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Free Speech, not quite as free in policing

As everyone knows, under Section 2 of the Charter of Rights, everyone in Canada has the right to freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The official document of the Canadian Charter of Rights has as a preamble: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of Law”.

One would think then, at first glance, in consideration of that “supremacy of God” line that you as a person would be free to join the “Church of Trudeau”.

Of course I am not referring to a real church, it is in fact a Youtube site created by and starring one of the police community’s own Brent Lord. However there has been a problem developing inside this pew-less church outside of the fact that Brent is a member of the RCMP currently assigned to Trail detachment. The problem is that it is a satirical site which went after Trudeau, mocking the Liberal policies, concerning all those hot take issues such as the Indigenous, Immigration and the financial spending of the Federal Liberals. Policies which can not be questioned in polite company.

There are two issues at play here, issues which admittedly have surfaced in other forms previously in the policing world. One is the basic rights and freedoms for free speech guaranteed to all Canadians, and the other is the limits that is put on police officers under their Code of Conduct regulations.

When the outraged public complained (this may have been only one person) the Mounties said they did “a fulsome review of the highly unprofessional offending materials was completed and administrative options are being considered”. This statement does not disguise their clear presumptions and equally indicates that their final findings were not ever going to favour the Mountie. But, lets leave that aside. We should also note for the record that the Constable never appeared or represented himself as a police officer on the site. This was a personal site and it was silly, more a rant than a detailed examination of any policies. One would have to question whether the Constable really thought this entertaining, it was political for sure, but whether it met the artistic threshold would be the real debate.

The RCMP in addressing the media said “The website and videos were not representative of the views of the RCMP, nor its employees as a whole, rather they were the expressions of an individual”. True. “The content and the viewpoints on the web site fell far short of meeting the levels of professionalism expected of our officers”. Probably also true, but one has to remember that the “professionalism” expected of our officers is a wandering goal post, not easily defined in this 21st century policing model.

Was Commissioner Lucki being political during the Portapique incident when trying to score some political points with the Liberal hierarchy. Was that “political”, was it “un-professional”? One must ask whether or not if this Constable had put up a supportive site for the Liberal policies and trumpeted the good deeds the Liberals would it have been measured with the same stick. Would have it been considered “un-professional” if instead he had professed a liberal progressive stance? It clearly would have been political but my guess would be that it would not have been declared un-professional. In fact, they may never have addressed the issue at all if it was about diversity or inclusion.

It is truly ironic, that we have reached a stage in this country where the right to free speech is being severely limited by the social progressive or “woke” perspective–a group that would historically have been associated with the rights of individuals and the freedom of expression. The evidence of this censorship is everywhere and it is frightening to anyone who believes that free speech is a right worth protecting. Take a look at the cases of Dr. Mathew Strauss in Kingston, Ontario who proposed some very anti-covid restrictions, or Terry Glavin who wrote an article saying quite obviously that there was no evidence of genocide in the residential schools as none of the grave sites had been examined. Recently Dr Jordan Peterson, who has become a bit of a global phenomena is being pursued by the Ontario College of Psychologists for some tweets he put out. They are ordering that he, the global academic with millions of followers, should undergo “media training”. Laughable, but apparently they are serious and threatening to take away his licence if he does not comply. Of course, it is the fact that he expresses views contrary to the current liberal regimes that have taken over our governments and their institutions that is the real reason they are going after him.

The allegation in all these free speech cases and the people involved that always gets put in the headlines is that they are discriminatory, racist, or un-professional. That is the go-to argument in every case. One person is offended, the world is offended. Stanford University, a school of world renown, in the heart of the California woke culture recently issued their proposed “Elimination of Harmful language Initiative” to address “harmful language in IT”. They found 100 words or phrases that they deemed to be “harmful”. Included are such words as “American” because it was “imprecise it should be “U.S. citizen”. To use the phrase “you guys” was deemed harmful, because it “lumps a group of people using masculine language and/or into gender binary groups which don’t include everyone”. Needless to say, this policy group have drawn some highly critical reviews. All of it simply demonstrates that maybe the pendulum is still swinging to the extreme left.

Closer to home, just today the Vancouver City Police made an announcement concerning the wearing of the “thin blue line badges”. No you can’t they said. These badges, which consist basically of a thin blue line through the red maple leaf insignia has been around since 2016 and seems to have started in Calgary. At that time, the badge was said to “recognize officers length of service to frontline policing duties” and to remember “fallen officers”. Seems like a pretty harmless thing, but apparently some from the very vocal left said that the symbol was being “co-opted by hate organizations in both the U.S. and Canada”. The evidence to back this allegation is weak and historically it was in fact an adaptation of the “thin red line”; which was worn by the red coated members of the Scottish regiment in the British army for standing ground against the Russian “foes”.

When you enter the theatre of the absurd in woke politics, the usual spokespeople surface. Grand Chief Stuart Philip who heads the Union of BC Indian Chiefs says wearing the thin blue line patch was the “equivalent to wearing a swastika”. Also laughable, but he does represent the outer fringe of the progressives and is a media favourite.

Currently if you want to wear the patch as a police officer you would have to join the BC Transit police as they still allow them to be worn. But you know it is only a matter of time before someone makes a complaint on that side of the house as well. Remember, it takes only one person to complain about having been offended.

Taking into consideration the rights of every individual including a police officer I must admit to being still firmly against politics being entrenched in policing. It is difficult to argue against the politicization of the RCMP and other municipal and provincial police agencies at the upper levels of management, which I have done in other blog posts, and then turn around and argue for police officers at the working levels to be allowed to be personally politicized. Politics is politics.

Let us consider and admit that politics is firmly embedded in the current police management culture. Are not the political policies of “inclusion and diversity” being practised in every government venue, by their very definition discriminatory. As a blatant example the CBC recently offered up their “Anti-racism, diversity and Inclusion plan”, which in its affirmative action seeking goals is offering positions in their organization, or training opportunities, to only those deemed to be under-represented. Even the recruitment process of most policing agencies is now in fact one of discrimination. They are based on race or gender and that decision to implement this policy is a political decision at its heart.

Robert Reiner wrote a book in 1985 entitled “The Politics of the Police” which explores all the problems that are intertwined when the police get political. Jack Young, a British sociologist described the police and politics as being “terrible twins”. Politics and the principle of free speech is indeed a difficult issue, not easily defined in the policing world. We are living in an age when police officers are being offered up greater freedoms in terms of health, clothing, and even grooming, while at the same time they are trying to further limit the right to speech and opinion. The upper levels do not seem to have any problem with the RCMP management in Surrey celebrating and supporting the politics of Brenda Locke, who is trying to restore the Mounties in Surrey, but these same managers do not want you to wear a badge which many regard as simply supporting fallen officers.

Wendell Holmes a famous jurist while on the Massachusetts Supreme Court said in 1892 that “a cop has a constitutional right to talk politics but no constitutional right to be a cop”. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed stating that police officers right to free speech was a “narrower free speech right”. Police officers “should not be able to make statements in their personal capacity that undermine their ability to maintain the trust of the community they serve” according to the RCMP policy.

There are extreme viewpoints at both ends of the spectrum. There was a picture recently of a police officer in Miami wearing a support Trump mask while patrolling a polling booth. Clearly this should not be allowed as you can easily draw the straight line from support to intimidation. But if cops are participating as members of the general public and are speaking out on “matters of public concern” it gets a little stickier.

There have been 13 off duty cops who were protesting the recent U.S election and participated in the march on Capitol Hill. All have been suspended or charged. Put aside all the anti-Trump bias, should police officers be allowed to march in a political protest? Should an off-duty officer be allowed to march in a Black Lives Matter march? Or a march in support of the LGBTQ community? Make no mistake about it, they would be both political marches, both are political commentary. My guess is that there would be no action taken. In fact don’t the police try to get into every Gay Pride parade wearing their full uniform and it is applauded by every news site and mainstream politician. On the other hand, the RCMP is investigating officers who supported the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa. Clearly it depends on which side of the political spectrum one lands as to whether you are going to be in hot water with your bosses. The politically held views of the Convoy protestors were on the wrong side of the political spectrum not to mention on the wrong end of the Emergencies Act.

I’m not a betting man, but I firmly believe that most police officers are not in favour of Mr. Trudeau and his cohorts policy decisions and initiatives. However, they are not allowed to express those opinions publicly and they were smart enough not to join the “Church of Trudeau”. Do you remember when the Police Chiefs in the United States supported candidate Trump.

Clearly, everyone’s outrage or lack of outrage depends on the current and direction of the political winds. Clearly, police officers, in the course of their duties need to maintain some level of neutrality, their whole reason for being and the core of their support depends on the appearance of fairness and a balanced viewpoint. It is just hard for the ground level to understand this when their supervisors and heads of their organizations have become extensions of their political masters. Freedom of speech and the practise of it are the most fundamental of rights. We must preserve it, guard it, and use it wisely. And it needs to apply to everyone in policing.

Photo via Flickr Commons courtesy of Newtown grafitti – Some Rights Reserved.

2023 ready or not, here we come…

Well we made it to another year. Congratulations. Making it to this point is a good thing.

In our last post we looked back, now we are being encouraged to look forward. We are of course relieved to hear that Justin is back from Jamaica; refreshed, no issues with baggage or told to lie down on the airport floor for a couple of days while the airline tries to figure things out. The fact that there was a state of emergency in that country did not impair him from strolling the beach taking the odd selfie, patently oblivious to most anything back in Canada.

The Governor General has “hope in her heart” for we Canadians. Is that relevant to anyone? Or are we more interested in Harry and Meaghan and the stress that life brings these poor unfortunates? One can only assume that the Governor General’s New Years resolution includes cutting back on flight meals to Europe.

Forgive me if I take a larger look, beyond the borders of the usual policing issues. What is on the horizon for “we the people”? Honestly, at first blush, it does not look to be that exciting of a year ahead of us;, although most of us might accept a certain level of dull, a year free from the drama of the past couple of years.

To listen to the Prime Minister and his cohorts, all is good in Canada and our future prosperity is guaranteed. Nothing is “broken” and we should all just be thankful to be heading into a banner year led by such a dynamic family of politicians on the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels. Calling us “broken” is where Mr. Trudeau says he puts his foot down, that is where he says the Conservatives have crossed over the line. He is such a half full guy.

Locally, the RCMP Mounties and the officers of the Surrey police service should very shortly hear the decision of the Provincial government as to whether they carry-on with the transition to the Surrey Police Service, or return to the tried and true Mounties. It would seem completely illogical for them to dismantle the current Surrey Police Service at this stage of the game and the argument being put forward by Surrey Council simply does not hold water. The recent dramatic announcement and twisting of the figures by Mayor Brenda Locke is meant to raise fear and it is based on the belief that most Surrey taxpayers are not very bright. But this is politics and a decision to be made by new Premier Eby in British Columbia. He who has been on a massive drive to raise his profile with almost daily good deed announcements and promises to spend more. Any person in that position is only looking at the problem from one angle–whether the policing controversy will hurt him or help him politically? When a politician is in those circumstances, no one can accurately predict the outcome.

A burning question (well, maybe thats an exaggeration) is whether Commissioner Lucki will resign this year. It is truly remarkable that she has managed to keep her job for this long. Maybe she should run for the Chief’s job of the Ottawa City Police? One of her favoured Deputies, Superintendent Lesley Ahara, is in the running I am told. Ahara is apparently a fan and a favourite of Commissioner Lucki. It would be hard to believe that the Ottawa city police would be considering a Mountie for the job after all the fallout from the Emergencies Act and Portapique. But again, this is being decided in the whisperings of the diverse and inclusive back room’s of the illuminated Ottawa.

There is some interesting legislation which will come under scrutiny this year. Bill C-92 which will give Indigenous the rights to create their own child welfare system, their own family policies and in fact even their own laws pertaining to child welfare, is now being challenged. The Act is already implemented and underway, with five Indigenous bodies asserting their control over child and family services. However, it is now being challenged, and it is making its way to the Supreme Court of Canada because of Provincial opposition. So far, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories have all joined in opposition to the legislation.

One needs to understand the enormity of this issue. Currently, as of 2021 –53. 8% of all children in the child welfare system were made up of Inuit, First Nations and Metis children. The logistical issues of the Indigenous taking over responsibility for these children is overwhelming, and in fact on a local level could prove dangerous to children, as they swap culture for safety. Of course, as always, it is part of a larger issue for the Indigenous. They are translating this and seeing this as a “watershed moment for Indigenous self-government in Canada”. The opposing Provinces are arguing, that the Indigenous simply do not have jurisdiction under the Constitution, that this is in fact under Provincial purview. Should the left leaning Supreme Court go along with the Indigenous broader self-government it will in effect re-shape the constitution of this country. Quebec went for independence and we fought them mightily. The Indigenous in a hazy, unspecific and disorganized way are trying to achieve the same level of independence, but this time with the aid of a Federal liberal government consumed with being on the side of the righteous and apparently willing to have the taxpayers of the country finance this independence. We should all be paying attention.

In February this year we will hear from Judge Paul Rouleau and the Emergencies Act Inquiry or the Public Order Emergency Commission as they like to call it. We will as well get the results of the Commission of Inquiry, or what they like to call the Mass Casualty Commission into Portapique. Neither of these reports will be a good or positive thing for policing in general, especially for the Mounties in Portapique and the Ottawa City Police during the convoy protest. One should not get overly concerned however. There will be a lot of hoopla headings when they are released, but it is highly un-likely and improbable that anyone will be held to account. Both investigative groups seem more intent on comforting rather than elucidating. All the named groups will promise to carry on–with the usual accompanying promise to do better.

The Canada Revenue Agency will in the next year probably not collect any of the “suspicious” $24.7 billion paid out for Covid. The Auditor General has alerted them to it, they just don’t know how they are going to get it back. The evidence suggests that the political popularity of the Liberals overrode any fiscal responsibility at the time. When questioned– the first response is always how “quickly” they got the money out, the political equivalent of throwing out cash instead of candy in the Santa Claus parade.

Bill C-21 dealing with the firearms regulations, will continue to be discussed in this coming year, as the Liberals try to position themselves politically to “fine tune” the legislation. Their original legislation was poorly thought out, another knee-jerk reaction to a headline, and it was not long before someone pointed at some obvious flaws despite all their “consultations”. It would appear that this Liberal government who feels that they have the inside track when it comes to what is good for us, felt no need to approach and consult with groups like farmers and hunters. In Liberal progressive circles, those individuals are known as the “unenlightened”. Now they have a real mess, a detailed mess which most people would never understand if forced to read the actual legislation.

It is also a foregone conclusion for the coming year that every storm and every strong wind will be referred to in 2023 as “climate change related”. Whether they are right or not, is not for discussion, Greta Thunberg tell us it is so. Greta, now a learned 19 years of age, was the youngest Time Person of the Year in 2019. So how could this teenager be mistaken? Mind you they had also named Donald Trump as Person of the Year in 2016.

Will we have a Federal election in 2023? It seems unlikely. The economy is souring, Mr. Jagmeet Singh is still in danger politically and needs to buy as much time as he can. It was only a little over a year ago that Trudeau thought he would ride in to a majority as the saviour of Covid, the dispenser of funds, the provider of masks, the overseer of the greatest needle use in the country outside the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. But he only ended up with another minority government. It would not seem advisable to swing for the fences again. Singh is unlikely to develop a backbone over the next 12 months.

Of course an over-riding story of interest to mainstream Canada is the economy. Inflation appears to be still out of control and the Bank of Canada is now going to try and repress the worst inflation in the last 40 years. It seems highly likely that this squeezing will cause a recession, it is just a matter of how deep of one. Which for the workers at the lower echelon will not be a good thing. Government workers will be fine as will the high paid executive levels of this country, who never seem to take a hit, or can at least re-structure themselves around the problem. The number of government workers expanded during these last few years, and almost all have by now been given pay raises. The grocery chains, the banks, and the oil industry will continue into 2023 trying to put a spin on how they achieved record profits during this time of enforced austerity. The average person in this country will continue to not be able to buy a house, or travel, or eat beef. If you are lucky and have a house, the people, especially in the east of this country may not be able to heat that home, as the government pursues their carbon tax agenda.

I think we should expect some serious outrage in the months to come.

There will be three Provincial elections this year; in Alberta, P.E.I, and Manitoba. If anyone cares there will also be a gathering of the Green Party in Manitoba. Meanwhile the Sovereign Act in Alberta is driving the progressives wild. Therefore, Trudeau will be hoping that Danielle Smith loses in the Manitoba election– so that he will not have to go face-to-face with the U.C.P. Smith, for her part seems to be itching for a fight.

The biggest story in 2023 will remain the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Putin seems determined to re-build the former USSR and he has played to the weaknesses of the west, initially taking over Crimea without a whimper. Ukranians are putting up a determined and deadly fight to retain their relatively new found freedoms and to avoid once again coming under the oppressive regime of the Soviet Union. As people die in horrendous fashion, on both sides, we must always remember that first and foremost– this is a war like all wars. It is a political war and in this 21st century that war is also being fought on social media.

Ukraine could not win this war on its own, it needs others, and they need to win the social media wars as much as the war on the ground. They need to continue to convince the west that they are the vanguard in holding back Putin and his conspiratorial plans to overtake all of Eastern Europe. To do so, they want into NATO, because a clause in NATO would mandate that the NATO nations would thus have to join the war thereby forcing all the NATO nations to take up the military option. It is indeed scary to consider Putin winning, but it may be equally scary if Ukraine manages to pull all the others into the war. Meanwhile, other countries are now the economic and political hostages. At the controls, the ones who are able to pull the levers, there is the aging and often senseless Joe Biden, a former stand up comic in Zelensky and a former KGB officer in Putin.

The Western media has fully endorsed Ukraine and the countries of the West. Rightly so. The Russians were the ones that started it. But it should always raise concern and be suspicious when we are being exposed to the herd news mentality which is now pervading the West. There is no counter-narrative being suggested or sought out. Putin is evil, Zelensky is good. Russians are committing atrocities, Ukraine is not. But this conflict is more complicated and conflicted than one that can be boiled down to a single aphorism.

Their internal histories go back centuries, not just since Ukraine won their independence. This war like all wars is heavily layered and being fought over economic power, political power, oil interests and military ports. It is being fought to re-draw boundaries and the control of riches; boundaries which have been re-drawn over the centuries several times. Neither side is willing to compromise, although in the end you know someone will have to compromise.

The poor and the uneducated, who are the ones usually enlisted to fight all wars, will continue to fight. Both sides of political leaders will bring up images of patriotism to spur on their troops and try to gain an upper hand in public approbation. Those fighting will face dying a horrifying death, and their family units will continue to be dis-membered and crushed. Nothing good can ever come of this war, which now seems destined to go throughout 2023 — no one should be cheerleading this war.

The war serves only one good purpose and that is to diminish the scope of our problems in Canada.

As our hospitals struggle unable to cope with an influx of flu cases, as winter storms completely disintegrate our airline and transportation infrastructure for days at a time, as unwanted pieces of legislation get pushed forward, as our food bills increase and those on fixed incomes watch their savings diminish, I can not possibly forecast a good or great year.

Admittedly, I’m more of a glass half empty person.

Photo courtesy of Ron Frazier via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Here’s to you and all the things we take for granted…

It is traditional that when this time of year comes around, we are supposed to pause, to reflect, to gaze into the mirror, to whittle away at the perplexing issues of life, big and small, and the changes that were both great and insignificant. It is a time of re-assessment.

We remember some of the headlines, some of the stories of interest and the stories that got scant little attention but meant something to us personally. In the past year there has been a cavalcade of digitally formatted information, both good and bad, some of it judgemental and some of it merely misinformation. The headlining messages are always bundled as “news, or “breaking news” when it is in fact old, history just merely repeating itself.

We seem to be in a cycle of loudly expressed frustration and immobilizing constant stress, however, we also need to remember that this is also a time of great exaggeration. We are being inundated with the latest apoplectic event, a rain storm is now an “atmospheric river”, a snow storm “a polar vortex.” The press has become irresponsible and driven purely by a need to inflame and agitate, to warn you of constant impending doom or crisis. It is clearly an effort to remain relevant to the phone obsessed and relevant to the attention deprived general population. We as humans have allowed ourselves to be transformed, we are now an extension of those phones and logically therefore under the command of the persons that control them. Children in strollers now work their little fingers on an i-pad with the dexterity of a programmer, a constant presence disguised as a babysitter.

It is indeed a confusing time, a time where the economics doesn’t seem to add up, a downturn in the economy and upward inflation apparently not affecting the Xmas shopping, the lines at the airport, or the constant updates on Facebook by all those booked into the the all-inclusive sunnier climes. The look-at-me beach pictures are juxtaposed over longer lines at the food banks and growing tent cities. A recession predicted, but it does not deter Federal employees from threatening action over having to go back to the office, clearly not concerned for a loss of those jobs. The teens and the early 20’s now boycotting all the lesser paying jobs, somehow able to be comfortable with not working at all. Inflation not seen since the 1980’s not deterring every unions demand and every government in response giving greater pay raises then ever seen before, thus fuelling the same inflation. But the over-hanging cloud of complacency may be the most un-settling; a careless disregard combined with un-precedented narcissism.

This Christian holiday period is our time of escape, our safe room, despite most of us being non-practising Christians ironically or not Christians at all. But it does give us this chance, when we should try and look below or above all the overflowing narratives. To be thankful in our ability and outright luck to live in the 1st world. It is also time to thank those people who are continuing work with dedication and resolve regardless of acknowledgement or thanks. Also to those that live and who still gain pleasure in giving and receiving the simpler things.

In this vein I do have some random thoughts and general wishes.

To those past officers, who policed in different times, and have now left us. You were part of a disappearing policing history, one that seemed simpler, one which seemed to be more about human interaction and less about modern tools of containment and restraint. I salute you and will always remember that there were others that went before.

I hope that one of these days we can find the humour in life, to not take everything so seriously, and able to withstand minor slights. Humour is all around us and it will often provide greater insight than that found in the academic journals.

I do hope that soon we will be able to announce people without including their gender or race as a primary descriptor and that we return to some level of measurement by merit.

I hope that common sense becomes more fashionable.

I hope that someday everyone will be open to try and see the other side of the issue, to understand that every view has a right to be heard, as I truly believe that our very democracy depends on it.

To those that I took aim at over the past year– those policing senior managers such as Commissioner Lucki, those sometimes unfathomable politicians such as Justin Trudeau, and Chrystia Freeland, and other entities such as the National Police Federation, and the Indigenous; to name just a few of my favourite targets. I hope you too have a good Xmas. Most of the people behind these issues are well-intended and even though I often heatedly disagree with the policies, or what they are proposing, or the job that they are doing, I do not dislike them as individuals. In the end I am only trying to report, trying to propose or unearth facts, nothing else.

I hope that sometime during this season you too are allowed some time to be alone with more gentle thoughts, or to just be allowed to take it all in. It seems trite, but I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy. Vaccinated or un-vaccinated, I don’t care.

I would like to thank those of you who have been faithful readers of the blog, allowing me to vent and tolerated me when I sometimes overstepped the line. You know who you are.

Lastly, I would like to thank those police officers who on Xmas morning find themselves sipping on the bitter 7-11 coffee, in the quiet hours around sunrise, too early to head back to the office, when the only distraction is the crows bouncing around the parking lot for that tossed wrapper of grease. Enjoy that time, you’re only one call away from it possibly getting worse.

So a Merry Xmas to all of you, thanks for reading, thanks for being at the other end of this blog.

We will see you in the New Year….when we will go back to all those other issues.

All the best,

Pete

Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Small Dutch boy needed…

There are a lot of analogies that would seem to fit the current state of bedlam in Surrey, that bastion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police efforts in municipal policing, their veritable flagship of contract policing. Mary Mapes Dodge in her story of “Hans Brinker; or the Silver Skates” wrote about the little Dutch boy who saved his country from disaster, by plugging a finger in the dike until help arrived the next day. It seems to be a fitting description of Surrey and the RCMP– in light of the back and forth bureaucratic political maelstrom now taking place in that fair city while also reflecting the current overall state of Canada’s national police force.

Of course in this metaphorical dike there is more than a single hole, there are many, all of which are being plugged by the fingers of the likes of Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, Assistant Commissioner Manny Mann, and Chief Superintendent Sean Gill. Playing the Dutch Queen, is the the illustrious and apparent policing expert Brenda Locke who is of course, now the mayor of Surrey with her 28% of the popular vote versus 27.3% of the popular vote for Doug McCallum.

Her lacklustre .7% win did not deter her from giving the speech about the “people have spoken”. Brenda Locke to keep her promise is willing to pay out over $100 million of taxpayer dollars to go back to the status quo of keeping the Mounties. (Did we mention that she used to be a party supporter of McCallum when he originally made it an election issue for a separate police force). She fell out of McCallum’s favour though and then switched her position. This all seems to be more about political revenge than thought out policy. In any event it has come about that on November 29th, Locke and her new group of councillors voting 5-4, have now endorsed the “framework for a development of a plan” to undo what has been done. This was after a presentation by A/Comm Edwards to the City council wherein he talked about what a great job the Mounties are doing and will continue to do when they get rid of those nasty Surrey Police Service upstarts, which by the way are now a few hundred members strong. A “Project Team” will oversee a development of this plan, that will need to be submitted to city council by December 12, 2022– which in turn would need to be forwarded to the BC Solicitor General and the Public Safety Minister for approval. Of course new Premier Eby will have a final say, one way or another.

One must keep in mind that the transition to a City Police Service has already been approved by all three levels of government.

For the BC Police Services and the Ministers to reverse that original McCallum majority government led initiative, one would think will take some real persuasion. Locke must realize that it is a high hill to climb so she has tried to stack her Project Team by hiring Dr. Peter German (clearly someone who has the ear of Premier Eby who had hired German when he was looking into money laundering and the casinos) and Tonia Enger (a self-declared “contract policing expert”). Both of course are former RCMP officers of lengthy service, and one would have to assume that their report will now have to be supportive of a return to the RCMP, and somehow also make it seem logical. Expect to see the money issue down-played.

The RCMP and their union, the National Police Federation, have been strident and vocal supporters of Locke to oppose McCallum, the Darth Vader of Surrey politics. I have been told on good authority that at the election headquarters for Locke on the night of the vote, Edwards, Mann and Gill were there in full glory, exhorting and cheering on their new mayoral hero. So much for police being politically impartial.

Then there was the curious case of public mischief brought against the Mayor, of which he was acquitted, much to the Mountie chagrin. What was curious about the case was that McCallum made a complaint of assault, and within a few days, he himself was charged with public mischief. The whole case should never have gone forward, but that aside, there is something highly suspicious about the Mounties bringing charges against McCallum in the first place, and in such a quick turnaround. Now, with little doubt, the City will also have to pick up McCallum’s very pricey legal bills.

There is also a ground level war going on between the Mounties and those that wish to replace them. The Mountie union for their part, will also be sending a report to the government with their view of the situation. The NPF spokesman, Ryan Buhrig, made an interesting comment to the press, in that he stated that seven of the fourteen “shifts” were currently “below minimum staffing levels”. Is this to blame on the transition, or is he admitting that the RCMP is currently not able to meet the contract needs? There is little doubt that these shifts were “below minimum” long before the Surrey Police Service came into existence.

I have by now heard from uniform officers from both sides. The RCMP officers I have spoken with make no bones about the fact that they don’t like the SPS officers, and the SPS officers in turn have complained about the brutal way they have been treated. Safe to say, the situation, morale wise is not good. I heard on high authority that the government at one time seriously considered making a formal complaint to the Public Complaints commission about the actions of some of the RCMP top management in their efforts to block the SPS. Their brief consideration was that the level of obstruction amounted to a form of “corruption”. They did not follow up for obvious political reasons.

If one wants to judge what the best course of action would be, there is a clear need to step back from the infantile actions of the politicians and senior police managers. One needs to look at this from the practical viewpoint and step away from the misinformation campaigns and the biased and often ignorant rhetoric. Let’s even forget about the monies spent, the monies about to be spent, or the monies about to be lost. The most basic decision and central question is whether or not the RCMP are even still capable of municipal and contract policing.

In the rest of the country, in academic circles, and even in the Federal RCMP rarefied air of Ottawa there is a very different dialogue going on. If contract policing is the dike then the holes in the dike, the holes in the organizational structure, are becoming increasingly apparent and they are numerous. The solution that is being discussed, proffered and debated is whether or not the time has come to let the dike break and in effect let the RCMP to get out of “contract policing”.

The most recent example is in an essay by Kevin Lynch and Jim Mitchell. Lynch is a former clerk of the Privy Council Office, and is now with BMO Financial; Mitchell is an adjunct professor at Carleton University. The paper got the attention of the Globe and Mail and is adding to the further discussion of this possibility. In the paper they argue that the problems of the RCMP are large in scope and that “they are inherently structural, requiring fundamental change to re-shape”. The Mountie “jumble of accountabilities” is supported by an “organizational model that fails them” and that they are “poorly positioned to discharge their responsibilities”.

Of course this is just the latest, in 2007 the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP, stated that there was a requirement for a “much higher degree of managerial competence and sophistication than that which is currently found in the RCMP”. The Bastarache report said that the “culture is toxic, misogynistic, and homophobic”. In July 2022 an all party committee of the BC Legislature was tasked with reviewing the Police Act for the Province, stated that “we need to end contract policing”. In an associated poll, 39% of the people agreed with replacing the RCMP, 38% opposed and 23% were undecided.

Further along this year we have witnessed the Portapique inquiry, which showed that the managers of H Division, at the senior levels were in-fighting with their municipal agencies. Lynch and Mitchell also believed that the Emergencies Act inquiry in the end “portrays an indecisive federal police force”. It demonstrated that the very top of the organization is fraught with miscommunication and that they have become a fully integrated “political” police force, more interested in playing the political game than the operational game. Again, none of these latest revelations are good and the tarnish is not going to wear off soon.

On a lower level, when it comes to the more basic issues and the ability to staff their contracts, I am being told that the Federal positions in British Columbia are now almost 50% vacant, while the other Provincial units are approaching 30% vacancy rates. There is a lack of recruitment and the RCMP is now having trouble enticing anyone to a career and therefore an inability to staff positions. This is not new, this organization has been failing in this regard for many many years. As a result ideas are being floated in British Columbia, Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan for leaving the RCMP contracts altogether.

The Eby government has now had to provide an additional $230 million to the RCMP to assist in “fully staffing” rural policing as part of his “Safer Communities Act Plan”. This would seem to go to the very heart of the issue of not being able to fulfill the current contract.

It is also impossible to argue that the RCMP is any “cheaper” than a municipal police force, as it is a myth that the 10% discount given to the RCMP is a game changer. This is wholly swallowed up with the extra manpower demands which come about due to Federal commitments at a cost to the municipal and provincial policing needs.

There is historic irony. The British Columbia Provincial Police were disbanded on August 15, 1950, a move that was made for two primary reasons. One, was the hope that by doing so, if they brought in the RCMP they wouldn’t unionize; and secondly, they wanted to put a better fight against Communism. It would seem that on both of those issues the fight is over.

The current structure of the RCMP is damaged, in need of severe repairs. As a retired RCMP who preferred contract and the criminal work over the Federal, it is indeed bittersweet to watch the current machinations in Surrey. It is difficult to watch the demise of the RCMP in its present form, but if you don’t think it is happening you are not watching. The organization will not disappear, but I suspect we will not recognize it 20 years from now. It was good while it lasted, but policing is evolving, the past is the past and evolution is necessary to keep up with the quickly changing times. In Surrey, there is a futile attempt underway to argue that all would be good if one were to return to the RCMP. But it is a dishonest argument.

Who knows or would even dare to guess where this group of politicians will lead us. If the government gives in to the misguided sentiment of Brenda Locke and her cohorts, the only known thing for sure that the Surrey taxpayers are going to be on the hook for a rather imposing tax bill. All to return to an organization whose time is now completely taken up in plugging the holes, trying to hold back the flood waters against structural and inevitable change.

Photo by bertknot Courtesy of Flickr Commons – Some rights Reserved

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