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Some Summer Mysteries for the beach…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

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

No need for a Polygraph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections from a distance

Recently, this blogger had the opportunity to leave this country for a couple of weeks. For me, usually a time to re-generate one’s faith in the greater good, to re-gain some perspective on the news items of the day, to adjust one’s vision on Canada and where it fits into the world. It is somewhat naive in this day and age to think that one can totally escape from the digital blather, there is no real way to hide the constant onslaught and the insistent reminders from “back home”.

So as I found myself maneuvering through the various airport security systems, my ArriveCan app firmly embedded in my phone, there continued the never-ending notifications on flights and flight times, the constant beep of information headlines coming from my pocket wanting to make sure you haven’t missed a minute of the breaking news that was washing over this country, as if I was of some importance, and the need for me to have the information vital to my survival. The first headline was the airport itself.

As I stood in the never-ending line of wannabe “check-in” passengers, I was increasingly thankful that I was not flying through Toronto, where Pearson International has apparently turned into a rugby scrum played in the middle of thousands of un-claimed Samsonites. Canada now stands proudly number one in the world in something– cancelled flights and late arrivals.

The “at least” three hour check-in times are of course ridiculous, but the airline industry has for a number of years put passengers at the lowest end of the priority scale. They have made it seem that the client relationship had been inverted. We were there to please them our job was to be thankful that they are taking us anywhere. They have expanded the numbers of seats but in ever-increasingly small planes and the joy and excitement of flying has now officially been replaced by a feeling of herded cattle being moved through the gates of the abattoir.

Then of course there is the fact that the Federal government group who was responsible for security screening at Canada’s airports had not “anticipated” that a shortage of staff and a pent up demand for travel could result in a strain on the system. Maybe working from home made them numb to the exertions of the general working public. In any event, I dutifully strapped on the mask for a number of hours, as the tv monitors in the airport displayed the twice infected Trudeau on his private plane, skipping through Europe with Melanie Joly and Anita Anand into the latest NATO meetings.

I did not of course have the luxury of travelling with the entourage of the Governor General, who although she does not speak both official languages, is clearly well versed in the language of Federal government largesse. She apparently served up three dinners, breakfasts, lunches and snacks while en route to Kuwait to electrify the troops with her presence. I had a bottle of water and some cheese and crackers.

The next breaking news item concerned the beleaguered and battered Commissioner of the RCMP, who seems to trip every time she goes public. Commissioner Lucki is truly turning into an embarrassment, possibly only outdone by Minister Bill Blair the senior party member in that Cabinet of high schoolers that Trudeau has brought together. She and Blair continue their Abbott and Costello routine of who’s on first –in terms of who is telling the truth and who is lying. Clearly they are both lying.

Does anyone in the country believe that Supt. Campbell made up the notes? It would be a weird thing to make up, whereas it would not be hard to believe that Lucki was given orders to release some information on the investigation that would assist the government in their proposed gun legislation. The timing was perfect after all; a perfectly timed mass shooting had the government salivating over how to score some political points; a chance to illustrate how dedicated the government is in protecting us from ourselves.

Clearly, the need to please her Liberal masters was front and centre in Lucki’s less than savvy mind. A clear feat of insensitivity considering the subject matter of the meeting. The fact that Campbell’s notes were not in the first disclosure package to the Commission, and then were found in a second package will bring out all the conspiracy theorists. One will need to tune in next month’s public hearing where one will be able to watch Lucki try to dance on the head of a pin. Expect riveting well coached explanations such as “It was a tense discussion..my need for information should have been weighed against the seriousness of the circumstances”.

Politics of course often gets pulled in and over an investigation in the policing world, the more high profile the investigation the more the pull for politicians. I experienced it on a couple of files, as did many of my colleagues. One has to be strong to withstand what is sometimes incredible pressure. She is clearly not strong. So the revelation that she was trying to score some points for the Liberals, should not be surprising, she simply just got caught at it. It needs to be admitted that the RCMP Commissioner role is by its very nature, half politician and half police officer. It is a fine line that needs to be walked if one is to enjoy any level of success. Strong principles are paramount to that success. She is not principled.

This incident has put on full display he one dimensional style of leadership and underlined her lack of credibility with the RCMP membership. It is a glaring illustration of how she managed to get to the highest job in the Mounties and how she got there with little understanding of an investigation or the characteristics of an investigation. If the foot soldiers in the Mounties had felt any kind of loyalty to her, that has now been washed away, gone forever. She has become a caricature.

The other story albeit a little less dramatic, which captured my attention was the release of the Cullen Commission. 133 days of hearings, 199 witnesses, thousands of investigative hours, resulted in an 1800 page report. 600 pages more than Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. (I often wonder if Judges, like typists, get paid by the word.)

The conclusion of this massive multi-million dollar legal effort were the more than obvious conclusions that FINTRAC had failed and Civil forfeiture provisions need to change. That’s it. There was no evidence uncovered of parties having been “motivated by corruption”, but plenty of evidence of bureaucrats and all those involved in the industry doing nothing– despite knowing about and observing the clear violations.The farthest Judge Cullen would go out on the judicial limb was by saying “They should have to explain why they didn’t take the steps to combat money laundering”. In the end though nobody loses their job for not doing their job, and the clear moral of the story for bureaucrats if observing criminal behaviour– look the other way.

Mr. Cullen recommended that there be more “education” for lawyers, accountants, and mortgage brokers. This seems to be based on the somewhat naive thought that they were unaware of what was going on. Is it not more more likely that they were gaming the system, knowing full well that nobody was investigating them? He did say that a lot of the problems in what went on have been addressed and possibly rectified after the earlier Peter German report; which only makes me want to conclude that this Commission was a redundancy.

My travels went well despite my futile attempts to keep myself in some form of isolation from Canadian news. I firmly believe that everyone should leave this country and look back, it changes the perspective and alters your tools of measurement. There is no denying that this is a country of benefits and resources. At the same time, there is clearly a particular North American culture and society, subtly different, but indeed different from Europe. Different mores and aspirations. A culture where we seem keen to imitate the U.S. Their problems and their solutions are our problems and our solutions.

This led to some minute observations as I walked through the aging and historic cities. Cities which presumably are not immune to the same world problems we all share. There was a different atmosphere, difficult to identify, but it gradually became clearer. There was no blatant pan-handling, no mentally disturbed persons yelling and swearing at the heavens, the streets and public washrooms were cleaner and there were no multiple reports of people being randomly accosted on the streets. How was this possible? There were less sirens and air horns, no observable road rage, less eyes-down purposeful walking, a place where people seemed to work only to live. The police seemed more approachable, more one with the public, less robotic, less military. There seemed to be a greater element of trust of the people.

Has age and history simply made them more mature, more prone to pay attention to the history.

It is always good to get home and we do have a good country, but it is a young country. Maybe like teenagers we think we know everything and maybe know nothing. There was a lingering gnawing sense that maybe, just maybe, we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along our path.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Nicholas Doumani – Some Rights Reserved

Crumbling Integrity

Constant bitching about issues facing police is commonplace, a well practised pastime among the veterans of the blue. People will point out that this blog makes its living in this realm of grumbling discontent. Even for the new 21st century cops, bitching and complaining is a rite of passage and there seems to be no shortage of topics to entertain both groups. Resourcing, shifting, promotions and transfers, all seemingly preoccupying the officers now taking up two tables at Starbucks. The old guys and gals in Tim Hortons, like to talk about pensions, Veterans Affairs, and the cost of living index. The belly aching is never-ending and usually never solved.

Something does seem to be different now though. The transition to the new age does not seem to be going as smoothly or as expected. Morale seems deflated, the concern more serious. Is there a fundamental shift in the role of police or just the same old longing for the “good old days”?

An astute RCMP friend of mine of the younger generation, who is well read on the issues of the day, recently opined that we are in fact watching the “crumbling” of an organization. He may have been over-stating the situation a little, but there does appear to be increasing evidence of a significant deterioration; an acute erosion of the “job”, both in how it is done, and how it is perceived. It seems partly due to the fact that society is bending to new norms, and those new norms are incongruent, often out of sync with the historical understanding of the job. At its root may be that police organizations have now completely and willingly blurred the line between the governmental executive branch and the independence of the judicial and policing arms of government.

There have been a couple of recent stories which seemed to serve as an illustration of this fundamental change.

First, was the Senate committee hearings on the imposition of the Emergency Measures Act and the various witnesses and their attempts at defending those measures.

Secondly was the slip up by none other than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner, who inadvertently displayed his political affinity and loyalty to the “progressive” government of Justin Trudeau. This has led to a complaint and investigation by the Canadian Judicial Counsel on the remarks of Mr. Wagner– to determine whether he had had taken the “liberty to express progressive consensus at the expense of judicial neutrality”.

However, let’s first deal with the Senate hearings, which at times bordered on farce as government officials tried to justify and explain the imposition of the Act in the fight against those dastardly convoy protestors. Otherwise known as the insurrection that never was. Highlights included the fact that Marco Mendocino, the Minister of Public Safety, said that the police “requested” the imposition of the Emergencies Act, the clear inference being that the police were out of options and needed the government to come to their rescue. It has now been established that he deliberately misled the public, the police never asked for it.

As the committee progressed it became obvious to all that the success of the Freedom Convoy was largely due to the failures of senior law enforcement, and the Provincial, Municipal, and Federal governments. They, to put it gently, failed to anticipate and enforce the laws that were always available to them. Commissioner Lucki in her cringe worthy testimony could not, and would not admit to any enforcement failures. Nevertheless, she was forced to confirm under oath that they did not ask for the Emergencies Act. Pushed further in her testimony, she found herself in the position of trying to defend her political masters. She was clearly uncomfortable in criticizing the government, and spent most of her time saying that the Act was in the end beneficial, regardless of how it came about. She did prove herself a diffident public servant to Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals.

It was this failure in enforcing the laws of the day, and then failing to admit to those “sequence of failures that Howard Anglin, writing in the National Post concluded– led to the serious consequences of the police and government combining to use “extraordinary police powers and otherwise unlawful tools of government coercion” to upend which was for the most part a legal protest.

It was in essence “a breakdown in the rule of law”, and this gets to the apparent fundamental shift that is occurring in policing.

The police are the most visible in terms of the upholding the rule of law in this country. When they “fail to enforce the law, or choose not to enforce the law, or enforce the law unevenly, the rule of law is compromised, and the perception of the public and the need for the law to be seen as being fair and consistent is irreparably harmed.” The RCMP for many years now has clearly fully embedded itself with the progressive wing of the Liberal party; its policies and operations designed and implemented to appease the current political narrative and to be sensitive to the political base of the Liberal party.

Mr. Anglin cites several examples where the police reacted and acted on the direction of the governing party. How else he asks could one explain the lack of enforcement for the blockades in 2020 of the Coastal gas pipeline, the broad daylight vandalism of statutes whether it be the Queen, Sir John A, or Edgerton Ryerson? How did the downtown Eastside of Vancouver become the current hive of violence and destruction under the watchful eye of the Vancouver City Police, other than through the lack of enforcement of bylaws, drugs, and public mischief. They too have been caught up in substituting a social democratic approach for a clear enforcement need.

In 2013 the blockade of CN Rail by Indigenous led protestors, was ignored by the police. Anglin points to Judge Brown of the Ontario Courts who asked why the Ontario Provincial Police were coming to court for an injunction, when they already had the powers of arrest to stem the blockades. It got even worse in Judge Brown’s court because the police later still failed to enforce the injunction. The police who were still being hoisted on the petard of the woke led Judge Brown had to chastise the police that “discretion in how to enforce the injunction is not extended to not enforce the injunction at all”.

We have since seen the torching of churches, the wanton eco-terrorist destruction of a pipeline site, and the broad daylight destruction of historical statues; all examples of laws not being enforced. Choices to enforce clearly now being dictated by the political arms of municipal, Provincial and Federal governments. The current managers and executives in the policing world have been promoted, and have recognized that the way to climb the ladder is to become one with the liberal philosophy which is clearly the flavour of the day. They recognized that one must obey the woke prescription, suborn any principles of truth, and ignore the reality brought to your attention by the rank and file.

Anglin, who is a research professor at Oxford, defines the rule of law as ” a society that is governed by predictable rules, duly enacted by accountable officials, publicly disseminated, and consistently enforced”. The rule of law, in particular the enforcement of those laws, are critical to a functioning democracy. The police have in effect now been compromised at the expense of political expediency.

The second example are the statements made recently to the Le Devoir newspaper on April 9th, by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Richard Wagner. When speaking about the “Freedom Convoy” and the imposition of the Emergencies Act said that the: “forced blows against the State, Justice, and democratic institutions, like the one by protestors, should be denounced with force by all figures of power in the country”. He describes the convoy as the “the beginning of anarchy where some people have decided to take other citizens hostage”.

Apparently this learned judge was unaware that there is a canon in the practise of judges summed up in the Ethical Principals for Judges which says that: “statements evidencing pre-judgement may destroy impartiality”. In other words, judicial comment on political matters is totally inappropriate.

It could not be more relevant in light of the Committee hearings. There are currently four legal challenges to the Emergency Act imposition, some of which may wind their way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where Mr. Wagner would sit in judgement. His self-admitted bias is obvious. A group of lawyers have filed a complaint with the Canadian Judicial council. Bruce Pardy, a Professor of Law at Queens University says that Wagner has taken “liberty to express progressive consensus at the expense of judicial neutrality”.

Some say we should not be surprised. After all he is an appointee of Mr. Justin Trudeau. He was preceded by the very liberal and also very woke Beverly McLachlin.

Mr. Wagner has a bit of history when it comes to being and wanting to be “progressive”. In an article in 2018 with the Toronto Star he said that “his court was the most progressive in the world” and must lead in promoting “progressive moral values”. Professor Wanjiru Njoya in writing about the Wagner statement has “narrowed reasonable to progressive ideals alone” that only “progressive perspectives are reasonable”.

It would also be arguable that the Supreme Courts decisions leave little doubt in which way the Supreme Court seems to lean to the progressive agenda. In the news recently was the R vs. Bissonette decision where Wagner, writing for the majority said that the conviction of Bissonette, in the killing of six in a mosque in 2017, and sentencing him to consecutive life sentences was an act of “cruel and unusual punishment”. He said that the sentence “presupposes that the offender can not be rehabilitated” and was “degrading in nature and incompatible to human dignity”. It was he wrote contrary to Section 12 of the Charter of Rights.

In R vs Sullivan this same court struck down Section 33.1 of the Criminal Code which said that “automatism” is not a defence to assault or bodily harm cases. In two separate cases two individuals who had voluntarily taken levels of drugs which rendered them in a state of automatism were now wanting to use it as a defence. Sullivan one of the defendants had attacked his mother with a knife, Chan the other defendant had stabbed and killed his father while high on magic mushrooms. The court ruled that this section was unconstitutional as it violates Section 7 and 11 (d) and that they should have been allowed to use this defence.

In a case of the Beaver Creek Cree Nation who is suing for damages to their hunting and fishing rights, the Court echoed the political mantra of the day. In this case the Band, who had already spent over $3 million in their case, felt that they should receive “advance costs” which is where the legal fees are paid in advance by the government, when it is “a matter of public interest”. A rare and unusual request to be sure, and one that is rarely granted. The Supreme Court overruled the Alberta Court of Appeal and said that the government should pay up front, saying the “pressing needs must be understood in the spirit of reconciliation and from the perspective of a First Nation, because it would have its own spending priorities”. The government was ordered to pay $300,000 to the Band to assist them in the suit against this same government.

It is not important whether you agree with the actual decisions or not, what is important is that the political sentiment of this current government in power has now been imposed on the police in their policies and operations, as well as to the highest court in the land.

The independence of both arms of government is questionable if not compromised. Their impartiality in the application of the laws of the land has been severely damaged. If one believes that a democracy has at its core the bindings of law, one could easily argue that our very democracy may be being damaged. One has to believe that all are treated equally under the law.

Contrary to the idea of fairness and an un-biased police force, the RCMP has been busy with the apparent priority of re-writing its “core values”, saying “society has changed, the policing landscape has changed”

“Professionalism” has now been replaced with “excellence” and that they now recognize their historical role “especially when it comes to Indigenous people”. Now the RCMP will “value and promote reconciliation, diversity and inclusion…”

It leaves little doubt as to who is now guiding the RCMP. This ball of tightly wrapped righteousness is rolling down the societal hill, carried by its own momentum, and it is unclear as to who would ever dare to step in its way.

These are disconsolate times, good reason to be bitchy.

Photo courtesy of Government of Prince Edward Island via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

It’s Time to get to the Children

Like most of the general public last May 2021, when there was an announcement by the Tk’emlups te Seccwepmc band that they had “discovered”, through the use of ground radar, 215 “unmarked graves”, I was taken aback, and a little confused. How is this possible, how could they have gone un-detected for so long?

In a few short days, the discovery and the original news reports began morphing and transitioning, building to a crescendo of evermore outlandish and suspicious headlines. The “unmarked graves” quickly turned into “mass graves”. The allegations captured news eyes from around the world and the international headlines began to follow suit. One of the first, the prestigious New York Times, the liberal media conscious of the United States, reported on the “mass graves” that had been found on the Kamloops Residential school grounds.

The use of the terminology “mass” graves is a tricky one. In most peoples minds and in the current lexicon, it infers criminal activity, the nefarious and clandestine disposal of bodies. It conjures up, in this case, the horrific image of children meeting a brutal and homicidal end. As the months have now turned into a year most of that which was an implied– all those reports that had stirred the loud voices –turns out to be inaccurate and much less than the reports had suggested.

Terry Glavin writing for the National Post, in a recent and well researched article dated May 26th of this year, wrote about the extent and breadth of the misperception. He puts the responsibility for the exaggeration and the inflammatory headlines squarely at the feet of the National press. It was the press he argues that turned the headlines even contrary to the original press releases that had been issued by the various bands at the time. As an example, the Kamloops Band initially spoke of bodies “buried on site”, and it was the press, both television and print, who began to twist the wording to one that was more suitable for them and the headline writing editors. As Glavin points out time has now shown that there was “no mass murder”, “no evidence of mass murder” and “no evidence of concealment”. In fact for those children that died there, they were not returned to their original home for the rather mundane reason of it being a “cost-saving measure”; not to hide what had gone on.

The repercussions and the political and social media churn after the reported “discovery” moved into high gear, and the Liberals who clearly govern by headline could not wait to be seen as pre-eminent keepers of our social and political conscious. They wanted to play to their constituency. Canada Day was cancelled and the flags were put to half-mast for over five months. Apologies were demanded and received, tears flew out of the eyes of every politician standing in front of a bank of microphones. None dared to question even the slimmest of facts. Investigative journalism was non-existent.

The secondary results of the outrage, the burning of churches, the toppling of statues, and the bellicose demands for “reconciliation” reached a fevered pitch. Every news report had to include the tears of the Indigenous elders, stories of torture and abuse, and had to decry “colonization”. It was the accepted script. As the words and terminology ramped up, the term “genocide” began to gain acceptance in liberal circles. It turned out to be a step too far, and it was then that some push back began. Including the residential schools with the likes of Auschwitz was beyond the pale, even for the fringe. Somewhat un-deterred “genocide” changed into the more acceptable “cultural genocide”.

What was really discovered of course, was “undocumented deaths”.

This is not to deny that the endemic deaths of children, especially in the late 19th century were at unfathomable levels, some estimates reaching 20% of the children who had attended the schools. They were in fact dying of malnutrition, tuberculosis, and influenza. The conditions were deplorable at the schools run by the Churches but the deaths were “not a surprise”. In fact 100 years ago, the Department of Indian affairs head resigned because of the number of deaths from tuberculosis, in his mind had reached unsupportable levels.

The conditions at the schools has in point of fact been exhaustively explored for decades: inquiries, public hearings, criminal cases, settlements and Federal investigations. The largest and now most pointed to was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada; which ran for over seven years, from 2008-2015.

In that report, using the numbers that they produced, the following was revealed for the years 1890-1969:

3,021 are listed as being “undocumented deaths” and there is no record of 1391 of those children. 832 died in schools, 418 died at home, 427 in hospital, 90 in non-school situations, and 43 died in a sanatorium.

But, looking at the facts would have tapped down the rhetoric. Rarely does anything get in the way of this Liberal Federal government or in the Provincial political corridors when there is an opportunity to make political statements of empathy. They are all apologists to the core. It plays well. The unglued Indigenous Minister at the time, Carolyn Bennett expressed hope that the finding of the graves would be a “catalyst” like “George Floyd”. Again the inherent implication was that these children were killed.

Since that time, billions of dollars are being spent in one form or another for the “survivors” who suffered at the hands of those who ruled that “white supremacist, colonial settler state”. Two billion dollars in reparations to survivors, a $10,000 “common experience payment” to the 90,000 or so current survivors, an additional $3000 per year for every year they went, and over $200 million for funding “healing and education programs”. That was in 2006.

In 2019 there was a class action suit launched for those that attended day school, returning home everyday after school. That allowed for those survivors to be paid between $10,000 and $200,000 depending on the level of “abuse” claimed. Recently in a third suit settlement, “survivors” and “descendants of survivors” who died before May 30, 2005 can now also apply for compensation.

I will admit as being one who has always been confused how monies and the payment of monies to grandchildren for instance, somehow “reconciles” historical wrong doing but suffice to say that the price for any wrong doing seems to have at the very least been paid and paid in full.

Now, according to Chief Rosanne Casimir of Kamloops, commenting on the one year anniversary says that they have now entered into a new “phase”. The lead investigative group for this matter is now the Band itself, the Mounties there to give “support” only. Even with that said, a debate continues as to whether the bodies should be exhumed at all.

“The remains are there, what more proof do they want” exemplifies that thinking.

All this is of course a tacit admission that this is not as originally inferred a “crime scene”. Chief Casimir now describes it as an “exhumation to memorialization”. The focus is now to find “evidence of remains and link them to their home communities”. Ever so quietly they now seem resigned to the fact that the findings to date do not meet the criteria of anything bordering on a mass grave. The RCMP have already said that they have opened a file, but they are not actively investigating, clearly believing from the outset that this was not a crime scene. Garry Gotfriedson, a “survivor”, and head of the Committee, is even quoted as saying “all of us that attended the schools already knew that they (the bodies) were there”.

So the headlines that bounced around the world have now come full circle. The remains of these children have gone from being a symbol of a Church led criminal conspiracy to becoming a political lever, pawns in the game of “reconciliation”, pawns elicited to generate legal apologies. The deaths of children by some form of criminal behaviour is almost unthinkable but it is those thoughts and inferences which are now being used in various political arenas. Translating this narrative to various forms of reconciliation is the base of every political and economic Indigenous demand. It is unseemly. It should be criticized, not condoned.

Despite the recent announcements there is no current timeline on the exhumation of the bodies which is unlikely to yield little if any evidence of criminality or wrong-doing. Everyone knows that. They also know that the story will be reconstituted when that exhumation process begins (if ever) and that the results could actually water down the current political Liberal accepted narrative.

A thirteen person “committee” has been assigned by the Kamloops band to oversee the exhumation; the first stage being the “oral telling by elders who survived the school”. They will then use that information to begin collecting DNA from those survivors to try and identify the children remains.

“There is no manual for us to follow, so we are taking things slowly” said the Chair of the Committee Gottfriedson.

It is only after that stage will they begin to exhume and “only at that point will forensic archeologists and archivists begin their work.”

He estimated that the first stages “will take years” and the ever present caveat that the Federal government must fund the entire multi-year operation.

Is the process being prolonged and forecast into many of years to come intentional? Or is it due to a need to control the narrative? They are impolite questions to be sure. But the Indigenous need to be held to some form of accountability, both to the makeup and conduct of the investigation and its eventual outcome. Reporting on those findings and being questioned as to the process is also part of that expectation.

The grieving has to be subsumed and the political staging replaced by the real need to get to the children. At the very least you could give them back their dignity and their identity in their deaths.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by GotoVan – Some rights reserved

“Given what we had…”

This simple, semi-apologetic phrase, has become the background theme weaving through all the testimony at the Portapique “Mass Casualty Commission” in Nova Scotia.

I have written previously about the Commission and the obvious misgivings which had surfaced after the government tried to review the twenty-two deaths in private. The government was deaf to the mass of public sentiment, did not predict the hue and cry and accusations of cover-up, but reluctantly in the end, gave in to its now current public format. But again, this was only after being pilloried in the press by the victim families.

It is indeed a compelling story, but one laden with unfathomable and uncomfortable sadness, and the government was clearly reluctant to tell it. That reluctance is still there, reflected in the current set-up of the Commission who is casting a gauzy lens over the testimony. This is a watered down version of what normally constitutes an “inquiry” in the way it is structured, the way it accepts evidence, and the mind-set of the Commission members themselves.

It was predicted then and it seems to be coming to fruition now, that what happened in Portapique was both an abhorrent event, and an aberration; a set of circumstances that is not likely to repeat itself on any regular basis, and a series of events that most police officers through the course of their careers will likely never encounter and likely never anticipate.

The circumstances were unique but the police response as it is unfolding before the Commission points to the “system” and “structure” issues which have been plaguing the RCMP for many, many years. Could it have been be done differently, surely, nothing is ever perfect. Some would and could argue that there were no apparent problems in the police response, that they did the best with “what they had”. Before one delves into the possible problems in the police response, there are some other just as pertinent observations after watching several hours of testimony.

First and foremost, there is the Commission structure itself, which in this “inquiry” is clearly more an exercise in victim identification and the proffering of support more than a need to discern facts. The very name “Mass Casualty” seems to suggest something less than the horrific killing spree it actually turned out to be. The hushed hearing room tones, the condolences, prayers, tears, group hugs, all permeate the atmosphere of the Commission and all of those that come before it. The police, as is apparently the accepted belief in these times are now being included as victims. Unable to recover from having seen, heard or participated in that night of a thousand hours. Broken and deformed by violence, bodies laying on driveways, houses and cars in flames around them providing the only light. A never ending and surreal series of scenes fitting of a Pekinpah movie. However, when everyone is a victim, where does one turn, where is there any room for self-examination?

Is this Commission trying to expose or is it trying to ameliorate the circumstances. Are we trying to learn from the incident or simply trying to provide support and counsel. And that is where this Commission begins to shred, caught between the dichotomy of grief for all versus victim rage. The Commission espouses a “trauma informed approach”, clearly currently less interested in pointing a finger than giving a hug. This may work for those observing and for those support groups that surface endlessly when tragedy strikes. The problem is that it is not what the families of those slain want.

This approach has resulted in the Commission allowing group or panel testimony, remote video testimony, and declarations of fact that have been pre-determined by Commission investigators prior to the hearings. The Commission has ruled that police officers or witnesses with “bona fide wellness concerns” need to be accommodated –and should therefore not have to withstand the usual rigors of cross-examination by the lawyers of the victim families.

As a result, the families of the victims have now decided to boycott the hearings. From any viewpoint this could not be considered a good look or outcome for the Commission.

It has been announced that the Commission has decided that the evidence of Andy OBrien and Brian Rehill will be pre-recorded over Zoom; and only Commission counsel will be able to ask them questions. There is no reason given, as this of course is private medical or psychological information. S/Sgt Brian Rehill was the Risk Manager working in the Operations Centre when this file was generated. Sgt Andrew O’Brian was the Operations NCO for Bible Hill Detachment, the detachment which encompasses Portapique. Both these persons clearly played key roles and should under normal inquiry or civil circumstances be cross-examined. That said both could very well be suffering from psychological trauma. And therein lies the investigative dilemma.

S/Sgt Bruce Briers did testify and was the officer who took over from Rehill in the Operations Center at 0700 am the following morning. Briers testimony was concise, compelling, rational, and at times emotional. His early service was spent in Labrador and Newfoundland, once a polygraph operator and at the time of the Portapique incident had spent four years in the Risk Managers role. His responses to questions were professional and honest. Briers, became emotional when talk became what could have been done to prevent the whole disastrous set of circumstances– when he reflected back on what the community could have done prior to the incident.

In the hours of testimony that has been watched to date, suffice to say that all the officers testifying came across well and well-intentioned. They were honest in saying that night they were doing the best they could with “given what they had”. There was exasperation and futility expressed in some of their answers, and sometimes outright anger, that the system and the structure of the RCMP in their operations is flawed and that night mass confusion and exasperation had resulted in a delayed and confused response.

Again, not the fault of the officers involved, as Briers testified, they were being fed a fire hose of information that was being funnelled through a garden hose. The picture as told by Briers, by Cpl Mills the ERT commander, by Jeff West and Kevin Surette the Critical Incident Commanders, and by others was one where there was problems trying to establish a clear line of command, no unified reporting structure, and insufficient resources –all of which worked to the advantage of a mad man, a denturist, who in high school wanted to be a cop (according to a source), but now just wanted to kill.

These types of problems and issues of disconnect have all been heard before, through other inquiries, other Coroner’s inquests, and assorted criminal trials in one form or another over several years. All of course with the benefit of honed 20/20 hindsight. Too many in “command” working from an assortment of unconnected software programs that when the crisis hit and stopped being a “table top” exercise it distilled down to paper charts and felt markers and a flukey run-in with the killer at a gas station.

For years the RCMP has covered under-funding, inexperience, and under-resourcing with a series of one-off solutions. They add layers and layers of supervision as a form of compensation for inexperience and sporadic training. If the experience or skill set is not there, give a course or a webinar to cover it off. Centralize, de-centralize and the integration of resources have all been initially prompted by a need to cover off a fundamental shortfall, whether it be in resourcing or experience.

Software and technology as part of the communication and reporting systems has proven no different. The inability to orchestrate uniformity has led to multiple systems; CAD, PROS, CIIDS, MWS, and Pictometry. Municipal forces don’t necessarily share with the Federal force, and some RCMP Provinces are different from other RCMP Provinces. As an example, Halifax city police use Versadex instead of PROS or PRIME to report. Therefore for Portapique, the RCMP had no direct access to the Halifax file information. Layers of software programs, multiple data bases, multiple avenues to access, none of them synthesized into one coherent product.

Then add a radio communication system that is not capable of being 100% effective, dead spots, no cellular coverage. The original attending members excited, shouting without pre-announcing themselves, protocols always forgotten in the mad need to be heard.

Jeff West and Kevin Surette were the “Critical Incident Commanders” assigned to the file. A “scribe” for the Commander was assigned as protocol dictated. They were both from out of the area, in fact Surette was a 2 or 3 hour drive from Portapique. Suffice to say they had no personal or direct knowledge of the geographic area of Portapique.

The Critical Incident Commanders have their own command triangle and falling under them is the ERT team, and the Crisis Negotiation Team. After ERT comes the uniform officers, the General Investigation Section and the Major Crime Units. It was at 10:42 pm that S/Sgt Halliday the Acting Operations Officer calls for ERT and the Critical Incident Team. As the calls went out, others now got involved on the periphery, and included, the District Commander, the District Policing Officer, and the District Advisory NCO (the “Danco”) S/Sgt Addie MacCallum. A call to Air Services in Moncton tells them that the helicopter is “unavailable”. Of course.

For a number of years now, all of policing management has fallen in love with the term and idea of a “Command Centre”. The bigger the event the more Command Centers. (As an example, during the Olympics there were no less than three Command Centers)

Often they are large trucks, RV’s and the like, all suitably emblazoned with the logos and community minded sponsors. Or they pick a community hall, a firehall to accommodate the sure to be descending legion of experts and expertise. In this case they chose the Great Village Firehall (they had initially picked the Bass River Firehall but then realized it was in the “hot zone” and had to change locations).

The Critical Incident team arrives at the Firehall at 0100 hrs, more than two hours after the initial call. They initiate their “critical incident package”. In the beginning they are working off portable radios, awaiting a base station to arrive, and in fact often have to stand beside a window so that they have radio coverage. Their planning and tracking tool consists of a series of white boards and felt markers or as Commission counsel likes to refer to as “The Boards”. They have no laptop with them.

The ERT team first goes to the Command Post. The Critical Incident commanders worry about needing to make a firm radio announcement that they are now “in command”. There seems to be much confusion on the air waves at this point, one frustrated officer pointedly asks “who is in command here?”.

The Critical Incident Command strategy comes from their training in “SMEAC”. Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration and Command. This is police operational manual and acronym strategy at its finest, and this stuff makes most operational police officers ears hurt and eyes water. It makes sense in a classroom and rarely translates to efficiency.

Of course, none of this is the fault of the officers involved, West and Surette were doing what they were taught, it is what they are told is the latest thinking in a time of crisis, it is part and parcel of the “National Course Standards” after all.

It is clear that the whole mobile command centre structure needs to be re-thought. Is it time for a fully suited-up command centre that is available on a permanent basis, one equipped with all the technology and a set of unified technology programs?

Secondly, one needs to get rid of all of the supervisors. The operational triangle, with uniform at the base is now upside down. It is top heavy, bureaucratic, inflated, all at the expense of the base which is the front line. The uniforms, the actual first responders need to be made into the priority, the heavy end of the hammer, where the most experienced and skilled are promoted, reside and prosper. The supervisors or those that need to be in control in these type of situations needs to be pushed down to the lowest level, no different than the theory of quick response developed under Columbine.

Gabriel Wortman came to an end, because he ran out of gas in the stolen vehicle he was driving; and because of some keen observations and commendable actions of a dog man and an ERT member, Ben MacLeod and Craig Hubley who were travelling together, and had also stopped for gas. Hours and hours of terror came to an end about twenty seconds later.

Wortman was not stopped by the structure or the organization that had been put in place to apprehend him. He was stopped by luck and coincidence. Cpl Mills of the ERT team in testimony called it a “broken organization”. He was referring to the treatment of his team members after the incident, but he just as easily could have been referring to resourcing, communication systems or the organizational structure impediments.

Once again, look to the top if one wants to assign blame, not to the men and women working the shifts.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Chester902 – Some Rights Reserved.

Policing in Canada’s LaLa Land

Hitting the headlines in the past couple of weeks was the fact that the NDP led government of British Columbia released a report by the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act , dated April 2022, entitled “Transforming Policing and Community Safety in British Columbia”.

Fairly or unfairly, most times these types of reports receive little or no attention. This report by ten MPP’s seemed to garner headlines for two primary reasons; one being that both of the current political parties produced a bi-partisan report in a rare act of consensus; the implication being that this report could therefore actually result in action. Secondly, it was news because one of its eleven recommendations was that the currently contracted RCMP should be replaced as the Provincial level police force.

It is still a government report of course, so it will likely atrophy on those always burgeoning government shelves. Especially a report with especially grand recommendations. Even In the body of this ninety-six page report they state that enactment of their recommendations will take: “many years and successive parliaments to enact”. So if you are a bettor, bet the under, as the odds of retaining the political attention of successive governments are not good.

In terms of full disclosure, few of you who on occasion read this blog would be shattered to learn that there is a belief, that this once proud organization is structurally flawed and needs to be re-built. Nothing less than a tear down– if there is to be any hope of reformative change. If that is not possible, unlikely, or more accurately never undertaken, then there is little cogent argument against having the RCMP replaced in the Province of BC or any other contracted Province.

This current proposed structural re-alignment is not the first time that this has either been proposed. So no one should be shocked by a recommendation of this kind.

What is shocking is an actual reading of this report reveals some clear and deeply flawed assertions, some mis-held perspectives and is more a reflection of “woke” in-breeding than thoughtful contemplation.

What is truly appalling is the recommendations in this report which are not being talked about. Recommendations which are aimed at totally altering the policing structure in this province to the benefit of a single favoured political group. Even though they state that the goal was to work towards “modernization and sustainability”, the flaw and subjective bias in this report is revealed quickly at the very beginning of this report.

In their words there is a need to determine the “scope of systemic racism with policing agencies” and that their study must be “consistent with the United Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Their underlining principle therefore is formed around the “increasing widespread awareness of systemic racism in policing…(therefore) transformal change is required”. This is of course a perspective that those in policing circles, if brave enough, would categorically dispute. Unfortunately, police leadership in this country are proving themselves to be sheep not shepherds.

To be fair one can not accuse this committee of not spending a great deal of time listening (and tax dollars) in the pursuit of their truth. They list over four hundred and ten agencies and individuals who came before them over the course of eighteen months. Predictably, there were the usual organizations, those that seem to appear before every committee: Civil Liberties, social workers, Downtown Eastside Women’s centre with a group called “Red Women Rising”, numerous Indian bands throughout the Province, Pivot Legal Society, and even the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre .

The police were also more than adequately represented: the RCMP, the Chiefs of Police, various Municipal police agencies, Vancouver City Police, the Pacific Training Centre, Depot Division of the RCMP, Nelson Police Department, and the list goes on. One has to wonder what these policing groups thought of the final report and whether it reflected their views in any semblance.

This smorgasbord of agencies and individuals led the committee to come up with eleven recommendations based on hearing “clear evidence of systemic racism in policing as well as the colonial structure of police services”. Ironically, they also heard that many of the Indigenous communities were both “over-policed and under served” –all in the same breath.

The “clear evidence” of systemic racism is a little more difficult to find in the report. There were muddled explanations of that evidence, such as the one by the Human Rights Commissioner who found there were “patterns of behaviour..that create and maintain the power of certain racial groups over others”. How one patterns the entire report on a presumption, without definitive evidence of the underlying premise, is manifestly frustrating.

The police agencies appearing before the Committee, with little doubt talked about things such as service delivery, oversight, accountability, and funding. There was talk of the mental health and addiction issues, and the recommendations coming from that part of the world are also highly predictable. More resources, more funding.

So what are the Eleven recommendations? They are listed here as they appear in order in the report. I paraphrase them here, in the interest of brevity.

Leading the recommendations, first and foremost, is not the creation of a Provincial Police force but:

  1. That the Indigenous have direct input into the structure and governance of police services. The Indigenous need to be involved in the drafting of a revised Police Act.

The Indigenous clearly have now garnered a special advisory relationship in all matters of government whether it be pipelines, the environment, climate change, or lumber and mining, and this now continues into policing. Special laws and special courts already exist, and now their wish is for their own police departments. Their claimed expertise seems limitless. On page 64 of the report, they go even further in that there was a need to “establish robust and well-funded Indigenous civilian police oversight bodies…in all jurisdictions”

2. The formation of a BC wide Provincial Police Force.

This is explained as now being needed primarily because of the “fragmentation” of services. The report authors also point to the needs of of consistent education and training and the sometimes jurisdictional boundaries which interfere with communication and that consistency.

3. That the Indigenous have direct input into their police “service structure and governance”.

What the authors imagine is that the Indigenous be allowed to have their own self-administered policing services as well as the full governance over those services.

This recommendation also includes a revision of the type of training and education that will be required for all police services. In effect extending programs such as “Circle of Understanding”. In anticipation of this being a successful venture they hypothesize that the Indigenous police services may be able to expand and offer up their services to other non-Indigenous neighbourhoods and jurisdictions who are in close proximity. Logistically just to be clear, in this Province there are 13 municipal departments, and 65 RCMP municipal agencies. There are 198 “distinct First Nations”. Does that mean a potential 198 new police departments? (One wonders how one points to an apparent problem of the fragmentation of police services in the province and then recommends further fragmentation.)

The Indigenous want to be involved in oversight to “observe and oversee in (all) cases involving Indigenous peoples”.

4. That there be some revision of the Mental Health Act which includes integrating Mental Health worker attendance into the 911 dispatch system. They also recommend that there be “increasing investment in social services”.

5. That there be “equitable access to high quality police…” …which is “informed by the community”. It is not real clear as to what this even means.

6. An equitable shared “funding Model”.

7. Police Education to be increased.

8. The need to collect and report “disaggregated race-based” demographics. This is interesting because for a number of years, questions directed as to race involvement in crime were in and of themselves discriminatory. The intention here is that if they gather this disaggregated evidence they will be able to prove that there is racial inequality in the enforcement of laws in this Province.

9. Civilian oversight. Not easily done but difficult to argue against and most police officials would counter by saying that there is already policing/civilian oversight.

10. Review of the Mental Health Act.

11. The establishment of an all-party standing committee on policing and community safety.

Of course this report is much more effusive under each of these categories, but you get the intended direction.

The National Police Federation are already out on the hustings, running countering media spin, no doubt apoplectic at the thought of their union representation taking a 4,000 member hit if in fact a Provincial Force was formed. They are reverting to their tried and true arguments, calling the recommendation a “little odd” and a “little premature”. After all they say they have done “waves and waves of independent research in policing in British Columbia, and consistently British Columbians have told us they were very satisfied with policing they receive from the RCMP”. Of course it is not independent research, but that may be nitpicking, but they too are missing the point. This is not about individual police officers being liked or doing a good job. This is about the structure of an Ottawa headed police force being inert and ineffectual in terms of its ability to police portions of this country.

The possibility of a Provincial replacement force, first surfaced in 1994 under Judge Wally Oppal. It has now surfaced a couple of decades later, and will likely re-re- surface again a couple of decades from now. There is little need to concern ourselves with this recommendation.

As to the other recommendations. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the government would review the report and its recommendations and consult with “community groups” and “First Nation leaders”. Apparently you as the actual police, have no input here as to the recommendations.

This report is another ridiculous and over bearing attempt by the government to genuflect to the dialogue of the enlightened, to bow to a special interest group, regardless of the actual needs of policing. It would establish a fragmented policing structure, where different laws and different levels of enforcement would create two separate classes of individuals, laws and their enforcement based on race, not on equality before the law.

This report should be buried on the very last shelf in the dingy basement of the Legislature.

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Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by Stuart Butterfield – Some Rights Reserved

Oh…Lighten up!

This is an admittedly delicate subject. In fact, there are few topics in this broad wide world which engender more rancorous discourse and will inevitably lead to someone being termed “harsh” or “unfair.” This is a subject not broached in respectful company, especially in this era of hand wringing sensitivity.

I am speaking about the problem of obesity. In particular, the problem of obesity among police officers.

The fat burning question is: are there some police officers who are too “fat” for the job? It’s a question that is clearly part of a bigger question –whether police need to be in premium shape in order to fulfill their duties. If one assumes that there is a physical element to the job, and there is no convincing evidence that upper management in the RCMP concede this; this seems like an easy question to answer.

What prompted this broad question is a policy which has been instituted, in of all places, the State of Texas, the Lone Star State of big vistas and big state boundaries. The people who run the Texas Rangers, a very well-regarded police agency we should add, has now come out and dared to go where others fear to tread. They in essence have implemented a “chubby list” –for want of a better term. They are apparently now prepared to shame some of their officers into maintaining certain health and fitness standards and have drawn a line in the sand. If not met, the officers could ultimately face suspension.

Before people start writing to this blog in protest, the least we should do is explore this policy that has been implemented.

The Department of Public Safety for the state of Texas oversees the Texas State Troopers. The “Troopers” are about 4,000 officers strong and are spread throughout the state. The Department is implementing these guidelines because they feel, and have concluded that part of a police officers job is to have a “command presence”. In other words you must look the part, as it commands respect and cooperation and therefore enables one to do their job better.

As much as we hate to admit it, one would think that most police officers would agree that this is in fact the case. Someone who is overweight, or sloppy in their appearance will seemingly not get the street respect often needed to control or coerce, rightly or wrongly; it just seems to be a fact. There have been psychological studies which in fact back up this theory and of course it is also true outside of policing in the “real” world.

So what the Department of Public Safety has dared to do was state that male officers must have a waist line of 40″ or under, and a female officer must have a stated waistline of 35″. I should say in terms of full disclosure, after 34 years in policing, the last ten years of my service meeting this standard would have been a real struggle. With middle age the downward spiral inevitably begins, or that’s what most would blame- it couldn’t possibly be the two in the morning hamburgers or muffins.

Now, we should also point out that the Department has allowed for exceptions to the rule, so it is on a bit of a sliding scale which takes into consideration; height, weight and levels of body fat. When they reviewed all their officers, 213 failed the test, a mere 5.3%. Of those 213 only two had failed the original fitness test and therein lies the rub and the argument.

Nevertheless, the officers that couldn’t meet the girth guidelines have until December 1, 2023 to slim down. Until then, they will be barred from promotion, lose any overtime opportunities, and could be re-assigned. If they is no final compliance layoffs could follow. They will all have counsellors available who will put them on less sugar diets and will encourage and teach them how to avoid fast foods. All of it geared of course, to a goal of solid physical conditioning and a healthier lifestyle. All of those involved must document their progress and be prepared to share their health records.

Of course there are protests. In 2019 the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association launched a lawsuit describing the terms of the policy “arbitrary” and “unfair to women”. The lawsuit was dismissed, but only because at that date and time nobody had actually lost their job over not meeting these conditions. (One would have thought that the lawyers for the Association could have pointed this out in the beginning). Arbitrary of course means random and unpredictable, which doesn’t seem to apply, the rules are pretty black and white and addressed to all, and all levels of management. I am assuming the “unfairness to women” is being argued due to the vagaries of child birth etc., which seems somewhat legitimate, but maybe not totally.

Clearly, there are holes in the policy as currently being reported, but unfortunately we do not have the full policy in front of us. As an example, a 5’2″ female with a 34″ waistline would likely be termed obese in normal measurement standards, but in this instance they would they meet the guidelines? How would that work? Again, we aren’t privy to all the vagaries of their current measurement system.

An interesting question is could we imagine a similar policy in Canada?

When this blogger was beginning his career with the Mounties in the late 1970’s and stationed in J Division (New Brunswick) there was a “fatty list”. And admittedly, some wore the designation with a tinge of pride. Those on the list were determined to be overweight and given a time line to get rid of their expanding bellies. Of course, like a lot of Mountie human resource mandates, there was no enforcement or follow thru, and the policy just died on the vine, never to be heard of again. Even back then, in those now archaic times, management did not have the fortitude to take on this subject.

Nowadays all police agencies demand that one pass a fitness test to gain entry. That is routine and standard. The “PARE” is the Mountie grind it out rite of passage, and all the other police departments seem to have similar tests to get in.

Once in the rank though one is free to take part in any smorgasbord or buffet that comes before you. Oh sure there are physicals every few years, but no one seems to be called up for being overweight. (Covid should have proven to us that obesity is a significant medical condition so one wonders how doctors overlook this, or more precisely ignore it in terms of one’s ability to do the job.)

The only real negative for being out of shape, other on a personal level, is that over time you may be forced to re-order uniforms at your expense to cover your waistline. Casual observation leads one to believe that having to buy new uniform every few years or so doesn’t seem to have been much of a deterrent.

The poor Mounties in terms of their looks are already behind the eight ball. The Mountie uniform has to be considered one of the ugliest in the policing universe, khaki on blue with a yellow stripe would only be something that could be approved by people who did not need to wear it. If you have a larger than normal circumference, then you throw on that bullet proof vest over top, with notebooks, pens, and assorted papers and you have quite a sight that is sure never to grace the pages of Vogue. We won’t even mention the hat. Changes to the uniform have been studied for decades, but everyone knows how that goes.

The municipal agencies seem to fare much better, with the usual dark blue or black shirt and matching pants, and for the most part have a much better uniform presence. And even though technically they have no weight and height standards, they benefit from many applicants for fewer jobs, and discreetly pick and choose those that may fit the uniform “presence” much better.

When I think of the now put upon Texas cops, quite honestly the figure of 5.3% seems low. I have seen many Dallas and Houston cops over the years, and let’s be frank, very few men would have a 38″ waist line. As they used to say about Texas, there are some “big ol boys” down there.

Kidding aside, one would be hard pressed to argue that any policy which encourages better health and fitness should ever be seen as a negative. The problem is drawing the line. Is the Texas line too harsh for application in Canada? Maybe. But right now, the Mounties and other agencies, once one is brought into the blue fold, don’t even have a line in the sand. One would think that there could be a compromise position.

If only the police could be like the fire men and women (those other “first responders”) who can work out while they work and get a good nights rest while on duty. They also eat very well judging by the amount of times I’ve seen the fire trucks parked in front of the grocery store. Let’s face it, it works, they usually look very fit. Jealously will get you nowhere.

In the overall list of problems facing the RCMP in 2022 it will be conceded that this may not be the biggest problem. The Mounties are struggling, the Province of British Columbia has also now announced the possible study and formation of a Provincial Police Force –albeit a long way down the road.

If there is any lesson in this, it should be accepted that policing is a physically tough job. It wears and tears at your body over the years, no matter how much you try to keep in shape. Police should welcome stringent guidelines, not for “presence” but for one’s own personal safety and well being. If implemented in Canada, however, there is little doubt that every police union would fight it– but that may not be a good thing. Food for thought.

Anyways, I am off to the gym. Until next time.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by Eric McGregor – Some Rights Reserved

The Art of Looking the other Way

Fraud has many formulations and iterations; corruption, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, and outright theft. In this country it has become dispiritingly common place. The blatancy apparent in whichever direction we look. Is this dwindling of basic economic honesty beginning to fester, to grow, and create a doubt. Is there a sense that our democracy and our economy may be crumbling from the bottom up, slowly but methodically. Not by a directed sense of purpose, but rather by our obsessively looking the other way.

Outwardly, those in government corridors, put on a stern and concerned face when confronted with financial matters that go wrong. They give us solace and point to our economic stability, point to our formidable banking institutions, and of course our stable democratic government. But are we rotting through incompetence, disinterest and a lack of investigative desire? Are we being effected not suddenly by a heart attack of malfeasance, but instead a slow eating cancer of general ineptitude.

Fraud, even in its most basic clear cut form is continually around us. Just consider that in a recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers it was estimated that half of the companies in Canada report being victims of fraud. When the Covid “waves” hit, how do we ignore and countenance that during the much celebrated Liberal CERB benefit program over $500 million was paid out to persons who were multi-collecting; from CERB, the Canada Revenue Agency, or the Employment and Social Development Canada office.

In terms of just the CERB payments, a recent House Finance committee heard further discouraging testimony that the Auditor General can not even look into the fraudulent obtained payments– for another year– even though they have known about it since 2020. The CRA confirmed that they are not expecting to make a dent in the wrongful payments until 2023, probably about the same time that Federal government workers will actually have to go back to the office. Apparently, we are waiting on the Canada Revenue Agency to get their act together.

Is it a minor problem? You decide. CERB was budgeted to cost $24 billion –it came in at $81.6 billion. In July 2020 Employment and Social Development Canada knew already that $442 million was sent out to 221,320 people in the form of those double payments.

One must always “follow the money.” Where the money goes is where you will find people looking to take benefit from it and see it as an opportunity. The structure of these particular Covid programs created enticing pots of gold. Very little deception was needed.

Since Canada seems “reluctant” to undertake any kind of investigation or go after those that ripped the system, one wondered whether this was a North America wide malaise. Did this exceptional level of forgiveness for the under-handed equally permeate all of the liberal governmental establishments in the U.S. and Canada. As it turns out the American response to the potential for fraud that they too are now uncovering was in fact distinctly different.

In fact, the contrast in our two countries, even though they were running similarly intended programs is startling. If we reflect on the differences in approach and put Canada up to the mirror, our fermenting complacency boldly looks back at us.

Of course, the money amounts in the U.S. are staggering due to the size of their population versus Canada. The PPP as it was called in the U.S. was almost a carbon copy to that of CERB in Canada. (PPP was the Paycheck Protection Plan) The Canadians and the Americans also had more than one plan in effect. For instance, the U.S. also had the Covid disaster relief fund, and the unemployment relief fund.

Before one looks at the numbers, remember that the overall justification in Canada was at the onset of Covid, also echoed by the U.S. government. In Canada sacrificing “security for speed”, getting out the cheques to the populace was more important than the “security” of the system and the quick dispensation of the monies. The U.S. authorities also admit that most of the money was and is, “unrecoverable”.

Unlike Canadians, the Americans are a little more harsh in their language. They have no hesitancy in saying the program was: ” an invitation to fraudsters”, and the “largest fraud in U.S history”. That according to the official who was overseeing the payouts.

The Americans estimate that 10% of the monies paid out under their PPP was fraudulent. (We have seen estimates in this country under CERB of up to 30%). The Americans paid out $800 billion, therefore they estimate that $80 billion was paid out to fraudsters.

In addition, they estimate that $90 billion at a minimum and up to a maximum of $400 billion was taken from the secondary unemployment relief fund. Another $80 billion from a third program, the Covid disaster relief fund. Interestingly, they estimate that at least 1/2 of the stolen funds from the unemployment relief fund were stolen by “international fraudsters”.

Unlike Canadians, the Americans seem upset. They have set up the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee which is headed by General Mike Horowitz. This group has been given a mandate of 10 years to pursue the fraudsters.

Their results so far are in their words “minimal”, with only 178 people “convicted” so far. One wonders if in this country in the last thirty years if we have charged that many with significant fraud. What the investigators have uncovered is that the size and scope of the fraud may be overwhelming, continually expressing surprise on”how blatant it was”.

Using AI programming they are now scanning over 150 million records to identify patterns of fraud, such as the gas station in Houston whose phone number was used for over 150 applications for PPP. The perpetrators are appearing and being charged in increasing numbers; David Hines in Miami took them for $3.9 million; another person $7.2 million, some spending their financial gains on Lamborghini vehicles and mansions. A California couple stole $18 million and eventually pled guilty– the husband getting 17 years in prison, while his wife got 6 years. Yes, in the U.S. they also go to jail.

They have found that the service provider BlueVine, who was contracted to help the government dole out the funds and gave out $4.5 billion bragged about processing applications in less than 5 minutes. They estimate that a stolen identity or a fraudulent single identity could translate into a possible $30,000 in possible claims and benefits. The perpetrators would steal legitimate company names from the internet, inflate the number of employees or create the employees and then apply for the business loans.

One of the more blatant fraudsters was Danielle Miller out of Boston. Taking names from the state website and applying for Covid relief loans allowed her in 40 minutes make $100,000.

There is another myth that is also now also being dispelled. In speaking with experts in the fraud industry and in talking with private businesses they are quickly finding that “trade offs between speed and security” is simply not true. As one person pointed out, if this were true, why wouldn’t large private industries with a consumer facing business and who featured rapid response; why are they not going bankrupt? They describe it as categorically “false” narrative that speed necessitates neglect and oversight.

Of course, maybe none of this could happen in Canada, maybe we are much too honest here.

Auditor General Karen Hogan released a report which included the fact that the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) “focused on delivering the benefit quickly…both organizations understood the rules…” and they “relied on applicants good faith”.

Let’s remember that the Canadian CERB program allowed anyone over the age of 15, who made a minimum of $5,000 in 2019, could apply for $2,000 for a period of 28 weeks; following an extension of the program in August 2020. If that was not enough, once the CERB ended for these folks, the government then directed them to a revamped Employment Insurance Program.

The Auditor General admitted that a “pre-payment screening structure could have been put in place” and that telling the government agencies to “ignore warnings or red flags” of fraud may not have been a good thing. The CRA did open a “snitch line”. The thinking must have been, if they couldn’t find the fraud, maybe the public could lead them to it.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by the end of January 2021 had 8500 cases of CERB related identity theft.

In a 2020 FINTRAC Report made public in November 2021, that the CERB program was “knowingly and actively defrauded ” by scammers, organized crime, and that payments were made to people engaged in illegal or suspicious financial activity”.

Have we learned anything? In 1991 in Vancouver, Murray Pezim was investigated for fraud, the classic pump and dump strategy in mining stocks. In 2022 the U.S. Securities firm (not the Canadian authorities) charged David Siddoo for employing the same system. In 2021 the Cullen Commission exposed billions of dollars in money laundering. Really, nothing has changed.

In this country we are structurally not set up to look for fraud, or any variation of fraud. And if we aren’t looking we are sure to never find anything. The RCMP were recently investigating Trudeau and the Aga Khan who were allegedly influence peddling through elaborate vacations– and lo and behold they found that there are no rules that really apply.

The RCMP which should be the first stop in large scale fraud investigations in this country, as an organization has proven itself time and time again as incapable in the field of economic crime. Investigations in this country are talked about in years, not days, weeks or months. The solution is either that this type of crime is pulled from their organizational mandate, or they need to be dismantled and re-built and resourced to 2021 standards.

Maybe, the general public is willing to let their rage to continue to bubble away just below the surface. The Liberals and the NDP are counting on it. Is it that we are so complacent, so ensconced in our own sphere of security and relative prosperity that we just shrug it off, politically helpless, morally and ethically spent.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons by Ryan Steele – Some Rights Reserved

Good-bye to Commissioner Lucki?

It has been widely rumoured, keep in mind, one knows what an Ottawa rumour is worth, that RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is headed to retirement in June 2022. Let’s say from the outset, I do not know Ms. Lucki personally, have never even seen her in a public forum, so on a personal level one can only wish her a the best in her retirement after a lengthy period of service.

As an interested observer from afar however, or as simply a member of the general public, the time seems appropriate to evaluate her time on the Mountie throne.

In terms of our ability to measure her time and effectiveness, she did not leave us much to go on.

Ms. Lucki was “the leader the Mounties needed” according to Justin Trudeau in 2018; who he judged to be the “absolutely best person for the job, who just happens to be a woman”. The fact that he needed to add “happens to be a woman” is clearly a glimpse in to what Mr. Trudeau saw a pre-requisite for this job.

She was heralded as the 1st “permanent” woman to head the RCMP, her predecessor Bev Busson only being around for a short time in her “temporary” position. (Long enough clearly though to score sufficient points for an eventual Senate seat.)

In 2018 the decade of women advancement in policing was in full bloom much like in all the other government departments across the country. Women were reaching new heights in terms of leadership roles across the organization and at an unprecedented speed. They were in effect being “over-represented” in order for an organization to progress and just as importantly to at the very least be deemed progressive.

In her acceptance of the post as the 24th Commissioner, Lucki outlined her primary plans for “bolstering diversity”and “reconciliation with indigenous persons”. She pointed to her previous successes with the First Nations of northern Manitoba. The speech could have and may have been written by Gerald Butts. No real mention of the brewing problems of contract policing or the upcoming possible unionization of the membership. She, unlike most of her predecessors was a one dimensional candidate, with a singular approach to what ailed the Mounties. Diversity and inclusion would be from the beginning to the end her single mantra.

Her background reflected an insular policing career–in the Peace keeping program in Ottawa, as the head of Depot training centre in Regina, as part of the United Nations protection force in Yugoslavia. None of these positions pointed to a larger understanding of Federal or Provincial policing, the true fundamental core of the RCMP.

The problem of course, like many Federal employees is that Lucki was a liberal in speech only, in knowing the right things to say and where to say them as opposed to knowing the machinations that would be needed to carry out any re-conditioning. She was playing the game of “representation” and “diversity”, without really knowing how she was going to accomplish this, or fully appreciating that the Force that extended past Ottawa didn’t share the same level of concern. Secondly, decades of processes and ingrained cultural history were simply not going to be won over from the confines of a committee room in Ottawa.

In essence she was pulled up by the language of the Woke, then got entangled in the spider-web language of the Woke. Her credence and her dilemma began to unravel once she came under the Liberal magnifying glass of the truly Woke of Ottawa. She aptly demonstrated her conundrum a mere two years later when she flip-flopped on the term “systemic racism”.

She also quickly learned that the Indigenous leadership in this country will turn on you very quickly– should you dare to question their “truth”. Her award for building relationships in Manitoba was as flimsy as the paper on which it was written when confronted by the dialogue of the Indigenous victim. She was caught between knowing that in fact, in the policing world, there is little evidence if any of “systemic racism” by its true definition and on the other side was what she needed to say to appease. She floundered. She knew that if she stated her truth she would have been in full conflict with the people who put her there.

So twenty-four hours later desperate to be on the side of the righteous left, she became a convert, and admitted to “systemic racism”. Unfortunately, she was then asked for examples to prove her conversion and once again, she became the proverbial fish out of water. The example she felt that bolstered her new claim of “systemic racism” was the “height” requirements for Mounties. When someone pointed out that this was more likely “discrimination” rather than “racism” she bumbled once again. The next day, Bill Blair had to come to her rescue and do damage control.

So a mere two years after her start, Perry Bellegarde the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs called for her “resignation”. Apparently her “strong focus on advancing Indigenous reconciliation” had failed– the Indigenous now not wanting to “reconcile” with the Commissioner.

She kept trying though. When asked during an interview as a leader of the RCMP what was the toughest decision she faced, she confusingly answered that it was listening to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry testimony. Her need to appease clearly had overwhelmed her ability to even understand the concept of what constitutes a “decision”.

It may have became clear early on to the Liberals, that it may be best if she remained silent and in the background.

Suffice to say that for the last couple of years, we have never had a quieter Commissioner. We went from the somewhat bombastic Paulson to the uncomfortable introvert.

Even when the Force was chastised or lambasted for its lack of leadership, she remained quiet, seemingly unable or incapable to defend. Recently the Information Commissioner of Canada said that “the RCMP is failing in terms of its obligation to ensure Canadians have access to information about its operation and decision making…” that this “lack of action on the part of the RCMP leadership” had been going on for too long.

When a human rights watchdog agency had its requests ignored about the “spying on Indigenous and climate activists” it led to “inexcusable delays” and they accused Lucki of simply ignoring the matter. So the Commissioner who had promised to a program of “listening and learning” wasn’t listening and had not learned that one needs to get ahead of issues. The ongoing examination of the incident in Portapique, is looking like another embarrassment of riches in terms of failures to get things done, at least on a broader level.

Under Lucki, the organization has continued to be inert, unable to act or react, weighed down by a suffocating bureaucracy.

This would have been a difficult time for any Commissioner, it would have taken an extremely strong leader to counter the accepted narrative. Commissioner Lucki clearly did not have that capability. One would have had to at times embarrass the Liberals, stand up to ridiculous assertions, outline the resourcing and staffing difficulties, and point to the failings as well as the successes. She did not or could not do that.

We should also remember that Ms. Lucki was picked by a large panel of seven individuals headed by former Premier of New Brunswick Frank McKenna. How is it that this crew could have felt in those tentative times, that Ms. Lucki was the best choice from across Canada?

One wonders that if there was a Walk of Fame for former Commissioners built outside Leikin Drive –who would get a star or a set of spurs in concrete. Maybe Paulson, if infamy is important, for his crocodile tears on settling the sexual harassment suit and paying out millions of dollars. It was at the very least a memorable media moment.

Elliott who ran into the wall of Mountie intransigence and was apparently given to throwing papers around. Not likely. But then again his intemperance may have been earned.

Zaccardelli who was forced to resign by Harper over the Maher Arar incident for not quite telling the full truth about the RCMP involvement. Again, not likely.

Busson will probably get one after all, she was the first ‘woman” to accept the post, at least temporarily.

One wonders for the next round of Commissioner applications if we are we still in the age of firsts– first woman, first black, first Indigenous, first LGBTQ member? One can only hope that in the next selection for Commissioner we have run out of “first” as being a qualification.

So who will that next Commissioner be? There is another rumour that it may be the current Acting Executive Director of Strategic Policy and Planning Directorate, Alison Whelan. Apparently she is good friends of Lucki, but I am not so sure that Lucki’s pick will carry much weight.

Ms. Whelan is a policy wonk and a long term civilian civil servant in the RCMP. She joined the Federal government as a policy analyst in 2003, then into the RCMP in 2013 to “manage policy development” and to provide “analysis on national security, serious and organized crime.” In 2018 she moved over to National Security and Protective policy. She has a Masters in Political Science from Memorial University in Newfoundland and is co-chair of a task force to create National Hate Crimes Policy Standards as well as an executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Policy, is clearly her noteworthy strength, policy is central to her being, but is the policy bureaucracy of Ottawa the place where we should be looking for change, understanding, and leadership? Would a “civilian” leader be the right choice at this time?

(On the off chance you want to learn more of Ms Whelan– she will participate in a “fireside chat” on May 4th, 2022 at the Law of Policing Conference.)

There have been a long list of Commissioners over they years, none of who’s names usually spring quickly to mind.

Remember Malcolm Lindsay in 1969, after all we named a boat after him.

There was William Higgitt in 1973– we also named a boat after him. He was followed by Nadon in 1977, and yes we named a boat after him as well. Simmonds and Inkster soon followed and we named boats after them. You would have thought we were building a navy.

Nevertheless, as we say bon voyage to Ms. Lucki maybe a new boat is in order or, at least maybe a small raft as she sails into retirement. Maybe, if we built a big raft, we could put the real root of the problem, Mr Trudeau, on the raft with her.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons via Benito Condemi de Flice – Some Rights Reserved