepted for many years in the RCMP, it would be seemingly counter-intuitive to think that in the building of this new force, that the Mountie system should be adopted wholesale in any way. Should it not be assumed that bringing into the fold some Mounties, who have thrived under this dysfunction, they would not be the likeliest candidates to lead any reform. In naming RCMP Supt Jennifer Hyland and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike Lesage as his Deputies, clearly Mr. Lipinski does not agree. 

Supt Jennifer Hyland, is a former twenty year member of the New West P.D. After this stint she also discovered it beneficial to move over to the Mounties where she too was welcomed with open arms and rose up the ranks. Inspector in North Vancouver for a brief time and then quickly promoted to being the Superintendent for the Maple Ridge RCMP; the same detachment she had served in from 2006-2014. 

Upon returning to Maple Ridge she said “This is my hometown, and this has been a career highlight for me—to be the chief of police in my hometown.”

(Coincidently, Hyland’s spouse, Paul Hyland just got made the Deputy Chief in New Westminster PD.) 

Apparently that homecoming feeling wore off after four years and she is now heading over to the Municipal force in Surrey.  She will oversee the “support services bureau, in charge of recruiting, training, leadership and development.” 

Supt. Hyland never seems hesitant to speak of her accomplishments and says that she is leaving having “fostered that culture of respect and support in Ridge Meadows”.

Hyland received the 2020 International Association of Women Police award for mentoring and coaching. The program according to the advocates was “successful in assisting female police officers with their advancement in leadership roles.” All laudable of course, especially in this woke age, but one wonders if the average Surrey voter feels that the problem with the current police department is a lack of female officers or that the officers are victims of a toxic culture. Again, Mr. Lepinski may think so. 

The second deputy choice, Mike Lesage, is even a little more baffling. If there was a classic manager personifying the RCMP in the last number of years it would be Mr. Lesage, who often points out that he is a member of the Garden River First Nation. His career trajectory is common to many in the high ranks of the RCMP; into Ottawa, and then out to the hinterland to dip his toe in the waters of the unwashed. National Aboriginal Policing, National Crime Prevention Section, the Community Policing Bureau, then stints with the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team and most recently the RCMP Anti gang unit at Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. 

So what can we make of these appointments. First and foremost the populace of Surrey will be hearing a lot about “community engagement”. We can also easily assume that the third and final Deputy will be of South Asian descent. But, when we get past the community consultation phase, the coffee klatches and the town hall meetings (the Delta PD have many town hall meetings) will there finally be some final recognition of the real problem? That is the unanswered question.

Only time will tell and maybe National Police Federation President Brian Sauve is right when he describes it as a “flawed transition” and that everything is in “disarray”. Of course, Mr. Sauve has been spending good Mountie union dues fighting against the obvious inevitably of the transition even happening. He also clearly has a vested interest in his union not losing the biggest RCMP detachment in the country. So it is entirely possible that he is wrong once again. 

To be sure, there is a cloying feeling to all of this, a feeling of old hat, old broom, nothing new; and that is indeed unfortunate.  The first opportunity may already have been missed.

Photo Courtesy of Reg Natarajan via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

March of the Fringe

The recent storming of the Capitol in Washington, besides being a dull reflection of all that ails that country, was another shining example of the Gordian knot which is 21st century police management. On full national display was the fact that operational policing decisions have now been supplanted by the politically minded managers who now populate the top of every police agency and the politicos who wish to control them. The historical record has now been forever warped by this unhealthy blend of political considerations and policing; where public image has become paramount. Another damaging blow to the credibility and sustainability of policing as it is now practised.

The woeful inadequacy in Washington came with a severe cost. The mayhem resulted in deaths and inadvertently gave a life boost to the sombre and dark tones of right wing political extremism. If one watched the live time feed of the progression of the riot (which is what it was— it was not a “coup” attempt as speculated by many of the media mavens and the hand wringing liberal left) a crowd of 8,000 persons attending a Trump rally were then spurred on and re-directed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and on to Capitol Hill. Under the banner of some general notion that by doing so they would alter a House vote on the election. Some dressed as Vikings, others carried Confederate flags, members of the Alt right stirred in with red hatted MAGA supporters; a mass of people with mixed motivations and unclear reasonings. Some of this much maligned group included police officers and firefighters. 

This alleged army of the far right fuelled with political purpose, still felt it necessary to stop every fifty feet to preen for a selfie. Some of the group seemed content to sit on the steps, the more radicalized began to break windows and enter into the Capitol itself.

Dressed in their various garbs, this ill-defined fringe, carried into the House. The resistance to them was at times sporadic and often half-hearted. Officers can be seen standing around, apparently unaware of the hand to hand combat some of their other fellow officers had endured outside. It was bizarre even in riot standards.

The protestors seemed somewhat caught off guard by the level of advancement that they had achieved. With no clear understanding as to how to carry out their goal, some felt that sitting in the same chair as the House Leader Nancy Pelosi was somehow a victory of sorts. They posed for the in-house cameras. Some of the officers who were there to repel the invaders, also posed for selfies with the protestors and helped direct rioters as to where to go once inside. 

The protestors were gradually pushed out, grabbing at any souvenirs they could take, no doubt to show their future grand children.

This is not to downplay the violence. There was an outright battle on the fence lines, no doubt prompted by some of the hardcore right who came prepared for the fight with baseball bats, gas masks, explosives and the like. One protestor was shot, a police officer died of physical complications from the fight. It was nothing less than a bar brawl in broad daylight.

There were 1400 cops there. Were they out-numbered? Yes, but that is not unusual, police often face situations where they are outnumbered. There was no police strategy, they were out-numbered, but more importantly they were un-prepared. 

In a detailed article by the Washington Post the chronology of events and the decision making of the management group was outlined. Three of the key mentioned managers have since resigned, as they should, but the damage has clearly been done. 

The timeline speaks for itself :

Sunday January 3rd (three days before the march on the Capitol)

 — Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund (heads the 2,000 member Capitol Police whose sole job is protecting the Capitol and its two square miles) asks House and Senate Security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby; in the event that quick assistance was needed. This request was based on the fact that police “intelligence” was now suggesting that the crowd for the pro-Trump rally was going to be bigger than originally anticipated. The request was denied. 

—- House Sgt at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t “comfortable with the optics”

—Senate Sgt at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard “contacts”and ask them to “lean forward” and be on alert. (This “lean forward”clearly a new in vogue government phrase)

Monday January 4th 

—-Sund continues to worry and receives some more police intelligence. “We knew we would have large crowds, the potential for some violent altercations”. There were claims at this time that the alt-right instigators had discussed storming the building and targeting lawmakers. Sund explains in his defence, that “You might see rhetoric on social media. We had seen that many times before”…”people say a lot of things on line”

Sund calls Irving and Stenger again

Sund decides to “lean forward” and calls Maj.Gen William J Walker, head of the 1,000 member National Guard. Walker who said that he thought he could call 125 personnel fairly quickly. 

Sund over the weekend had also conferred with D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III who also agreed to lend a hand if trouble began. 

Wednesday January 6th

— 12:40 Protestors arrive at the White House for the Trump speech where the idiot incarnate tells them that there needs to be a “fight” against the law makers. The lawyer for the idiot, says that this is a “trial by combat”.

—-1300 Sund calls Chief Contee who sent 100 officers to the scene. 

—13:09  Sund calls Stenger and Irving requesting Emergency to be declared in his request for assistance. They say that they will “run it up the chain”

—-13:20 (approx) Aides to the top congressional leaders were called to Stengers office for an update and were infuriated to learn that the Sgt at Arms had not called the National Guard or any other reinforcements. They tell them that it was their responsibility to do this without seeking approval from leaders. 

—- During this time Sund said he called Irving twice more and Stenger once to check on their progress. Sund says he is losing patience and also calls Walker to tell him to get ready to bring the Guard. 

— 14:00 Protestors arrive at the Capitol buildings after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue 

—-14:10  Irving calls back to give approval to call the Guard. 

—-Plain Clothes officers begin barricading the door to the Speaker’s lobby

—-14:15 Protestors have broken through the perimeter fencing in a heated battle, and begin climbing the stairs to the outside of the building. The D.C. Police begin sending cars to assist. 

—14:26 Sund is now on a conference call with the Pentagon. 

The problem is that unlike elsewhere in the U.S. The D.C. National Guard does not report to a governor, but to the President. The Secretary of the Army was not on the call to actually give the approval.  

The call had been organized by the D.C. Homeland Security Director, Chris Rodriguez. On the call is the D.C. Police Chief, the Mayor and Walker. 

Sund makes an urgent request for the calling out of the National Guard. Several Pentagon people are on this call, including Army Staff Director Lt. General Walter Piatt. Piatt states during this call that “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing in front of the Capital”. Piatt’s boss is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and is the one who has to approve the deployment of the Guard. 

The call gets noisy with people over talking others before Contee intervenes and asks for clarification “Steve, are you requesting National Guard Assistance at the Capitol?” Sund says “I am making urgent, urgent, immediate request for National Guard Assistance. “

Piatt again jumps in to the conversation again and again pushes back on Sund saying he would prefer to have Guard soldiers take up posts “around Washington” relieving the D.C. Police so that they could respond to the Capitol instead of the guardsmen. 

Of course, Piatt points out that McCarthy the Secretary of the Army and the final approval needed was not on this call. 

Contee asked Piatt “Let me be clear, are you denying this?” No, Piatt said he just didn’t have the authority to approve it. 

—-1504 hrs According to the defence department McCarthy “verbally” authorizes the activation of the entire D.C guard. 

*It would take another two hours for most of the citizen soldiers to leave their jobs and homes and pick up their gear. 

—-15:45 hrs Stenger, unaware of the apparent order by McCarthy, tells Lund that he would ask his boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for help getting the National Guard authorized. No one knows how this ended up. 

By this time, Capitol Police, Secret Service, Park Police and the FBI were all on the scene helping to eject rioters, and sweep the building. 

One could safely assume that by 1700 hrs the rest of the National Guard would have been in place, in time to assist the janitorial staff with sweeping up. 

Bureaucratic creep, multiple levels and authorities, conference rooms and command centres. These are the characteristics of modern day police management, where political agendas have been welcomed into operational decision making. What it looks like, how it plays to the media has become the overriding question in police departments.

Don’t think that this can happen in Canada? Is there a need to remind anyone of the shooting of Nathan Cirillo on Parliament Hill, and the gunman, Michael Zehauf Bibeau, a 32 year old misfit and drug addict, no more organized than this Washington group, allowed to run into Parliament, passed several security staff and allowed to run free in the halls before being shot 32 times. Do I need to remind anyone how Ms. Chretien woke up to an intruder in her bedroom, an individual having got past that intrepid group of yawning and bored Mounties at 24 Sussex. Or how about the fellow who blew himself up with ten sticks of dynamite inside a Parliament Hill washroom in 1966 before he could make it to the House of Commons. 

It is obvious to most that Security,at the best of times, is a bit of a mugs game. This despite growing levels of dark suits and Oakley sunglasses. If one wants to storm Parliament Hill with 8000 angry demonstrators, do we think that we would be equipped to turn them away? It seems unlikely. 

Having been once part of the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 we were surrounded and “supported” by tthe Gold, Silver and Bronze command centres who were in application tragically comic. Hundreds of officers passing paper between themselves and a myriad of high level officers. There is little doubt that if there had been a true security “incident” in this billion dollar security operation, it would still have fallen to a dozen officers on the front line, while hundreds would have remain closeted in various boardrooms. 

The fallout now in Washington has been tiresome in its predictability. Politicians and government officials now kicking themselves in the head with their knee-jerk reactions. Band wagon lawmakers now out from behind their desks, now calling the whole episode a “severe systemic failure” that must not happen again.

Three officers have been suspended and seventeen more are under investigation. The entire force of 2,000 officers who are there to defend the two square miles have a $500 million budget and are under full review. Out of the woodwork come the usual suspects of the woke culture filling the air with the allegations of the police force being a group of  old boys networks, a structure built of glass ceilings, and racial bias. It seems to be agreed that this was a well paid police force, often filled with patronage appointments and a police force obviously suffering from “mission creep”. 

The next security concern, the Biden inauguration will be ridiculous in the over kill. Already forming up in Washington is more soldiers than are in Afghanistan. Perfect 20/20 hindsight.  

Democrats have pounced on another chance to pontificate and stamp out the evil Trump and have now voted to impeach him for a second time over this incident. If the first impeachment didn’t work, get up and try, try, again. 

When the dust settles, the Incident Command classrooms throughout North America will have trainers analyze what went wrong in course after course; only to have it happen again once the memories start to fade. Nothing will change until we get away from the current and constant belief that more is good, that bigger is better.  The incident command system with all the self-important middle managers need to be removed and arm chair quarterbacks need to disappear along with their “desk top exercises”. The pyramid needs to be drastically flattened.

The bigger problem will still be that police management must become apolitical. Currently, that seems unlikely.

Photo by Marco Verch Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Freedom and the Battle with Public Safety

As a person who once wore blue— it was often drummed into our cerebellum that civil libertarians were the devil; and if not the devil, then they were doing the devils work. 

So I am approaching this well established policing tenet with some trepidation. Somewhat shockingly, I have found myself in agreement with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (The Pivot Legal Society still remains way outside my new found conversion) This dark metamorphosis has come to me parallel with an over-riding feeling that we Canadians have become sheep.  We are following an eager and willing governmental shepherd –as we traverse the rolling hills of Covid.   

Our Liberal shepherds seemingly believe and voice in convincing fashion that they are part of the greater and principled good. Their stated goal is to insure that none of us fall into harms way, they are protecting us from ourselves. Our once personal decisions have now been taken over by an all knowing government, only they in a position to know what is right and guide us. To save us in their crusade, they are clearly willing to subjugate the many for the sake of the few. They are so convinced of their noble-mindedness that there is no apparent need for any evidence or justification.  Every question is met with a perfunctory rejoinder: “public safety”.

We, the unwashed masses, in return, have become wilfully blind to the trampling of our rights and freedoms. Seemingly ignorant as to the cost of that blindness. 

The “public safety” chorus is being used as a societal hammer to nail down those non-believers, the heretics who question any or all of the protocols. To question is to be labelled un-educated, selfish, or as one local media personality called those that dare to be contrary, the “knuckle draggers”. 

The strange symbolic flag of this righteous cause has become a cloth item that fits over the ears. Remember, it is not protecting you, it is protecting them from you. A grandiose symbol that conjures up fits of love or rage—ironically produced for a few pennies mainly in a communist China. 

The “health” ordered rules have led to police identification checks, roadblocks, warrantless searches and arrests. In the last few weeks there has been a hue and cry for increased charges and allusions to possible jail time. The ever changing restrictions, rules, regulations and creation of  anonymous tip lines are supported by the exhortation that the  government is “standing with us”. 

They deflect accountability, either financially or administratively with the axiom that they are only following the “science.” The fact every Province is gathering the science and interpreting that “science” differently seems to be lost to the many. Doctors can be found on every side of the issue, doctors signing letters to have children get back to school, other doctors insisting that they are kept away. Leaders hide behind the un-elected health officials when there is any sign of push back. 

 The right to life, liberty and security as enshrined under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been pushed aside by medical mandates designed primarily to save an encumbered and clearly inadequate health care system. But the most mystifying element is how quickly the populace fell into acquiescence. Are we so complacent in our freedoms that the removal of them is met with a shrug of the shoulders. 

Did anyone foresee that it would be a flu virus that would lead to the subjugation of basic human rights in this country? A flu virus that would cause people to turn onto each other —willing to report often minor contraventions of a health order, yelling on Twitter for the jailing of their fellow citizens for gathering in a group of more than a totally subjective pre-determined few. 

Some of the more restrictive covenants have come out of the Maritimes. Newfoundland recently  placed an almost outright travel ban, completely contrary to the mobility rights outlined by Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The CCLA decided that this was finally enough to act and brought the matter to court. They lost that case when Justice Burrage of the Newfoundland Supreme Court felt that it had been justified in the “name of public health”. (The CCLA is appealing.)

In Prince Edward Island after the revealing of four (4) new cases began closing gyms and dining rooms. There was a total of fourteen (14) cases at that time in the entire Province, which has a population of 157,000 people. That is a percentage of 0.00891%. They argued that they were being “precautionary”; the CCLA counters that in “terms of civil liberties..proportionality should trump precautionary”. 

The irresponsible media continues to fuel a rather perverse fear that non-compliance was associated with quick death. This continual marketing of fear in search of life giving headlines has played a massive role in the public acceptance of these ever increasing freedom restrictions. 

Doom scrolling has become a thing. Children afraid to leave their house, visit their friends. Suicide rates doubling, unbridled mental health issues, the education system put on hold, elective surgeries postponed possibly for years, unemployment the highest since the depression, and businesses collapsing. 

This is not to say that there was indeed a segment of the population, the elderly and the enfeebled, who with often numerous frailties would clearly be put in a struggle to survive if exposed to this particular flu variant. A drastic curtailing of those that were allowed to be near or intermingle with the vulnerable, seems more plausible and therefore more justifiable in these instances. 

For the others in society the presented justifications require a real stretching of the imagination. It is also become increasingly apparent that the battle against Covid is being waged by only 20% of the population. A large segment of the population remain unaffected. They didn’t see their income decrease, they did not lose their jobs, they were not forced to work in possible contamination. The responsibility for this fight against the virus has fallen directly on the most vulnerable and the financial underclass in Canada. The immigrant factory worker in the meat processing plant must get the product undisturbed to those of us trying out some new recipes at home. 

The mandarins making up the fight and speaking from the pulpit have not been touched by the virus in general terms. They speak to us from on high, above the tidal waters, above the possibility of drowning. The governor of California out with a group at the “French Laundry” restaurant, the Ontario finance Minister vacationing out of the country, the Kingston public servant raising a glass of cheer on her boat during the summer, another day off thanks to virus. School in, school out. Tickets to six persons playing poker, or to people not of the same residence having dinner together. 

In the news today, the clinics for the vaccine closed for the weekend in Ontario. Its a crisis for some, not for a lot of the others. It is easy to tell other people to conform, it is easy to be in the right, if the impinging on those rights does not have a palatable and economic effect on your personal circumstances. 

So with all these vagaries of cause and effect can we justify the breaching of our constitutional rights? Can we forego Section 2 which declares our fundamental freedoms of belief, expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of association? Can we forego Section 6 which encapsulates our mobility rights, the right to enter, remain and leave Canada, and the ability to move and take up residence in any Province? It is a fundamental question as to whether we should be trusting the government to make those decisions for us. Ask the people in Hong Kong.

As the years have gone by I have found myself moving from the left side of the political spectrum to the centre right; more libertarian, now wavering in my belief that the government had to play a significant role in our lives. My outlook is less philosophical and more practical, based almost exclusively on decades of observation rather then on some natural political bend in philosophy. 

Government just doesn’t do things well in many instances. This isn’t conspiratorial, this isn’t for lack of effort by sometimes well meaning government employees, but more a matter of structural logistics. (The RCMP in its current form is clear cut proof of a too big, often illogical and structurally inert governmental institution; able to see the problem, but just not capable of doing anything about it. ) The current rollout of the vaccine seems to be hell bent on proving this to be true. 

There are some instances when public safety could or may invoke restrictions on the right to life and liberty. But, at the same time, there needs to be justification with compelling and testable evidence of any governmental action. Any constriction of fundamental human rights needs to be seriously examined. It can not be based solely on possibilities. Most importantly it has to be proportional to the cause. (The latest stats: 1.625% of the population of Canada has contracted Covid—85 % of those have recovered; so 1.3% of the 1.6% have recovered. Currently there are 0.24% of the population with active Covid)

Where does this leave the police? It needs to be learned that discretion in law enforcement is always a fundamental determinant of policing.  The larger the discretionary factor in terms of law applicability, the more the difficult and subjective the job for the police. When you put in place ever-changing and questionable rules and regulations, enforcement becomes dangerous territory. The value of a police force is measured in its level of credibility and its demonstrated integrity. Moral and ethical reputation is crucial to the policing life-blood.

The arbitrary or discretionary use of force and rule applications has to be seen as consistent, practical, and effective. Otherwise, you are open to ridicule and cynicism, neither of which will be helpful when it comes to enforcing the laws. The inconsistencies in the health orders and proclamations are too numerous to mention. Should you be able to outlaw dining outside in a public space, or to attend church services, or to go to another Province, while at the same time allowing NHL hockey teams to gather in their local hockey rink, or wave the need for Blue Jays officials to quarantine or deeming liquor and cannabis stores as essential. 

 It is getting harder and harder to understand and believe in this all being a rational exercise. The din of apoplectic  doctors wanting more and more infringements of your rights in an effort to save their Intensive care units seems endless. Those same ICU units, which according to the authorities have been on the “brink” of collapse, every day, day in and day out for the last six months. 

We need to take some time, to pause and consider the obvious stomping on the Canadian Constitution which is now underway. For some it is their economic livelihood and ability to care for their families which is at stake, for others it is their mental and physical health and ability to carry on. For all of us it is our personal freedom. No one should like the direction this country is going in terms of human rights and the arbitrary and the often counter-intuitive enforcement of its laws. 

Somewhat apropos Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Or if you would like something a little closer to our Canadian home, Pierre Trudeau said “I remember thinking that walking on the beach as a free man is pretty desirable”. 

Photo Courtesy of Edna Witni via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Waiting for Godot…and 2021

In the two Act play, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Becket, two characters have discussions and encounters while waiting for Godot-who in the end never shows up.

In some ways we have been waiting for this new year in similar fashion, a similar tragic comedy. Unlike Godot, thankfully, 2021 should show up.

Wits and pundits have been pontificating on the year 2020 in endless narratives. The virus of course the main theme, maddeningly repetitive, to the point of being irritating. The second tried and true theme or headline maker in the year that was, Mr. Trump, will like the year also be leaving centre stage; with reluctance, but going all the same. The heads of CNN, that liberal cheerleading foghorn is already meeting to figure out how to deal with the impending drop in ratings. 

So we will try not to dwell on either of those stories. 

For instance, did you know that 2020 was declared the “International Year of Plant Health” by the United Nations and the “Year of the nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Organization?  Me neither. 

 Did you remember that this was a leap year —which started on a Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. I didn’t know that either. 

There were other news events, contrary to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the news editors around the country. 

The Australian bushfires killed over 500 million animals; thousands of people were evacuated after a volcano in Luzon erupted; in February the stock market crashed and plunged by over a million points; 23 people were killed in Portapique Nova Scotia; in May, China reports no new cases of Covid since the pandemic began; Africa is declared free of wild polio since the eradication of smallpox in that continent some 40 years previously; the International Criminal Court accuses the Philippines of crimes against humanity in its war on drugs, while the United States formally accuses Switzerland and Vietnam of currency manipulation. 

Mary Higgins Clark an American novelist died this year; as did Kobe Bryant. As did Little Richard and just this past week, John Le Carre. Different voices, different impacts but all having tilted the earth a bit on its axis. Many others left this world, less notable maybe, some you knew, some you knew of, and some with whom you had no connection. But their impacts were no less meaningful to those within their inner circles. 

The finality of death confirms for each of us that we are but a small speck in this infinite universe and all of us are on an unpredictable time line. It should make us appreciate our own reality and the part that we play in it. It should allow us to have a perspective. Although it is often difficult to ponder a larger time line in this current social climate, bombarded as we are with the narcissistic pull of selfies, tik tok, and memes substituting for conversation.We are often snug in own self-interest, often oblivious on what really matters. 

The trial by fire for this generation is now judged by many to be this dastardly flu. A flu affecting 1% of the population, but killing in great numbers our elders. Many of those elders, those walking history lessons, have been forced to spend their last minutes on earth separated by glass partitions from the very people who really matter to them. That was and is the true single tragedy of this virus. 

The vast majority of us have been unaffected. The wealthy have been exponentially increasing their wealth, and many others have been relegated to bemoaning Netflix and iTunes for not providing enough to keep us entertained. It seems difficult at times to compare our fight to the “greatest generation” and their 20th century battles.  

During this crisis, the middle income earners, have been free to buy up all that is in the stores, bake more, build decks, and put money usually gone to vacations into a new boat or a home large screen television.  All while working at home –claiming to be at the same level of productivity— which still doesn’t seem logistically feasible. 

People in the service industry predominantly have lost their jobs, while housing prices in Vancouver are predicted to rise 4% next year, car sales are up and no hot tubs can be found in stock. 

The bottom 10-20 % who should be in revolt because of their having to bear the weight of this pandemic, have been temporarily satiated or more accurately sedated by the unlimited spending needle of the various levels of government. That will come to an end in 2021 and one can only wonder how long that cash infused stupor will last.  

The drama of the virus plays every night, every waking hour on the 24 news cycle, which has really been reduced to a fifteen minute loop.  A constant stream of fear, bolstered by constant experts with ever more dire predictions. Who would have thought that there were so many epidemiologists in this country? Many have seized on this period of time to be their Warhol fifteen minutes. I have also sadly concluded that not all of them are that smart. Emergency room and ICU doctors present themselves are now folding under the pressure of having to make constant “life and death” decisions. One would have thought that was part of the job description.

Other doctors, who have a counter narrative, are often pushed to the side, while others are elevated to super human pedestals. Dr Bonnie Henry dancing in her Fluevogs. Dr Fauci the tiny  U.S. superman called upon to defy both Trump and the virus. 

Big Pharma once the subject of all that is evil (where is Michael Moore now?) are now riding white steeds into the breach to save us all.  Does anyone now care what the vaccine costs?  

Does anyone believe that we are well positioned in our hospitals and emergency rooms for any natural disaster? All those emergency planning departments that have been around for years apparently did not have enough foresight to make sure there were enough medical masks for an ICU unit that may have to run at 100%. We learn throughout the country that are capacity is in the hundreds, when thousands may be needed.

But let’s not digress too deeply into that deep anxiety ridden hole. Let us pull out of this flat spin and talk about what the hopes, aspirations and predictions are for the new year. 

First the predictions. 

It seems too easy to predict that our news for the next few months will be stories of who gets to be first in line. Stories of blackmarket vaccine, why them and not me will push us to the point of a mental breakdown. 

It is just as easy to predict that the government line will continue to brag about having ordered enough vaccine to inoculate the country several times over.  (Trump’s group by the way say that they will have inoculated their 300 million by June…Canada with its 37 million by September.) All politicians are now hoping that the vaccine and its life saving qualities will paper over the sometimes ridiculous anomalies and undulating policies of the last few months. 

I will predict that the RCMP members will finally get a pay raise. A secondary prediction which flows from this—  half of them will bitch that it is not enough, while their union will brag about their skillful negotiations. 

I will predict that the new Surrey Police Department will begin to form contrary to the RCMP Union wishes. I will also predict that the to be named Deputies under the new Chief Lepinsky will be announced and identified first by their race or gender. I know, too easy. 

I predict that there will be a story about a 1950’s Armed Forces jeep breaking down on Hwy 401 in the slow lane, filled with vaccine, stopped in its delivery of the vital lifeblood on the way to Doug Ford’s house. 

I predict in the next few months that theatres and gyms will remain closed, but liquor stores will remain open. 

I predict that the Federal Liberals will call an election in 2021, feeling that the general population sees them as the only gift that keeps on giving. In that vein, I will predict until that election time, fraud in CERB claims will not be investigated. 

Trudeau will salivate at the chance to run again (how could he possibly go back to being a high school teacher) and Ms. Freeland’s rising star will start to dim as the burden of the Finance Ministry and commanding a trillion dollar economy with no background in finance will begin to wear her down.  

More people will work from home and government productivity will continue downward. They will also continue to blame Covid 19 into the years 2022 and 2023 for the delays and obfuscations. 

I will predict that the newsrooms of the world will be scouring video and online chat, to identify a possible a new Covid-2021 to replace Covid-19, in a need to re-capture the ratings of 2020 and their very survival.  (They have recently latched on to “variations” in the virus.)

I predict Trump will retire to Florida, will hole himself up in golf memorabilia filled room, eating cheeseburgers and Kentucky Fried Chichen- growing his hair to his waist, with darkened long fingernails peeking out from under his kaftan a la Howard Hughes. Forever tweeting from obscurity but never being seen in public. 

I will predict that Biden will be sworn in as U.S. President and for the next four years will do nothing, which will please everyone. Kamala will continue to be frustrated as the President reaches the ripe old age of 81. Fit as a fiddle and in good spirits despite having to try and keep his son out of jail. Hunter Biden will continue to be the hunted. 

What are our hopes for the New Year? 

I do hope that Commissioner Lucki will find the fortitude to begin a major re-building of the RCMP. That somehow she will begin to realize that she is running an operational police force, not a cultural institution. (I should point out that I do not have a good track record when it comes to projecting hope…every year I hope that a Porsche Carrera ends up in my driveway with a big red bow)

I hope that Bill Blair is replaced.  

I hope that we will return to a level of civility in this country, one where people are allowed to speak and be heard, in spite of having a different perspective. 

I hope that this virus will at the very least lead to an improvement in how we treat and handle our elders. That we re-think the warehousing model. That an extended family once again becomes “a new normal” (I also hope with all my heart that the phrase the ‘new normal’ also goes the same way as the virus). 

I hope that we begin to read and understand history. Believe it or not, most if not all the problems of the future have been part of the past. To pay attention to that past will show us the way, or at the very least lead to some greater depth of understanding. 

I hope people will find the fortitude to give an honest assessment of all this Covid fighting and the ominous repercussions which have yet to be measured. I sincerely hope that human rights is once again is part of that measurement. 

I hope that journalism finds its way. It is completely lost.

I hope that you coppers out there stay safe. 

But most of all, I hope that all of you enjoy Xmas and have someone near and dear (Zoom near of course) I hope that all of you find something under the tree ( shares in Zoom? )

I am a lucky person, with both friends and family, and I wish all of you the same luck.

 I will continue to pompously lecture from this blog site, safe and forever comfortable in always being right and very wise. 

Happy Holidays everyone…. thank you all for reading and your support.  

Merry Xmas.

Photo courtesy of SilverTD via Flickr Commons – Some rights reserved

The Indigenous and the FLQ parallel

In October of 1970 a small group of radicals known as “separatistes” gathered and organized determined to take the Province of Quebec into a new political order. They imagined and sought a transformative and radical change, one in which Quebec would become a “sovereign nation”, no longer part of the Dominion of Canada. The “Front de Liberation du Quebec”, the FLQ, did not believe it was possible for this to happen using normal political avenues. They felt that there needed to be a jolt to the sensibilities. They, in the end, were responsible for over 950 bombs being detonated around the City of Montreal in the quest for that freedom and independence.

The Federal Liberals at the time under then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would institute the War Measures Act and 497 people would be arrested and arbitrarily held. Charles de Gaulle would exclaim from a balcony in Quebec in 1976, “Vivre le Quebec libre!” in what some would say was a misguided and impromptu show of support for an independent Quebec.

In the end this radical cell was thwarted; 23 of the FLQ went to jail and 4 went to jail for the murder of Pierre Laporte, who died in honour of the cause. Tanks were parked on Parliament Hill. It was a truly significant and violent chapter in the history of Canada— all in the name of Quebec provincial independence. 

In 1976 the potential of separatism still enthralled many of the people of Quebec and Rene Levesque was voted in as Premier of that Province as the leader of the newly formed Parti Quebecois. His and his party’s platform was founded on the single fundamental principle of leading Quebec away from Canada, but this time through a legal and electoral process designed to do what the FLQ could not achieve through violence. 

After a few years and an early referendum on the issue, in 1980, a Province wide referendum was held which requested the support for the legal removal of Quebec from Confederation. The process and voting captured the eyes and ears of the entire nation. The rest of Canada awaited the results that night with bated breath, not knowing whether or not Canada was going to be forever changed, its geographic boundaries re-drawn? A new sovereign nation literally dividing Canada.

It was a hard fought political battle between the diminutive and scrappy Levesque and many had a grudging admiration for his hard held belief and his impassioned ability to articulate the desire of the Quebec people. Pierre Trudeau was his natural nemesis and argued with equal personal passion that Canada could not survive such a radical and ill thought out solution. Both carried the level of oratory and debate to a level never seen before or since in this country.

Levesque and the Parti Quebecois lost the referendum by a slim majority. The people of Quebec decided that to remain in Canada was the wiser choice. (under Premier Parizeau, the Parti Quebecois would again seek to separate with another referendum in 1995 which was also lost).

Now, some fifty years later, many would be dumbfounded by the ease by which another group in this country, a much smaller group, is about to achieve the same goal once held by the Parti Quebecois, with little or no fanfare, no call to arms or public debate.  This time, ironically, the son of that ardent Federalist Pierre Trudeau is about to grant virtual independence and self-government with the stroke of a pen. No referendum, no debate.

The Indigenous of this country have convinced the political powers that the necessary extension of this long long road to “reconciliation” has an ultimate goal—and that goal is the wholesale adoption by Canada of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A legally non-binding UN resolution, which the Liberals are now going to make legally binding. 

The Conservatives were in power at that time of the original U.N. Declaration which was passed in 2007. In its initial inception, Canada voted against the Declaration as did other countries.

At that time the Conservatives made official public statements against the application of UNDRIP in Canada. The Indian Affairs Minister at the time Jim Prentice stated the opinion that the the Declaration conflicts with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While it supported the “spirit” of the declaration, it said that it contained elements that were “fundamentally incompatible with Canada’s constitutional framework”, including “the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Section 35 which already enshrines aboriginal and treaty rights”. 

The most specific problem they argued then and it can be argued now was with Section 19 : which appears to require “governments to secure the consent of indigenous peoples regarding matters of general public policy”. 

The Liberals in 2015, when the UN Declaration was changed to be a “non-binding” document and therefore not carrying the legal weight of its previous iteration, reversed Canada’s position  to one of support for the document. This appeased for a time the Indigenous political agenda, but without legal enshrinement, it was merely a statement of principle. 

The Liberals in 2020 under the un-relenting urging of the Indigenous leadership are now about to be granted enshrinement of the declaration into law in the form of Bill C-15.

This bill is being presented, or a better term may be marketed, as merely an affirmation of basic human rights; and they are urging that we should all applaud in unison. The news media being presented with this explanation of it being only a matter of basic human rights, glosses over the details and have fallen into subservience. No further questioning as to the political and economic ramifications.

Justice Minister Lametti, flanked by his Indigenous cohort Perry Bellegarde echoed the marketing theme when asked about whether there would be opposition support: “who is going to vote against human rights?” 

While on one hand downplaying Bill C-15 as a foregone conclusion, a mere exercise in codifying the obvious, Lametti does admit that “it has the potential to be transformational”.  Mr. Lametti refers to this Act as being at the “starting line” as he wishes to place “150 plus years, longer than that, of colonialism and the impact of it behind us”. He wants us to move on to “a different model.” 

Mr. Bellegarde, the spokesperson for the Assembly of First Nations, has also been pushing this bill for some time, but he too downplays the significance of the legislation and sticks to the script saying that it doesn’t really do anything; other than “it acknowledges and and affirms our rights under international law”. Although, he does later return to the familiar trope– the Act will serve to condemn the “racist and colonial doctrines and beliefs that have led to grave human rights abuses including the residential school system. “

Bill C-15 and the U.N. Declaration is based on the principle, that this country we know as Canada, is actually the “territory” of the Indigenous. This narrative has been pushed willingly for some time by the woke Liberals and NDP.

Their contention is that the immigrant side of this story, the immigrants who “colonized” or some would say “settled” this country needs to be pushed aside in the history books. Those Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, Chinese and Italians who long ago carved a living out of often hazardous and meagre circumstances now have no direct or historical claim to the vast and largely empty lands which they settled. Mr. Lametti would like to place that portion of history “behind us”. The indigenous fundamentally believe and argue that colonization dispossessed them of “their lands” —that colonization was inherently evil and the country that was built around that settlement was somehow invalid. They never “ceded” their territory they exclaim.

The United Nations in writing their declaration were concerned that “indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests”. The two themes, which plays throughout this document are: “Recognizing their rights to their lands, their territories and resources” and “the right to self-determination of all peoples”.

No matter what one believes, one should at the very least realize that the nature and process of government in this country is about to significantly change if this bill passes 3rd reading. If the constantly reconciling Liberals have their way with Bill C-15– 5% of the population, regardless of historic claims, will have effective economic and political sway over the 95%.  If this sounds like an exaggeration then you need to read the very articles which are being proposed (my italics) and are swallowed up whole in Bill C-15: 

Article 3 – spells out “the right to self-determination”

Article 4 – “in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as means for financing their autonomous functions”

Article 14 – “ Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning”

Article 16 – “States without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity and have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination”

Article 19 – Probably the most contentious is the article —“States shall consult and and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain free and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”. 

Article 21 – “Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health, and social security”.

Article 26 – “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories, which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used or acquired” 

Rene Levesque must be looking down from a cigarette smoke-filled heaven and be astounded about the ease of this process. Pierre Trudeau will be rolling over in frustration at the idiocy of an argument now being put forward by his own son –that any of this is sustainable, workable or in the best interests of a Federal Canada. 

What is slowly being revealed however is that the Liberals, under the cover of COVID and the billions of dollars of incurred debt may have now discovered that maybe this is the opportune time to spend a few more billion in the pursuit of their loyal followers, whether it be the environmentalists or the Indigenous. Carbon tax or sovereign institutions, a few billion here and there to promote their agenda will go unnoticed. After all, all the media can talk about is Covid-19.

Some Provinces have urged the Feds to slow down on Bill C-15 that the repercussions of this bill could be momentous. No, no says Justin, it is time to move forward. To argue against their cause effectively puts you in the category of the unenlightened, intolerant of change, and ignorant of this new history.

This Bill of course is not about fundamental human rights. As previously stated that is already covered in Section 35 of the Constitution.

This is about power and money and future votes. This is part of a payment plan designed by the Liberal party for the security of the Indigenous vote in perpetuity. That is frustratingly obvious. 

Nobody even knows what weight this Act will carry, what political shape it will take and the economic cost of implementing these principles of self-determination and separation from the other parts of Canada. Mr. Lametti when asked about “free, prior and informed consent” says he can’t define how that is going to turn out. His ineffectual response was that “every consent requires a unique process that includes a dialogue with Indigenous people”. 

In the 1970’s Quebec under Levesque and the Parti Quebecois at least had a plan; one which included a distinct geographic boundary, a proposed parliamentary style government, a singular and unified culture and an economic plan for self sustainability. This has none of that.

There is no plan. The only commonality is the ever increasing need for continued and increasing economic support from the part of the country from which they wish to be politically separate. To add to the political and economic confusion and chaos which surrounds the Indigenous cause, we now have a Justice Minister introducing a fundamental change in the law—and he doesn’t really know how it is going to turn out. Who could argue with such political vision?

One should note that the first Parti Quebecois government in the 1970’s was the first government to recognize the rights of aboriginal peoples to self-determination. But, there was a huge caveat, it was only “insofar as this self-determination did not affect the territorial integrity of Quebec”. Over 50 years ago even a radicalized Rene Levesque saw the possibility of a sovereign Indigenous as constitutionally unviable.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons Renegade 98 – Some Rights Reserved