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Canada’s Truly Undefended Border…

The length and breadth of Canada’s border with the U.S. is in many ways awe inspiring.

Intimidating however, to anyone asked to defend it. Nine thousand kilometres crossing sheared rock, moss covered tundra and sparse vistas of prairie dust. On the edge of Canada’s biggest cities, sometimes within arm’s reach of small towns and villages consisting only of a single Co-op store and post office, but mostly it is a vast expanse of trees, rivers and open fields.

With modern forms of transportation available, and people being people, there is always someone willing to take advantage of this unfenced and uncluttered border to bring in or export across. Parcels of money, drugs, and guns. Sometimes the packages to be delivered are just people.

It is often bragged as Canada’s “undefended” border. In fact– that is exactly what it is. It is another Federal area, where the RCMP has failed the citizens of this country because of political expediency and simple outright neglect.

Our ability to grow and thrive as an independent sovereign nation thwarted and stymied by our total dependence upon our American neighbours, anytime there is a need to defend. Our affinity for the Americans is not a constant, it undulates, from harbouring draft dodgers during Vietnam to love in announcements of bi-lateral trade agreements. This love-you love-you-not relationship has remained for the most part, non-violent; tamed by unswerving mutual democratic principles, and the fact that our personalities are similar.

One could argue the logic of this arrangement –in terms of our independence and the need for an autonomous nation, but we seemed destined and content to be the mouse to the elephant.

The RCMP who are charged with this large task of defending this border from incursion have relied on this overwhelming kinship for decades. The Federal government and in particular the RCMP have treated the border mandate with a continuing blissful ignorance and denigrated the border capabilities over the many years. Successive Liberal governments, our politicians and the un-demanding police continue to underfund and under resource the safe-guarding of this border.

Canada still has the audacity to pose as the more stable and welcoming nation, all the while nudging and winking at the Americans, and grudgingly acknowledging them for actually doing the lions share of the work.

It is particularly evident thru the vast Prairie Provinces.

Over this hard grasslands illegal immigrants come and go in both directions, always believing a better life in greener pastures is at the other end, no matter what direction they are heading. These often desperate men, women and children press shoulder to shoulder, together in the back of a ramshackle van– sharing bottled water and 7-11 snacks to sustain journeys of often several days.

It played out once again in Emerson Manitoba this past week.

They were discovered, their simple plan exposed, on this occasion, because of an unrelenting -35 degree winter night. The blizzard led to disorientation a loss of their sense of direction and ultimately after 11 hours of wandering led to four deaths. A baby and a teenager, a man and woman, bodies frozen in ignominy.

Seven others made it across– only to then be quickly apprehended by the waiting Americans who were probably electronically alerted to their crossing. One wonders whether they were crest fallen at not reaching their American destinations or just happy to be alive?

Dropped off on one side, outfitted with winter boots and winter coats, told to walk the remaining distance where they would be picked up by another vehicle. Their pickup driver also battling the snow, driving through drifts, aimlessly and pointlessly trying to see his arriving and promised packages.

Our Federal RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team likely ignorant of any of it until once again alerted by the American authorities.

The U.S. border patrol responding stopped a 15 passenger van, a few hundred metres south of the border, driven by a former bankrupt 47 year old Uber driver from Florida. Steve Shand was arrested as were two other Indian nationals who had managed to get to the receiving rental van. It would seem that Shand and the others were driving around trying to locate the others when they were stopped.

Five others were located by the border patrol as they were walking towards the van. The seven were apprehended, but in discovering that one of the individuals was carrying a children’s knapsack, and with further questioning, it must have become obvious to the officers that there were others out there, and that they could still be on the Canadian side.

So at 9:30 that morning, the U.S officers notified the RCMP in Emerson, who in turn had to call for further officers from Morris Manitoba, 42 kms from Emerson, to assist in a search of the area using ATV’s and snowmobiles. Four hours later, at 1:30 pm they located frozen to death, a man, a woman, and a baby. A short distance further on was a teenager, also dead. All likely died from exposure. All died 10 kms east of Emerson.

Shand has been charged with “transporting or attempting to transport” but has since been released on his own recognizance.

It has now also been learned, through a comparison of boot prints in the snow, that there were likely two previous crossings on December 12 and December 22 when two groups of four individuals crossed into the United States.

Clearly the Canadian authorities knew nothing of this smuggling operation. And just as clearly, they are now totally dependant on the Americans to hand them a case to try and identify the Canadian portion of the operation.

So what was the RCMP response?

The Officer in Charge of Manitoba is Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, who bears a striking physical resemblance to Commissioner Lucki, was appointed by Lucki in 2019 and heralded as the first woman in charge of Manitoba, after being the Director of Parliamentary Security in Ottawa. She clearly must spout the well rehearsed “Lucki like” aphorisms; she knows no other world.

If one was hoping for some insight into the event, or a call to arms to rout out the Canadian side of this criminal ring you are not going to get it from this leader.

Instead, this police leader said about the incident that it was “…just tragic, really sad” and lamented that her officers were “dealing with really rough situations”. She echoed this world of never ending stress and the government lines of needing to focus on the fact that everyone is a victim– even the police. She did offer the obvious — “organized crime has been involved previously”.

Her stated priority will be the next of kin notifications and working with the Indian consular officials.

She then warped into a public service announcement about the dangers of trying to cross the bald prairie in the winter.

Is it wrong to expect more? Is it wrong in this day and age to expect more from the police than talks about their stress levels? Where is the investigative rage?

Clearly all smuggling will never be stopped, but just once it would be nice to hear about the RCMP being the original investigators, not just promising to “work jointly with our domestic and international partners to create and maintain air, water and land domain awareness to detect, disrupt, and investigate threats to Canadians”. Land domain awareness?

In their latest public pronouncement on their mandate, IBET is wanting to “expand its layered approach to border security”. They boast of an “integrated approach” and spend some time “sharing our experience”. Their programs include “community outreach” a “Border Awareness” initiative, the “IBET Inn Touch” and the “Coastal/ Airport Watch Program”.

This is not to say that there aren’t officers in IBET trying to do the job. There are. But they are outmatched by an unforgiving landscape and gross underfunding, outmanned, and out resourced by all.

The Federal RCMP units historically have always been largely unaccountable; able to hide behind a curtain of privacy and national security concerns, and thus never allowing the public a glimpse into their efficacy. Their empty statements of “protecting Canadians” is bordering on insulting.

When one searches for successes from IBET, one comes up in 2017, when two persons, a husband and wife team from Regina, were charged with smuggling in Nigerian nationals. Again, this stemmed from arrests made south of the Canadian border in North Dakota. Project F-ADDUCE produced an arrest of 41 year old Victor Omoregi and his wife Michelle.

Like money laundering, human smuggling is likely rampant in this country with persons going back and forth across the 49th parallel. That is a problem, but the bigger problem is that the RCMP does not care at least to the point of funding and resourcing it. They are solely focused on higher goals, as they point out on their web site. The “greatest threats to our border…” as “national security crimes”.

Have there been successes there? Not that they can tell you about anyways.

Like all Federal sections there is no shortage of governmental oversight and bureaucratic pyramids flowing outwards from Ottawa in a constant stream. It is no different for the border. Headed by the International Joint Management Team, –made up of the RCMP, the Canadian Border Services Agency, the U.S. Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Even in the “Canadian” oversight group there are three American agencies and two Canadian agencies.

The loss of life on the border was tragic, likely soon to be forgotten, and like many Federal RCMP responsibilities predictable in its failure.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Bonnie Moreland – Some Rights Reserved

Life in the Obituaries

One of my favourite sections of the newspaper, is the Obituaries.

I can hear the guffaws now, the one-liners aimed in my direction, “what are you looking to make sure you are not in them?”.

Putting that all aside, I am not a necrologist, the idea of death doesn’t fascinate me. Considering my previous line of work, many would feel that would be an allowable and understandable character flaw.

Of course, obituaries are not about death, they are about a life lived. They are historic records of times, peoples, and places, lives which have been now forever lost. Of course there is emotion woven into the narrative in the reading of any obituary; especially if that person has become known to you personally. It tweaks the soul and makes us pause. The sensation is underlined by the fact that all of us will, one day, be the subject of an obituary.

A few of the police newsgroups cover the deaths of police officers in particular. Those that served in policing in some capacity through this broad land. Some of those deaths are after long spates of illness or a sudden tragedy, but most are the result of many years lived.

Those that from some twist of fate had shortened lives or were torn from us by some unpredictable illness forces us to be observers –voyeurs of a family’s most heart wrenching moments. It is a glimpse of a family or a family member which allows us to imagine their grief; cathartic for some, tearful for others. The prose, style and the stories in these cases are often overwhelmed by the sadness of it all, both for the individual and the families left behind.

All however, tell a story of birth, life enjoyed and lived, friends made, partnerships formed and children produced. The cause of the death is seemingly less important, it was just “time”.

Our media of course focuses on the celebrity, the politician of some renown, the entertainer who entertained us in some fashion, valuable to society in varying degrees. Some, for personal reasons, touch us deeply, as they were part of our life in a memorable and distinct time. They conjure up memories of the way we were, the songs which were part of our high school dances, the fond moments of getting ice cream at a parlour advertising the three flavours, when we were growing up, those formative years.

In a previous blog I mentioned the assassination of Kennedy when I was a mere 9 years old having some ill definable impact on my life. I was moved by simply knowing that something very important had just happened. The world and my world had changed.

Each of us move to a different beat, a different perspective, a different level of understanding which dictates how we react to some lives taken from us. Each generation defined by its own distinct times. An older generation reaches back decades in their memories and are now moved by the passing of Desmond Tutu or maybe even Betty White. The obituary paints the picture and thus allows us to go back in time, to picture those distant moments often in graphic detail albeit once forgotten.

Geography and profession can dictate what catches a readers attention, taking note of a particular life passing. A soviet ballet dancer who was part of the Bolshoi, more likely to have influenced a young girl living in Moscow or the 10 year old girl in Canada forced to into the requisite dance class.

When I read about RCMP police officers having left us, I read because I understand, recognize the circumstances they found themselves in, can relate to the emotional touch points. One can picture the young recruit from the 1950’s arriving in a remote Saskatchewan town, or in an outport of Newfoundland. Wide eyed, knowing nothing, being introduced to the old veterans in the detachment, finding your way around the small village, all eyes on you as you drive or walk by.

Many of those now passed officers knew little of the place they landed but would form lasting friendships, enduring relationships, and some would even decide that this is where they wished to spend the rest of their lives. Children would be produced and a new generation would become part of the newly adopted town fabric. A city slicker could become a gentleman farmer, a farm boy or girl could live their lives immersed in apartment towers and traffic jams. For everyone, no matter what the choice, in times of reflection, this is almost guaranteed to become the “good old days”.

Fate plays a distinct role in these life stories. We don’t live life in a straight line. Our life arc is continually buffeted by circumstances, by other individuals, by changes and decisions made. The doors you walk through and those that close behind you are turning points and are often not pre-meditated. It is only in looking back that you understand the significance.

There is a fascinating documentary simply entitled, “Obit”, which is highly recommended to you my fellow necrologists. It features the day to day life of Obituary writers for the NY Times, their perspectives on life and death, their choices of who “deserves” an obituary in the NY Times and those that do not. They are good writers first and foremost, able to set the tone of the times and the significance of the life on which they are assigned to write. Even those that died may have not been newsworthy during the time they lived but their death is now news.

The Times keeps a “mortuary” card and photo index of all newsworthy lives dating back to the early 1900’s ensconced in a ramshackle basement archive. They write about those that lived a usually long life, lived a creative life, a distinct life, a life worth mentioning. Not all of them fit the criteria, in fact the more interesting ones tend to be about those we didn’t know–the death of a man who rowed across the Atlantic and then the Pacific ocean because it was there, or the 16 year old female aviator who barnstormed the country in the 1930’s while still in high school and lived to the ripe old age of 98. Many of the upper crust of American society are disappointed if their beloved family member does not become a few column inches in the NY Times.

Does reading an obit cause you to think of your own mortality? Of course, we all end up there after all, but it makes you ponder whether you could be doing more, spending more time with others, doing things that promote your potential and well-being, all the while realizing that the finality of life is often not under your control.

In the last couple of days in the Mountie world, chosen randomly, there was Steven Neill Brown who passed at the age of 72 but spent 42 years of that life with the RCMP. Tom Edwards who joined the RCMP in 1956, who in his spare time liked dancing, and even taught dancing. Ken Davis, who liked to draw and after the RCMP had a second life working for the Cities of Kamloops and Nanaimo.

Three lives who in just the last few days are now gone, each with their own unique story, distinct personalities, their children now following in their wake. As a police officer the profession by definition means that they would have touched others, sometimes profoundly sometimes only for a few seconds.

So you see the obits have almost nothing to do death but everything to do with the life. We must remember that lives lived well are always interesting. Reading of a fulfilled life offers up inspiration and challenges you.

Socrates said that “death may be the greatest of all human blessings”.

Jim Morrison more to the point said “no one here gets out alive”.

Clearly death is inevitable and it is said that no one can talk about death for more than a minute without having to change the topic. So, even though I enjoy reading about other peoples lives, I will admit that am not real keen on being the subject of one.

For those that have gone, may their souls find a good resting place.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr–Some Rights Reserved

Real or Imagined

Fear is an interesting, yet often devastating emotion. It can both incapacitate and thrill. The physical and psychological reaction to fear has been studied at almost every level by the psychiatric and medical community, yet it remains somewhat mysterious. It is an emotion that we as a group often run from, but it is individual. Some are transfixed by fear, some are more fearful than others, while some relish it and often seek it out.

I have believed for quite some time now, that police officers, especially those heavily seasoned with a few years and have a hardened crust, are a different combination of DNA, either by original design or having been molded by cultural and social circumstances. Their uniqueness has often been colourfully defined as the “thin blue line” and all those other rather overdone generalizations.

The general public has pre-loaded images of male and female officers, often a cross between a Norman Rockwell print and some variation of a super hero. There is no end to the books and films that try and capture this mystique.

Fear and how police officers face that fear is fundamental to understanding the differences.

There are other characteristics of course which seem more prominent in the policing world.

There is clearly a call to the power dynamic. It is an occupation that makes the person feel powerful, and that pleasure can be received from the ability to control others, whether we will make that admission or not.

We also seem to have a greater share of the “Type A’s” –often defined as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, impatient, anxious, pro-active, and concerned with time management. I will personally, but reluctantly, admit to several of these “qualities”.

Police officers will also develop an addiction to adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, the physical reaction produced by the adrenal glands, which increases the blood flow to the heart and to the muscles, causes the pupils to dilate, and it is fundamental to the “fight or flight response”. Every police officer who has toggled the lights and siren has felt that rush. This “drug” needs to be acknowledged in greater depth– as it is also where many officers trip over the line and get in trouble.

However, I believe that the fear emotion as it relates to police officers is one of the under reported side effects. How police officers over time seemingly become numb to fear –and it’s two relatable cousins–anxiety and stress. It’s not that the fear doesn’t exist, but it becomes dulled and is usually accompanied by a general loss of sensitivity. Like the adrenaline shove, facing it becomes part of the officers routine.

During the last year or two, I have found myself inexplicably angry at the news in general. And when talking and sharing information with other cops, it seems to be a common theme. Not because the news has shown us a lack of journalistic ethics and a dwindling relevance to actual news; because that is both depressing and real. My complaint and the complaint of others is the abject marketing of fear– a clear purposeful manipulation of the senses aimed at the general public.

Of course, Covid and its implications have become the single biggest instrument which governments and the 5th Estate are now hammering at the citizens of this country. The fear of death and destruction is clearly being marketed.

This is not a conspiracy. It has not been conjured up in an effort for power, but instead because it is the nature of our current democracy. The media is trying to survive, to fit in to the ever rising tide of alternative voices, to be once again relevant, and they are willing to suborn the ethics of journalism in order to be preserved in some format.

The Paul Revere’s of the the Covid news, the Federal government spin doctors, the Provincial and City mouth pieces are constantly spewing forth headlines and video grabs filled with the constant over-simplification of science and the needless demonization of those that dare to question.

The photos of individuals on life-support, the constant testaments by those that did not get vaccinated and now are on deaths door. All are being generated, not to convey news, but to reach into the usually un-touched territory of fear and reaction. The fact that it is polarizing the country, creating good and evil camps, is a secondary result of little concern to the perpetrators.

Police officers on the other hand spend their lifetimes suppressing fear, downplaying dangerous and futile circumstances, denying and skirting the edges of death. They try to calm, not engender fear, on a continuous and ongoing basis, it is part of their daily lives. They are forever trying to diffuse, not light the situational detonating cord.

In a routine shift one could approach the door of a house in answer to a reported domestic; a man can be heard yelling, a woman crying, a child incoherently screaming. You knock on the door and it is eventually opened by the distraught male, the dishevelled female, or the dirty child. The fear you’re feeling is of the unknown, the unpredictable, the over-reaction of any of the parties, the possibility of serious danger, to one or the other. It subsides after an arrest, a long conversation, an assessment of all that went on. You return to your car either with an individual in tow, or a bunch of paper work trying to justify why no one went to jail. But the fear gradually ebbs, washed down with the remnants of a now cold coffee.

Off to the next call, a report of someone acting strangely in an alley or in a residential neighbourhood. You drive up to someone matching the description, the person starts yelling with no apparent purpose, hands in their ill-fitting sweatshirt, face blurred by a hoodie. It’s cold and wet, the person may be just in a miserable situation, maybe under some serious mental pressures known only to them– or just out for a walk. You feel that creeping fear as you approach and stand in their way, all to ask a few questions. It could go either way.

You book in a prisoner, Hep A, Hep B, and Hep C abound. The guard or attendant disinfects the counter in a practised way. You pull needles from the belongings. The prisoner coughs up phlegm, turning his head away only partially while begging for a cigarette before he goes into his or her new six by eight home. These “clients” reek of the streets, the Macdonalds cheese burger having been the only meal about twelve hours ago; constant diarrhea, constant aches and open sores. You handle them with cheap plastic gloves, sometimes having to bodily carry them, sometimes having to wrestle them, sometimes wearing a mask but not always. Dispatch is calling, asking you to quickly clear and move on to the next. No time to monitor or complain of stress.

This goes on call after call, dispatch ticket after dispatch ticket– twelve calls a day, four days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. The element of fear becomes part of your being. Quelling the over reaction given any set of sometimes bizarre circumstances is what makes you reliable, able to handle the situation, to calm the fears of others, to subsume your own fears. You learn that fear doesn’t shut you down it makes you wake up.

Some officers grow to love this life, this way of living, so different from those sitting in their homes watching the latest covid statistics with apprehension, wondering if they should go or be allowed to go to the company party or take that southern vacation. The inability to get to that spin class seems stressful and depressing, like the stock prices of Peloton, the affluents answer to work outs at home.

The world is now enveloped with a fear of Covid. It is a real fear. It is a fear greater than one would assume should have come from a flu virus. The general public are unaccustomed to constant fear, so the amplification of it and studying it has become all consuming; often causing people to react unreasonably and uncontrollably. The hoarding of toilet paper, the washing of groceries, the closing of the borders and forcing out those that dare to try and enter into your personal bubble sphere of safety.

The often disappointing attitude of Canadians to the mantra of “I’m ok to hell with the rest of you” is based on fear. It is not just on a personal level, it is on the Federal, Provincial and municipal government level. While we the developed countries were hoarding our vaccines, the Omnicron variant comes out of a continent which has only been able to inoculate 7% of its population. Our selfishness, dictated by this fear has now backfired.

As that famous old Jedi master Yoda said : “Fear is the path to the Dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.

Government’s fear of being politically exposed leads them to overreact, quick and un-thought out policy decisions are the obvious result. Optics is their only guiding principle. Our inability to plan for future disasters is being buried under a constant message of standing with you at the barricades, to save us from ourselves.

The war headlines of yesteryears have always been the biggest headlines in both font and attention. If there is no physical war, the war on Covid takes its place nicely. The governments play to the theme. They bring in the Armed Forces, declare Emergency Acts, and spend monies greater than that spent during World War II. Daily briefings attempt to mold Churchills out of Trudeaus. Fourth and fifth “waves” conjure up images of the beaches of Normandy and Dieppe. Over extended Emergency wards are being described akin to battlefield triage, one disaster leading to another comparable disaster.

There is a great deal being written now on whether our democracy can survive in these times of polarized fear. China and Russia, undoubtedly believe that North American culture is in a downward spiral fed by a society of pampered, over fed, and egocentric lifestyles. Our schools and our children’s education is in disarray, our hospitals and health care systems are displaying their inadequacies for all to see, our economies are fully reliant on others outside our control, and our infrastructure is in need of long term economic and social planning.

This is just to say that climate change and diversity may not in fact be our biggest future problems.

We need our next leaders to come from a group less fearful. Less inclined to over react. And we need the leadership of this country to run towards the fire, not away from it. Lead us to the battle, not to an encircling of the wagons where we crouch in fear, smugly safe in our homes and not letting anyone in. Our democracy and its fundamental principles may be at stake.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons — some Rights Reserved.

Merry X!

This is just a brief note to wish you and your families well during this festive period.

To call these times “unusual” seems rather quaint and old-fashioned.

If you are like me, you are simply getting tired and this is as good a time as any to rest. You are likely not tired from the normal activities of life, so much as tired of all the bombarding politicians, the well intending but over-exposed epidemiologists, and all those clairvoyants predicting armageddon or a “new normal”. The constant references to “standing with you in these trying times” truly rankles the now over exposed nerves.

I am sapped of any strength to argue over such things as personal rights versus the public good, or where all the rules, regulations and unenforceable guidelines are going to eventually take us.

So this seems like a logical time to take a pause; a time to re-order our respective universes and measure what is truly valuable. A time to hopefully regain our once rational and common sense perspective. We will have lots of time in the coming months to wind up the rants– after all, the possibilities are endless.

For example. Will Surrey Doug McCallum be granted visitor rights from the Surrey pre-trial centre? Will Covid numbers be the new entertainment, a ticker tape playing over the intersection of Yonge, Bloor and Bay streets; or will you be able to lay down some money over Betway as to the next day’s hospitalizations? Will Toronto do away with Covid restrictions because the Leafs finally get past the first round of the playoffs? After all, they did it for the Blue Jays.

Will the Liberal Party become the Liberal Social Democratic Party of Canada? Will we remember the name of the Conservative Leader in 2022? Will the Green Party finally go quietly into the night? Will Chrystia Freeland survive being Finance Minister and the billions in debt to give her time to arm wrestle the Crown from Justin?

Will the Federal government workers ever go back to work? Will we know if they do?

Can another letter be found to add to the LGBTQIA2S+?

Will the disembowelled Military executive have anybody left to head the next Covid 20 or Covid 21 Operation? No doubt to be titled Operation Here we Go Again.

Will Commissioner Lucki do the expected and predictable and retire to a plushy post with Interpol or some similar benign agency? Will anybody notice if she is missing? Can she please take Bill Blair with her?

Will Cameron Ortis, a genuine black hat in the world of spy versus spy be convicted? If he is, will we ever know?

But I digress.

I started this blog in 2017, and about a hundred thousand words later I continue to be encouraged by you and to continue to work on the craft. There are clearly some blogs which hit an exposed nerve and garner a lot of attention, rewarding in its unpredictability.

I continue to look forward to the comments and am still surprised by the people taking the time to write and offer up their well thought out opinions. Personally, I have connected and re-connected to people across the country and a few around the world.

I try and improve the style and content with every publication but like most people who make an attempt to write, I am usually never totally satisfied. Thomas Mann said “a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people”.

My fragile ego aside, to those who read and follow along, I offer a heart felt thank-you and this season’s best wishes.

We will see you on the flip side.

The North Pole as photographed by the Mars Express via Flickr Commons by Justin Cowart – Some Rights Reserved

Clouseau versus Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Hercule Poirot and Nancy Drew.

Part of our fictional world list of some of the best “investigators”. All, amazingly adept at solving crime and the puzzles created by dastardly human behaviour. They were also very quick– often taking less than two hours or a few hundred pages to get to the bottom of it all. Of course, they were largely unburdened of actually presenting scrutable evidence and were also able to evade the vagaries of court rooms. Sadly, reality is much different. Or is it?

Like those fictional characters our new world reality has let loose upon us a burgeoning group of “investigators”. Strutting their investigational chops via the internet and the ever broadening world of social media. We are being inundated by a variety of individuals, from every walk of life, from every strata of society, all proclaiming themselves to be conducting revealing “investigations”. A cacophony of personalities with a view, a particular bent, a hunch, or just full of righteous indignation, wanting and willing to expose all of society’s evils. Able to reach quick decisions and thus clearing the way for simple formulations and black and white conclusions. We, the demanding public, have created the 21st century ‘investigator”, but is it our very own Frankenstein?

Television, podcasts, blogs, and the like are all granting themselves diplomas in a range of investigative abilities. No one is a poor investigator (which actually would be refreshing) everyone is a top notch, state of the art, card carrying 007. Overnight, they become self-proclaimed experts in forensics, interviewing, psychology, sociology and anthropology. Often they are polygraphic savants.

Their tools are their laptops and video viewers, able to see in video and photos the clues that have apparently long evaded all others.

They make broad assumptions such as: police can not see what we see; that their single witness can be relied upon for the singular truth; that the blood on the wall must be the blood of the victim; that clearly he/she is lying.

In this country, the big media; CTV, Global and the CBC have all fallen into the trap of filler versus content. They zealously portray many of their programs as being “investigative” journalism. Then, annually they take turns giving awards to each other.

Netflix, Amazon, Apple are all pushing programs claiming new or re-opened cases. Old murders, new murders, all slotted in and vying for views and likes, spliced in amongst their UFO “investigations”.

According to Wikipedia, an investigator “searches for clues, to gather evidence. They interview people, verify information, conduct surveillance, find missing persons, and gather vital facts for cases.” A rather shallow hurdle, allowing for a broad range of people with access to a microphone or a laptop to search for clues and evidence. All are now becoming involved, from the clearly mentally unstable to the geek in the basement watching his neighbours with his Ring camera.

The general public are equally at fault, falling into the irrational abyss– that if it is posted it must be true. It is truly rare that someone examines the information being provided with any sense of a critical eye. We look at an insurance company investigating an auto accident equally to that of the police investigating that same accident? A private investigator working for defence counsel proclaims findings in front of a herd of photographers is seen and measured through the same lens as the actual court record itself.

The internet investigators, the ones who are in some cases interfering with the actual gathering of evidence are often in a category to themselves. Digital photo or video captures often represent the height of their evidence and in most cases no attempts are made for corroboration.

Podcasts abound where the evidence is gathered on a slant, the perspective honed by a clear pre-set belief, often allowing a singular allegation as sufficient to condemn a person in the court of public opinion. The most recent glaring example in the U.S. is the Kyle Rittenhouse case in Kenosha Wisconsin, where even the President of the United States Joe Biden was quickly convinced by the media “investigation” that he suggested that Rittenhouse was a white Supremacist on two occasions. The fact that the victims were in fact white eluded the media and internet investigators. Since it was at a protest over Black Lives Matter– that it must have been black individuals who were the victims.

The CBC is one of this country’s greatest advocates of this investigative sleight of hand. A recent example is what prompted this particular blog.

The template seemingly being followed by the CBC goes like this:

1) Have a viewpoint and then set out to prove it.

2) Make sure it is portrayed as ‘ground breaking” (even if it isn’t)

3) Find people who are willing to support both your proposition and your findings. (Disregard all others)

4) The headlines should reflect some sort of conclusion. (whether the body of work supports it or not)

And finally,

e) Make it look like a massive amount of work.

There are plenty of examples, but this most recent example is a classic.

Titled, “Warning Signs Present in 1 of 3 Homicides of Intimate Partners, CBC investigation finds”

There are three identified “investigative” journalists in the masthead: Tara Carman, Kimberly Ivany, and Eva Uguen-Csenge. Tara is the “senior investigator” and is a “data journalist” which should give you a bit of clue of the nature of the evidence that is about to be revealed. Kimberly is an associate producer for the 5th Estate (another clue) and Eva is an “investigative video journalist” with a like for “data-driven” stories.

So these three individuals spent 16 months, put in over 30 Freedom of Information requests, then scoured the media entries and looked for fifty different “data points” concerning domestic homicides. They looked at the period of time between 2015 and 2020. The headline of the eventual story in its many forms is to be titled “Deadly Relationships”.

They claim and there is no reason to doubt them, that they have “examined” 400 cases.

Their pre-theory seems to have been that there are commonalities to all domestic homicides; and that they can be measured as predictors of the future of the crime.

Their conclusion was that “these crimes are preventable.” Pretty dubious theory, but using their measuring stick one can maybe say all crime is “preventable”.

Remembering the pre-mentioned template and the need to hype the findings they say– “the data points a never-before-seen mosaic of relationships that turn deadly. ” Never before seen is clearly a stretch of the truth, but the idea that they could predict and thus prevent this horrendous problem is really playing outside the sandbox. This is a crime that has been around as long as humankind and studied in many courses of psychology and sociology, but this investigative series is somehow new and revealing?

So what earth shattering “evidence” did they find in their quest? Well, lets start off with the mind-bending statistic that 3/4 of the victims were women, and, that 78% of the accused were men. Who could have guessed that?

Here are some other examples of their purported belief altering discoveries.

  • 1 in 5 cases had been involved in recent or pending separations
  • that in 15% of the cases there were patterns of coercive and controlling behaviours
  • 36 out of the 400 had had protective court orders in place
  • the most common charge was 2nd degree murder, followed by manslaughter
  • the most common weapon, the knife, the 2nd the gun (you were probably guessing blow dart)
  • 1 in 4 victims of homicide were Indigenous, clearly making them “over represented”. They represent 6% of the population and 18% of the homicides. By the way more Indigenous men were killed as well, then caucasian. Again “over-represented”.

Of course there would be no story without a villain.

So they point to some nefarious police behaviour. They accuse the police of “hiding these things” under ” a cloak of secrecy”. This is because the police did not reveal all the names on some of these investigations when served with a Freedom of Information request, the police arguing the privacy act. Not good enough according to these intrepid investigators.

Then came the interviews of all the victims of domestic violence who praised the CBC investigators for uncovering such a large stash of un-before seen findings. It would be all so laughable if it wasn’t such a serious subject.

So what should constitute an investigation? What are “investigator” qualifications? Is there a characteristic that is unique to being allowed to pronounce one as an investigator or your findings constituting an investigation?

It comes down to experience, one’s qualifications, and the level of inquiry.

In policing, it is the ability to sit in a room with someone having just killed their child and remain above the mental sewage and still able to try and show empathy. Or to sit with the rape victim through a rape forensic kit –knowing that this is the easy first step in a long investigation and court process. It’s the ability to enter a blood encased crime scene and interpret the meaning of the splatter, the placement of a fibre or a shell casing.

In some investigations, forensics, data knowledge and the ability to follow a paper trail is an asset, but in the end, there still has to be some knowledge and measurement of human behaviour. An ability to interact with people, to read and predict their reactions and their level of truthfulness. Not to judge, not to assume, to always be wary of preconceived notions. One needs to pick up and learn the patterns of human frailty.

We simply can not continue to downplay experience and the passage of time spent embracing a particular field of knowledge.

Of course, it takes years for this level of understanding to be able to refer to yourself as an investigator. By saying you are an investigator on LinkedIn or in a podcast does not make it so. Taking a Masterclass by an investigator will not make it so, just as a Masterclass by a novelist will not make you Ernest Hemingway.

We are a too impatient a society. We demand instant answers to complex situations. We don’t like grey, just black and white. We need to understand that it takes time. It is hard work. If it is not there then the contents and findings should be disregarded.

This is not to say that the media and some news organizations are not doing investigative journalism. ProPublica, the New Yorker, PBS Frontline, and the Washington Post are examples of investigative journalism, definitely left leaning but they are still maintaining standards of fact checking and corroboration. The Globe, the National Post, and the Financial Times have sporadic moments of in depth coverage, but they too are getting pulled into the fires of hyperbole.

For you in the CBC, and your latest foray into in-depth reporting, I am just asking that you call your “investigation” what it was– a “review” of data. No doubt it was time consuming and maybe even worthy in someone’s eyes, but it was not an “investigation”.

I think one should have to earn the moniker of “investigator”.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Olarte.Ollie – Some Rights Reserved

Decay, Disorder and Delusion

Recently, while walking in Canada’s most expensive city, in the worn 1000 block of Granville Street, I came across a middle aged man slumped; still in a standing position, balanced on an invisible fulcrum, his face pushed into the corner of a Vape store wall. Pants down passed his hips, his dirt streaked ass and genitals exposed to those walking by, all of whom were trying unsuccessfully to not look over. He was in a battle to hang on to something, immersed into a mental space few of us could imagine or would want to go. Immune to embarrassment and long past caring about anyone or anything.

I too moved on, a few paces later, coming up behind a noticeably tall girl, with dirty blonde dreadlocks, my eyes drawn to her footwear. White faux fur calf length boots, matted with the mud and small twigs of the alleyways. She shuffled beside a paunchy, unshaven, aged street tough. Although still playing the role, he had the air of someone beaten, fatigued. In this instance he was clearly the provider, able to provide her escape as he nonchalantly passed her two pills. He too was oblivious to embarrassment or any fear of getting caught.

People all living life in short instalments.

This is the Granville of old and the Granville of new. Nothing has the appearance of change in the last thirty years, while those disaffected and disenchanted are growing in numbers and pushing further outward.

Granville street is often now considered part of the infamous downtown Eastside (DTES)–just an extension off the Main and Hastings decayed and rotting epicentre. These further flung streets just purgatory to the centre hell. A neighbourhood which Wikipedia euphemistically describes as a “complex set of social issues” with a “strong community resilience”.

It is indeed a “complex” experiment if viewed from a distance through a prescribed social worker prism of generalizations and psycho/social theories. More pointedly it is an economic, political and social unmitigated disaster with no one accountable and the general public seemingly numb to the obvious.

Through the years we have been fed a continually regurgitated social theory pablum. We are over-dosing on the the do-gooders of the liberal left who are continually feeding us the pieties of helping others. This neighbourhood is a world of social workers, counsellors of very stripe, nurses, firefighters, police, doctors, housing authorities, drug experts, safe-injection sites, safe spaces, food banks, shelters, city planners, and single room occupancy hotels– part of a permanent but seemingly always crumbling infrastructure.

This city and those at the political centre are in effect promulgating an empire. An empire that caters to this underworld, but in turn is fed and nourished by the continuing misery and never-ending poverty.

These practitioners of the victim philosophy when confronted with the clear lack of progress spew forth a continual patter of under-funding and under-resourcing. They portray the “burned” out, saints in the battle and the burden they carry on society’s behalf.

Over and over again the city, provincial and federal politicians bray and echo the demands for greater funding and resources. They are the very epitome of always expecting and predicting that more of the same will yield those different results.

Depending upon who is drawing the geographical borders, the DTES is only about 7,000 people, but is often measured up to include parts of central downtown and further east. It then could total about 18,000 persons, a total of 30 blocks. Apparently the governments can not even agree on the size of the “community”. In actuality, most identify the core as about 10 city blocks.

This “community” according to Wikipedia, has an “over representation” of single males, and Indigenous and this a community overwhelmed with mental health and addiction issues.

There is a definable timeline to this ongoing deterioration.

It was during the 1980’s that the idea of this area becoming a drug haven began to develop and combined with a severe housing shortage.

In 1989 the first needle exchange began

In 1997 HIV infections entered the fray.

Between 1980 and 2002, 60 women went missing from the neighbourhood. (Pickton claimed to have killed 49 of them)

In 2003 the safe injection (they are now called “consumption” sites) sites opened.

In 2007 Vancouver Coastal Health estimated that 2,000 DTES residents “exhibit behaviours that is outside the norm”.

In 2008, the Vancouver Police Department estimated that 500 persons were “chronically mentally ill with disabling addictions, extreme behaviours, no permanent housing, and regular police contact”

Riverview hospital closed in 2012, because the government wanted to “de-institutionalize” the “mentally ill”, and with that wisdom forced many patients onto the streets.

Somewhat more currently, in 2013 a study showed that in the single room occupancy units, 95.2% had substance dependence while 74.4 % had some form of mental illness. 82% live alone and have a median age of 44 years old.

Around 2014 fentanyl began to replace heroin as the drug of choice and the amount of street deaths began to escalate.

In 2018 the area was declared a “public health emergency”.

Clearly, this litany of failure has nothing to do with an un-caring government, it is the failure of liberal policies unable to make their way out of this North American disgrace. These socially enlightened governments have purported and extolled many policies and the money has flowed accordingly. Four pillars, three pillars, task forces, committees and advisory groups have flourished.

Since 2009 it is estimated that $1.4 billion has gone into this relatively small area. That is $360 million per year, or $6.92 million per week.

At last count there are over 250 social service agencies in the DTES.

75% of the money comes from the three levels of government.

In a study done by Simon Fraser University, they found that $26.5 million of the government funding was spent on just 300 frequent offenders who were on the streets and continually embroiled in the justice system. This study further stated that there “was no evidence of improvement” and that the costs incurred per person exceeded the average per capita income in the city.

This has not been a problem where the aristocracy have pushed these people to the street, where uncaring capitalism has reigned over them. This a problem that has developed under a socialist environment and exponentially grown after successive Liberal and NDP governments. Those that forever proclaim looking after and being concerned for the common man.

Provincially the NDP ruled since 1991 beginning with Premier Harcourt and in 2001 with Glen Clark. Then along came the Liberals from 2001-2011, and now back to the NDP in 2017. The socially enlightened individuals have been in power throughout.

On the Federal side, since 1993 the Liberals have been in power except for a four year stint under Conservative Harper and we are now back to the present day Liberals under that irrepressible woke leader himself.

On the municipal side the parade of do-gooders started off with Larry Campbell, Sam Sullivan, then three terms with Gregor Robertson, and finally we have arrived at Kennedy Stewart. All of whom would proudly proclaim themselves as “progressives”.

So as we swim in this sea of social workers and broad minded politicians we are buoyed by massive amounts of money– yet, the streets stay the same. In fact they get worse.

It is an insult to reason. It is cold and lacking of any real compassion.

It calls for a truly new attempt to salvage what has been destroyed over decades. Or do we believe that this problem is insurmountable? We are in the 21st century, filled with driverless vehicles, satellite connectivity to the entire world, and have enjoyed unbridled prosperity, but this problem somehow confounds us?

Maybe let’s start with a massive forensic audit of all three levels of government.

It requires a central decision maker which excludes and ignores the three levels of government.

It needs a full assessment and culling of the 250 agencies who are now part of the system.

It needs enforcement of the Mental Health Act and it requires the authority to remove people from the street who clearly can not look after themselves. A forced drug withdrawal not a system of choices.

We should be building psychiatric hospitals rather than housing units. Definitely not housing units in the midst of the drug and criminal centres.

Is this too harsh? As one who has personally searched the streets on behalf of family friends, looking for the addicted younger sister, just to see if she is still breathing, but unable to entice her away from the diseases she was facing. Are we doing that person a favour by simply giving them a safe place to shoot up or a safe needle? Isn’t it all because we can not face the brutal truth that some may need to be forced into therapy and into hospitals?

The latest pushed policy is to provide hard drugs to the addicted free of charge thereby insuring that the drugs are safe, not fentanyl laced. Probably a good thing, but it will not clean up the streets, the tent sites, or curtail the violence. We will continue to be Canada’s safe harbour for those wounded by drugs or psychiatric disorders.

Maybe we should take those politicians that volunteer to dole out Xmas turkey dinners (with requisite photo ops) and put them in a position where they can daily view the destruction.. Let’s let them jab the needle of Narcan into the twitching chest of the addict laying in their own urine; let them attend to the sixteen year old girl beaten repeatedly, blood leaking from a broken nose and teeth, unrecognizable to anyone who knows her, whose crime was not cooperating with her block pimp. Let’s let them help hoist the body in the white body bag from the alleyway into the back of the station wagon, the stench of death indistinguishable from the nearby over-flowing Smithrites.

Over the years I have known many on the street level who have to be admired for their steadfast dedication, their ability to relate and talk to those no one else will talk to, whether manning an SRO or a needle exchange. But in small moments of honesty they will all admit that they are on a treadmill of policy and politics. This is not a problem at the ground level. This is a problem on the next level up, and the level above that.

The people in positions of authority need to be taken out of the committee meeting rooms, removed from the ever revolving academic theories in sociology 100 classrooms– their collective faces pushed into the sewage of the decrepit and disillusioned.

The madness needs to stop. It requires hard policies and a hard heart –that is if you actually care about this “community” and the people swirling around the drain.

Photo Courtesy of gotovan via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Start taking down the tents…

For some time now, there has been a large tent set up at 134th and 104th Ave– Surrey City hall.

The tempest under the tent is about the nascent Surrey Police Service and it brings to mind the three rings of Barnum & Bailey. Jugglers, hire wire acts, trumpeting elephants, and clown cars all featured as part of what makes up Surrey civic politics.

This show under the big top has been going on for awhile now, it was 2018 when Mayor McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition were voted in, under two main election promises; cancel the contract with the RCMP and secondly the further extension of the skytrain. At the end of this month, the new SPS is to actually begin patrols, in coalition with the RCMP, as this plodding along transition carries on. Many are predicting disharmony, resentment, and at the very best an awkward moment or two. 

The transition process has met with infighting, personal barbs and innuendo, even allegations of assault and intimidation have been echoing off the walls of the city council chambers. In the last few weeks it seems to have reached a crescendo of inanity and misinformation. Those of us who once policed this burgeoning municipality of five police districts were often want to say in those days “only in Surrey!” This disparate community has always seemed willing to defy the expected norms of a civil society. 

A multi-cultural community of distinct areas, a diverse populace of haves and have-nots, abject poverty and street level violence versus one acre mansions of multi-million dollar homes. Whites, south east Asians, blacks, all forming up in their distinct neighbourhoods of Cloverdale, Newton, Whalley, South Surrey, and Fleetwood. 

It should not be assumed that they are living in harmony. In the nineties we patrolled the high schools which were even then being inundated by racist fights between south east asians and caucasians, each group not allowed to enter into the school property of the other. This is to say that there is nothing singular or cohesive about Surrey and there never has been an honest discussion of the many problems which afflict it. 

It is a unique area to police and it is where an eye for an eye tooth for a tooth mentality is visceral.  Often police officers having worked in Surrey have seen it as a badge of courage having once survived the posting and then moved on. And they almost always move on. 

So who are the people in this three ring circus, all vying to drive the clown car?

On the one side is the irascible Mayor McCallum, a curmudgeon, smug, wily, and of long standing. Mr. McCallum has never liked the RCMP, and vice versa. The animosity has always been well known but never publicly stated. This uncomfortable relationship is now coming to a head as the exasperation builds on the part of the Mounties who are about to be booted out and those seeing themselves as pioneering a new police model for the city. Ironically, the people sweeping the place with a clean broom are actually hiring a bunch of ex-Mounties to lead and aid in the takeover.

On the other side is a group of disgruntled and pushed from power politicians, a new union head for the RCMP, and the media who doesn’t like McCallum who continually refuses to be party to their reporting. 

Neither side ever reach a point where the real issues could be debated. Both sides continually throwing up illogic and misstatement as their campaigns wage war, and it has reached the stage of the whole exercise being a bad punch line. 

The current opposition to the quickly advancing police service is made up primarily of three groups; the National Police Federation with self-appointed constant spokesperson Brian Sauve; the Keep the RCMP in Surrey group and those behind the highly publicized petition entitled “Surrey Police Vote”. 

These groups in turn have the political support of the likes of Linda Annis, Brenda Locke, and Jack Hundial. All three of these politicians have a particular political axe to grind. Annis, was the sole politician who survived the purge of the once in control Surrey First group started by Diane Watts. Her antipathy to McCallum has reached a very personal level. 

Brenda Locke is also a long standing Liberal, once a Provincial Cabinet Minister and MLA , she too now thwarted by a largely Provincial NDP stronghold in Surrey. Also ironically she, along with Jack Hundial got elected on the coattails and under the banner of Mayor McCallum and the Safe Surrey Coalition who proclaimed the need for a separate police service. Clearly, since then there was a falling out with the mayor and she and Mr Hundial left the civic party and became independents. 

Jack Hundial was a police officer with Surrey for 25 years. When McCallum announced the people he had picked for the tripartite transition team, Mr. Hundial found himself left out, out in the cold despite his Surrey policing background. Since that time he has been an outspoken critic of the motion to form a city force even though he, Locke, Annis, and Steven Pettigrew had all originally voted for it. 

Knowing Mr. Hundial personally, I was somewhat taken aback at this reversal and his current support of the RCMP after having had many conversations with him about the dysfunctions of the Federal Force which had nursed him and now provides him with a pension. Politics clearly does make strange bedfellows.

All the parties explain their reversal in support because of the “secrecy” they allege about the transition, and the hidden costs they believe are forthcoming. They extoll the fact that the Fed’s subsidize the Mounties to the tune of 10% each year– therefore in theory they are correct, they are likely always going to be a cheaper alternative. The transition costs they allege are skyrocketing and is a harbinger of dangerous over-spending to come. 

The current transition costs are estimated to be at $63 million, going up since 2019 when they were estimated to be $45 million. What the councillors don’t often say is that is the estimate is spread over the next five years. Surrey’s current overall budget to offer some perspective, is $1.2 billion with its 600,000 residents., and this year Surrey will be borrowing about $150 million to meet those expenses. The councillors often rant about the costs of transitioning all these officers, but usually do not mention that the vehicles, equipment and station buildings are already owned by the City of Surrey. 

The NPF has been quite vocal and has been spending the union dues of their RCMP members to fight against the transition. They often pretend it is an issue of defending their members. They bought and paid for ads, lawn signs, and polls to firm up their position. They continually quote that “84 % “ of Surrey residents have a “favourable impression” of the RCMP and that “76%” say the transition should be “halted”. 

The Surrey Safe Coalition headed by MaCallum show their own polling and say that their polls indicate people that only 6% of the Surrey residents prefer keeping the RCMP and their “cardboard cutouts”. 

How does one get such disparate polling results. Its all in the questions you ask. Neither poll from either side should be seen as anything more than political posturing. 

The NPF has clearly got a reason to fight the situation. They do not want to lose the largest RCMP detachment in Canada and they are clearly worried about these thoughts of policing independent from the Federal force as a possible trend. (Alberta has recently talked about getting rid of the RCMP—and there is a great deal of conjecture that if Surrey falls, there will be renewed consideration for a Lower Mainland Regional Police service –or some version of it). It should also be noted that the new SPS will also be unionized under CUPE. For them, this is a union fight.

So this assembled group of dissenters then added a couple more tactics to their arsenal by introducing a petition to call for a referendum in Surrey utilizing the Referendum Act which flows from Elections B.C.  Those that follow this kind of thing would shake their head a bit at this, as it is a momentous task to force a referendum; wherein one is required to obtain 10% of voter support in all the ridings throughout B.C. 

 Do the people of Castlegar, or Radium, concern themselves with the Surrey police issue? Highly unlikely one would think.

The petition went ahead in any event, entitled the Surrey Police Vote, and it was primarily fronted by the Keep the Police in Surrey group. (Interestingly, this group bragged about raising $10,000.00 for their cause but would not comment how much money came from the NPF)

Somewhere in the process, once they realized that this could never be pulled off Province wide, the group concerned itself with only going after Surrey residents on their petition. 

They enlisted Darlene Bennett to head the Committee and Eileen Mohan to be a spokesperson. Both of whom will be remembered as being victims of violence themselves. Darlene’s husband Paul was killed mistakenly in his driveway (still unsolved) and Eileen’s son was killed in the infamous Surrey 6 file. Both horrendous cases, both generating unspoken grief.

However the arguments for retaining the RCMP by these two women although emotional, lacked specifics and quite frankly make little sense. Definitely nothing that could contribute to the debate. Being a victim of crime unfortunately does not necessarily translate into knowing about policing issues. However this group felt that by exploiting their personal agonies it would draw out the petition signers. Quite frankly it was manipulative and crass.  

Nevertheless, the petitioners, in a November 15 press conference, publicly proclaimed that they “did it” and held up a sign saying they had raised 42,000 signatures, representing about 13% of the population. 

When asked why they think this would succeed, as clearly it did not meet the referendum guidelines, they prevaricate, and dubiously argue that they are asking that the Provincial government to take into consideration the results regardless of it not meeting the current criteria. They are asking that the Provincial government in effect reconsider and change their rules. 

During the search for signatories the rhetoric and nonsense escalated. The group argued that they were being harassed by Bylaw enforcement and that they were being victimized by he slow turnaround at Elections B.C. Paul Daynes of Keep the RCMP in Surrey called McCallum a “little tinpot fascist dictator”.  McCallum in turn banned seven members of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey group from the city council meetings.

Then there was “Toe Gate” on September 4th.  In the normally placid South Surrey enclave of the well off, McCallum confronted some petitioners who were using the Save On Foods parking lot as a place to rally the troops. A verbal argument ensued between one of the petition organizers, Ivan Scott, who was sitting in his car, and McCallum who was standing outside it. After going back and forth and Scott demanding McCallum resign, Scott drove off, and McCallum argued turned the car in such a way as to hit him in the hip and drive over his toe. McCallum contacted the police and made allegations of assault. 

The RCMP somewhat surprisingly, within a week then swore out a search warrant for CTV video footage of the interview of McCallum, under the auspices of a possible public mischief charge, clearly implying they did not believe McCallum. Having worked in Surrey for many years, public mischief is not usually a first step, so there is good reason to believe that this too is politically motivated. As a result, the Provincial government has had to hire a Special Prosecutor to look into it. We are still awaiting that judgement and the Keep the Police Surrey movement needless to say is hoping to see McCallum led off in handcuffs. It seems unlikely.

Where is Commissioner Lucki in all this? Should we assume she is under some sort of gag order from the Liberals? 

However, the comment about the “cardboard cutout” mounties stirred the harnessed wrath of Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, head of the Surrey RCMP, who called the remark a “deliberate attempt to undermine public safety”. That the tweet was “disrespectful” by “ending public confidence in policing at the current time”.  Really? 

The coalition group responded “in spite of the efforts of a bitter minority surely the indignation that he has voiced today equally applies to these groups organized efforts to de-stabilize and de-moralize our city’s incoming police force”.

And where is the Provincial NDP government in all this? Well they are busy reviewing the overall structure of the police in B.C., by examining the structure of the Police Act to: “examine systemic racism and modernize laws in alignment with UNDRIP (the U.N declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)”.  

To sum the issues up which are facing Surrey residents is in fact quite easy. Do the citizens of Surrey wish to have a more accountable police department? If so, how much are they willing to pay for it? There is no doubt among the current officers of Surrey detachment that the RCMP, in its many and varied forms is suffering—at every level. 

Would or should the cost savings mean more to Surrey residents than being subservient to Ottawa and susceptible to the vagaries of Federal policies–which seem more intent on gender identification than the property crime rates in Whalley? 

No need to worry about the officers in Surrey. They will be just fine, they will move on to other details, other detachments and other policing challenges; and Ottawa might finally get the message of growing discontent and the need to reform.

The citizens of Surrey clearly voiced their opinion once before and decided to elect McCallum and his platform.

It is clearly time to undo the tent pegs and bring down the circus tent.

Time to move on.  

Photo courtesy of Steve Parker via Flickr Creative Commons – Some rights Reserved

Heroin, guns and a bullet proof vest –but not “morally blameworthy”

There are many cases that come before the courts, almost all receiving little attention or public mention, but once in awhile there are some that make you take note. From Provincial courts to Supreme Courts to Appeals courts one can almost always find a case or two that will make you scratch your head, or possibly get a little agitated.

The case that recently had me perk up and get a higher blood pressure reading is the case of Robert Mero.

He is a 34 year old male, whose father was Metis and his mother was non-indigenous; making him one fourth of Indigenous heritage. Why are we mentioning this, because it was this 25% of his heritage which was enough to keep Mr. Mero from going to jail.

In the eyes of the learned Justice Len Marchand of the BC Court of Appeal, his “moral blameworthiness” necessitated that the 40 month sentence to which he was originally sentenced (by the Supreme Court of Vancouver Judge Joel Groves )–be reduced, more accurately eliminated. Mr. Mero should not go to jail in the view of the Appeals Court as he should not be held accountable due to his Metis heritage. The sentencing was wrong according to Justice Marchand because “neither the Crown or Judge addressed his Indigenous background”.

The unwieldy terminology of “moral blameworthiness”, clearly something only lawyers could come up with, stems from the Supreme Court of Canada and what is now referenced as the Gladue decision.

Regina vs Gladue was a decision by the Supreme Court specifically dealt with sentencing principles that had been layed out in Section 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code of Canada and had been enacted by Parliament in 1995. This section directed that the courts need to consider “all available sanctions, other than imprisonment” for all offenders. However, it needed to pay “particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders”. (It should also be noted that these provisions were put into the Criminal Code under Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the Liberals who ironically have been recently criticized for not understanding the problems in the residential schools.)

Gladue was the first case where the Supreme Court considered these provisions and set out to try and define what factors should be taken into consideration under this newly defined law. In the Gladue case, a young Indigenous woman had appealed her manslaughter sentence of three years for stabbing her boyfriend to death (life was cheap even back then). The pitiful sentence of three years was upheld despite the appeal, but the Supreme court ruled that they should have at least considered her Indigenous background.

The changes to the Code were orchestrated and passed because of the “over representation” of the Indigenous in the Canadian judicial system. The term “over representation” is a bit of a misnomer, they were not going to jail in disproportionate numbers because they were being picked to “represent”, they were going to jail due to the massive criminal problems existing in the Indigenous populations.

This was an attempt by the Liberals of that time to solve the abnormally high criminal activity amongst the Indigenous– from the top down. Too many in jail, simple solution, just don’t send them to jail.

No need to address the actual criminal activity at its origin, which is a much more complicated set of social ills. The overall affect of course was the diminishment of personal responsibility, and broadly, it also had the affect of creating different laws or at least very different treatment before those laws according to race.

In the years since this has morphed into Judges now automatically asking for a pre-sentence report which formalize these considerations for Indigenous offenders. This sociological based report is termed a Gladue report. This report, or lack of a report was a central factor which played out in the case of Mr. Mero.

Mr. Mero’s crime in this case was not a minor crime and he would be unlikely to have received any nominations for citizen of the year in Prince George, where this matter began. A search warrant was conducted of Mr Mero’s residence by the police in Prince George in 2016. It led to the seizure of a .38 calibre pistol, ammunition, 23 grams of heroin, and a bullet proof vest. Clearly, Mr. Mero was exhibiting all the characteristics of a drug dealer.

Mr. Mero had previously served two other jail times, in 2005 and 2006. It was what the Appeals Court called a “dated criminal record”.

Mr. Mero and his defence council (he went through two defence counsels) went through all the motions that are tried in this day and age. A motion of too long to get to trial (Jordan decision) was first tried. The Judge ruled that the delays were due to defence counsel scheduling and the fact that his 1st defence lawyer had gotten suddenly sick. The court chastised the defence counsel: “Mr. Mero’s trial counsel has shown, effectively, since the beginning of the trial, an ability to delay matters on behalf of his client”.

Then the defence argued that Mr Mero who suffers from a lung disease should not go to jail because of the high rate of Covid in the jails which could prove to be detrimental to his health. Worth a try, considering the panic which has pervaded Canadian society over Covid, but this too didn’t work.

The defence counsel then argued that no Gladue report had been prepared. It turns out that they had six months to produce a pre-sentence report but failed to get one before the courts in time. So the sentencing went ahead without a Gladue report.

Justice Marchand of the BC Appeals Court felt that this was a massive oversight.

As a result he imposed a “conditional sentence” of 2 years less a day– the 1st year to be served under house arrest, to be followed by a curfew. He was placed under probation for the drug offences. This decision by Marchand was concurred with and signed off by two other Justices; Mary Saunders and Bruce Butler.

So what would have been in a Gladue report that could alter an outcome to such a degree? Usually, there is general information about the Metis “nation”, the intergenerational aspects of “colonialism” and “displacement”, racism and systemic discrimination, forced attendance at Residential schools and the “over representation” of the Indigenous in the jails of this country.

This is not to deny that Mr. Mero clearly had a troubled life. Most criminals can point to historic family issues. In his defence argument he pointed to the fact that he was “unable to complete school”, his “childhood was traumatic”, his “life was marred with addictions” and that he had “come into conflict with the law”. Mr. Mero’s father was not believed to have been at fault but he was often “away at work” and this left him with a mother who had significant mental health issues. He had runaway from home at 12 years old and got caught up in the street level drug trade, an all too common story.

However, it would be difficult for Mero to argue that these issues were directly related to his Indigenous upbringing. One need not worry because the courts have ruled that “it is not necessary to establish a direct causal link between systemic and background factors and the offence at issue”, as it may be “impossible to establish” a link. In other words you don’t have to prove a causal relationship.

The other aspect of this case which gave me pause was that this was a verdict by Justice Marchand. There are 26 Justices in the Appeals court, but in this instance Mr. Marchand was assigned the case.

Mr. Marchand is the son of Len Marchand Sr, the first Indigenous cabinet minister who once served under Pierre Trudeau. Len Marchand Jr. is a member of the Okanagan Indian Band having grown up in Kamloops, B.C. He articled and practised law in Kamloops with Fulton and Company. While there he spent a substantial part of his career working on “reconciliation for Indigenous people”, was pursuing historic civil claims of child abuse and represented residential school “survivors” and also served on the selection committee for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

There is no evidence here that Mr. Marchand had a clear bias in favour of Indigenous claims of “systemic racism”. Also, this is not to claim that all Indigenous cases need to be assigned based on their cultural background. But in this instance the appeal revolved around a Gladue application, central to which is the belief that there should be judicial favourable considerations granted to the Indigenous that are not available to others. That the application of the laws should be different because of their culture and background.

It is difficult to determine whether justice was served in Mr. Mero’s case, but I suspect he was merely a player of the system.Whether justice was served in this case we can leave to others, but does justice also need to be seen as having been done?

Should this case have been handled by someone who had spent the majority of his working life on Indigenous causes or is there a definite taint to this case.

Gladue is just one of the many pronouncements coming from the benches of the Supreme Court of Canada, the BC Supreme Court and in this case the Appeals Courts. They are germinated from the left leaning political dominance in British Columbia. It leads to favourable judicial appointments. Maybe well intentioned, but clearly with very pronounced political leanings. A left propensity to believe that government must protect all and everyone from the evils that society put upon us. Personal responsibility replaced by societal responsibility.

Maybe it is time for a return to the centre, where the vast majority of Canadians actually live. Not necessarily to the right or the left, but where common sense is the prevailing ethos.

The laws of this country are being diminished, watered down, leaving a large class of people now feeling disenfranchised. Many would not be o.k with rules and laws being applied differently depending on your cultural background. It is a difficult issue, but the current judicial climate seems destined to lead to trouble.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Sableman via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

A personal note

I apologize for the delay in the publication of this blog.

I have recently moved– swimming against the prevailing current and have moved back to the heart of the City of Vancouver leaving the quiet countryside. I have been surrounded by cardboard and the joys of re-connecting with life in the supposedly faster lane.

Thanks for your patience and your continuing support.

Pete

Learning the Language of “Woke”

One of my writing influences in my much younger days was the journalist Edwin Newman, a long time broadcaster for NBC. A foreign correspondent who travelled and reported from around the world, meticulous in how he wrote and the use of language, and would say nothing if nothing needed to be said. He was in the truest and best sense a reporter of the “old school”. His love of the English language and its use was clearly a subject near and dear to him, eventually writing two books about the proper use of language: “A Civil Tongue” and “Strictly speaking”. The books were attempts to sound the alarm and possibly curb our language from turning into a pablum of double speak and mediocrity; which he believed would ultimately irreparably damage the role of journalism. That was 1976.

Some 45 years later we seem to have reached that pinnacle of mediocrity, a total loss of objective reportage, the polarizing and prejudice of any political discussions and the outright abuse and misuse of the English language. Mr. Newman’s take on the new “woke” language would undoubtedly have been harsh.

In this age of auto-correct and on-line editing tools, is it even important that we adhere to definition and the proper use of a word?

It may actually be now more important than ever. The use of language is central to our seemingly fragile democracy and the institutions within it. Maybe now more than ever there is a more pressing need to be clear and concise in our language as we get pulled into and transported along the information highway and immense reach of the digital world.

Language allows us to express, to inform, and to reason, and we humans have the unique capacity to use complex language. We need it to communicate with others and even to construct and maintain our social world.

When many take liberties with the language or re-define its meanings there is a greater tendency to misconstrue, confuse, or obliterate the original meaning and therefore our understanding.

Being firmly cemented into a limitless broadband of narrative the endless bombardment of information seems to be have had the affect of dividing us into our own fragmented segments of society. Forcing people into their own space, a safe space, free from examination. We are becoming a mosaic of information sources, not a blending of our interests and goals. This lack of a central common interest seems to also lend itself to endless claims of disenfranchisement and victimization; of never being part of the majority. Politicians being politicians, now busy themselves with answering and catering to these endless slivers of society not the middle majority.

These separate groups of the like-minded– communicate within their group, often resorting to new terminology or a warping and blending of meanings. The translation of these newly formulated words is often unclear especially to those outside that immediate sphere of special interest.

An example of using language as a tool by a special interest group and the ramifications of when language is not clear has recently come to public light.

For the last number of years, every government and public forum was encouraged to open up any public meeting with an announcement that they were giving thanks to the local indigenous for allowing us to be on the “un-ceded territory of …”

This was of course aimed and perpetrated by the special interests of the Indigenous, and from the outside seemed relatively harmless. So our political leaders championed this clearly scripted genuflection and the word went down the Federal government line to the Provinces and local city governments. All quickly followed suit –not wanting to be left behind in this progressive narrative, or worse, branded part of the systemically racist Canada. But, it now turns out the language matters.

“Un-ceded” is not actually a word by the way, but “cede” means to give up power or territory.

When everyone in unison was saying “un-ceded territory” the implication could loosely be interpreted to mean that the Indigenous had from somewhere, clearly acquired “territorial and property rights” to the land. The more sinister gravamen was that land had in fact been taken from them and therefore an implied need for compensation for property or territory lost.

It was politically astute on the part of the Indigenous –the use of the term “cede” and “un-ceded” was a purposeful use of mis-leading language which could eventually form a foundation for an admission of political and economic responsibility on the part of the majority of Canadians.

The political and legal warning light has finally gone on in New Brunswick.

Justice Minister Hugh Fleming has ordered that staff stop making Indigenous land acknowledgements. The Indigenous, you see, are now claiming title to over 60% of the Province and the Province now finds itself in a series of legal arguments and land claims. The Attorney-General’s department has told the government workers that they should not make or issue “territorial acknowledgements”.

Predictably, the Six Chiefs of the Wolastoqey in the Province have countered by saying that they have “un-ceded Aboriginal title in the Province of New Brunswick”. They said land acknowledgements by the Provincial government were “a symbolic gesture but represent a starting point toward building and improving a relationship with First Nations”. Clearly, there is now some legal advice being given to the lawmakers of New Brunswick that the language being used is misleading at best and could be politically motivated.

The word term “reconciliation” being used and trumpeted by all the political woke is a very similar term and will likely prove to be equally misleading, and possibly equally legally detrimental.

But, what prompted this blogger to an examination of the use of language was not the politically astute Indigenous.

It was my recent discovery of a “glossary of terms” provided by the Association of Chiefs of Police. Prepared, no doubt, as a service to those working in the real world and not safely ensconced in an inclusion seminar in a government meeting room. The clear purpose here is to teach officers on how they should speak and write so as not to offend, a believed need to teach the language of the “woke”.

Before I go further, there is no offence intended, but police officers, at least in my experience were not always the most prolific writers or the best practitioners of the English language. It was often a supervisory life and death struggle to get officers to write reports that were lucid and properly explained the who, what, and where of a particular offence.

Reports to Crown Counsel was often a through the looking glass experiment as at the end of an eye watering read, one would be unsure as to meaning and point of the narrative.

There was the police tendency to write in your best imitation of a learned academic or a lawyer– he “stated” rather than he “said”. “Observed” rather than “saw”.Warrant applications were often long, redundant, with superfluous language designed to heighten the status of the writer rather than to communicate a message. Internal reports and other court applications were often measured and termed to be well done judged by their length rather than their content. The copy and paste function has now allowed obsessively long narratives to expand to the point of farce and is in and of itself proving to be a burden to the entire justice system.

So now, the poor police officer sitting at two in the morning, typing madly away at a search warrant, now needs to be concerned with the language of the “woke” and apparently needs to be armed with the glossary of language on his or her desktop.

Here are just a few of examples the police officer should take to heart according to their leaders. Starting with the “A”‘s

Quote

“ableism” – is a belief system that sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration.

“agender” – is a person whose gender identity does not align to the traditional system of gender, who does not have a personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or sees themselves as existing without gender, sometimes called “gender neutrois”

“Classism” – the cultural and institutional set of practises and beliefs that assign value to people according to their socio-economic status

“Co-gender” – is a term with at least three known possible definitions ( I will only just give you the first) is the mathematical union of two gender, as opposed to vengender, the intersection of two genders. A co-gender person is okay with being identified as either of the two genders.

“Deadname” – generally refers to the birth name of a transgender person that they no longer use.

“Demisexual” – refers to a person who only feels sexual attraction once a strong emotional bond is formed

Closed Quote.

Obviously, I could go on for quite some time, in fact all the way to Z. As a matter of interest, the last definition is of “white” which they say is a “social colour” only “indicating the majority” of Canadians. It is recognized that there are “many different people” who are white but who face class discrimination; because of their class, gender, ethnicity, religion, age etc.

The glossary also gives you examples of problematic language which you need to avoid and gives better alternatives that one should be using. For instance, you should not refer to anything which has “man” in it. Mankind, manpower, man hours, all are inappropriate. Biological sex should become “assigned sex”, and wife or husband should always become spouse or partner. It is not appropriate to say “caucasian” any more, you need to say white people, or European Canadian. (think of all the police forms that need to change). (I guess they didn’t realize that by saying European Canadian they were actually going against the “white” definition they had given earlier.)

So where does this leave us? Are we destined to all sink in this quagmire of ridiculous definition and narrative? Quite possibly.

Will it lead to an inability to communicate with the “majority”. That seems equally obvious.

Alternatively, maybe we could all take the Master Class offered on Clear and Concise Writing. There is a couple of fundamental rules which they all seem to profess. Avoid wordiness and distended sentence structures and to use shorter sentences and simple words. These authorities by the way all point an accusing finger at the biggest offender– government.

Mark Twain ” a strong advocate for simplicity and clarity, said “when you catch an adjective kill it”.

This glossary by the Chiefs was a glossary of adjectives that Mark Twain would like you to kill.

Of course, it would be a safe assumption that the Chiefs who authored this glossary didn’t actually write it. They themselves would likely not know half of the definitions. It was simply a check in the box of inclusion and diversity, a sacrifice to the Woke God to whom they now all pray.

Photo Courtesy of Alby Headrick via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Welcome to 1984

There is often a longing for the good old days when even the conspiracy theories seemed simpler–those never ending cover up theories such as the capture of aliens and Roswell UFO’s, or the Kennedy assassination from the grassy knoll. All throwbacks to a simpler age. Some were tenable, but running counter to them was this belief that somehow the government wouldn’t lie to you or be able to cover up any of the outrageous allegations. Now, in this age of instant communication, plotted and sinister theories relentlessly bounce off our brains, coming at us from both the right and the left in the world wide broadband. Outrage and accusations quickly follow, oozing out of the dark holes of Instagram and Facebook, twitching the nerves of the unsuspecting and unquestioning.

The problem with all conspiracy theories of course is that they almost always have at their foundation in the obvious need for several people, if not hundreds of people, to be willing to share and thus be complicit in the conspiracy. One needed hundreds of people all sworn to never reveal the innermost secrets that are central to any alleged plot. And that, is where virtually all conspiracy theories fall apart. Humans, being human, can not effectively keep secrets.

Covid has proved fertile ground for conspiracy theories mainly emanating from those opposed to the double shot in the arm. The root of opposition is a distrust, an exponentially growing distrust of government in any form or political inclination. Objectively, one should at least be able to understand this wariness in the government being able to govern, let alone dictate where you can go, what you can do, and as they are now doing, to take command of your personal physical health. We may come to regret the Charter of Rights being ignored with abandon, but that is another topic for another time.

The anti-vaxxers are being described as the seeds of satan–selfish, ignorant, unwashed, and endangering the rest of us who are on the righteous end of the argument. The media and government messaging has been constant, but mixed, at times even contradictory. All of which gives further rise to the non-believers. But, for the most part the majority of Canadians simply dismiss this fringe group of the discontented as not worthy of consideration, beneath our contempt. Up to now, there has been whole hearted support for the governments of the day who are with grim faced determination are setting out to conquer those damnable anti-vaccine fiends. The un-questioning media gladly plays to the fears of the vast majority of Canadians, continually searching for the anti-vaxxer now providing dying declarations from a hospital bed.

However, a recent story, uncovered by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper; through Freedom of information sources, and authored by David Pugliese should give everyone pause. It would seem that those who saw the vaccine as some form of government conspiracy aimed at controlling both the message and its use may have just gained an extraordinary admission from the government.

This story should make everyone shudder and view any and all messaging from the government with a heavily jaundiced eye. It turns out that the year 1984, the year enshrined by George Orwell in describing his dystopian universe is now upon us –thanks to an unchecked, unguided, and unglued Canadian Armed Forces.

We have now learned that there was a group in the high levels of the military, our very own Canadian Armed Forces, who thought that the Covid scare would be a “unique opportunity to test out propaganda techniques on an unsuspecting public”. The Canadian public to whom they are sworn to serve were to be targeted by the Canadian military, in particular, their “Information Operations” group. This Orwellian titled group is part of the Canadian Joint Operations Command –headed by Lt. General Mike Rouleau.

These information “techniques” apparently were “similar to those employed during the war in Afghanistan”. In essence the Canadian public would be targeted like they had the Taliban.

The senior military leaders astonishingly did not feel any twinge of guilt once outed, that the targeting of Canadians was out of the norm and furthermore they “didn’t believe they needed to get approval for this operation”. The specific goal was to “head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic” and to “bolster government messages about the pandemic”. The pandemic to these intelligence strategists, was a “unique opportunity to test out such techniques on Canadians”.

Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, Chief of Staff for the CJOC, echoed the beliefs of this group and felt that this was a good “learning opportunity and a chance to start getting information operations into our routine”.

These tactics were going to be done in support of “Operation Laser”. Operation Laser was where members of the Armed Forces were helping out at “long term care homes” and were directing the “distribution of vaccine” to the northern communities. Not even a military operation in the classic sense.

This Orwellian plan only lasted about a month because thankfully some saner heads inside the Department of Defence began questioning both the ethics and legality of this operation. They managed to catch the ear of Staff General Jon Vance who promptly shut it down, clearly recognizing the political minefield he was being handed.

Vance then directed Major General Daniel Gosselin to look into the matter and it is Gosselin’s eventual report which was the source of this news story.

It doesn’t stop there. The report also uncovered a second separate initiative, which was not linked to the CJOC but was overseen by Canadian Forces “intelligence officers”. As part of this separate initiative they began to gather “culled information from public social media accounts in Ontario and were gathering information on the Black Lives Matter gatherings and on their leaders.” Targeting the BLM group has since made many in that group legitimately wonder what could be the possible connection to the distribution of vaccine.

According to Gosselin’s report “support for the use of such information operations was clearly a mindset that permeated the thinking at many levels of CJOC”. He went further saying that some inside the Department of National Defence “want to expand the scope of such methods in Canada and allow them to better control and shape government information that the public receives.”

There were other DND attempts.

In September 2020 military operations “forged a letter from the Nova Scotia government warning about wolves on the loose in a particular area of the Province”. But, the ineptness of the military shone through. The letter leaked out to the general public, causing alarm in parts of the Province. In apportioning blame the Armed Forces said it was done by some “reservists” who “lacked formal training and policies governing the use of propaganda techniques”.

Also in 2020 a plan was launched to allow “military public affairs officers” to use “propaganda” to “change attitudes and behaviours of Canadians” and to “collect and analyze public social media accounts to move to a more aggressive strategy” of using information “warfare” and “influence tactics on Canadians”.

How were they to do this? One of their techniques was to use “friendly defence analysts and retired generals” to push military public relations and to “criticize on social media those who raised questions about military spending and accountability”.

The DND also has spent $1million to train public relations officers on “behaviour modification techniques” –similar to those used by Cambridge Analytica. This was shut down when the Ottawa Citizen revealed details of this plan in November 2020.

After all these revelations, one would think that there would be some government blowback. The DND Deputy Minister admitted that “various propaganda initiatives had gotten out of control”. Not that they were wrong, but just that they got a little “out of control”. Acting Chief of Defence Staff said that “insular mindsets at various echelons” had gone outside of the lines, not that this was wrong, but that they had done it “without explicit” Deputy Minister “direction or authority”.

This is perplexing and alarming on a couple of levels.

The defence department has been in a flat spin for the last 30 years. (There are remarkable parallels to the current state of the RCMP) They have under-resourced and under manned this group charged with the defence of this country to the point that the navy, air force and army are only shadows of their former selves. They have reached an embarassing level of capability in the eyes of the world, all while our Prime Minister was vying for a seat at the big boys table at the U.N. Security council.

The members of the Armed Forces have been relegated to sand bagging in times of a flood, or caring for the elderly in the nursing homes. The distribution of vaccine was the latest excursion into the domestic world, far from anything considered “military.

To trust this group with a nuanced intelligence initiative seems at best ill thought out and foolhardy.

In the last few months we have been witnessing a string of leaders in the DND being named– and then their candidate choices quickly being withdrawn over another allegation of sexual impropriety. This intelligence group is apparently not capable of basic security checks.

This very fragile group of military executives, military game players, decided that they needed to use Canadians as a training exercise. This level of stupidity is hard to fathom yet no one has lost their job.

On another level, the mainstream media for the most part is staying away and staying silent about this story. A Federal government department charged with safeguarding Canadians is instead targeting Canadians and trying to manipulate and control information to the public.

The media silence is deafening, but that is probably just another unfounded conspiracy theory.

“the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it” -George Orwell.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons and PhotographyMontreal- Some Rights Reserved