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Defining Terrorism

If you have been drawn to the Emergencies Act Commission in recent days, you would have seen that finally, we are now getting into the nitty-gritty of Ottawa backroom politics. There has been a delay in this blog as I dutifully awaited to finally hear from the grand master himself, Mr. Trudeau. These are the persons who determined that Ottawa was under “siege” and “occupation” and that the implementation of the Emergencies Act was in their view, sound judgement. They are the ultimate masters of circle talk, the power members who reply to questions with some combination of condescension and frustration as they try to explain what only they can see. A frowning Freeland, a puffed up Montecino, the arrogant Lametti, and the actor Trudeau, all in agreement with their righteous stance that what they did was both justified, and in fact the right thing to do. In their political view, the convoy, and the blockades was causing “threats to the security of Canada that are so serious as to be a national emergency”.

Their evidence of those beliefs is clearly inflated but not fully revealed, as it remains hidden behind cabinet confidentiality or because of client solicitor privilege as in the case of Justice Minister Lametti. They clearly struggled with their rationale, unable to point to what caused them to come to this belief. When confronted with the exact words used in the Act, which were lifted from the CSIS definition– that there must be “serious evidence against people or property, espionage, foreign interference, or an intent to overthrow the government by violence” they are stuck. You can physically watch them spin their mental wheels in the mud of the face of actual detailed fact . CSIS themselves of course testified said that they did not find any evidence to meet the criteria. Freeland argued that the Americans, in not getting their auto parts on time from Windsor was sufficiently damaging to the economy of the country and the reputation of the country, that she felt that it constituted a national emergency and a threat to Canadian society. She also related how the Biden government was concerned and that they needed to do something because they had been told by the Americans that they needed to do something. She did not know how to answer the fact that the blockade on the Windsor bridge was removed prior the implementation of the Act.

Is it possible then that the use of airhorns and the illegal parking of trucks was stretched in definition by the Liberals, to include a convoy of truckers protesting a vaccine mandate? In essence were they a terrorist group? Were they trying to overthrow the government? It defies the imagination, but alas, this is Ottawa, a city filled with cocoon like towers of Federal bureaucrats, all huddled in their cubicles, normally free from outside concerns. In this world they speak their own progressive lingo (a terrorist is an IMVE – Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremist), they are intolerant of those with differing opinions, safe in knowing that they and only they know what is best for the country, as they spend their lunch hours wandering Sparks St Mall looking for a cheap Chipotle lunch. They are for the most part safe from dissent, or at least the dissent of the unwashed, and they are never threatened with such things as job security, or the possibility of someone living amongst their midst with callused hands and poor manners. Marco Mendocino stated that this group was traumatizing the working from home residents–the “residents are terrorized” he exclaimed early during the protest. Lametti thought maybe they should use tanks. Although he says he was just joking in the email. He felt scared to the point that he re-located to the safe confines of Montreal. They came to a decision early on that these heathens needed to be removed, along with their children and pets who were apparently part of this un-controllable siege, who according to Trudeau were using the children as protection. Freeland said it was like playing “wack-a-mole” trying to control the discontented from rising up. Trudeau testified today he was frustrated by a lack of a plan by the police, and then was confronted under cross- examination with a 73 page plan that was distributed before the Emergencies Act imposition. You may also be interested to know that the Liberal government discussed the Emergency Plan and using it during COVID.

There was lots of testimony heard about the lack of a need for the Emergencies Act from the police and others. That it was not needed nor was it requested. However, political necessity always overrides fact, especially amongst this apparently now quivering group of Cabinet members. They wanted to do something and they were clearly having bad dreams about the American events of January 6th in Washington. But, they needed to be coached through this, someone who gave credence to their plan for implementation.

Along comes 40 year civil servant, Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council Office, who writes a memo to the gathered group of senior ministers in which she states: ” the public unrest is being felt across the country…which may provide further momentum to the movement and lead to irreparable harms–including social coercion, national unity and Canada’s international reputation” She goes on to say that this “fits with the statutory parameters of the Emergencies Measures Act”. Of course it doesn’t, but again why let the facts get in the way, and she gives us a hint as to the psychological incentive for the Act when she says: “god help us if we have another January 6th”. If you analyze the words of this statement it gets even a little more Orwellian. She feels the act is warranted because she is worried about “social coercion” to a non-Liberal sanctioned cause, namely the vaccine mandates. As far as Canada’s international reputation, she may want to speak directly to the Prime Minister about having hallway chats with the Chinese leadership. But that is for another time. Trudeau says that the Charette memo was “essential” in his decision.

When grilled as to the fact that none of the reporting agencies felt that the protest was a national emergency, Charette said that her job and the job of the government was to look at the “totality of the circumstances”, that even though there was no “specific site”, no “specific actor”, it was the movement itself which had her perturbed. The movement apparently in her reasoning was a monster all by itself, it breathed life on its own, it was not made up of individuals. She did say though, in her memo, that the use of the Emergencies Act “could be challenged”. Apparently even this non-lawyer knew she was skirting and widening the legal definition. But her pronouncement was apparently enough for the cowering politicos, who a couple of hours after the Cabinet meeting, decided that the Emergencies Act should be implemented.

But let’s assume she was right– and the charges against Tamara Lich and Chris Barber for mischief, and counselling mischief, and the 3000 parking tickets met the requirements to justify the use of this militarized piece of legislation. If one accepts this to be the case, then let’s compare the Ottawa convoy to something which happened in a lonely part of northern British Columbia.

Approximately 60 kms south west of Houston, B.C. there is a Forest Service Road which if you go up about 60 kms, you will find the the Coastal Gas Link pipeline being built by TC Energy. At this particular location, the $6.6 billion pipeline, which has been approved by all levels of government, goes under the Morice river.

But there is a problem. This particular area is also described as “sacred land” by the Wet’suwt’en First Nation. This particular “un-ceded area” to which they claim is made up of 22,000 square kilometres of land, and is “overseen” by no less than six elected Band Councils. However, the problem is that even though the Band Councils approved the pipeline (with the usual amount of economic incentives given to them) the “hereditary chiefs” of the Wet’suwt’en were not in agreement.

On February 17, 2022 about 20-30 white camouflaged hooded individuals decided to take matters into their own hands. These masked individuals came up the Marten Forest Service Road, in the middle of the night, carrying axes, fire sticks, an even a cordless angle grinder, used to cut through the security gates. Another similar group was attacking from the other end, closer to the Morice River drill pad, where an overnight crew was preparing the site.

The security guard in his truck was immediately attacked, windows broken out of his vehicle and axes swung at his vehicle, one which such force that it ended up in the back seat of the vehicle. He tried to escape, but the road was blocked, so he came back and was once again attacked. They then also tried to torch the back of the vehicle. The group continued with their rampage, smashing heavy machinery beyond repair, remote buildings were gutted, and bulldozers pushed on to their sides. The local RCMP was called shortly after midnight and began the journey up the forest service road. At kilometre 41 the road was blocked with tar covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes, tarps and lit fires. Some of the attackers were there as well and began throwing smoke bombs and fire lit sticks at the police. One officer was injured in stepping on a spiked board. Once past this roadblock, another 2 kms up the road, an old school bus was being used to block the road. By the time they reached the actual site of the attack, millions of dollars in damage had been done. The pictures are self-explanatory.

In the words of the then C/Supt of the RCMP Warren Brown was that this was a “calculated and organized attack”.

Of course this was not the first attack, nor are the primary suspects in these matters hidden, in fact they are hiding in plain sight.

In 2020 protestors who supported the Hereditary Chiefs, calling themselves the “Land Defenders”, blocked the work site for 59 days, and finally after receiving an injunction and an eviction notice were then forced to leave, but they did not go willingly, another police action was warranted and/or in the words of the CBC, thirty people were “violently arrested”.

In November 2021, again the protestors attacked the site, commandeering heavy equipment, trenching the road surfaces, and erecting blockades. About 500 employees were stranded and unable to leave the site.

More recently on October 26, 2022 there was an arson attack in Smithers, B.C., in the parking lot of the Sunshine Inn. A total of eight vehicles were burned, four RCMP cruisers, along with four other vehicles which included a BC Hydro truck and an ambulance. One of the RCMP vehicles was marked with the “C-IRG”. The RCMP have set up a uniform contingency group to patrol the areas, their vehicles identified by the “C-IRG” on their vehicles, who are there to safeguard from any further “energy industry incidents”. This is the hotel that the police usually stay at when working the security patrols for the pipeline. The mayor of Smithers, Mayor Atrill, admitted that there was a “temptation in the community to ascribe the crime to conflict…over the pipeline”.

So up to this date, it is currently estimated that over $275 million in economic damages have been sustained in attacks on this build of the critical national infrastructure. The RCMP at the time felt that they had identified one or two of the suspects in the axe attacks, but currently no one has been charged, even though the RCMP claim that they have had forty officers involved in the investigation. There remain no leads, nor any confirmations of the funding or methods of the attackers.

The Band councils after the axe attack at the site said: “we call on those who are inviting violent non-Wet’suwet’en people into our territories to withdraw their invitations”. A curious wording to be sure, and one could interpret this as an admission that they are aware of the suspects while at the same time saying it is not them.

Are they concerned about the economic damages? Not really. They are concerned about that this attack “…should not have any ongoing investigations negatively impact their ability to carry out their traditional practises or limit access to their territories”.

Much more recently there was a fire in Montreal in a residential driveway, where a Jaguar and a Land Rover were burned. The home was owned by Royal Bank of Canada, Michael Fortier. RBC has been involved in the financing of the pipeline, although one can only surmise that it ties into the pipeline issue.

So let’s compare Ottawa to the events in northern B.C.

What is the most terroristic act?

Could we get the Liberal cabinet ministers together for another meeting, like the one in Ottawa, and let them decide whether this set of circumstances meets the criteria for another declaration of the Emergencies Act. In northern B.C. the police clearly are being stymied, they have no other avenues of investigation left open to them, unlike they did in Ottawa. The attacks are national in scope, there are claims being made for their own governments to replace the current existing authorities, it is violent, it is causing economic harm, and it is attack on the basic infrastructure of the economy.

If the government invoked the Emergency Measures Act in Northern B.C. , maybe they could freeze the assets of the Wet’suwet’en until such time as the Bands could come forward with a more co-operative effort and a list of the suspects.

Of course, one knows this is not going to happen. Let us not mince words. There is a Go-Free card that the Indigenous pull out at every opportunity in the Canadian monopoly game. This includes the breaking of the laws of this country and committing acts of “terror”. They have been over-stepping the bounds of the law for quite some time now, and they continue to do so with impunity.

The only explanation for this is that they are the Justin Trudeau’s cause, so much so that Lametti when asked by the Indigenous lawyer representative at the Commission as to future possible use of the Emergencies Act, said they would look at including the Indigenous in the any future decision making process when in judgement as to what constitutes an act of insurrection and a future use of the Emergencies Act.

It is said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The Indigenous are the freedom fighters, the convoy members are the terrorists. It’s all in the definition.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Ross Dunn – Some Rights Reserved

The Police Playing at Politics

The academics who study the police, whether they be criminologists or sociologists, all seem to agree that there have been three different “eras” in the history of policing. The three are differentiated, primarily by the level of interaction between police and the government bodies which oversee them.

There was a period from 1840-1930, the time in which most police services as we know them today came into being. This is referred to as the “political era”. A period of close ties between the police and the politicians, a period of time which because of this closeness, this lack of power separation, was rife with corruption. The second era has been called the “professionalism/reform” era, when the police preached about and brought policies in designed to end political cronyism. Whether they managed to achieve this goal is disputable.

In a study of the Los Angelas Police Department done by Gerry Woods, he points to the fact that few gains were achieved from the movement away from the political machine run police departments during the transition and into the “professional and independent era”. This was due he argues that what in effect happened was that the power of the police shifted from being controlled by the politicians to the police becoming political themselves. This transformation was aided and pushed by the formation of unions, police beginning to voice their support for political candidates, and the various issue led lobbying efforts of the police during this time period.

The third era, the one in which we find ourselves now, is the “community policing” era. The theme to this phase was of course that the police became one with the community, the people who live in that community, and therefore were to reflect the concerns and needs of that community. At least in theory.

Throughout all of these time periods though, the police have always stated the goal was police autonomy, the need for a separation from the politicians. The police were not to be restrained by government nor be given direction. The arguments for this goal were three fold, and fairly obvious– that political involvement of the police was in and of itself unnecessary, that political involvement by the police endangered police legitimacy, and finally, that political participation by the police was in fact dangerous to democracy.

In 1829 Sir Robert Peel echoed these beliefs in his “rules of policing”, and these rules formed the bedrock of many policing agencies set up in North America over the past century. Rule #2 of his rule book was that the police had to “secure and maintain public respect”. Rule #5 stated that the police needed to “demonstrate absolute impartial service to the law” and not by “pandering to public opinion”. Rule #7 and likely the most consistently quoted was that the “police are the public and the public are the police”.

In Canada and for the most part, throughout the rest of the world, there has been this police dictate, especially when front facing the general public, to extoll and “protect the rhetoric of independence”. This has been done despite the indisputable logistical fact that the police are by necessity almost always in structure, and in practise, acting as part of the executive arm of government.

R. Reiner in writing on “The Politics of the Police” says that “all relationships which have a power dimension are political”. Margaret Beare agrees in a paper titled “The History and the Future of Politics of Policing” and states that there is in fact the undeniable truth that there is always a “normalized state of control by government officials”. She goes on to say and point out though that the trouble begins or “the difficulty arises when the police are complicit”.

In other words when the police begin to play or aid in the political process, problems undoubtedly arise. Reiner says likewise, but that it is for most part hidden from easy observation, and that “the political direction to police operational decisions may only be seen when something goes wrong”.

The point of this is that in the last number of months, things have indeed gone wrong, and our police and political leaders are now being fully exposed. The effect is that it is now serving to discredit and embarrass the day to day officers. Likewise, the credibility of the police has been grievously wounded and the road to restoring that credibility is going to be a long one.

The two most obvious examples of political and police collusion are obviously the events of Portapique Nova Scotia and the imposition of the Emergencies Act by the Federal Liberals. Both events have inadvertently turned a spotlight on this political and police incestuous relationship.

In Portapique, Lucki was conspiring with Blair and his cronies to use the largest mass killing in Canada to political advantage. They wanted to turn the suspects use of certain types of weapons into an advertisement in support for an upcoming gun ban legislation. Blair and Trudeau wanted to extoll their images of champions of safety and security, heroically saving us from any future mass killings. The backroom political control over the Commissioner of the RCMP to do their bidding has now been exposed. Her plaintive cries of frustration in not being able to deliver for the Prime Minister and Blair can only be called embarrassing. An embarrassment but also a warning for those who strive for neutrality and objectivity in the enforcement of the law.

This exposed subservience by the Commissioner was followed by the circumstances now being examined by the current commission into the imposition of the Emergencies Act. Academically it has been pointed out that when the government feels threatened, legitimately or not, policing becomes solely political. Crimes that fall into the realm of national security are to a great extent almost always left up to the police and the politicians to define, and it is done in an arena of secrecy. In the Commission hearings, that veil has now been pulled back, exposing the use of the Emergencies Act as a political tool, that was used against Canadians who did not fit the Liberal demographic. How is it possible to not question the motives of Lucki in defending the imposition of the Act?

The former Ottawa City Police Chief, Chief Slolty could sling the terminology of the liberal left, but he was quite inept at playing the game, unable to appease the head of the Ottawa Police Service Police Board. It seems apparent that once one has become ensconced in the political machinery, the one and only goal, and one not learned by the Chief, seems to be the need to appease. This current blend of high level police executives, across the board, have been fully complicit in the political game. They are in their positions because of a willingness to reflect the political will and support the policies that emanate from it, no matter how counter-intuitive to policing needs. The long held policing principles of autonomy is far from their collective minds.

On a more local level a more recent example of a political police executive not “reading the room” is Chief Adam Palmer of the Vancouver Police Department. In December 2019, two officers, Canon Wong and Mitchell Tong attended to a call to a bank where the bank was calling to say that they believed there were two individuals there, using fraudulent indigenous status cards to obtain funds. The officers, walked the pair, Maxwell Johnson and his 13 year old grand-daughter outside of the bank, on to the sidewalk, handcuffed them, and then began to ask them questions. It turned out that the status cards were valid, and the pair were released. There was of course a complaint about these now deemed racist officers for handcuffing them and the embarrassment that it caused. Now, I would be the first to say that this seems like a bit like officer safety run amok when it comes to the handcuffing. However, it was not an offence or a breach of regulations, but merely some bad judgement in reading the scene. And the Police Act review came to the same conclusion and recommended that the officers simply apologize, which they did to the family personally and even writing a letter of apology.

However, along came the political police masters, eager to appease the social media and indigenous outcry, and the BC Human Rights Commission. Clearly, they opined, evidence of “systemic racism”. So a “settlement” with the family was reached. This civilian Police Board settlement included; “confidential damages” to the Johnson family, $100,000 to the Heiltsuk’s First Nation restorative justice department which will go to programming for at-risk girls; and an agreement that the Board will create a “position for anti-indigenous racism office or officer”. They also agreed to have these particular officers attend an “apology ceremony” in Bella Bella, where the officers would apologize in a public ceremony in front of the Band members. The officers were un-involved nor did they agree to this Board settlement clause.

Faye Whitman of the Police Board was all in and so was Chief Palmer, who has previously voiced the opinion and thus committed to the fact that there was “systemic discrimination and racism within law enforcement”. So Whitman and the Chief attended to remote Bella Bella, in fact they came bearing “gifts” — “feast bowls” for the leaders of the Band. The officers themselves refused to go for “personal reasons” but it was more likely that they did not want to go this version of a “show-trial”.

Global News had already been alerted, no doubt by the Indigenous, and were in full attendance waiting for the officers to humbly appear, as the anticipated appearance was for them looking to be a hard to resist television moment. When the officers did not show, the media was upset, and it seems obvious that they and the Indigenous then staged a dramatic return of the “gifts” to Chief Palmer– as he sheepishly sat in the audience. He was then chased out of the auditorium to get his response.

In the end, Chief Palmer and the Police Board did irreparable harm to their reputation among the ranks of the police. The settlement reached by the Board for this “infraction” by the two officers was over the top, and now the leader of the Board and the Police chief were caught in the camera lights playing to those same politics. It could not have been more obvious. The officers did the right thing by not attending. The Band and Mr. Johnson say they still need “closure” and want the officers to come sometime in the future. It could not get more ridiculous.

Chief Palmer will likely be rewarded by his political uppers for his “progressive” stance, but in terms of the persons he is under oath to lead, he has severely wounded his credibility and will be a long time in recovering. He played politics and it came with a cost.

So where does this leave us? Is there a pendulum effect in play here? Are we ever going to reach some middle ground where the police busy themselves with the job of enforcing the laws of this country, in a neutral and unbiased way, or are the police executives going to continue to play in the woke sandbox? It is clear that they are not very good at it, they keep getting dirt in their eyes.

As I get ready to post this blog, the latest revelations from the Commission is that the Convoy protestors had various police individuals inside the OPP, the Ottawa Police service, and even CSIS “leaking” them information. If true, the police were also now playing politics on a ground level which should be seen as being equally dangerous to the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public. One can only hope that somewhere, sometime, someone comes to their senses.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by Beauty False – Some Rights Reserved

Is the World spinning Faster?

Policing issues and the stories that surround it seem to be growing exponentially, always accompanied by surrounding commentary and self-proclaimed expertise flowing from every social platform. Instagram, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter abound with the examination of the police and a professed expertise. The armchair investigators of Netflix are in full voice. In trying to understand why, I have learned that In the last few years the earths rotation has in fact been speeding up (on a normal day the earth travels at the speed of 1000 miles per hour as measured at the equator). So as I find my eyes ricocheting from headline to commission to judicial decision, blaming the earth’s rotation as being responsible is as likely an answer as any other.

In the past week to ten days we have had the start up of the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa; we have learned that 469 foreign criminals are “missing” according to the CBSA; two officers were killed in answering a domestic dispute in Ontario, ambushed by a male with an AK-47; and an Ontario court Judge has ruled that if you are an Indigenous offender you are not allowed to be cross-examined as to any previous offences. So now not only do you have the Gladue decision, you know have it dictated that the Indigenous are not to be subjected to the same trial process.

Closer to home, in the Surrey civic election the old dodger with the sore foot, McCallum, has been replaced by an equally woefully inadequate Brenda Locke. In the first 48 hours, she has already painted herself into a corner, by saying she is giving the Mounties back their job in Surrey, regardless of reality and cost.

So having to choose one story over another is difficult this week. That being said, as much as I would rather ignore it, I guess we will have to go with the Public Order Emergency Commission as the lead story, which is being headed by the Honourable Judge Paul Rouleau. This Commission (we have sure had our share of them lately) has been tasked with understanding “the Government’s decision to declare a public emergency, the circumstances that led to that declaration, and the effectiveness of the measures selected by the Government to deal with the then-existing situation”. As in all Commissions of Inquiry, one needs to be reminded that none of this is to determine criminal fault or civil liability. This is all to determine the “effectiveness” of the implementation of this draconian piece of legislation.

And like all good government Commissions, this too is filled with lawyers of every stripe and denomination: there are two co-lead counsel, five senior counsel, three regional counsel, twelve just “counsel”, three senior policy advisors, seven research counsel, and two “staff”. So including the Judge, there are thirty-two counsel and that is just on the government side of the ledger. The audience at these hearings will be for the most part other lawyers and the media. With this many lawyers there is diminishing hope that the truth behind the declaration of the emergencies act will not be watered down through all these filtering lawyers.

Judge Rouleau is a native of the Ottawa area, went to the University of Ottawa and then went on to be associated with several central Canadian legal firms such as Heenan Blaikie and Cassels Brock and Blackwell. He has been a Judge since 2002 and a strong advocate for French language rights, and would have probably been a better candidate for the Supreme Court than the new Justice O’Bansawin–but let’s put that aside for now.

The good Judge will be overseeing the evidence of sixty five potential witnesses, however do not despair and give up on your regular life schedule, as it is likely that you only need to begin to pay serious attention to the last twenty or so witnesses– which include the politicians such as Trudeau and Freeland. After all, the police have already established that they did not ask for the Emergencies Act, it has also been established that there was no real intelligence indicating that there was a foreign inspired threat in the makeup of the convoy group, nor conspiracies to commit violence, which should leave the Commission with some rather obvious starting points. There is going to be a lot of dancing to be sure. Commissioner Lucki has already done the two step in public committee hearings, where she was forced to admit to not having asked for the implementation of the Emergencies Act. As a devotee to Blair and company, she needed to backtrack, and she did this by saying what a great thing it was, once they had been given these extra powers. Justin Trudeau who spoke publicly about “foreign money” was clearly lying as the intelligence community today said there was no such evidence.

One should also remember that the government is not holding this hearing because they wish to be frank and forthright to the Canadian public, it is because the law states that they have to have an inquiry within 60 days after the enactment of the Emergencies Act. This particular group of Liberals are not fans of focused scrutiny, whether it is in the House of Commons question period or in front of a Commission. They have released some Cabinet documents but have raised “confidence” issues on them; so the general public may never be shown them.

In checking out a Commission it is always helpful to find out who has been given “standing” and “funding” in terms of appearing before the Commission, which simply put, is based on who has a direct and vital interest in the proceedings. So in this case, groups such as the Criminal Lawyers Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ottawa Coalition of Residents and Businesses line up for standing, and of course for the government to pay for it. These three groups were in fact granted both permission and funding.

However, there was some rather unusual decisions in this regard. Take the case of Mr. Eros who applied for “standing”. Mr. Eros is a CPA and dealt with financing and accounting matters related to the Convoy Group. He was also intricately involved in the administration of the crowd-funding campaign with this same Convoy group. He was however denied standing, as the Judge ruled that he was merely a “witness”. This may be fair.

However, incredibly, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs was granted “standing” and “funding” to participate in this matter. They argued that they had a substantial and “direct interest in the commission” based on its “role as an umbrella organization representing Indigenous governments” and that it plays a “critical role in governance in Canada in terms of its ensuring that other governments are held accountable for their actions”. Some of you may be surprised at their being Indigenous “governments” in Canada. However, to think that they are there to hold the other “governments” accountable is audacious to say the least, even under the current Federal Liberal love-in regime. So we now have a group who has supported its share of protests, such as the damaging of pipelines and the burning of rail lines which is now going to sit in judgement of the governments reaction to the Ottawa convoy.

The witness testimony has started and began with the bubble wrapped represented citizens of Ottawa talking about the nights of continuous air horns, the disruption of their businesses and the “occupation” of Ottawa. Terms are being bandied about such as a “siege” and a “horrific experience”. The lead plaintiff in the civil suit Zexi Li, is a data analyst, and the second witness. She was working for the government from home and her testimony was how it completely disrupted her life, a story which under cross-examination was by no means dramatic. Most of the city of Ottawa were at this time working from home.

In the last few days the Commission has now started to examine some of the government and police response, before, during and after this clearly “unprecedented” upheaval. What would you expect to find when you have three levels of government; the city, the Province of Ontario, and the Federal Government all weighing in on strategy and tactics with three different police forces, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ottawa City Police, and the RCMP? Now consider the Ottawa mayor who liked to have confidential discussions with Trudeau, Blair, and Mendocino, but not share those discussions with the Ottawa Police Services Board who supposedly were the designated oversight to the operations. There were Provincial and Federal concerns with the OPSB itself. Then throw in the new Ottawa Police Chief who with the other police managers from the other jurisdictions could not even agree on a “command structure” for several days. Throw in a request for 1800 Ontario Provincial officers, while at the same time consider the initial lacklustre involvement of the RCMP, and then consider an inability to even develop a policing “operational plan” for over 10 days.

Needless to say it was all bureaucracy, miscalculation and the very definition of too many cooks in the kitchen. Bill Blair was suggesting to the Ottawa Chief that he consider more bylaw enforcement, even though by that time 2000 bylaw tickets had been issued. I am sure he thanked Mr. Blair profusely. Justin Trudeau was busting on Doug Ford not doing enough, while at the same time, the OPP seemed to be the best at getting extra officers to the scene. Chief Slolys then resigned. With little doubt he was about to become the scape goat in this massive cockup.

The enacting of the act seems quite clearly to have been a reaction to a discombobulated police management action brought created by a lack of foresight and intelligence gathering, combined with meddling by the usual political group which surfaces in any calamity. It was done for the singular purpose of gaining a political upper hand in the media, to show that they were doing something, and it was concocted by the Federal government and the Liberal ruling party.

The core or the fuel for this action seems to been an inherent inability on the part of the liberal left to relate to the protestors driving these big trucks. They were seen as the working class, the blue collars. This was more than a paper exercise to the protestors. They had lost jobs and the ability to feed their families, and now they were being ignored and pushed to the sidelines. They were at times crude and in your face, willing to physically push back, but their cause was the centre of their existence. This was not a philosophical theory dealing with “systemic” complaints, theirs was a cause that affected their mortgage and their ability to make a living. They were not bubble-wrapped, did not speak in plural pronouns, and did not understand or adhere to the niceties of government levels and protocols. They were not from Ottawa, they did not look like they belonged there, they were not Liberal constituents, and most troubling of all– they drove very big immovable trucks.

So when they got to Ottawa, no one would talk to them, no one even liked them, and they needed to go, at any cost. It was hurting the images of the politicians in power. And the media were willing to report it without question or due diligence.

The protestors prevailed as long as they did because they were met with an unprepared and ill-equipped police force, governed by layers and layers of Ottawa political mandarins concerned only with optics. The politicians found themselves facing, according to the Ottawa mayor’s chief of staff, a “crescendo of collapsing confidence”.

They were also scared. They did not understand and could not relate to the visceral outpourings of the protestors. Their problems were not their problems. So this “local emergency” demanded in their view, the full force of government, the suspension of their inherent rights, and the seizure of their personal financial assets– and now they will be lying to justify it.

Photo courtesy of Ross Dunn via Flickr Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

We are all suing the Mounties…apparently…

On September 20th of this year, the Federal Court “certified” a class action lawsuit against the RCMP, and is asking for $1.1 billion. And you, whether you know it or not are a signatory– with no signature required.

We are with little doubt into a new age, in terms of lawsuits, everyone has a complaint and just as importantly everyone seems to feel the need for compensation. Hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact billions of dollars have been coming out of the Federal coffers; to pay off, or more accurately to “settle”, rather than facing a trial and protracted court cases. These settlements are often cloaked in secrecy, far from the prying eyes of the persons who are in actual fact paying out these monies. The end results or conclusions to these cases, are often just flashes in our mind’s eye, prompted by a headline or two, which makes us briefly flinch. Then we move on, our sanity and possible outrage papered over by our ignorance or our inability to dig deep.

What is somewhat surprising in this most recent lawsuit is the fact that every officer of the RCMP and reserve officer, since 1995 until the present, are automatically included in this particular lawsuit. The nexus of the claim, or your claim, is built around the central contention that we (present and former police officers) were subjected to “bullying” and “harassment”. Furthermore, the Mounties failed to provide a safe and respective “workplace”. One does have the option to “opt out” of being a participant, should you wish to fill out a provided form and send it in to the respective law firm before November 23, 2022.

So I and you (RCMP officers) am now being represented, without any effort, retainer, or affirmation by the firm of Kim Spencer McPhee Barristers PC. Since they are your new barristers it would seem pertinent to learn a little about them. It turns out that this firm is no stranger to the lawsuit game, in fact, their stated “focus” is “complex, high value class actions”. This Bay Street Toronto firm has been involved in many lawsuits and come up against such entities as ManuLife, General Motors, FedEx and Sunlife. RCMP members and ex-members have also been some of their favoured clients having been involved in the RCMP Gender Sexual Harassment and the RCMP Medical Examination suit.

The two principals of this law firm are Megan McPhee, a seemingly rising star in the field of class action suits in Canada and Michael C. Spencer, an American trained lawyer who brought his expertise in the field of securities and class actions from California and New York to Canada. This firm with regard to “our” lawsuit, has negotiated an agreement that will stand to net 1/3 of any awarded damages. That would be 33% of a possible $1.1 billion.

The firm have fronting this suit, two “representative plaintiffs”, Geoffrey Greenwood and Todd Gray, both RCMP members from Alberta. It was in 2019 that these two officers filed a suit alleging that they were the victims of “systemic negligence in the form of non-sexual bullying, intimidation, and general harassment”. The plaintiffs also argue that the RCMP chain of command that was “tasked to deal with internal recourse and harassment claims include those that are responsible for the harassment that is being complained about”. This they argue has led to a “toxic work environment” and is “characterized by abuses of power”.

There have been two other outside developments which seemed to have helped spur the lawsuit. One was the report by Chief Justice Michael Bastarache, “Broken Dreams, Broken Lives” which dealt with the sexual harassments claims of women in the RCMP. This report stated among many other things, that the RCMP can not fix itself “internally”. The lawsuit is also supported by a statement in 2016 when then Commissioner Paulson went on the record stating that the RCMP was guilty of “harassment and intimidation”.

The Federal government has by necessity tried to quash this latest suit, appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. They argued that the internal systems already in place for grievances, was a sufficient remedy for these types of complaints and allegations. Without any written reason, in March 2022 the Supreme Court rejected that appeal.

If one attempts to amateurishly dissect and analyze the central core of these arguments one could probably come to some relatively easy conclusions. Albeit subjectively, there seems to be some strong arguments to be made in support of this civil case. It would be difficult to argue that even the basic training academy at the earliest point of a police officers career, centres on discipline and uses intimidation and harassment as the basic tools to force compliance and reinforce that “team” mentality. Depot has mellowed significantly since the 1970’s and 1980’s, but let’s face it, it is still there and was definitely there in 1995. Does anyone from the early era forget the Drill hall? There was a large caveat though, it was all intended as part of a game of survival. It was expected. You were challenged to ignore and face the often offensive behaviour, it was part of the indoctrination, it was part of the preparation for facing the abuse on the streets. So if this type of thing is accepted under todays standards as being harassment or intimidation the lawyers for the plaintiffs seem to be in a good position.

There is also little doubt that the RCMP has always investigated these types of complaints internally, and often it was the immediate supervisors who were tasked with this very unwanted task. If one accepts that this generally inhibits fairness and objectivity, and in fact corrupts, that too would be an easy argument that could be made by many.

Where the argument in favour of this lawsuit seems to fail is when one draws from the specific to the general. Staff Sargent Greenwood, one of the representative plaintiffs, and the most publicly outspoken is now the Staff in charge of GIS in North Red Deer, Alberta. His specifics are what constitutes some of the base for this lawsuit. He began his career in 1990 and was transferred to Yellowknife in 2003. He says that his troubles started in Yellowknife Detachment where he was ostracized for trying to “uncover corruption”. In 2007 he was promoted to Sgt. and had begun an investigation into some criminal organizations. During this investigation, which included wiretaps, there was some audio captured which implicated some RCMP officers allegedly taking “kickbacks” in amounts up to $60,000; destroying evidence, and leaking the locations of undercover operations and drug raids. Clearly very serious allegations. However the officers were not identified in the tapes, but later an “informant” for Greenwood managed to identify an involved officer.

In 2007 a new Superintendent took over the unit. This Supt. for reasons unknown at this time, told him to drop the case, which Greenwood refused to do, or at least that is the between the lines indication. This Supt. would end up filing no less than seven codes of conduct complaints against Greenwood. All but one would be eventually “dropped”. From this point, we can only rely on the public record, but suffice to say the two had some major differences. Greenwood said he was “demoted” to desk duty and filed a harassment complaint against the Supt. as well as another officer who “tried to punch him in the face”. Greenwood further states that he had suffered harassment and intimidation “throughout his career”, but that in all that happened in Yellowknife he “lost my way for numerous years”. He said that “most members struggle daily” and that he suffers from PTSD due to the “reprisals and harassment on the job”.

Todd Gray the other representative for this lawsuit, provides evidence that as a member of the Musical Ride and while performing at equestrian events was “forced to ride in a bunk in the same trailer as the horses” which was “unsafe, dangerous, and illegal”. He was also made to ride his horse “despite a back injury”. Furthermore he was “ostracized and isolated when he accused a detachment commander in Nunavut of mistreating First Nations people”. At first glance, Mr. Gray’s examples seem somewhat more fragile than that of Mr. Greenwood. Riding in the trailers with the horses was common practise according to my recollection, and part of the shared duties in the Musical Ride. It would also be difficult to believe that if presented a medical certificate of a back injury that any supervisor would have forced anyone to ride a horse. Possible for sure, but it seems unlikely. As to his accusations against the Nunavut detachment commander, also possible, but likely mentioned and underlined in the lawsuit to strike at the Federal government sensitivity to anything indigenous.

Not knowing all the details of this civil suit makes it difficult to sort the real from the unreal or the exaggerated. The complaints of the representative plaintiffs may be real and have proven devastating for these two individuals. But I will also admit to a bit of cynicism in terms of the complaints as they feel more “new age” than “old school”. The proof will be uncovered in the civil case should it in fact go to trial. Given the propensity of the Mounties to cover all wrong doing with greenbacks we may never know the truth in these matters. I personally did not feel that I was harassed or intimidated by my bosses over a thirty-four year career, but maybe I was just lucky. Nor do I believe that “most members struggle daily” as stated by Mr. Greenwood. However, I have often argued that a union was needed due to the various member problems that were given short shrift over the years, lost to an inefficient and bureaucratic system which often suffered from a lack of investigation as well as a lack of outcome.

So good luck to you my fellow participants in the Greenwood versus His Majesty the King. The worst result of “our” civil case may be all of us getting cheques for 40 bucks in a settlement with no real public explanation. You know as well as I that the lawyers are the only real winners.

Photo Courtesy of howtostartablogonline.net via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Sharing a Patrol Car

The planned transition from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey to the new Surrey Police Service is beginning to fray a little bit. It would seem from one on the outside looking in, that there is a lot of time being spent in that muddled grey “transition” area; the area now “shared” by two separate policing groups. In practise currently, effective control of the policing in the city is still in the shaky hands of the Mounties. Official city signs proclaim that the City of Surrey is “where the future is”. The problem is that nobody knows where what lays ahead in terms of policing, a city which has more than its share of criminal problems.

The longer the residents live in this partially castrated middle ground there will be significant implications for the overall police service to that community. As of today, the RCMP are the policing agency of record, and from that viewpoint, nothing has really outwardly changed. However, as the new Surrey Police Service officers are very slowly being sprinkled amongst the various Watches, there are increasing reports of declining morale and personal friction between the two groups. Members of the two groups are now sharing a patrol car, at least in a theoretical sense, but this changeover is turning into a grinding process with no end in sight.

This shared policing mandate is by no means a normalized policing model and it is clearly unsustainable long term. To expect two separate entities to be tasked to police the same jurisdiction but play by different rules administratively and operationally seems obviously untenable. Even more worrisome is that this may continue for the next number of months or apparently even years. As time marches on, things such as investigational process and file management have a very real chance of becoming very blurry.

For the clarity of record, I have been in favour of an independent Surrey Police Service for many years. This is due mainly to the sadly crumbling RCMP no longer able to deliver what they are if fact contracted to do. There is no idealized thought held that a version of a new police force is the panacea for all that ails policing. Ottawa and its over bureaucratized structures is the albatross hanging around the neck of the RCMP; it is not the performance of individual officers in day to day policing. The structural, operational, and resourcing hurdles now facing the officers of the RCMP continue to be soul destroying and there does not appear any willingness on the part of Ottawa to change. This blog continues to maintain that a trained officer in one uniform is on an individual level, not much different than any other police officer. The colour of the uniform is irrelevant, it is the structure of how they are being asked to operate that is the key to understanding both the problems and the solutions in policing.

That said, sufficient time has now passed since the announced development of the SPS and there are questions that need to be asked and answered as to the overall expectations of this new police service.

The most blatant and obvious question is how long is this going to take? The Surrey Police Board was formed in August 2020. The first SPS officer was deployed in 2021, and now it is projected according to their own “Strategic Plan” for 2022, that in May of 2023 they will have in place 295 sworn officers. At first blush that number seems reasonable, as recruitment, hiring and vetting of new officers is in fact a very time consuming process. Plausible until one considers that the Surrey RCMP currently consists of over 800 officers. So after 2.5 years, the SPS will have only about 36% of the anticipated need of the current RCMP. A little more alarming is that currently, again, according to their own strategic plan, there is no anticipated or formative deadline for this newly formed organization. That would and should seem unacceptable to any Surrey taxpayer.

A second question is to do with the amount of monies currently being spent and what is projected. The first proposed budget for this transition was $63.7 million and it was to cover for the years 2020-2024. So far, the new group has spent $25 million in 2021 and will be spending another $79 million in 2022. There are still two years to go and clearly they are already over budget. Their claim is that the extra costs are largely the result of spending in the area of information technology. Should one assume and accept that in the planning stages they did not anticipate an IT transition in all of its cost and ramifications?

Can the slowness of the development of this new police service along with the budgetary failings be attributed to the fact that it is being overseen by the bureaucratic sounding Surrey Police Transition Trilateral Committee? The fact that this “committee” consists of three levels of government coming together to oversee and supervise this process may be your most obvious explanation as to delay and lack of deadlines.

If you go to the SPS website looking for some insight you will be disappointed. It is the flavour of what constitutes government communication in this day and age, prodigiously filled with government baffle which seems designed to thwart any kind of real examination. You will see all the usual governmental language flags of “appeasement” and “inclusion”. The all too common phrases of “local partners”, “best practises”, “community engagement”, all framed within their newly polished and enshrined motto: “Safer. Stronger. Together”. (One can only wonder what someone was paid for such a benign and lacklustre motto.)

On the website, you will see allusions to Robert Peel and his 9 rules of Policing, but in particular his 7th rule which ended with his less than profound “…the police are the public and that the public are the police”. You will also see a section where are listed the core values of this new age police department which is using the phraseology such as “honour’ and “inclusiveness”. I am sure by this time most readers could guess at all the others.

To reach the citizens of Surrey and be able to respond to their needs, the SPS points to the fact that from June to October 2021 they engaged in large scale community consultation. This included, “public opinion surveys”, “stakeholder interviews,” and the use of “focus groups.” All this has led to their grand 2022 Strategic Plan.

If you examine this “Plan” in greater depth you will find it broken down into three parts; operational readiness, organizational development, and employee development and wellness. Inside all of these three categories of planned action you will find references to the further need for more “research” and further time needed to “develop”. Under operational readiness you will see that their goal includes developing “a file transfer strategy” and the development of an “operational and administrative manuals.” Under the heading of organizational development you will see plans to “research body worn cameras” and “research best practises in community programs” such as the program for a “school resource officer”. This would seem to suggest there is still a lot of research and development to follow.

This is not to say that this transition is not an enormous and often complicated undertaking. It is. One does get the sense as well that the Committee is trying to insure that all the officers of the 2000 applications the SPS say they have now received, do not completely wipe out some of the current and local municipal forces. They have now started reviewing applications from outside the Lower Mainland, so as not to completely wipe out departments such as West Vancouver, Delta, or Port Moody. This underlines the fact that this is as much a political process as an organizational process, that Police Services sequestered in Victoria is trying to orchestrate.

The SPS does seem to be on target in terms of catering to the whim of the special interest groups and the ridiculous and often gratuitous media coverage. They list their community “engagements” as having four meetings with the 2SLGBTQ+, and 21 meetings with the Indigenous. The actual day to day policing needs such as file management, the continuity of investigations and the ongoing need for sustained expertise in investigations is not mentioned in the “Strategic Plan”.

In previous blogs I have questioned those that have been chosen to lead this new SPS. Those doubts have not been alleviated by what has transpired so far. Mr.Lepinski with little doubt, is astute at reading the political winds, bending and curtseying to the social liberalized version of what constitutes policing in this day and age. Whether this type of leadership translates into a vibrant operational police force is quite another matter.

I have been told that Jennifer Hyland in charge of the Support Services group is also overseeing the purchase of Yeti water bottles, ArcTeryx clothing, and Lululemon workout gear for those now under her command– it is not clear whether the Surrey taxpayers would feel that this is appropriate use of transitional monies. She is the one overseeing the hiring of over 800 new officers, so one can only hope the thought of a paid-for water bottle will move that process along a little more quickly.

The other unknown in this SPS transition is the pro SPS-Mayor himself and the civic elections slated for October 15th, 2022. McCallum is a bit of a swollen buffoon, he has been for many years, and some of that character will be exposed in an upcoming ridiculous criminal trial where he is charged with mischief for a false claim of a protestor running over his foot. The fact that he is the political wedge and image for this new police force is at the very least a hindrance. However, as unpopular as he is, with numerous mayoral candidates he may once again outfox the likes of Brenda Locke by splitting the votes sufficiently amongst the eight current candidates. There are over 56 candidates for council, so good luck to the Surrey voters figuring that one out.

I remain convinced that a separate municipal agency is the only viable route for policing in Surrey. But, to say that the current leadership for this new entity is capable of pulling it off, on budget, and with an operational emphasis is still a very open question. Woke leadership is not what is needed right now. They are clearly emblematic of the majority of police leaders operating in this current climate, Lepinski and Hyland are inhalers of all things political, and they have survived and flourished regurgitating the narrative which does not offend and that caters to the special interest groups. The Surrey residents are currently being fed a pablum of meaningless verbiage, and if that is all they wanted, maybe, just maybe, they should have retained the forever opaque RCMP.

Getting to the Supreme Court of Canada, not that hard apparently…

Never have I been one to think that somehow the Americans always get it right. In fact I think I could argue that they more often than not mostly get it wrong. However, in Canada, our flaw seems to be more often than not we don’t seem to get it at all. We just seem dis-interested. In the last few weeks and months, we have watched the two countries each nominate and then elevate a person to their respected highest courts. Watching the process in both was both illuminating and discouraging.

In the U.S. the process and the subsequent hearings to determine whether one was suitable for the Supreme Court has become highly political, polarized to the point that the proceedings are often irrelevant and therefore wholly predictable because of the overwhelming party rhetoric. Both the Democrats and the Republicans engage in vitriolic hyperbole, but the candidates need to run the partisan gauntlet, and then gather sufficient support from both sides to be officially sanctioned in a vote. That is their system.

In Canada, the process is mostly behind closed doors, just the way we like it, out of the public view, and therefore never contentious. Confrontation and diligent examination is to be avoided at any cost.

Let’s keep in mind that in both cases we are not talking about a minor promotion here. The Supreme Courts in both countries, are there, at least in theory, to interpret from a judicial perspective some of the toughest questions that confront a democratic society. Their rulings once made will reverberate throughout all levels of society and literally could have life and death consequences. To assume a post in amongst the nine judges that each court holds is a serious and for most would be a personally overwhelming undertaking.

In the U.S. the Supreme Court is fundamentally there to protect the constitutional rights of each and every citizen: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. The U.S. constitution as originally written is the founding and fundamental document which acts as their guide.

In Canada, the Canadian Constitution is the similar base document, which has also been bolstered by the enshrining of the 1982 Charter of Rights. Those rights are: freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. So the two base documents in the two countries are similar if not identical.

Recently Kejanji Brown-Jackson was put forward by the Democrats as their candidate for the U.S Supreme Court. Ms. Brown-Jackson is a woman and is black. That is mentioned here because it is something which is continually leading every headline of that country’s newspapers in reference to her application. She was not only the first black woman to be tendered for the job she was also the first public defender. The lady is highly qualified; Harvard Law school, editor of the Law Review, a clerk for three different judges including Stephen Breyer, of the U.S. Supreme Court, who she was now destined to replace. She served as a District Judge in the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021, vice Chair of the U.S Sentencing Commission, and for a year served as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge.

Her credentials like most who ascend to the American highest court are impressive. Nevertheless, she needed to go through four days of public hearings, and submit to extensive questioning by the Republicans on the Committee. They researched, reviewed and then questioned her sentences from days on the court. In often un-friendly terms they described her as an “activist” judge, and accused her of being “evasive” with no base “judicial philosophy”. Senator Lindsay Graham a hardline Conservative described her as more appealing to the “hard left” and therefore a political appointment as opposed to a judicial appointment. And the Republicans presented some legitimate argument in that regard. They examined all her sentencing documents in all the child pornography cases that had come to her over the years; and then effectively demonstrated how she was very light, in fact below the sentencing guidelines on those types of cases. They asked her questions on her judicial predilections such as “how does the court define gender discrimination”.

Ms. Brown Jackson was clearly coached and was at times politically evasive on her view of certain issues, but she survived relatively unscathed and held up to most of the questions. She was therefore sworn into office on June 30th at the U.S. Supreme Court, after a very long application process, having met with all the political heavy weights on both side of the government, and having endured the four day process, and then been voted on.

In Canada, in this gentler country, there is not the same process.

Nominated for the highest Canadian court was Michelle O’Bansawin. She was to replace the retiring Michael Moldaver, who had been appointed to the Supreme Court in 2011. Before joining the Supreme Court Moldaver had been a Judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and then the Court of Appeal for Ontario for over twenty years. He was a former criminal lawyer and considered a foremost expert on criminal law and the Charter of Rights.

The Canadian headlines for the 48 year old O’Bansawin, were sadly predictable, and often only made reference to the fact that she was the “1st Indigenous woman” to be nominated for the Supreme Court of Canada. So what enduring process and examination did she have to go through in Canada?

The Minister David Lameti and H. Wade McLauchlan , started off the coronation . The latter who headed up the “Independent Advisory Board” along with the Cabinet Minister, appeared before the House Committee to announce and promote O’Bansawin, on the same day she was to appear for her one and only “hearing”.

McLauchlan is a former Liberal Premier of P.E.I and a “community leader” according to his bio, and clearly a liberal political operative. There are a total of eight members of the Committee such as ; Paulette Senior, CEO of the Canadian Women Foundation; Kohrad Sioui, a Grand Chief; David Nahwegahbow who heads an Indigenous law firm and was nominated to the Committee by the Indigenous Bar Association. You are probably safe in assuming that there were no conservative people affiliated with this group and you would probably be safe in also assuming that it was weighted in favour of an Indigenous candidate.

Lameti and McLauchlan began by lauding this process that had been undertaken. They described how they had received a grand total of 12 applications; then went on to praise all the candidates who had completed what they described as a very “elaborate application form”. The requirements of that form were not presented. The three main criteria they said for the job was tellingly– that the person needed to be “bilingual”, “qualified”, and “represent Canadian diversity”. They then short-listed 6 of the candidates who were then interviewed by the Committee for an hour each. All of this less than intensive vetting was done behind closed doors. The Committee then completed a report and sent it to the Prime Minister to choose between the 3-5 that they felt were suitable. Lameti said that the candidates would be “guiding the evolution of justice” and would bring a “deep understanding of the diversity of Canada” to the job. He felt he needed to add that the process was “free of partisanship”.

Then Ms. O’Bansawin appeared in the Committee room and was given a round of applause by those in attendance in the gallery. Lameti and MacLauchlan were clearly the warm-up opening act. She appeared for what was described as an “informal chat” on the merits of her elevation to the highest judicial post in the land. For the next 90 minutes, the members of the Committee lobbed what could only be described as softball questions at her while in the same breath praising the fact that she comes from an Indigenous background. This was not even a full committee hearing, where possibly deeper evidence could have been brought forward for examination. Lameti bragged that they were trying to avoid the U.S. model and that this Canadian model was better and much more of an “independent evaluation”.

Despite their insistence that competency was first and foremost in their criteria, McLauchlan admitted that the “character” of the candidate was as important as “competency”, and boasted that she would be “bringing the element of diversity” and this would all assist in the “path of reconciliation”. Lameti also admitted that part of his “mandate letter” given to him by his government included the boosting of the “under represented” to the higher levels of the court.

So what are Michelle O’Banswin credentials? She received a B.A. from Laurentian University, and went to the University of Ottawa for her legal degree. From there she acted as “in-house” counsel for the Legal Services section of the RCMP, and then to “in-house” counsel for Canada Post. After working for the post office, she went to the Royal Ottawa Health Care group where she would stay for the next eight years, again to act as in-house counsel. There she says she developed an interest in mental health while at the “Royal”, and would get her Masters in Law, and in 2021 her PHd. Her Phd is not available for viewing(it is under “embargo”-a rather unusual move) but she described it as being about Indigenous and Mental Health issues.

In 2017 she was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court as again “the 1st Indigenous woman” and that is where she was until her nomination. She did her Phd while sitting on that Court. She was never a part of any court of Appeal.

When asked about her criminal experience, because after all about 55% of the issues which come before the Court are criminal matters, she pointed to her expertise in Mental Health and being an expert on the Gladue Principles. For those that forget, the Gladue principles are a way for the Judge “to consider the unique circumstances (“experiences”) of Indigenous peoples” in sentencing.

Even though the politician and the public servant lauded her competency, none of it was questioned or brought to the table, it was all about her Indigenous heritage. Lori Idlout of the NDP praised her appointment as she felt that there was a need to incorporate the laws of the Indigenous “before colonialism” (the Indigenous have hundreds of legal systems) into the Canadian legal system, and that finally they could finally address the facts that the “lands have been stolen from them”. Another NDP’r, a former member of the Elizabeth Fry Society was hopeful that with Ms. O’Bansawin on the court they could finally deal wit the “colonial racism” and the “over-representation” of Indigenous in the jail system (currently 50% of the incarcerated are Indigenous to the 5% of the population). There was considerable mention of the drive to “self-government” and “self-determination” that all clearly felt could be hastened by Ms. OBansawin on the court.

Was her candidacy strictly a political Liberal move to appease their favoured Indigenous constituency as one could not get around her relatively limited credentials, even the left and Liberal supporting Globe and Mail called her a “relatively inexperienced jurist”? Or was it more than that? Is it coincidental or does her appointment also foretell an outcome in two cases which are coming to the Supreme court in the next few months? Without too much exaggeration, the settlement of these cases and the decisions coming from them could prove dangerous to the unity of this country as a whole.

In early December of this year coming before the Supreme Court is a case which concerns the right of Indigenous peoples to write their own laws for child-welfare services in which the Federal government in Bill C-92 of two years ago “affirmed the right of self-government”. This bill gave the Indigenous laws in the area of child welfare the force of Federal law. This means that their “laws” will supersede any Provincial law. This has stirred up Provinces like Quebec who will argue in front of the court that it emphatically violates Provincial jurisdiction.

The second case is about an Indigenous community right to set a residency requirement for members of its council. At first blush that seems less than significant. But, it will be the first case tested under Section 25 of the Charter, which states that charter rights should not be interpreted to detract from Indigenous rights. Could this mean that the unwritten and uncharted “laws” of first Nations will not be bound by the Charter of Rights?

As a Metis lawyer for the pro Indigenous argument explained, the two cases will finally address modern “aboriginal law…and how pre-existing Indigenous law, jurisdiction, and self-government reconciles within Canada’s constitutional architecture ” . The argument at its simplest is that the Indigenous were here first, therefore their “laws” should supersede the laws of Canada.

So there you have it. Without any serious debate, without any examination of her rather limited record, written or otherwise, we now have a sitting Judge on the Supreme Court for possibly the next 27 years, who Professor Phillips an editor in chief for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History describes as: “most people don’t have much sense of her, because she’s done relatively low-profile things”. This is lawyer speak meaning that she is un-qualified for this appointment, unless of course merit is measured not in competencies, but in your cultural background.

None of this is shocking anymore. This is not the first time that the Federal government has appointed someone because they are aware of their identity, we are kind of getting used to it now, when the political need is clearly held to be greater than the need for professional competence. But, in this incidence it could prove dangerous for this country, and if we don’t care, we should care. It has all been done with the efficiency and secrecy of the Catholic Church in appointing the next Pope, but without the white smoke coming from the Parliamentary chimney.

Photo Courtesy of Alex Gubord and Flickr Commons – Some rights reserved

An Unremitting sadness…

It is with some reluctance that I approached the possibility of revisiting the “Mass Casualty Commission” hearings. After all, I have written about it a couple of times already.

It certainly was not because of some sadistic desire to listen to Commissioner Lucki as she reiterated several times over, why she was asking for information about the guns used by Wortman. She clearly has been practising her evidence and she is clearly willing to stick it out. Her cover and well rehearsed story is of course that she was merely “disappointed”– in only that she gave the Minister’s office the wrong information. And it is for that reason, and that reason only why she was “frustrated” and chose to vent on April 28th in a meeting with the H Division Senior personnel, all while Supt. Campbell scribbled notes.

Judging by social media, many of you continue to follow and are watching the proceedings so there is no need to go over this well worn ground– you can decide who is telling the truth, even though at this point it seems obvious. Ms. Lucki even seems to have convinced herself of “her truth”, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Her oft repeated denials encased in characterizations: “I am a collaborative person”…”I am a glass half full person”…”I am not an angry person”…”I wouldn’t call anyone a liar, I just don’t think that way”…”I am not a hurtful person”. All good to know for a Tinder bio, but not of much substance.

What struck this writer besides the overwhelming sadness of the event itself, which permeates the hearings with unimaginable visions but that there is another sadness to all of this exercise. It is that we seem to be watching the grindingly slow disintegration of the RCMP as a viable and once formidable renowned operational police force. The fact that the Commissioner and other police officers were asked to dress in civilian clothes so that the very uniform of the Mounted Police would not re-traumatize the victim families was both ridiculous and telling at the same time. What is the overall message when the very sight of the uniform was decided by these three Commissioners as off-putting to the participants.

Commissioner Lucki’s evidence as expected and was for the most part banal and of little value; but it was illustrative in an un-intended way. It put on full display both the internal problems of the RCMP and the chasm which has been for years separating and pulling apart the fabric of operational policing. We, as members of the public, were given an albeit brief glimpse into the dark corridors (they are dark of course partly because everyone is still working from home) and the inner-workings of the RCMP in HQ Ottawa. No one in the management ranks, is usually willing to be forthright and honest in describing the day to day issues. Lucki was not the exception, but in trying to distance herself from “interference” charges, she inadvertently had to put her system on display.

First and foremost was the Strategic Communications group, who appeared to be on first flush not very good with communications and not very strategic. They were talked about often in the hearings and clearly form the centre core for the daily life of the Commissioner. It was patently obvious that Ottawa HQ is far from the land of operations and that “communications” is the God in front of which they all kneel. The transferring and movement of information is their primary product. In how and when they deliver this product of learned information is where they are awarded or chastised for the accuracy and flow of that information. They were and are constantly worried of the “media tracking negatively”. They worry about their “reputational risk” and they talk about “pro-active communications versus reactive” as if written on stone tablets. In this case and in particular with the reference to the media release of the gun information, the communication “experts” in Ottawa did not trust the H Division communication “experts”.

This whole story of Supt Campbell and his evidence of the meeting was butting up against the version of Commissioner Lucki and it completely originates from the Ottawa types being frustrated in their abilities to keep the “higher ups” in the loop about this headline dominating investigation. There was only one portion of the briefing which was needed by Mr. Blair and his office –their only interest was in using the the tragedy to politically further their gun legislation. There could be no other reason. Ms. Lucki was dismayed and expressed “frustration” that there were only three briefing notes in eight days. She went further and said by way of explanation that in her mind: “communications is as important as operational…”. She has said previously, she is just a “messenger”, she is not a “holder of information”. The vital and central question is who is she a messenger for?

What was also illustrated is that Ottawa HQ, just like the Federal government at large is the land of deflection. It is practised amongst layers and layers of bureaucrats, making it difficult if not impossible to pinpoint any culprit and serving to obscure any politically sensitive information. Ms. Lucki in her testimony continually deferred to others, maybe legitimately, as the layers of Ottawa are infinite and confounding even to those living in this rarefied environment.

She was apparently unaware that her chief media person Tessier who continually reported to her, had sent an email to H Division Lia Scanlon saying prior to the press conference: “Please tell me Darren is going to talk about the guns…my phone is blowing up here”. Ms. Lucki denied knowledge of any interest in this subject on the part of her press officer.

She could also not remember making a phone call, her one and only call ever to Chief Supt Chris Leather about the guns. “I don’t recall that conversation” she said simply.

Deputy Commissioner Brennan had previously testified that he “likely” told Ms. Lucki some of the details about the guns as their offices were close, and he would have just have walked down the hallway to her office. Commissioner Lucki said that couldn’t have happened because she was “working from home” on that day, as she was most days.

The threat of COVID clearly played a bigger role in the Ottawa environment than in the policing provinces where one always had to go to work. COVID was oft mentioned by Lucki. A ready-made excuse for her ” not having sent her “Tiger Team” spin doctors to the scene in H Division which could have clearly helped to avoid the back and forth. She was “afraid we would bring COVID to Nova Scotia” was her reasoned decision.

This land of rehearsed un-accountability clearly was the reason for not taking notes at executive meetings. They are continually trying to avoid a detailed and therefore accessible written record of account. I have witnessed this in the corporate world and clearly it has enveloped the Ottawa mandarins. The meeting of April 28th was a glaring example. No one holding to the Lucki version of truth, all the Ottawa people took notes at this meeting. In H Division, C/Supt Campbell who comes from a background of operations took notes; the two fellow officers, Leather and Bergerman did not. Let’s face it, the only reason that Chief Supt. Campbell has been allowed free rein in this instance is that he took those notes.

Ottawa is also the land of “subject matter experts”. (Ms. Lucki confirmed she isn’t one–she is just a messenger remember). Most of these experts are short of operational or hands on experience. This is a world full of courses, “hundreds” according to Ms. Lucki, and it is where “table top” exercises are their reality. In this testimony and in others one heard an awful lot about the “Critical Incident Response” training, courses and command centres all designed to fill in for and ameliorate experience and geographical knowledge. In this vein, Ms. Lucki who is head of the Firearms Program admits that she actually knows “nothing about firearms”. Ottawa mandarins are the only ones who would understand this logic.

Lucki commended her employees and described them as “second to none in service delivery”. Then we had to listen to the fact that the Goulay family, was never notified of their mother being killed, that the crime scene of her death went unattended and unsecured, and then the family went into the house after it was eventually searched, they found evidence that had been missed–a bullet casing no less. Lucki’s response “I’m sorry that happened”.

When asked as to why she didn’t pick up the phone and call Lia Scanlon who had written the damaging letter calling her out on the April 28th meeting, she said that “I didn’t want to effect her wellness plan”.

When Lucki was asked about whether the police needed more education, higher academic standards such as the previous recommendation from another Commission, she said that she did not want to deter diverse applicants. “I’m trying to get people from Nunavut to join the RCMP” and better education “is a barrier”. She then pointed out that they have changed the entrance exam in order to facilitate entry and allow for “life experience”.

She talked about the lack of resources, an issue which has been around for decades, as if she had no control, but agreed that hiring for overtime was unsustainable and had a negative effect on the “work life balance”.

The level of the resourcing in H Division at the time of the incident was only spoken about briefly, but there were some startling revelations. Only two dog officers in the Province. That they already had borrowed 30-50 officers from out of the Province to attend to the fishing dispute were a couple of the examples.

She was asked about the fact that contrary to Section 6 of the Code of Conduct and Section 9.2 of the Conflict of Interest guidelines it is pretty clear that you are not allowed to hire “immediate family members”. When Chief Supt Janis Grey hired her husband retired Chief Supt John Robin or when CO Bergerman hired her husband Mike Butcher, also a retired Mountie, for the Issues Management Team for the Portapique commission she was asked if there were any consequences? No was the answer. Clearly Code of Conduct issues only apply to the low ranking members. It was often mentioned that Lucki is flying at 10,000 feet, above the details, therefore above reproach for any minutiae, so one would presume that the other high ranking officers are above the clouds as well, and they too are beyond reproach.

When asked if she thought that there should be some guidelines made up in terms of political interference, she felt that this was a good idea. Maybe a “mandate letter” she suggested which would explain the line in the sand to the incoming Commissioner and other officers. Are we to interpret this to mean that she could have had some needed guidance upon becoming Commissioner?

As she neared the end of her testimony she was asked about what recommendations she would be looking forward to from the Commission? Her profound response: “anything that will keep Canadians safe.” This scholarly response is coming from the woman who is heading a 32,000 person agency; overseeing 169 policing contracts; and the criminal and Federal responsibilities for the vast majority of this country. One lawyer described the management structure of the RCMP now as an “incomprehensible web”, “this big clump in the middle” of a very “dense management system”.

This agency is crumbling in plain view and by any measurement, weighed down by indifference to its central and core goals, consumed by appearance and an adherence to political survival. Everyone in Ottawa holding hands like Thelma and Louise, somehow indifferent to the consequences. One should also not hold out hope that this socially sensitive victim centred Commission will be the guiding light to significant change. One can expect many references to “community policing”, “counselling” and “coordination”.

It is all very sad.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons – Nick Fewings- Some rights reserved

A Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Examination ( for all Politicians )

Presumably the title grabbed your eye, and yes of course I am talking about the polygraph, or as it is often misnamed the “lie detector”. I wrote a couple of blogs ago about not needing a polygraph for Commissioner Lucki, but this is in a different vein. This blog is about to propose a possible solution for a life long problem that we are and have been having with politicians. I can not take credit for this idea, since a friend of mine came up with it and and he proposed I write about it. He is a bit of a philosopher and has been stewing about this particular solution for a number of years. The simplicity of what he was suggesting, I will admit initially made me skeptical. Often times if something seems simple to me, it somehow seems less plausible.

The specific problem which we are about to try and rectify is this: we have reached a stage in this country and around the globe, where politicians universally, no matter what political stripe, are simply not trusted. That actually may be an under-statement, so let me re-state it. We have reached epidemic proportions of mistrust, exacerbated by the likes of Trump on the right and Canada’s own Justin Trudeau on the left. We simply no longer believe them when they say something and they in turn seem confounded by the public questioning of their allegiances or motivations.

The public cynicism is of course well earned, the historic record speaks loudly and clearly. Politician after politician have been caught up in lies, or what they often refer to as “misstatements”, “misdirections”, or “misinterpretations” of what they actually intended to say. In Justin’s case and to be fair in the cases of many others, it is clear many have committed outright lies. For instance some most recent examples include the statement that the police asked for the implementation of the Emergencies Act to deal with the bouncy castle convoy people? Or our dear Commissioner Lucki clearly lying about pressure put upon her by the Bill Blair crew. Do you remember Bill Clinton, Hillary dutifully by his side, turning to face the camera directly and with millions watching to say categorically : “I never had sex with that woman”.

The suggestion being proposed is this. That all politicians while running or sitting in office have to submit to a polygraph test.

Now before we go any further, this writer does fully understand the negative issues surrounding the polygraph, which the U.S. Supreme Court said was no better than “flipping a coin in the air” in the detection of deception. They are right on one significant level. If one assumes that the polygraph in fact detects lies, it does not, as there is no measurable physiological reaction to lying. The polygraph which measures blood pressure, pulse, respiration and skin conductivity has been deemed to be not a “scientifically credible test” to determine if someone is lying, and as a result it is not admissible in a criminal court of law in this country, or the United Sates. This was confirmed for Canadians by the Supreme Court of Canada in R vs. Beland.

The polygraph is flawed as a “scientific instrument”, but if employed as an interview aid it can be a more than effective tool. It has therefore been accepted as a test in the hiring of employees engaged in sensitive positions for a number of years; agencies such as the FBI, NSA, and the CIA. Canadian police recruiters are often having the polygraph as a test prior to entry. It is a $2 billion industry in the U.S., the average cost of the test being about $700.00. It has been rumoured, but so far I have not been able to confirm, that the RCMP is doing away with the polygraph test for applicants to the RCMP. It seems that the Mounties who are having trouble getting recruits and getting them through training, are doing away with the polygraph admission for the very reason that they were failing too many of their applicants. (If this turns out to be true, the ramifications of this would necessitate a more in-depth examination)

So despite a general acceptance of it as an aid in screening persons in the field of employment; there is still some mixed application of the polygraph in terms of future employees. The Ontario government for instance has banned the use of polygraphs by an employer. (One has to wonder whether this came about as a result of the Ford brothers who dabbled in a little crack cocaine while in office, but that would be a little too suspicious on my part.) The polygraph can also be prejudiced, according to scientific testing, against those that are innocent. Finally, there are clear ways to beat it. In the United States, from 1945 to the present six Americans were found guilty of having committed espionage– all six had previously passed polygraph examinations.

Regardless of the apparent flaws and leaving aside all the naysayers, here again is the proposal. What if a political party and each of its candidates, prior to election, came out and stated that all their party candidates would take the polygraph, and furthermore, it would be in an open and public forum, and they would even provide the questions that were the subject of that polygraph. Additionally they would promise to share those results with the clear assumption that the tests are done by a fully accredited and impartial body.

How many candidates would survive that polygraph test would be the first question. But assume they survive, clearly the pressure would undoubtedly then fall to the other parties and their candidates to also comply and prove their worthiness for public office.

For those not experienced in the use and application of the polygraph process. The actual test is only about fifteen minutes long, but there is a lengthy preamble between the tester and the tested. In the lead-up to the test the interviewer would review the test questions, in order to establish a control question and a probable lie test. This sets the boundaries for the tested and an agreement is reached on the testing questions and the boundaries around them. After going through this process, five or six basic questions are agreed to and formulated and the test is administered.

In this theoretical proposal, what would the basic questions look like:

a) Is everything in your campaign literature and advertisements accurate?

b) Have you ever been a member of an extreme right or extreme left organization?

c) Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

Anyways, you get the picture. It would seem at first blush to not be a bad idea. In the Middle Ages they would pour boiling water over people they suspected of lying, the thinking being that an honest person would be able to stand and take the burning. So a polygraph is at least better than that methinks.

It would be an entertaining drinking game to go down the list of all these “honest” politicians now plying their wares in government and be able to bet (or drink) on the subsequent outcome of the test. There are some politicians that simply ooze that crooked instinct and would be an easy bet with two to one odds, where others may have a fifty-fifty wager. And there are those of you out there that believe that no politician could take and pass the test. Maybe that is true, I am not so sure, it may be a little harsh.

Will any slate of candidates take on this challenge? It seems unlikely, given that it is easier to let sleeping dogs lay, no sense stirring the pot only to find yourself in a un-retractable position. In the 1950’s there was a show called Lie Detector TV which was hosted by Melvin Belli a famous defence counsel of that day. During his day Belli had won over $600 million in damages and defended Jack Ruby who had shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the killer of President Kennedy.

Maybe instead of an all candidates debate hosted by Rosie Barton lobbying softball questions, we could have the polygraph test results revealed. If the candidate failed they could get a chance to debate why they failed, or why the test came back as in-conclusive. We could find a host like the lawyer Marie Henien who could cross-exam them on their explanations. It would be binge-worthy television drama, maybe cringe-worthy would be a better description, but I think it would draw the ratings, and the CBC could finally find a replacement for “Schitt’s Creek”– we could call this “Up the Creek”.

I clearly digress, but maybe ask the question at the next all candidates meeting you attend as part of your civic duty, when each and every politician is expounding on how they are best to represent the people you say:

“Excuse me, Dear Sir or Madam, will you take a polygraph test when you say you will never raise taxes?”

I will volunteer to hook up the electrodes.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons and the Internet Archive Book Images – Some Rights Reserved

Some Summer Mysteries for the beach…

As the dog days of summer loom, those lazy hazy days, when serene contemplation comes easily– there are a number of mysteries being forced into my thoughts. Well, maybe mysteries is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe things that just make you wonder, scratch your head, or raise that proverbial eyebrow.

So here is just a few of the sporadic items which have been somewhat interfering in my enjoyment of sunshine and warm breezes.

Yesterday, I was caught up in the story of PAD dogs being introduced to the Surrey RCMP. For those that don’t know, PAD dogs are certified assistance dogs, for those suffering from mobility and PTSD issues, and are there to provide comfort. What struck me, as the PAD dogs have been around for victim services inside Surrey detachment since 2019, is that this press release says that the Mounties are looking forward to “welcome an assistance dog to support the wellness of our officers and Staff at Surrey Detachment”. Maybe it’s cynicism, maybe it’s an old veteran looking at the modern world with weary eyes, but somewhere in the last few years the police have now become victims. Press officers are now lamenting on a regular basis the effect a particular case it is having on its officers. Are we to believe that the public when calling in for police assistance, no matter what the level and form of help is needed, now are dealing with persons more concerned about their own welfare? Do we not expect a level of professionalism, a form of detachment from the emotional, a calmness and directness or is everyone now just expecting a group hug, a mutual shoulder to cry on. Should our officers not be trained to expect and handle trauma as part of their job, should there not be an expectation and preparation for taking on duties that deal with the dark side of humanity? It’s just a bit of a mystery to me where we are going with all this.

Recently the Vancouver City Police said that they did not have the resources to do the “clean sweep” of the downtown Eastside, which everyone knows has become a circus tent city of filth and despair; and it has grown to ridiculous proportions since the VPD took away their attendance to assist with the sanitation and fire department, who would go through the area and try to remove the garbage and buildup of drug infused detritus of the homeless. Up until now I always thought that keeping the peace and maintaining law and order was part of their job. Instead the VPD are apologizing for the trauma that they may have caused. Here is a news flash for the VPD executives– what you do as a police department is often trauma causing. This is while at the same time with their apparent diminished resources, the VPD are issuing press releases and photos of their officers patrolling the beaches in their uniforms and spiffy ATV’s; no doubt in search of rowdy behaviour and illegal drinking. Another mystery but my guess is that the VPD are playing politics with the city council.

Speaking of first responders. How is that (and this is very city centric in view) the fire department is attending medical calls (70 % of their calls are now medical). They are attending in multi-ton trucks, blowing their air horns and attending Code 3 no matter what the level of medical call. While at the same time there are not enough ambulances and paramedics to attend calls. Why is it not obvious that if you took away even 50% of the budget and manpower of the fire departments, and gave it to the paramedics, we would be far better along? Believe it or not the fire department is now complaining about spending too much time waiting around for the ambulance to arrive. Mysterious indeed.

Millions of dollars have now been expended on the visit of the Pope, not to mention the trips to the Vatican for the Indigenous to press the Pope with the constant need for apologies. And why is the long list of apologies pried from the Pope, and every other level of politician and sycophant always the “first step to reconciliation”? Is there ever going to be a “second step”? Is the $2-4 billion Olympic bid (without the approval of the city by referendum by the way) the “second step” to reconciliation? Also a bit of a mystery that will likely never be answered.

Can someone, anyone, explain to me why the City of Vancouver, which is basically broke, has the resources to join a futile and probably frivolous class action law suit, contributing $700,000 taxpayer dollars to go up against the oil companies. This suit is designed to force the oil companies to pay for any city costs associated with “climate change”. Throwing money into the wind may not be a mystery, this may be just stupidity.

Why is that we have a climate “crisis”, a covid virus “crisis”, a housing “crisis” along with a homeless “crisis” but not an “inflation” crisis? Inflation is at 6% in this country, if measured generously, which will cause immense economic devastation in its many forms. Yet, we don’t seem to be overly concerned other than the surface reporting of the price of gas and a bag of groceries. Its effect on government debt, on static or fixed incomes seems for the most part to be given little attention. The overall negative effects it is going to have on this country, long and short term and on productivity is obvious. A mystery as to why there are not protests in the streets.

How is it that climate change is blamed for every heat wave, every forest fire, and large rainfall? Scientifically of course it is just not possible to determine that daily fluctuations in the weather are all attributable to climate change, at least not without years of comparative study. Have you not noticed that the temperature new records are beating, by half a degree are records from the 1960’s or the early 1900’s? Is the consistent chant of climate change, working to alter scientific perception and analyses?

The latest health disaster is the monkeypox. At the time of this writing there were 957 cases across the country. That translates into a percentage of .00258 cases in Canada. Something that has to be taken seriously for sure, but should it be garnering the attention of every headline writer across Canada is one question? But what is mysterious is the lack of honesty in the reporting of the most common victims of it, because the government is worrying about “stigmatizing” the primary effected group, which is gay men. In fact the city of Montreal is advising those in the gay community to get the vaccine, rather than “limiting the number of people they have sex with”. Why is the government and the press suborning the facts, why are they reluctant to report? Have we gone so far down the road of not being offensive that we don’t report the facts, even when it is claimed as a world wide health crisis? It can only make you wonder about all health reporting. Have the Covid Stats been altered to serve a government agenda? It does make you question at the very least.

There are news reports that Kelowna detachment is running with a vacancy of about 40% which they are trying to deal with by calling on those outside the detachment and a weekly call goes out to Reserve officers. The fact that the RCMP is suffering shortages throughout every Province under contract policing is well known as the degeneration has been going on year after year for a decade. That is not much of a mystery, the officers have been complaining about the police to population ratio reaching catastrophic numbers, since the 1990’s. The solution is long term, there is no short term cure, and the population will have to bear up despite motherhood statements coming from the executive suites in the RCMP. The mystery is how this now unionized force and its representatives in the National Police Federation are not screaming heatedly from the rooftops. They have put out the odd press release about staffing levels, but clearly their primary focus is the losing fight to keep the RCMP in Surrey and their concern about the rumblings of a Provincial police force in Alberta. It is mysterious how this most serious issue is not front and centre at every media opportunity.

Of course there are multiple mysteries that come out of the Federal Government on a regular basis. Today, the unions of Ottawa and Federal offices around the country are spitting mad that they may actually have to go back to the work site. We have also learned that the Federal government, after 2 1/2 years of working from home, have no consistent plan across all departments for them to go back to work. even on a part time basis. The union heads are worried about “safety issues” under the “9th wave” of Covid. The mystery is how we, in the rest of the country put up with it.

So you can easily see that there are many other mysteries worth reading at the beach as you adjust the sand out of your shorts, but these were just a few that came into mind. Did you hear that Kim Kardashian has broken up with Pete Davidson? Nobody would have predicted that, quite a mystery as they were clearly madly in love. Or you can try and figure out why we are being inundated with thousands of pictures of Ben Affleck and J Lo as they clearly pose on their honeymoon and wonder why the hell anyone would care?

You could try and figure out why Commissioner Lucki has not resigned. One would have thought that anyone with a modicum of pride would have stepped aside by now.

You could try and figure out who is Justin Trudeau’s barber.

If you are up for a greater challenge, you could even try and figure out the ArriveCan app, and why Canadians are willing to give up all their personal information to the government to safeguard; the same government whose privacy and computer skills sent $26 million in payments to the wrong bank accounts.

Better yet, we can try and figure out why my hair only grows on the side of my head, in my ears, and in my nose, but not on the top of my head. Now, there is a mystery worth solving.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Daily via Flickr Commons – Some rights Reserved

No need for a Polygraph

Well, as luck would have it, there was nothing better for me to do on a hot cloudless July summer afternoon but to tune in to the Public Safety Committee hearings in Ottawa, and be given another opportunity to listen to Bill Blair and Commissioner Lucki testify to whether there was any political interference in the investigation in Portapique Nova Scotia. Judging by their on screen looks and overall demeanour, they didn’t want to be there either.

For those that have not been following the controversy, all of it stems from Ms. Lucki demanding and getting a meeting after a press conference on April 28th, 2020, which had been conducted by the H Division group overseeing the Portapique investigation. This was held a week into the investigation of Canada’s biggest mass murder. According to C/Supt Darren Campbell of H Division, who had taken notes as most police officers do, Commissioner Lucki had been “displeased” in this meeting with the local commanders. She was upset at her H Division underlings for not releasing information about the makes and models of the guns used in the attacks; details they had decided not to release in order to safeguard the ongoing investigation. This seemed logical and in keeping with investigational protocol, since much of the gun investigational inquiries was being conducted by the Americans. To release that information as the Americans were still trying to track the gun movement, would not have pleased their American counterparts and could have hindered the investigation.

C/Supt Campbell went on to describe that Commissioner Lucki said that she had “promised” the yet undisclosed information to the “Minister” and proceeded to chastise the H Division Mounties for not understanding her political world and that this all tied to the impending gun legislation, which coincidently, the Liberals were going to announce in a few days. She wanted that information.

The question is therefore: could this belligerent and clearly pressured Commissioner, eager to score points with her Liberal masters, in particular Mr. Blair; could this be translated or legally interpreted to say that she and the Minister were interfering in an investigation?

So these proceedings and this Committee composed of Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Bloc members were there to determine through their intrepid investigational techniques whether this constituted an interference in the investigational process by the Commissioner and the politicos.

For anyone that has not watched similar proceedings, one has to point out that these types of inquiries very much fall along party lines. In this case, the Liberal members of the Committee know they are in jeopardy and the evidence was not looking good. So the Liberal ministers on the Committee form a protective verbal V to shelter and block for Blair and Lucki. They were clearly there to try and defuse and their blatancy was at times laughable. The NDP member professed a cerebral approach and seem to be focused on what we can do better, the NDP credibility questionable at all times due to their current agreement to keep the Liberals in power for the next couple of years. So it is clearly up to the Conservatives and the Bloc to ask the tough questions, and to do so given the heavily constraining committee time rule limits.

It should be noted, that the Conservative MP from Manitoba Raquel Dancho was prepared and hard hitting and could arguably be said to have been the star of this particular show. She should be applauded for her efforts.

The huggable Minister Bill Blair started it off as the first witness. He was his usual rumpled self and as all LIberal cabinet ministers are now trained to do, answered any question with an unrelated political speech. When asked a question he began by immediately segueing into his gun legislation and his ongoing efforts to “continue to keep Canadians safety” at the top of his agenda. There were also his tried and true usual references to his being a former police chief. His Deputy Minister Rob Stewart sat dutifully beside him, quiet, never looking Blair’s way. Stewarts only contribution was that they were not solely focused on the guns, but just trying to learn the “full story of what had happened”.

Blair has been around awhile. He flatly denied speaking with Lucki “directly” or “never asked” her specifically about the guns. He says he was not in the meeting with H Division and therefore could not speak to it. The entirety of his evidence pointed to his Chief of Staff being the one orchestrating the gun legislation and trying to tie it to Portapique. The Chief of Staff was not there.

Next was the illustrious Commissioner Lucki, who is admittedly a little more poised and getting a little better at the deflect and obfuscate. But Lucki was immediately on the defensive, and obviously could not deny the notes of Campbell, but quibbled with the words “promise”, substituting “confirmed” as what she think she said.

She admitted to being “frustrated” with the flow of information coming to her, and denies that she had a particular interest in the guns that were involved in this mass killing. The question that was never asked was why would the make and model of firearms be the most pressing question in this large investigation that was still unfolding? How it was important could only be interpreted and tied to the Minister of Public Safety and National Security. He was in a few days introducing gun legislation through an order in council that was focused on the 1500 types of firearms they were going to ban. So there does not seem to be any other reason for the focus of Lucki and Blair’s department. There is no other reason for their drive to obtain this information.

On April 23nd a few days prior to the April 28th meeting, Ms Lucki had in fact been told that there would be no release of the gun information. She forwarded an email to that effect, saying that the information shouldn’t be released. This was forwarded to the “Minister” and by implication the PM’s office.

Between the 22nd and the 28th something changed in regard to the gun information. By the 28th she says she believed that the gun information was going to be released, based on her conversations with her press group, who in turn were talking to the H Division press group. It doesn’t appear like anyone in the investigation team told her that this was to be the case. A possible mis-communication? Who would believe in the current RCMP there would be such a thing?

Ms Lucki admitted to having a conversation with Bill Blair’s Chief of Staff where she was asked if the gun information was going to be released in the press conference on April 28th. She told him that it would be and no hesitancy in later that evening forwarding this information to others in the political machinery. By the time of the H Division press conference the Liberals were no doubt by now primed for this information to be released; a perfect springboard to show that the Liberals and their perspicacity when it comes to the banning of firearms. The biggest mass murder in Canada had some political points to score and maybe even a chance for a photo op with guns on full display. Ms.Lucki clearly knew this.

So the April 28th briefing was held by but there was fly in the ointment–H Division at the press conference never released the gun information.

In an email from Commissioner Lucki (that had no context) she sent to Blair’s chief of staff after the press conference said that the press conference “had not gone as expected”.

And it was after this that Commissioner Lucki called a meeting with H Division personnel.

Ms. Lucki according to her account was “frustrated” or “angry” according to the H Division people.

Ms. Lucki said she had been frustrated by the lack of information flowing to their offices in Ottawa. All of the information, not just about the guns. But about the guns, she says she was upset because she takes pride in the information she sends out and was frustrated that the information was wrong. She said she is “only a messenger”. She denied tying them to the gun legislation or Minister Blair. She did not want to argue with the notes from Campbell but that was how she remembered it.

So we had a classic case of he says, she says– except that Campbell took notes– and the Committee had not yet heard from the other officers in H Division that were up to testify next. Lucki left the meeting clearly on the ropes, the dramatic question which was about to unfold –could she survive the next witnesses? Would their loyalty to her win the day?

It is not often that this blogger gets to congratulate the senior executives in the Mounties, but I was surprised and was about to have some of my very diminished faith restored. Retired Commanding officer Lee Bergerman and Chief Superintendent Chris Leather became the next witnesses.

Mr. Leather who had been chastised many times in the press after the mass shooting, not only stood up well, but was articulate and refined, steadfast in his evidence and approach. Ms. Bergerman was succint and to the point, not mincing any of her words. Both showed courage in their convictions.

Both said that they agreed with the notes as taken by C/Supt Campbell. That they were an accurate reflection of the conversation and the tone of that conversation. They said they were taken “aback” by the conversation, “a bit stunned” and “confused” at these allegations by the Commissioner. Bergerman said that Lucki was “angry” and “knows her well enough” to say that. She confirmed as did Leather that Lucki spoke of getting “pressure from the Minister” that “she was under pressure”, and she had in fact mentioned the upcoming gun legislation.

Leather testified that it all began on April 22nd when he was asked by the Commissioner’s office to obtain a list of the guns. He said that he did forward a list, but under the direction of the shooting oversight body, SIRT, who specifically directed that this information was to stay in RCMP hands and not be disseminated. Bergerman and Leather were both asked if they would have in any event shared this information with anybody outside the investigational group. Both said they would not.

So Ms. Lucki defence is that it was all a matter of miscommunication and can give no real answer as to why she was so intent on getting the gun information to the Minster and his Chief of Staff.

The miscommunication Ms Lucki said stemmed from her in ability to get a “team” on the ground in H Division. Her reason they didn’t. Covid. The government would not allow it she said. Her reason was of course incorrect and dismissed later by Bergerman who said they could have come to H Division. There was no rule stopping someone from entering Nova Scotia if they were working during the Covid bubble.

Clearly there is some truth to the miscommunication allegation and the controversy that ensued. The myriad levels of bureaucracy that abounds through the RCMP and in particular in HQ has been well catalogued.

As has been stated many times before in this blog and by many others in the political chorus, Ms. Lucki is merely a foot soldier for the Liberal political elite, an echoing sycophant to the policies of “systemic racism”, “diversity” and “inclusion”. She has memorized the lines and been practising in front of a mirror. That is who she is, that, as she would say, it is part of her “DNA”, and that is how she was elevated to the highest RCMP office in the land. The lane one must stay in as Commissioner is a jagged and bumpy lane, and she has driven into the ditch, she doesn’t even seem to see the line.

The Committee hearings will continue and there will others coming to the committee, including Campbell and Blair’s Chief of Staff. But there is really no need for further revelations. The picture is already clear. Will there be a “fall” person? Maybe, but it is not likely to be Bill Blair. Have I mentioned he used to be the Chief of Police?

There is no doubt that Lucki is blurring the truth (some would call it lying) and she has now been caught, and not only caught, but called out on it by her own senior officers. It was as close to a revolt as one could get. Anyone with a sense of principle and a sense of what constitutes leadership would resign. She has lost her audience.

Picture provided by Marcin Wichary via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved