“Where there are trees in Water”

Every couple of years I make a pilgrimage to the center of Canada, to visit family and just to take stock of the city and places where I grew up, where I went to school, and where I joined the RCMP. I am presently taking that 360 degree look around from the beating heart of what the Iroquois named from the phrase– “where there are trees in water”– the city hated or loved by the rest of Canada– Toronto. The Iroquois, by the way were simply referring to this area as a place where one would find weir nets in the lakes. Ontario or “kanadario” was also Iroquois named, meaning “sparkling water”. Clearly, the namers had a thing about the water in those times. If Canadians were now asked to describe this city, it is unlikely that the water (Lake Ontario) would be part of their definition, nor the first outstanding feature that would come to mind. You can’t really even see the water from the lakeshore because of the massive tower developments looking towards Toronto Island.

This is a city though, despite any preconceived notions, that one should be paying attention to; it is a bell weather of the problems and the dynamics of Canada. It is, in this country of hewers of wood and drawers of water, the financial and industrial epicentre for Canada. When they press the buttons here, whether we like to admit it or not, the rest of Canada has to jump; and when things fail here, the effects are felt throughout this country. It is where elections are decided, with an obvious slight bow to Quebec and its growing francophone autocracy. It is where the 6,372,000 people of this traffic engorged city live– the “6” in Toronto slang, that being a reference to the 6 large scale municipalities which were joined in 1998 as one which now form a discombobulated government of many voices, many opinions and little unanimity.

It is always changing, this place of my birth, the waves of immigration and population insuring constant change, constant growth and the need for ever increasing social services. The infrastructure has changed little, the streetcars still ply up and down Queen St, but the streetcars have doubled in size. Queen St. itself, is now an even greater hodgepodge of cafes, vintage clothing boutiques, vape shops all scattered amongst the boarded windows that could not survive Covid or gave up trying. Brick is the building material of choice in this city, and as the city ages, what looked new, now looks old, decaying bricks literally falling off buildings and now laying inert on the sidewalks.

The demographics and the growth of the ethnic neighbourhoods is both inspiring and worrisome. As of 2021, 57% of the population of the city now belongs to a visible minority group; when I worked here for the RCMP at Jarvis and Dundas, in the 1980’s, that figure was about 13.1%. There are lots of “littles” now: Little Italy, Little India, Little Jamaica, and Little Portugal, surrounded by Greektown, Koreatown, and Chinatown. So Yes, the city has changed, those neighbourhoods have grown in size and the infrastructure such as stores, and services, are now large enough to support their own specific neighbourhood. There is no need to intermingle, there is no need to leave your neighbourhood, which many champion as a good thing, but in many ways it is not. It is the Canadian mosaic, not the Canadian melting pot.

This puzzle of a city is aptly demonstrated by the current mayoral race in Toronto. Believe it or not, there are 102 people running to be mayor— have filed their nomination papers and paid the entry fee. All are for the most part, one issue candidates, and that issue usually a perfect reflection of the neighbourhood from which they have arisen. Even the top 4 or 5 are polling less than 10% in numbers. The current leader, by far, is a re-tread, Olivia Chow.

Ms Chow has been a politician, both civically and Federally for most of her life, and a standard bearer for the NDP. She was married to NDP Federal Leader Jack Layton who served as the Federal Opposition leader from 2003-2011 before he passed from cancer in 2011.

She has been around the city of Toronto and its political environs for many years. In 1991 she was elected to Toronto city council, then in 2006 was elected as a Federal MP. She came back to the city and ran for mayor of Toronto in 2014, but placed third. She ran again Federally in 2015 but was again unsuccessful in the riding of Spadina/Fort York. She was born in Hong Kong, raised lower middle class in Toronto, and attended Jarvis Collegiate and then the Ontario College of Art.

She is “woke” to be sure, and her issues have not changed much over the years; homelessness and public transit usually lead every Toronto list, and of course, looking after the ever growing downtrodden. She was known for her daily blissful bike ride to City hall, a very colourful bike, that she adorned with flowers. She at one time had to resign from the Toronto Police Services Board because during a riot at the Legislative Assembly she approached the police to change their tactics in quelling the riot. So now she is back, and leading the race for mayor.

The problem for Ms. Chow and other candidates who have been politicians in the last twenty years in this city, is that the city is going the wrong direction. More of the same, the same solutions, the same talking points simply are not working. There is confusion everywhere, confusion in the fixing of streets, confusion in the bylaws, confusion in the decaying neighbourhoods and their infrastructure. The politicians worry about plastic straws, but not about hundreds of thousands of vehicles idling in stale-mated traffic every day of the week. They worry and repeatedly talk about safe streets, while at the same time refusing to clean up those streets. I recently asked a friend why he never drives into the city from Mississauga? He sums up his discontent with “on the streets all you smell is piss and marihuana”.

Housing is un-affordable to the working middle and lower classes, and the struggling salaries are contributing to the growing disappearance of that tax paying middle class. The hotels, restaurants and bars are staffed by the only people who will take the jobs, the largely immigrant population, who are still struggling with English as their 2nd language, so still willing to do manual labour, and often thankful for the opportunity. Downtown, amongst the financial banking towers and the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, which were once strewn by Harry Rosen three piece suit wearing bankers; now sweat shirts, and sweat pants are the norm, the towers look empty, there is a tiredness on the face of the people shuffling along the street. There seems to be no energy left.

If one remains positive about this city it may be in the fact that those immigrants, those still willing to work and not overly concerned about “work-life balance” may pull it up by its boot straps, and reignite this once prosperous and dynamic area. But, you also have to be honest about those chances.

The city is claiming that Covid 19 placed it in a $933 million deficit. But putting aside the argument that everything can be blamed on Covid, Ernst and Young in a recent report in March 2023 says that covid aside, the city is grappling with a $46.5 billion in “financial pressures over the next decade” that will threaten the city’s “fiscal stability” and the “sustainability of its service levels”.

Of course, the only solution being offered up by the local politicians is that they get more money from the Federal and Provincial governments. No one seems to understand that a tax dollar is a tax dollar, regardless of who is paying it out. There certainly is no solution that involves cutting back on spending.

So what does this all have to do with policing? I firmly believe that police officers are both a mirror of society in general and they also serve as the canaries in the coal mine. They will see the unadulterated problems first, and they will be the last ones around when the things go wrong. The Toronto news is a reflection of all the cities of Canada, but it is bigger here, the numbers often overwhelming; “stabbing downtown”, “police seeking two suspect after man shot in Scarborough”, “one man wounded in stabbing in east-end Toronto”, “family dispute in Vaughan results in charges of attempted murder, kidnapping”,”Markham mosque attack”, and “three Toronto teens arrested for string of armed pharmacy robberies”. It is a fire hose of inflammatory and outrageous headlines every day.

Toronto is very close to being and feeling like an American city. They have always aspired to be New York north, but are the changing times and the seemingly overwhelming problems going to drown all the good intentions. New York north or more likely Detroit north?

The city for now is still functioning though, massive high rises are still being built, the cops are in evidence everywhere, directing traffic on Yonge St, or working overtime security for window washers cleaning high rises. There are visible levels of efficiency in terms of moving people through the subways, trains, or to and from the airport. Blood is still pumping through the now enlarged heart of the city, but whether it is enough to keep the extremities going remains to be seen.

I do hope that they make it, that despite the government, there is enough independent thought and entrepreneurial vigour in the new generations coming along that they can make it work. It is my hometown, but it is no longer my home,– but we need Toronto –Canada needs Toronto.

Photo courtesy of RebelXL- via Flickr Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Cops being killed and Cops killing

If we can all tear our eyes away from the ludicrous goings on in Surrey for a moment, which is looking more and more like a Monty Python sketch. The less than Honourable Mayor Brenda Locke now waiting for the City staff to review the Provincial report– and trying to find someone with a pen to sign the non-disclosure agreement (the Province is insisting the City sign off on seeing an un-redacted report).

She has moved on to other important matters such as re-naming “Scott Rd” (a major north south corridor in Surrey) to “Jatt Avenue”. Of course this is just a blatant ass-kissing of the South Asian community city voters, who have become a vital and necessary ally in the Surrey civic elections. Why Jatt? It is because the Jatt Sikh are the ethno-religious group who are one of the dominant communities in the Punjab and of course in this area of Surrey. The now to be forgotten Colonel Scott was the person who originally built the road and for whom it was obviously named. Forget history and contribution, there are new age political fish to fry.

Meanwhile in the rest of the country, people are, and should be concerned about the increase in police officers being killed in this country. Since September 2022 a total of nine officers have been killed, an exceedingly high number. It should be noted from the outset of this narrative that all but one of those calls, which led to their deaths, were in response to mental health related incidents, while only one involved an individual out on bail.

So when stories such as these finally make it to a public forum, the experts and the politicians rise up as one, pushing each other aside to get to the microphone, all expressing their outrage, their bundle of solutions readily available for all the problems in policing. The Liberals never wanting to offend their dedicated progressive constituents, but being hounded and chased by a lot of bad publicity, needed to act. So this time the focus was on the “catch and release” program which has been operating in the Canadian criminal courts for a very long time. Bill C-48 is a quickly constructed eight page bill that could have been written on a napkin. This bill will under certain circumstances create a “reverse onus” on the defendants, so that those who have violently re-offended now need to justify to the courts their need to be released. Prior to this bill, the onus was on the Crown to argue that based on their history they should be kept in jail to await trial. Reverse onus as a legal concept has been in place for a very long time but reserved for the more serious offences such as sexual assault, or homicide.

Sounds good right? The Canadian Police Association likes it, they are calling it a “common sense” piece of legislation, in fact a “transformative” piece of legislation. All of which makes me certain that the executive of that group are a long way from the reality of the courts and the actual barriers being faced by police and prosecutors on the ground. They even were part of a joint press release with Justice Minister David Lametti– read into that what you will.

There are some gaping holes in this legislation. First of all it the Act is worded in such a way, that it must be a second “violent offence committed with a weapon”within the last five years. So if you were involved in a violent offence with a gun and convicted six years ago, one would assume that this new law would not apply. The number of cases that this reverse onus will be applied will in essence be relatively minimal. And remember, this is only reversing the “onus” to prove you are safe to be released. There are a lot of judges in this country, who are empathetic to the “victim” and less leaning to the law and order types. So this is not mandatory– they could very well let them out anyway. Secondly, since 2018 in this country the Federal government and the Courts have been told to “prioritize” bail for the “marginalized community”. Do you know who is “over-represented” in the courts and the jails of this country? This will not apply to them.

When OPP Constable Greg Pierzchala was gunned down by Indigenous male Randall McKenzie, prior to this he had been released from his very violent record because of his Indigenous background. Justice Harrison Arell released McKenzie who had a lengthy history of violence prior to killing the Constable, but he decided he must release him. Canadian Press found the audio recording of the hearing wherein the Judge says, “First Nations people are greatly over-represented in the prison system, especially in pre-trial custody”. This is reverse logic, not reverse onus.

The academics have also risen from their slumber and are spouting a number of theories as to why this is happening. Professsor Tempitape Oriola, a professor of Criminology feels that the police have brought this on themselves, in some ways, because of who the police now “represent or embody”. He draws a line from because of what they represent thus making them targets. Rick Parent, a former 30 year police officer and now an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, feels that maybe we should point to the “distrust in more racialized communities” and points to the fact that 21% of black people, and 22% of Indigenous people distrust the police. My guess is that 20% of those of European descent also mistrust the police.

Professor Piche of the University of Ottawa states that it is the “failure on the part of the police” and the panacea lies in bail reform. In his picture for the article he is wearing a toque which says “Build Communities not jails” which may be a bit of a hint as to where he starts his argument from.

Parts of what they say is true of course, but there is only one root cause and it is by far the greatest reason for police officers being killed, and that is mental health. This has always been the case. Nothing has changed in half a century.

By the way, this year is not a record. In 1962 there were 12 officers killed. At that time there were only 26,000 officers in all of Canada. There were 9 killed this year, but now there are 70,000 cops. So maybe it is just a matter of numbers.

The police officers that were killed then, and the ones that have been killed in the last number of months were “targeted”, “ambushed”, because someone in a state of mental breakdown can only call one group to come and be their victim. And the other troubling thing to consider that if a cop is targeted, there is little that can be done to prevent it. That is the hard and dark fact. As Professor Brown notes that what is happening is a “targeting of police officers because they are police officers”. In other words, if there is to be a motto to be remembered, for police officers it must be “there but for the grace of God go I”. All the training, the body cams, the issuing of high calibre rifles, and layers of body armour will not prevent or stop a police officer from going to the call and therefore run the risk of being gunned down. That is their job, that is what they do– and it will not stop a disturbed determined individual from killing them. Statistically, it is a rarity, but there is nothing that can be done in policing to stop this type of individual.

This was true in Moncton, this was true in Mayerthorpe and this was true in Portapique.

The roots of these mental breakdowns or what spurs a demented mind can be found in the homelessness, the drug addicted, and in the overwhelming failure of the mental health system. Those mental health issues and suicides have gone up dramatically since the pandemic, which may also be a causal link to this most recent increase in police killings. People forced into physical and mental lock-downs, loneliness, despair, and economic job loss may in fact be the precursors to mental breakdown. Domestic violence, divorce, child abandonment, and financial problems are often at the core of this societal breakdown— not the fact that they are out on bail. Then add fuel to these mental pressures with excessive alcohol, or continual drug use, and you have a potent mixture for mayhem. If you walk the cities of Toronto, Edmonton, or Vancouver you will pass by a number of persons who are close to that edge, they are just peering over into the darkness and futility.

The fact that the mental health issue is at the core, is further underlined if you examine when cops kill. You will see that in this country, cops killing civilians has also taken a significant turn.

In Canada this year 24 people have been killed by the police and over 1,000 in the U.S. Since 2000 in Canada, 143 people have been killed by the police. Two-thirds were by shootings. And in a recent study, somewhat predictably, B.C. police forces have a higher rate of killing. Three times higher than in Ontario, and 30% higher than 2nd ranked Alberta.

Now, I am not one to argue that in every case, the police did the right thing, that just wouldn’t make common sense, as there is a lot of evidence, especially in the U.S. of officers killing suspects when that option was not necessary. However, the vast majority of police incidents which lead to a deadly reaction would in fact be righteous killings; often the police officer actually waiting too long before he shoots the suspect, or not reacting quick enough to the circumstances.

More police are being killed while at the same time the police are also killing more people now. This too is primarily caused by the clash of police with mental health problems. But there may be a secondary issue also worth examining.

In this country we have chosen to arm and dress our police like Navy Seal team members. They arrive at calls as if fit to do battle. We have been forever trying to deny there is an obvious physical element to the job. Instead, we have chosen to arm all the officers with every tool to subdue. Pepper spray, batons, and tasers to name a few hanging off the officers belt. Training is now, to protect your personal space, engage from a distance, and if someone is not complying, escalate in your choice of tool.

When I first began policing it was extremely rare to hear of an officer involved shooting. It just didn’t seem to happen that much. The statistics, such as they are seem to bear this out.

In 1978 my first year in policing there were 4 police involved shootings in Canada.

1979- 4

1980 – 1

1984 – 1

1987 – 1

1988 – 7 This was the highest in the 1980’s.

Now skip ahead to 2008 which had 7 police involved killings

2009 – 5

2010 – 8

2011 – 11

2012 – 12

2013 -10

2014 – 24

2015 – 28

2016 – 14

2017- 35

2018 – 14

In any event, you get the picture. Things have clearly changed for the worse, an increase in population would be part of it, as would the increased number of cops on the street. But, how could one explain that in these current times, with the massive increase in non-lethal weapons, and the greater manpower, that the deaths by police have increased. In 1978, we had a .38 revolver, two speed-loaders, and some carried a plastic flashlight. Nothing else. Talking and physically controlling the individual were your only “alternate measures”. Nor was ERT a constant call out every time someone ran into a house. Before someone concludes that is all based on an increased in societal violence, just check out the statistics. That does not seem to be the case.

Something is amiss, and someone needs to explain it to me.

When a police officer is killed, we all feel it, and police officers feel it like an emotional hammered thud to their chest. When a suspect dies, a family somewhere also feels it. Maybe, it was a gun wielding murder suspect who was killed, but more than likely, it was a family member, one who the mental health system kept turning away, or did not have the capacity to help. If you want to lower the killings, then treatment for mental health issues is the clear and obvious key, the only real answer.

Right now though, nobody is winning and things need to change on both sides of the blue wall.

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

the Surrey Policing Circus

So by now you have heard the latest policing news consuming the Lower Mainland of B.C. The question: who is going to police the City of Surrey? After four years of transitioning to a new police service, the Surrey city council have decided that this would be a good time to go backwards. Re-trench, undo all the previous political decisions, fire the 390 officers that they already hired, and try to find more Mounties to go back to being policed by the men and women in Scarlet.

The “decision” was pushed to the NDP Government in Victoria to come up with a “decision”.

So now the “decision” was in.

British Columbia Minister Farnworth announced that they would recommend carrying on with the original transition to the newly formed Surrey Police Service; that in essence the Mounties are not in a position to properly re-take policing in Surrey or resume becoming what the government calls the “police of jurisdiction”. Also Mr. Farnworth and the NDP, in other words, the taxpayers of British Columbia, are willing to help defray the costs of the annual increase in costs, estimated at $30 million annually, for at least the next five years during the transition to the SPS.

Correspondingly, he also added that if the council under the guidance of uncomprehending Brenda Locke continues on her stated path of going back to the RCMP, or “reverse transitioning”, then there would be no monies forthcoming from the government. This would include the $72 million estimate that would need to be paid out to to get rid of the already hired SPS employees.

If the new money was not enough to convince Ms. Locke the government felt it necessary to add that if they choose to go back, then there would still be a number of conditions that they outlined that needed to be met. Those conditions on first viewing seem to place the Mounties in a very difficult position, especially the one where they are not allowed to steal from other detachments to reach the Surrey manpower goals.

It was a long awaited decision, one of the hardest decisions Minister Farnworth, the Attorney General for British Columbia says that he had ever undertaken, in trying to decide on who should patrol the streets of Surrey. He probably should have said the hardest “recommendation” he had to put forward, but maybe we shouldn’t pay attention to the semantics. One certainly should not be paying attention to either former Mayor McCallum, or the current Mayor Brenda Locke. Former Mayor McCallum just seems like an old crotchety senior citizen of South Surrey ranting over the picket fence. After the decision he was interviewed and spoke at great length how he never sees the Mounties at his grand kids soccer games. One would assume in his mind conclusively proving that the RCMP are not good members of the community.

Mayor Locke for her part accuses everyone of playing politics– except herself of course. She like McCallum seems at times unhinged, and we would also say with complete confidence, completely disconnected to the real conditions in the Surrey RCMP and in the RCMP in general. It may not be her fault because this blogger believes she has been continually misled by the information coming out of the RCMP.

It is sometimes forgotten that originally Ms. Locke was on the side of McCallum and ran with him. She then she had a falling out with the mayor, and overnight became revolutionized, and is now re-born as an ardent supporter of going back to the RCMP. One should not under estimate the fact that for Ms Locke this fight is personal. In fact she may be motivated solely by conquering McCallum–she is bitter, and the thought of McCallum winning the overall argument does not sit well, and may in fact be playing the biggest part in clouding her judgement.

In following the media, and the social media around this decision, seems to demonstrate that there a bit of fact checking needed.

There has been a lot of comment about the NDP, not wanting to offend too many voters and the nine parliamentary seats in the Surrey area, that what Farnworth and the NDP did in “recommending” was to effectively”kick the can down the street”. This is true, it was a recommendation not a decision; but that is the result of the sometimes vague language of the Police Act. In particular Section 2 which states that the Minister responsibilities include only that he “establish priorities, goals and objectives and goals for policing and law enforcement in British Columbia”. He can recommend, set out conditions, but not dictate, which is what they did.

Ms. Locke says the government has been disrespectful in that the Police Act states “categorically” that the choice of police is under the purview of the municipality”. Not quite true either. The Act says that the municipality of over 5,000 people must “provide police and law enforcement in accordance with this Act” (Section 3). Again the Act language is somewhat vague on this, but then again Ms. Locke has developed a recent habit of misleading statements.

There are large portions of the report redacted, which for the life of me on reading all that was provided does raise the question as to what possibly could be so sensitive that the public is not allowed to see it —especially in the context of this narrative. I have been told that Ms. Locke points to this redaction as a government cover-up, but the fact of the matter is that all the redactions were done or requested by the RCMP.

You will remember that all the parties; the RCMP, the Surrey City Council and the Surrey Police Service all provided reports/information for the Provincial government to consider. They had to be asked twice, because the first time they didn’t answer all the questions. In fact back in December they called the City report as having “contained inconsistencies, lacked supporting data and evidence”.

The City report now provided estimates to re-take policing in the city that they would only have to re-up 161 members (I am not convinced of that number and neither was the government) and that they were going to do this by three methods: recruiting back from the SPS; getting more officers from Depot (which would negate other detachment needs);,and by pulling members from other regions of BC (page 24). They even suggested that they could transfer members into the Surrey detachment for 6 months and if that still was not sufficient could resort to calling members in on overtime to fill shifts.

The government saw this as problematic. How could an agency that is 1525 (hard/soft vacancies) officers short in the Province begin to take further members from other locations they asked? Remember that this government just gave an additional $230 million to try and support the rural areas of the Province because of a lack of staffing. The government also quoted the 2019 Public Safety Canada report which stated: “demand for officers…outstrips the RCMP’s capacity to recruit and train” and “that under staffing is effecting the health and welfare of their members”.

They go on to say that Federal policing has been eroded to meet those contract demands and stated the stats that since 2010 show that contract officers increased by 17% while Federal officers decreased by 30%. They concluded by saying that they had significant concerns regarding sustainability of the program and regular member production levels.

What the most interesting take-away from all of this, it is that the RCMP has finally had to reveal its staffing inadequacy that has been in existence for probably 25 years. Every Mountie that has worked in the lower mainland for the last few decades has heard the term “do more with less” so much so that it became a standing joke at every annual assessment of spending priorities. Now the shortages have become acute, exacerbated by demographics, covid, a lack of recruitment, and a complete lack of foresight by the upper management of the RCMP and the governments of the day. The difference now is they have had to come clean with the staffing shortage numbers. They have had to show how they were going to cover off these shortages and when examined, in essence, they were going to resort to their time held tradition of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Now the government has called them on it.

The 20th century centralized structure of the RCMP is now making people even question the “sustainability of contract policing”. This was most recently stated by the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, that was completed by this same BC Provincial government and released last year. It called for the re-establishment of a Provincial force, to get rid of the Mounties all together.

People need to understand and accept that the RCMP is not a stable organization right now. This is not about individual officers this is about an organization.

The RCMP is being buffeted by the winds of needed change. The inquiry at Portapique, just the most recent to say what has been said by other inquiries and other reports that came before it. The City of Surrey is a large municipality that is growing at 1,000 to 1500 people per month. It clearly needs its own dedicated police force with local control, that can act and re-act in a timely fashion. Ms. Locke, for whatever reason, is ignoring the obvious.

As a former long-standing RCMP officer it saddens me that the organization has proven that it can not adapt to big city policing, but it is what it is. There is also the theory that Ottawa once when pressed, will admit that it is really wanting to be a Federal level only Force. This is a difficult country to be all things to all people, to be a single police entity for all forms of investigational need, a massive undertaking in any circumstance. Currently the RCMP is failing miserably on the Federal side as well, and a re-structuring from the contract Provinces would go a long way in boosting up the Federal side. Whether true or not, only time will tell.

There is a long history of RCMP ineptitude in Ottawa, most of it born out of government bloat and bureaucratic aggrandizement. This is a police service which became too enamoured with themselves, enamoured with promotion and empire building, and to survive has traded in political favours, all to the detriment of the basic organizational and contractual needs. This is an Ottawa problem not a problem of individual police officers.

It is indeed ironic, that while all this mayhem and political grand-standing is going on and circling the RCMP’s largest detachment in Canada– the acting RCMP Commissioner is in England, presenting a horse and a ceremonial sword to King Charles. They just don’t get it. Similar to Trudeau in New York to talk about women’s rights and pose with Hollywood celebrity Hugh Jackman “Wolverine”, all while Ottawa is under a massive general strike.

So my advice to Ms. Locke, swallow your political pride, you are in essence surrounded on all sides, there is no way out for the RCMP; they are trapped in a system, one that will simply not allow them to fulfill their present mandate. Now not only the Surrey taxpayers are going to pay the price for these politicians, now everyone in the Province will be paying for these shenanigans. As long as this goes on there is further indirect damage being done in terms of operational policing. Morale is at an all time low on both sides, there is continuing in-fighting between the SPS members and the RCMP, some of it quite personal, continuity in files is being damaged, and the image of Surrey and its council is being tarnished with every appearance at a podium. While they decide who has the authority to go ahead, the decision is now stuck, resting somewhere in the ether, nestled between vague pages of the Police Act. The government report now estimates, even if they decide to carry on with the Surrey Police Service, another three years will be needed. A total of seven years for a transition?

Meanwhile, Brenda and Doug are politically arm-wrestling to see who will eventually be allowed to drive the clown car.

Photo Courtesy of David Blackwell vis Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

So many stories…

For me it is admittedly rare, but in the last couple of weeks I have been struggling with finding a topic on which to write. I have always wondered when I started this blog whether there would come a time when one would literally run out of stories or fall down the well of writer’s bloc. Would every aspect of the policing and the judicial world be written about? Was it possible to continue to write something original?

I guess I shouldn’t worry. It has been about six years now, and the stories just keep on coming. My problem this week was in not being able to choose from the multiple stories which garner headlines in this rather strange time we are living in.

The writing is often the easy part; the time consuming part is the research, the reading, the constant need to update, refresh, or follow up. You go down a lot of rabbit holes, often emerging no better off, or even more confused.

As an example, I spent two hours watching the hearings of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Interference, and the much anticipated appearance of Katie Telford, the Chief of Staff for the Prime Minister; a practised political operative whose very job is to to mitigate any political backlash for everything coming out of the government. She is part of the cabal. Part of the inner circle. And surprise surprise, she said nothing.

Aided by the ever smiling chair of the Committee, Liberal MP Bardish Chaggar, who spent her time trying to make sure Ms Telford was never ill at ease by any off-side questions– such as was the Prime Minister “briefed” on the Chinese efforts to influence the 11 ridings in the 2019 and 2021 elections? Ms. Telford in a clearly practised explanation said that she could not discuss what the PM has been briefed on or when he was briefed on it– on the basis of national security. She questioned the accuracy of the Globe and Mail reporting and the documents that were leaked to them which showed that the PM would have been briefed back in January; but she couldn’t and wouldn’t say what was inaccurate about the report– again National security. Suffice to say, this continuing lack of transparency in this government and by all governments in general in this country has clearly reached epidemic proportions.

Moving on to the next story.

The Federal Public Service is on strike as of this writing, the biggest question may be if and when anybody will notice. Amongst the union wish list are such items as “unconscious bias training” which is needed to “root out latent racism within the public service.” They would also like five days off a year for “traditional indigenous practices”, I’m hoping that this would only apply if you are Indigenous. What the Catholics or Protestants are demanding is unknown. They would also like more time given to attend conferences and the like; because there is no such thing as an unworthy conference to a government worker. Furthermore if they choose to work past 4 pm they would like a shift premium. The nirvana in this country is clearly doing the work of the government. Of course, most of these demands are fodder, material that can be discarded should they be offered another percentage increase in a pay raise. Isn’t it always about the money?

We also learned recently from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that 12 former MP’s accessed about $90K in payments to help them “transition” for “life outside the public office”. It is a $15K benefit available to all MP’s. It was claimed in one instance they reported to attend a conference with the self-help guru Deepak Chopra. However, the most egregious example would seem to fall to now Victoria MP Murray Rankin who represented the NDP in Ottawa for seven years. He who has law degrees from the University of Toronto and Harvard felt it necessary to expense $15K to attend the Rotman school of management in 2019. This was in the same year that he was appointed to chair the Federal National Security and Intelligence Review Committee, which I am sure also paid a decent salary. But Mr. Rankin is a moving target, and he has once again “transitioned”. This time Rankin has now become a BC Cabinet Minister responsible for Indigenous Relations.

In other news. It is not every week that along comes a story which pushes the Indigenous funding to page 2, but it happened recently. The previously mentioned Rankin re-appeared in the latest indigenous monies being handed out– which was the announcement of the settlement of the Treaty 8 “Treaty Land Entitlements” claim. The basis of this claim is that they were not properly compensated for the land back in 1899 and now they should be given more, and they should be getting monies from the development of those lands. The biggest development in the area being the Site C Peace River power project by B.C. Hydro.

These five nations have a total combined population of about 2,076 members–they were just awarded $800 million as a result of this settlement, in addition to 110,000 more acres of land. Using rough math thats $385,356 per person. The ever spinning government said that “…its not free money…its a bill that’s gone unpaid”.

As an aside, the Blueberry First Nation, one of the five in line for the land settlement, with their 524 registered members; in October 2021 were also granted by the BC government $65 million for “land restoration, wildlife stewardship, and cultural and capacity investments”.

Then along comes the Volkswagon company story knocking the indigenous from the summit of Federal government largesse. It has now been reported that VW have been given $13 billion in subsidies to create 3,000 jobs in St. Thomas Ontario. To be fair this is over a10 year span.

Using the same rudimentary math, that amounts to $4.3 million per job. Canada was bidding against the Americans and it appears that they felt that they needed to win this bidding battle, the liberals needed some good eco news, because this factory is to build the electric cars. The only surprise may be the fact that Industry Minister Francis-Philippe Champagne couldn’t get it built in Quebec. And if you think that poor VW, who made $30 billion or so in profits last year, needs the financial help, VW who also owns Porsche and Audi, is projecting to spend $193 billion by 2027 on future production.

One has to wonder about the behind the scenes negotiations, the promises and favours being given out to get to the pot of gold, and the level of oversight that will need to be employed. These two agreements were all negotiated behind the scenes, out of view of the public, in fact the government had to be pressured into eventually even admitting the subsidies to VW. This is a government who couldn’t keep track of fraudulent CERB cheques who is doling out billions of dollars to a relative few beneficiaries and they are doing it behind a screen.

There was a good news story. The Vancouver Police Department finally moved in and began taking down the encampments on Hastings Street. This time they finally figured out that they maybe they needed to attend for more than one day– to stop others from moving back. About 600 tents have been taken down to date. Of course this is B.C. so media headlines included 700 academics saying that moving the encampments was not the right way to go, there argument being that it should not be done until housing, psychiatric care and drug counselling was all provided. They didn’t really talk about the millions of dollars already spent each and every year which has seemingly had no effect. The ivory tower is alive and well.

Pierre Poilievre marched in and told the academics to go to hell and continued to call the downtown east side a “hell on earth”. As a resident of this fair city and someone who walks and drives through the downtown war zone on a daily basis, before deciding who is right in the argument the only evidence you need is just to take a look.

In another recent VPD story, which I had to read twice, not quite believing it the first time, concerns the Vancouver PD’s new policy on “handcuffing”.

Let me quote: “factors officers should consider prior to applying handcuffs include a persons age, disabilities, their medical condition, injuries, their size, their ethnicity, or whether they are part of other equity deserving groups”. It also states that “a police officer cannot view handcuffing someone who is under arrest, detained, or apprehended as a routine action” and from now on you “can not rely on administrative direction or order issued by the VPD, or any officer or supervisor within it to protect the member from legal responsibility”. This translates to you are on your own kids, be careful who you handcuff.

Now, it has been obvious for a number of years that the VPD is in many ways a genuine reflection of the very “woke” Vancouver. Chief Palmer and the rest of upper management and the Vancouver Police Board, who came up with this new policy, are always tripping over themselves to appear “progressive”,(Remember Bella Bella?) whether it be kowtowing to the LGBTQ groups, or painting their police cars with the latest indigenous logos. This latest example however is beyond reason.

The Police Board includes the current mayor and the chief of police, along with seven others who all seem to be reasonable individuals with the required “diverse” backgrounds. So how is it that they decided that “ethnicity” should be voiced as a determining factor in terms of handcuffing? When asked where this change in policy originated, these officials point to two incidents in the last couple of years. The handcuffing of the elderly indigenous male and his grand daughter outside the bank, while being investigated for possible fraud back in 2020. They also point to the detention of Chief Justice Romilly who was mistaken as a suspect in an assault while walking through Stanley Park (he only loosely fit the description)– Justice Romilly is black. For the record, the indigenous family has been compensated and Chief Romilly also recently reached a settlement with the VPD.

So because of these two incidents, out of hundreds of arrests in the last few years, hundreds having been handcuffed with no issue– because these two cases involved an elderly “indigenous male”, and a “black” male, we now have put attending officers in the position of having to articulate and explain the need to arrest and handcuff; and that part of the explanation needs to include that they took into consideration the suspects colour of skin.

It is politics, pure progressive politics, nothing more, and it is ridiculous, just as ridiculous as the “defund the police” movement. Another example of the public not being able to tell the police from the politicians. For day to day police operations common sense will still need to prevail in terms of handcuffing, but what they have opened up is a whole can of future complaints and lawsuits against police officers for not taking their “ethnicity” or their position in society into account.

I could find no response from the union for the Vancouver Police Department. Either they feel no need to defend their members or they are scared to speak out in fear of antagonizing these same very vocal minorities. Chief Palmer I have been told, has historically enjoyed pretty good support from his officers, but signing off on this policy and his continuing need to be one with the politicians makes one wonder how the membership could continue to support him.

As a final aside. Recently resigned Premier of B.C. John Horgan. You remember him? The Premier who with his party are the flag bearers for environmental concerns, supported anti-pipeline protestors and continue to lead the charge for green energy. He has now taken a new job. He is now on the Board for Elk Valley Resources a spinoff of Teck Resources Ltd–a coal-producing business. Ethics and principles are clearly very flexible commodities.

See, I told you…too many stories…not enough time.

Photo courtesy of Jon S via Flickr Creative Commons – Some rights reserved

“Turning the Tide Together”…a fatuous title and a toothless document

The Mass Casualty Commission released its report this past week, after two and half years of what they probably perceive as intrepid investigation and the intensive grilling of witnesses. It’s reveal almost went un-noticed. Quite frankly, as we speculated early on, the mandate of this Commission, the Commissioners who were selected, and the design of this Commission made one think that their conclusions was pre-destined to be a non-event.

After countless witnesses, experts, senior and junior police officers, and academics testifying, not to mention millions upon millions of dollars spent; this group of Hon. J Michael MacDonald, Dr Kim Stanton and Leanne Fitch produced a seven volume report, which with proper editing and the removal of everything not pertinent to Portapique could and should have been reduced to one single short volume. They warn would-be readers of this tome that “reading about distressing or overwhelming information can be challenging” and that you, the reader, should “be sure to keep mental health and wellness in mind”. Truer words could not have been spoken because anyone who sets out to read these seven volumes, part academic treatise, part regurgitation of what was already known, will by the end of it, be certifiable and will be kicking yourself for having spent so many hours in a fruitless attempt to find something of value.

The National Post said they thought the report suffered from “mission creep”. A blaring understatement. This Commission went way outside its already rather soft and poorly defined mandate, which could be boiled down to “ensuring effective critical incident response”. However, wanting to leave an imprint on the value of the Commission, they were open to riffing on the theoretical and sociological study of “the prevention of violence” and “the broader root cause of violence”.

One must remember that the government never originally intended for there to be an inquiry into the “worse mass shooting” in Canadian history which claimed 22 lives. This is a government that has no compunction in throwing inquiries and commissions at us on a regular basis, but for some reason, this event, the most tragic in Canadian history, did not meet the government criteria for warranting investigation. That in of its self was suspicious. However, they were forced into some form of inquiry by an outraged group of the victims from Portapique who were rightly demanding answers.

Unable to stop an investigation, the government did the next best thing and that was to neuter the results by making it a “commission” not an “inquiry”. The primary difference being that this entity was told “not to determine guilt or assign blame”. On top of which they were directed to use “restorative principles” which would in other words be “non-adversarial, inclusive, and collaborative”. Hence why some of the witnesses were allowed to testify remotely or hold hands in the witness box. Suffice to say the teeth of this commission were purposely removed before they even got started.

So now we are presented with a massive report which is pure bureaucratic and academic pablum. It is filled with the language of the progressives, and it is what you get when you put lawyers, academics, social workers and mental health workers all in a room, and then tell them to decide how policing should be handled. The arm chair quarterbacks were in abundant supply. This is the world where first and foremost everyone is suffering, everyone is a victim, a world where everyone must be guarded from reality. All the modern signs were there. It talked about the three “pillars” of violence, community and the police, and there is an introductory letter written in the MicMac language, which 99.9 % of the country can not read. Someone felt that this was a good opportunity to further their land claim agenda. There was an introductory chart, fit for a kindergarten level reader, which outlines the three stages of the commission being : “what happened’, “how and why”, and their “findings and recommendations”.

One could easily argue that all of this report should be thrown in the trash, but there is probably a need for one volume. One volume to write as they did the outline the lives of the victims of the tragedy, and to also write a fulsome timeline as to the events and how they transpired. That is about the only thing of value that were imparted in these many volumes. The rest of this book(s) meanders into the world of domestic violence, and according to this illustrious group of commissioners they have now established that gender based violence is “an epidemic”. Of course, you could have asked any operational police officer about domestic violence and got that answer in a few minutes.

They established that the killer Wortman exhibited “violent and intimidating behaviour was facilitated by the power and privilege he experienced as a white man”. A rather curious statement. Are they inferring that Wortman’s demons were the result of being white and based on the assumption that all whites have “power” and “privilege”? Are they implying that this mass killing was because of domestic violence?

This kind of logic and deflection is exhibited throughout these volumes, so as one could easily guess the solutions are a little esoteric. Part of the domestic violence solution is a recommendation that there be a “replacement of mandatory arrest and charging policies” and then they add “with frameworks for structured decision making”. Twenty years ago of course they changed policing policy in this country saying that the police “must arrest” in domestic situations. Clearly the academic pendulum is swinging back. If anyone can interpret what they mean by “frameworks for structured decision making” feel free to write in.

They also opine that solutions lay in “further education” which seems to be always the academic go to; nothing is usually resolved or finite in the academic realm, so this too is predictable. Along the way they invented new words such as “hyper-responsibilization”, to help elucidate their theories, which if you’re interested, means that you hold someone to higher standards. This is not to say there is not room in the literary and academic world for a study on domestic violence, but was this the forum and the responsibility of this group?

Of course the focus of the few media that did cover the story, was whether or not the police make mistakes? Of course they did. There is not a police agency in the world when faced with this kind of measured and planned mayhem by a deranged and mentally fragile individual would not find themselves after the fact wishing they could do certain things over. That being said, the RCMP owns several structural flaws that have been articulated many times over by many individuals in many formats over the years, including in this blog, and that too was evident throughout this report.

This happened in rural Nova Scotia, a rural landscape and background which can be found throughout this entire country. The Mounties have fundamentally lost the ability to police and supply enough manpower in the contract Provinces– they are simply under-staffed. How many police are needed for an area which is for the most part quiet, un-noticed is a secondary question. Secondly, the demographics of the uniform contingent of the RCMP and in these rather remote areas is very young, often in-experienced, and are definitively lacking any kind of sufficient supervision. Third, they are impaired by an over-hanging bloated bureaucracy of higher ranks who are often sitting far removed from the operational end of the stick. These higher-ups are often lacking an expertise in the fields for which they are held up as the person in charge. All this combines to also create an operational disconnect with Municipal agencies, which comes from short term RCMP appointments, and a certain arrogance the Mounties always seem to bring to the table, not matter how misplaced.

The attending Mounties in Portapique were shown to be courageous and did their part in an untenable situation where they did not know the lay of the land because they hardly ever went there. It should come as no surprise by now that the vast majority of the rural areas of this country that are contracted to the Mounties, are for the most part un-policed. Most small town residents could go days or even months without seeing a police vehicle in their neighbourhood. This lack of capability is being shown to the general public continuously. That is simply a fact, no matter how upper RCMP management wishes to play it off.

What we do have in the RCMP is a belief in bigger and greater command structures. This is an operational disease that infects current police thinking. A command centre 50 miles away from the action is expected to assume control, to be the conduit of all decision making, and thus reduce the room for error with all their checks and counter checks. Of course, it inevitably falls short, inevitably it lives up to the axiom of too many cooks in the kitchen. This Commission, which clearly buys into the need for Command Centres, does point out that there was “flawed decision making process, the failure to consider alternative scenarios based on the information …”. They self-importantly noted that the command centre “lacked a dedicated information analyst”.

It is somewhat unfair for anyone to comment on the handling of the operational and telecommunications nerve centre when faced with this kind of purposely disguised killing foe. But, one can easily speculate that inside the operational communications centre at the time and for 48 hrs it was institutional mayhem; phones ringing off the wall, multiple 911 calls, agencies and other supervisors calling in for “updates”, the monitoring of the blaring police radio, media queries, and press releases– a veritable fire hose of information funnelling in and out with abandon, no one really able or capable of seeing the overall picture with accuracy or having the ability to authenticate. When you have police officers thinking they spotted the suspect, opening fire on a firehall and aiming their shots at another officer, needless to say there is a real communications problem which could have ended very badly. By the time they sorted out the replica police vehicle, the suspect was out of the area and killing other people miles away– one of the wrong assumptions being was that he must have killed himself and still be in the immediate area.

So throughout the night the operational priority was establishing a command centre, all while four Mounties were huddled around burning houses and corpses in driveways, waiting for the latest direction and waiting for the long time coming backup. With all the gathering supervisors and managers offering opinions, no one thought to warn the public.

So what were the big recommendations coming from this highly paid group of Commissioners? That we “should put crime prevention on an equal footing with enforcement” and that the “RCMP must undergo a fundamental change”. They may have copied this latter statement from the numerous reports on the RCMP over the years which have all said the same thing. They also recommend that there needs to be changes in “everyday policing practises” and an “overhaul of police education in Canada”. On this latest point they recommend that every police officer should have a three year college policing degree. No one pointed out that if everyone involved in Portapique had a Phd. in Criminology nothing would have changed–not the circumstances and not the result.

The Commissioners want us to “turn the tide together”— instead they drown us in volumes of inane verbiage. Let’s make sure that those volumes find the uppermost dusty shelf at — 756 Prince St. in the Truro library– never to be noted or seen again. Oh by the way, they also feel that there is a need for more bureaucracy to be created.

The public and the victims deserved better. The on the ground police officers deserved a better addressing on the issues of staffing, communication and the variety of the other structural problems which continue to plague the RCMP. So far we, meaning governments and the RCMP have learned nothing in Mayerthorpe, in Moncton and now in Portapique.

The senior mounties during these times, who have endured several months of criticism, some warranted, and some undue, have all moved on as pointed out by CTV news. It’s what senior Mounties in the RCMP do when the frying pan gets a little warm. They move on, no one then left to be accountable or responsible for change. The enlarged graveyards of Portapique will continue to be visited by the families–they will not be able to leave or forget quite as easily.

This Commission and its “findings” is the saddest of commentaries on Canada’s ability to seek the truth and our governments unwillingness to face the truth.

Photo courtesy of Scott Baltjes via Creative Commons -some Rights Reserveda memorial window to the lives lost in Portapique.

Looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right

My mistake, I have committed another faux pas–Mr. or Mrs. is now deemed sexist. I should have entitled this blog:

“Looking for Mx (pronounced miks or muhks) Right”.

It just doesn’t have the same narrative flow.

In any event, if you in the trenches failed to notice, and you can be forgiven, Commissioner Lucki is now gone. It has been five long years, and we are once again faced with who is going to replace her. The government is moving slowly, surprise, surprise, and they haven’t really set up any search committee yet to find her replacement, even though Brenda was nice enough to give a months notice. Nevertheless it will take a few more meetings just to devise a list of board members on the search committee. This list will of course comprise of like minded Liberals or academics who fully appreciate the overall goals of the Liberal Party and Mr. Trudeau. The last time we went through this, there were a number of liberal elite persons chosen for this selection board, the likes of Frank McKenna, all who clearly needed a few more months at the trough. And after assembling this super group of intelligent and insightful people and a lengthy country wide search; the results of those expenses laden trips was that they recommended Brenda Lucki– and deemed her the most qualified of all that applied.

One can only hope that this same group is not brought together again.

Meanwhile Michael Duheme is wriggling his bottom into the leather executive chair to act as the interim commissioner. No doubt giving him some time to decide whether he should also take the time to polish up his RCMP resume, which he has already used to great effect throughout his career. So we can not rule him out.

Mr. Duheme was born in Quebec and includes on his resume–General Duties in Nova Scotia, ERT, VIP Protection, Peacekeeping Missions in Kosovo, was Director of Parliamentary Protection Service and the CO of N Division. Pretty well safe to say that Mr. Duheme is an Ottawa-centric figure. Having watched him at some Committee hearings, he was clearly better than Lucki in doing the shuffle dance, and he did somehow came out unscathed from most of the flames being thrown at the Commissioner during her troubled years. This you could view as either a positive or a negative.

Meanwhile, in the soul crushing corridors of Ottawa HQ, the cafeteria talk is abuzz with the who will be the next Commissioner question, that is if they are not still working from home. There will be jostling by the various sword carriers who will be aligning themselves with who they think that will be and how to best position themselves to be closer to the papal chair. I live a long way from Ottawa, but I still have friends that toil there, exasperated friends to be sure, but they have helped to clue me in to who the front runners are currently– and who are therefore the subject of this blog.

But before your “rapporteur” goes through this revelation for those outside of Ontario and Quebec who are not in the loop, we need to first review the obvious selection criteria that will be the primary and overriding considerations in this process.

  1. Mr. Trudeau, who declares himself a feminist, likes to have women around him in positions of authority. As a result the RCMP internally has tried to meet Mr. Trudeaus expectations with the promotion and raising up of women to the highest echelon. (they are actually now over-represented in terms of the makeup of the police employees).

2. It is equally clear that Mr. Trudeau has only two causes in his platform, and one favoured special interest group; climate change, diversity, and the Indigenous. He seems blind to the other major issues that constantly whirl around Ottawa, and obviously he is totally ignorant of policing issues, and in fact shows no real interest in them. This is the guy who never asked Lucki’s opinion in the fateful Cabinet meeting to declare the Emergencies Act.

3. Keep in mind that Trudeau, and the rest of that group do love a good public relations announcement. To announce the promotion by starting off: “The 1st _____”. Fill in the blank. First full-time woman Commissioner (Ms. Lucki), the first Indigenous, the first gay, the first transsexual, etc. We are still very much in the age of the race and gender being translated as a quality of leadership. Equity of outcome, not equality is the current practise in the Federal government.

So keeping these rules in mind, here are the current list of front-runners which I am told are being bandied about for the next Commissioner. They are not in any particular order and there is no betting money-line on FanDuel, or MGM to help parse the odds.

a) Kevin Brosseau.

This candidate has been around before. He was in the front runner list when Commissioner Lucki got the job. He is a highly educated, far and above the others on the list, and was from 2016-2019 the Deputy Commissioner for Contract and Indigenous policing. Possibly disappointed in not getting the job last time, Mr. Brosseau went on to become Assistant Deputy Minister for Safety and Security at Transport Canada, and most recently he became Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He has a Master of laws from Harvard Law School, and is a Fulbright scholar, so intellectually no slouch. He was born in Bonnyville Alberta and is of Metis heritage but one wonders if he can make another move from gill nets to handcuffs.

b) Rhonda Blackmore

Rhonda is currently the CO of F division, who worked for 7 years in detachments such as Assiniboia, Grande Prairie, Buffalo Narrows. Then it was off to Ottawa. She went through a few departments over 9 years including being the executive officer of the Deputy Commissioner of Contract and Indigenous Policing. She was the travel officer with the Governor General, as well as stints with National Traffic Services, the National Use of Force program, and the National Operational Policy and Compliance unit. She was moved upwards through Mrs. Lucki’s reign on a continuous basis and when asks, speaks at length about her support for the troops. She is clearly an Ottawa wonk and can speak the woke language. She has been married a couple of times, but I have been told “she is married to the Force”. Upon becoming the CO of F Division she said her priority was “continuing our reconciliation efforts, with our Indigenous peoples”.

c) Raj Gill

Mr. Gill served for 29 years with the RCMP before becoming the Deputy Chief for Calgary Police Service. He was Assistant Commissioner for National Human Resources. Mr. Gill since arriving in Calgary is specializing in the area of “equity, diversion and inclusion” and developing an “anti-racism strategy” to combat the systemic racism in the Calgary Police Service. This of course doesn’t go over well with some, but it is the flavour of the day, and Mr. Gill is clearly an advocate to push that agenda forward. Mr. Gill would clearly fit the criteria of being able to announce “the 1st South Asian Commissioner of the RCMP”.

d) Nadine Huggins

Ms. Huggins is currently the RCMP Chief Human Relations Officer. Of this group, she is the only one with no previous policing experience, and is a long time public servant. She is relatively new to the Mountie group starting in 2020, but now lays claim to “People Management Modernization” and her bio brags that “under Nadine’s direction we have created and are currently driving the People Strategy… and the Vision 150 Equity and Accountability and Trust Action Plan”. You will be forgiven if you are already tuning out. Though she could be headlined as the “1st Black Commissioner of the RCMP” and quite honestly that may be her biggest positive. There are quite a few rumours that Ms. Huggins has even been known to bad mouth the RCMP in quiet aside conversations. Maybe not the best look for a future Commissioner.

e) Mike Lesage

Mr. Lesage in 2021 was named a Deputy Chief with the new Surrey Police Service (so, might be out of a job in the next few weeks) but previously was an Assistant Commissioner for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. His forte apparently though is Community Policing and will be in charge of the SPS Community Policing Bureau. Mr. Lesage I am told has two things going for him, he is Indigenous, and he is good buddies with retired Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan. Quite frankly only one of those things may help him. He seems like an outside candidate at best.

So there you have it, the best the Mounties have to offer to replace Commissioner Lucki and fill her rather small shoes.

It’s also possible that there could be someone outside the realm of policing waiting in the wings. Gerald Butts? maybe?

It is understandable that if it is going to be someone from this group which we have just outlined, that they likely represent “more of the same”. They do not appear to be a group from whom radical and progressive initiatives will be forthcoming. They have all sharpened their teeth on being politically astute in terms of “diversity” and “inclusivity” and the language you must spew if you are to survive and prosper.

So, in any event, there your choices a) thru to e): or, it could be choice

f) – None of the above.

Feel free to let me know if any of the candidates have some appeal to you. I do not know any of them personally, but I am sure they are fine people. Remember though that we are not necessarily looking for a nice person.

Meanwhile, behind the RCMP curtain, the Mounties as we know them, is slowly disintegrating, brick by crumbling brick. To enter into a fight to reclaim their once national status is going to take a very strong and gifted individual. Or, they are going to be overseeing a total revamping of the current structure, and that too will take a monumental effort.

Cast your ballot. Oh sorry, I forgot, you regular members of the RCMP don’t have a vote.

Photo Courtesy of Louri Goussev via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Moving to Control what we read and see

In the early 1980’s I was a just graduated wet behind the ears Mountie, stationed in J Division, to be more specific, Newcastle Detachment in New Brunswick. Like all small towns, there was a local dive bar where beer came predominantly by the glass. It was the Black Horse Tavern and any given day you would find a few alcoholic strays hanging about, gingerly balancing on the bar stools, cradling their medicinal alcohol. I often noticed as I meandered through the bar as part of my duties, that off in a corner was a young man, who fit the surroundings in his level of dishevelment, but still seemed aloof from the others. He was usually writing, books and other papers strewn about his single wooden table by the window. I spoke to him on a number of occasions, exchanging general local chat. He was trying to make a living by writing, an unusual and daring career choice in that impoverished region in those particular years. This geographic area is known as the Miramichi, and through the decades those that work and survive in this part of the world usually made a living as fishers, miners or loggers. The work pattern also meant that you went through long periods of unemployment. It was a hardened part of the world, but it was a part of the world where the people had a lasting impression on me.

This aspiring and clearly doggedly determined writer was David Adams Richards, and despite the odds, this young fellow did in fact make it. Some forty years later he is regarded as a writer of extraordinary talent, who besides now having written and published many books, has collected many awards, and even won the Governors General award for both fiction and then again for non-fiction. His stories and novels, especially in the early days were about the Walsh family and growing up on the Miramichi and the people who frequented the Black Horse Tavern. The first book I personally read was “Nights Below Station Street”, It was the first of a trilogy, a poignant tribute to the families who I too had come to appreciate.

The bar where he began is still in existence and Yelp describes it as still having a “nice dive bar ambiance”. He on the other hand is no longer sitting in the bar, he is now sitting as a Senator in Ottawa. A liberal appointed, but now “independent” Senator, who is now rising up and speaking against some of the laws the very people who appointed him are proposing. He has been speaking about the dangers of Bill C-11 and its move to censorship and control of the media and its content. It is a speech worth reading, if for no other reason than that he wrote it.

From the government who gave us the Emergencies Act, we now have two more bills coming down the Parliamentary legislative pipeline hatched from the political ideologies of the Liberal left. These mandarins of social justice are now championing the need to control what is being said,and what is being shown to you. One bill is C-11, labelled the Online Streaming Act, which is already into its 2nd reading, and it this bill which prompted the speech by Senator Richards. The second piece of legislation that parallels these government intentions is still at the proposal stage, and it is currently called the Online Harms Bill.

With regard to Bill C-11, Richards speaks against the idea of someone being appointed to determine “Canadian content” or “what someone can write to fit a possible agenda”. He doesn’t feel that any “hierarchical politico” could or should make this determination, and that Bill C-11 was a “balkanization of freedom of expression” and that it would lead to the “scapegoating all those who do not fit into what we bureaucrats think Canada should be”. Strong words from the normally progressive left side of the fence.

In the Online Harms bill someone will determine what is “information” versus what is “disinformation”; and someone or a body of like minded politicians will tell us what is “hateful” and what is not. This political majority currently forming government in Canada and voiced and interpreted by thousands of Federal employees believe that they know what is good for us. They have a religious ferocity in trying to keep us “safe”– or at least expressing the fact that they are doing all this to keep us “safe”. They wholly believe that another layer of government surveillance to hang over the top of what we read, see or hear would go a long way to protect us and keep our questioning thought processes in check. We clearly, are in their view, frail and weak-minded; we believe everything we see and hear and read, and are not capable of appraising the value of the contents. Mr. Trudeau and his Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez are thus willing to help us, to oversee our protection.

Bill C-11 is a rewriting or revision of the old Broadcast Act. It was this Act which introduced rules that certain portions of media had to insert a percentage of Canadian content. Bill C-11 is to carry this further and delve into the new age of the internet, or as bureaucrats like to call it, the need for “online undertakings”. Netflix or Youtube will now be government mandated to carry certain amounts of Canadian content. The Liberals claim that this will only be applicable for “commercial” content, but many legal experts in examining the bill agree that it is possible under this law the way it is written that the government could have control over “user-generated material”.

They are not hiding from this form of censorship. On a Government of Canada website, they state that the government “is committed to putting in place a transparent and regulatory framework for online safety in Canada”. (we won’t comment on whether this government has ever been considered “transparent”). They are working on developing policies, “when Canadians can express themselves and be protected from a range of harms” and they want a society that “upholds the same principles which they believe made Canada successful–a respect for difference, a belief in human rights, a recognition that there must be reasonable limits to expression in a free society”. The sentence starts off benignly enough, but when they get to “reasonable limits” one better be paying attention.

There are two groups trying to fashion the Online harms piece of legislation; one is the Citizens Assembly on Democratic Expression and the other is the Digital Democracy Project. Both names would be good chapter titles in Mr. Orwell’s world. These groups are calling for “immediate and far reaching regulations to curb…pernicious…unconstrained” commentary; to mitigate the “particular risk for those who are vulnerable…experience the impacts of systemic racism, colonialism, as well as other prejudices and barriers”. This group of overseers are proposing an “ongoing review and revision”.and are suggesting that there be created a “Digital Services Regulator” and a “Digital Ombudsmans office”.

Of course the very vocal social interest groups want to get in on the action. For example, Danielle Paradis a spokesperson for the Indigenous feels this will go a long way to “decolonizing digital spaces” and should be constructed to allow the “incorporating indigenous worldviews and digital regulations”.

All of this of course has an other worldly feel, it makes you shudder to think that these groups in power feel that they can control the media narrative.

If you would like to know what these enlightened persons in Parliament might consider a hate crime. Consider this. Four months ago, NDP MP Leah Gazans presented a motion in the House that “what happened in Canada’s Indian residential schools was genocide” The motion was passed unanimously. She is now proposing that it should be made “a crime to deny genocide occurred” and Marc Miller the Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister says “he’s interested”in such a concept.

Or consider the current Calgary mayor trying to ticket certain types of protests which she says are hate-fuelled, where she she doesn’t like the message, or the Abbotsford school teacher Jim McMurtry who was fired because he said that the residential school deaths were largely attributed to tuberculosis. True of course, but it can longer be said. His wife, Laurie in a letter to the media said “truth, open discourse, and fairness in education has been replaced with myth (propaganda) censorship, and division”.

Censorship of course, has been a topic for hundreds and thousands of years. In recent history censorship by the government in the United States led to the McCarthy “blacklists” against Hollywood producers and writers. In ancient history, in 399 BC Socrates defied attempts by the Athenian state to censor his philosophical teachings and he was accused of “corruption of the Athenian youth”. He was sentenced to death by drinking Hemlock.

There is all forms of censorship; military, corporate, religious and moral. We also have to readily admit that information coming through various social and media outlets is already being privately censored, but there the society mores are dictating what levels of censorship are acceptable– such as the display of violence or child pornography. Even this censorship has led to a great debate in recent weeks, i..e twitter and Elon Musk.

However, it all becomes cynically different when it is a political and government authority that decides that it has the right to control.

Stalin had “sanitization policies” which was a deliberate and systematic alteration of all of history even to the point of ordering the removal of people from pictures, in an attempt to re-write that history. The tearing down of statutes in Canada is not far from this same twisted logic of denying history. Control of the message is the very fundamental building block in the ideology of Stalinism and totalitarianism.

Canadian censorship has seemed to rise up when the governing party develops an acute sensitivity to criticism; or has a particular following to which they wish to appeal. It is coming to be in Canada that to question any wisdom, to question an ideology, or an interest group claim, will be seen in the light of what is being said, but also by who in fact is saying it. The George Orwell famous quote comes to mind: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

In 1766 Sweden was the first country to abolish censorship by law. Should we be following those long ago Swedes or do you side with this current government which could in the future be given the authority and ability to declare that which can be said. Is this over-stating the intention of this legislation? Maybe, but keep in mind that this is our most fundamental right, and right now we are going in the direction of Stalin– not of Socrates.

Photo courtesy of Allan Henderson via Flickr Commons – Some rights reserved

Shooting down Balloons, Lucki and a ridiculous Judgement

We were all entertained for many days by the strutting six-gun packing Trudeau “ordering” the shooting down of some “spy” balloons over North America. Slow Joe Biden and young gun Trudeau, the 21st century edition of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, the resolute defenders of North America, how can it not be met with a grin and chuckle. The humorists of Instagram, Tik Tok and all the rest had a great deal of fodder to feed the madcap story of these two leaders trying to be the toughest kids on the block.

Newly discovered surveillance weapons flying at 36,000 feet could and maybe should be alarming if it wasn’t so well known that all countries are continually spying on each other. But, it was Trudeaus perceived threat to commercial airspace which has now become Trudeau’s primary reason for his war footing. We also have now found out that these balloons are probably not new, it was simply a matter of someone finally looking for them.

By the way it was an Air Canada pilot who first spotted one of the balloons over Canadian airspace, not the 1980’s NORAD system. The leaders of North America who set their policies according to the pulse of social media, at the time did not know for sure where these cylindrical objects originated from but it was safe to say that the usual black hats Russia and China were behind it. It was a chance for the leaders, both of whom are sagging in the polls to counter their characterizations of being incompetent, or in Joe’s case proving that he was awake. Sometime in the future we will know once all the facts slowly leak out because right now the Americans and the Canadians are saying very little, and right now they can’t find a couple of them.

In any event I was interrupted from this reverie on problems in the stratosphere by the news that Commissioner Lucki, who, like the balloons, was often filled with hot air herself, had in fact finally “resigned”. Bill Blair and Mendocino will no doubt help her pack, so there is no need for calling “Frog Boxes” as they have been waiting outside her office for the last few months. She did last as a Mountie, long after her best before date, but her leaving was clearly predictable and inevitable. The Liberals despite all their grooming of her could she could never make her into the black belt of woke; she tried and tried, but always disappointed them, always apologizing of never being able to deliver.

Many wrote to me asking if I was happy to see her go. To be truthful it was not personal, and I found it to be a bit of a non-event. She was clearly going to be replaced, the bigger and more crucial question is to who comes next?

There were some interesting comments by Brian Sauve as head of the National Police Federation, the union representing the Mounties. He felt that poor Ms. Lucki was going from “crisis to crisis to crisis” and that she was probably hampered by the Covid 19 lockdowns. Yup, Mr. Sauve feels that the lockdowns prevented her from showing off her strongest trait, the ability to speak “face to face”. I am truly beginning to wonder about Mr. Sauve. The blame it on Covid mantra is beginning to wear a little thin out here in the hinterland.

To be fair, he did admit that the Commissioner had trouble distinguishing the political side from the operational side, but the crisis to crisis quote should have more aptly named it the “lie to lie to lie”.

In terms of who next to fill the Liberal dance card, I have no idea. However they will have zero credibility unless they publicly acknowledge that the RCMP, structurally, is in fact badly broken. The person will need to admit that the RCMP needs to be drastically reorganized from the ground up– and they need to declare their vision for the future. Otherwise, get ready for another “crisis to crisis to crisis” over the next few years, which will result in further disintegration of a once proud organization.

There will be a few clues in where the RCMP may be heading once a new head is anointed. Once chosen, if the candidate in their inaugural speech rattle on about “inclusion” and “diversity”; or mention anything being “systemic”; or even the words “going forward” and “working together”– turn off the channel or stop reading. You will only be torturing yourself as you will likely be facing another five years of mind numbing frustration. It has to be admitted that the RCMP is damaged on almost every level and the ship currently is being steered down a path where operational policing has become too far out of view.

While on the topic of being frustrated, the other news that came out in the last 48 hours was the report by Commissioner Judge Rouleau on the institution of the Emergencies Act. His findings were accurately predicted in a previous blog, and he was true to form. The Ottawa born liberal condoned Rouleau, would not go against the government –who were fighting “lawlessness” and “insurrection” by those dastardly Convoy protestors. The Judge took his moment in the sun, to blow some hot air of his own. It took him 2,000 pages in five volumes, including a 273 page “summary” to conclude that “the very high threshold for invocation was met”, and then curiously added about his finding that: “I have done so with reluctance”.

He chose instead to blame the police. Convenient in this era to be sure. All of it could have been avoided he says if it wasn’t for a “series of policing failures” he maintains. In the same breath, he did note that there was a failure of all levels of government for their “failing to rise above politics”. But one never blames the government if you can blame someone else. Like all the residents of Ottawa, Rouleau felt that the situation had become “unsafe and chaotic” –despite all of the government employees working from home and the food delivery services being in full operation. Clearly a government ensconced worker in Ottawa has a different definition of chaos compared to say a person living in and around the downtown east side of Vancouver.

Judge Rouleau admitted that “the factual basis underlying his conclusions was not overwhelming”. Underwhelming in other words, not convincing, yet he apparently remained confident in his findings. He also believed that the institution of the Emergencies Act had a “deterrent effect” for the grand total of seven days that it was in effect. It was ok that bank accounts were frozen by the government in response to what he had also termed “a lawful protest…” .

(There has been an interesting development in the Federal Courts which has ruled that the emails between members of the government during the Emergencies Act imposition should be released to the public. Too late for the Rouleau commission, but it could cause some ruffling of feathers.)

We must also keep in mind that this commission of inquiry was powerless in terms of what it was supposed to judge and to any follow up of his findings. It was a paper exercise, that was necessary because it was dictated by the Act itself.

His conclusion was not accepted by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and others as they said that they disagreed, that the “threshold was not met”. I agree with them. I sat through many hours of testimony and I saw no evidence whatsoever that the threshold for the suspension of civil liberties had in fact been met at any level. The Liberal justification for the imposition boiled down to Minister David Lametti saying that they had a legal opinion, as the Justice Minister, which said that the threshold had been met. Unfortunately he could not tell us what that was, as it was protected by “solicitor client privilege”. This audacious explanation was convincing to Justice Rouleau apparently. The Justice Minister working for Mr Trudeau, in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, provided to Mr. Trudeau a legal opinion to back up his decision and you the public are not allowed to know on what that opinion was based. That and a civil servant in the Prime Ministers Office who also wrote a cabinet memo how hellfire and brimstone had descended on Wellington street. Ignore the fact that the various police authorities who were on the ground with the protestors, testified that the situation did not meet that threshold.

Justice Rouleau also made 56 recommendations. He wants the CSIS definition inside the Emergencies Act removed. That was the part that the government in power had difficulty explaining away during testimony. According to the CSIS definition which was purposely included in the legislation at the time, it was clear that the definitive threshold was not met. The Judge’s recommendation therefore–get rid of it.

He also recommended, like a true government aficionado, that there was a need to establish another level of government in situations like these, another command centre, and we will call this one the Major Event Management Unit. In watching the proceedings one would not come to the conclusion that what the police agencies needed was another layer of management. Oh, and he also recommended that someone in government should be assigned to the “monitoring and reporting on social media”.

Unfortunately, the Liberals will spin this –that this egregious suspension of human rights in those days of the bouncy castle was justified. Putting a ball cap on the statue of Terry Fox amounted to treason and pointed to insurrection. These same Liberals have now introduced bills to control and moderate the internet. They believe that there is a need to control all of the information that is being fed to the public if they deem it to be “misinformation.” These are indeed dark days for freedom of thought in this country.

By the way if you want to make me Commissioner, I would only want a sole source contract like McKinsey. My first order of business would be to move RCMP HQ and all its inhabitants to Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. The first priority is that we need to stop, at all costs, the enlightened upper class Mounties from breathing that Ottawa air. If the workers don’t want to leave and are clinging to their desks in defiance, then will simply declare the Emergencies Act once again.

Daily briefings by the way, will be held at the local Tim Hortons, where common sense will ultimately be restored, and a sense of the real world will be re-established.

Photo courtesy of Hailey Sani via Flickr and Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Do lawyers need to be accountable?

The usual targets for when things go wrong in the world of crime and violence is to go after the practitioners–the police. They are the easiest targets and let’s face it, some of the criticism is well-earned, but is primarily because it is easier to hit a target you can actually see, one that doesn’t move or speak out.

The police are just part of the triumvirate that make up the legal system. The other two-thirds is filled to the brim with game players who rather adroitly keep themselves out of the spotlight. They hide behind a wall of prosaic language, in the proverbial ivory tower, seemingly immunized from those in the lower echelons of our democratic society. They are thought to be and continuously portray and market themselves to be the rationale ones, able to see beyond the emotional. Their years of schooling place them in the realm of the learned, the all-seeing, and therefore by definition, they are indispensable. The law is their master, they answer to no other. They are of course our lawyers and Judges.

Despite the fact that the employment opportunities are dismal, we continue to churn them out of our schools in great numbers. It is a group so apparently cherished and beyond reproach that we even allow them to govern themselves, despite the fact that the rest of society ranks lawyers in the bottom rungs of ethical and needed professions.

Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher and English jurist said that the “power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law”. Over the years I have grown to appreciate a great many of the lawyers who were part of my criminal investigative work world. They often guided me, sure they frustrated me, but in the end they were indispensable for their ability to interpret some of the rulings and case law that emanated from the various levels of courts. Jean Giradoux a french novelist (if I can be forgiven for including another quote), said that “no poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth”. They were my interpreters, the translators of those words that spewed forth in those often endless rulings, which at times seemed to be unbound to common sense.

Most lawyers also have a goal of becoming a Judge thus enshrining their wisdom and status and allowing them to bask in lucrative salaries and pensions, with limited hours, and often their own dining room. Have we reached a time though where these Judges should be held to account? Should they not be made to explain some of their judgements in some form of public forum? In the U.S. they are often elected, which forces them to confront the public sentiment, but that can be a little overdone and creates some of its own problems. We may not want to go that far. However, in Canada we have the other end of that spectrum where decisions are made and the Judges and lawyers are placed above the fray. Their perceived wisdom over-riding any need to demonstrate their reasoning.

There also seems to be a growing trend over the last number of years, maybe decades, where there have been some decisions where the lawyers and judges seem to be playing a little outside the sandbox. The laws, or more accurately the interpretations of laws, are sometimes getting warped, pushed or pulled by some outside reasoning or personal belief. This allows them to go where no one has gone before and outside the articulated lines. No longer the interpreter of the laws, they are becoming the guides.

Does any one doubt the left leaning nature of Canada’s Supreme Court? Do you think that is just a coincidence, or do you think that a left progressive agenda is part of their current individual make-up. It is human nature to a certain extent, although they will go to their death beds denying it. Watch the televised question periods of the Supreme Court before you come to a conclusion. You will see a hallowed chamber, solely filled with nothing but lawyers and judges. It is convivial with constant allusions to “my honoured friends”. There is no one else there. It is a politically correct forum, and you quickly become aware that only a “progressive” agenda will get a receptive audience from this particular panel of Judges.

So what has incited my semi-rant? Two cases in the last few weeks have caught both my eye and my ire. Neither case would be considered earth-moving, however they are examples of what I believe to be Judges trying to lead rather than follow.

The first is a case that came in front of Judge Michael Valente, who presides in the courts of the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario. This case concerned the city trying to remove a homeless encampment of about fifty persons from city property. The Judge made many references to the “Adams Rule” that was from the BC Court of Appeal (BC- the homeless shelter capital of Canada). Justice Ross in the previous Adams decision said that “the government cannot prohibit certain activities on public property based on its ownership of the property if doing so involves a deprivation of the fundamental human right not to be deprived of the ability to protect ones own bodily integrity”. I am sure you have had to re-read that a couple of times, but it would seem that the Judge believes that the government can’t deprive you of a right to be deprived of an ability.

In Kitchener this homeless encampment is costing the city about $80K per month to police and the necessary continuous clean up. 95 % of the homeless in this case are drug users and is often the case, do not want to go into a shelter where they can not freely use. One user in the Kitchener case was quoted as saying that he “found it difficult to be around other people in the shelter who were very judgemental”. As Colby Cash writing for the National Post said in hearing this comment: “the vibes must be right”. The Kitchener judge also drew from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (source is the United Nations who have become the go-to agency for any go-to cause, including the Indigenous) that said that every person has “the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself and his family…including…housing and medical care”.

Accepting this UN standard wholly, the Judge ruled that the bylaw in Kitchener violated Section 7 of the Charter of Rights in Canada. Section 7 states that everyone has the “right to life, liberty and security of person”. This is a stretch to say the least. Also, if anyone has been to a homeless encampment it would behoove you to leave believing that they were not better situations that would have been more adequate for “health and well-being”. Was the Judge giving the homeless property rights when he stated that they were “not to be ejected..from a particular space..that they have extensively demarcated for themselves”? It would seem so, although the Judge said he wasn’t but only placing a duty on government to provide shelters. Needless to say the ruling is being appealed by the Provinces, even B.C. who actually have to foot the bills and deal with the issues surrounding the homeless encampments.

The other case comes out of the top court in the land, the Supreme Court of Canada, on a ruling to do with mandatory minimum sentences. This case involved Mr. Jesse Dallas Hills, who intoxicated, on prescription meds and with a snoot full of alcohol, went on the street armed with a baseball bat and a rifle. He swung his bat at a passing vehicle, and then shot at it. He then smashed in the windows of a parked vehicle; and then having not done enough damage, decided to shoot multiple shots into and through a nearby house, where a father was with his two children. The family took shelter in the basement until the police arrived.

Lawyers for Mr Hills argued that a 4 year minimum sentence constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” under Section 12 of the Charter. The lawyers challenged and used as their hypothetic example that under the current laws that a young person firing a paint ball gun at a house could face the minimums. Of course their hypothetical was not at all a case that could be compared against Mr Hills case. The severity of Mr. Hills crimes did not come close to the mischief example they cited. They further argued that there was too much of a wide spectrum of conduct which could quality under the mandatory sentence guidelines. Therefore the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the circumstances.

The Court, seemed to accept the petitioner’s reasoning whole heartedly. They agreed and allowed the appeal. Thus, in one fell swoop, the Supreme Court have thus removed what police believe to be one of the greater deterrents in the fight against firearm offences and gang activity. That is the fear of going to jail for a proscribed period of time. Once again the private rights of an individual overwhelming the public right to living in a safe environment.

These rulings often have dramatic effects on the society we are a part of, they truly affect lives.

Should they be held accountable? It would seem logical. What and how that would happen is the bewitching problem.

Let’s consider the fact that 11 of the 37 cabinet ministers are lawyers? In Canada lawyers make up 0.85 % of the approximately 16,000,000 working people in this country. However, they represent 29.7% of the Cabinet. In the jargon of today they are clearly “over-represented”. Lawyers are running this country, whether it be sitting on regulatory bodies or advising the clients in government or corporations, or filing your agreements to buy a house. And we are not watching them and we lack insight.

As I publish this today the Supreme Court of Canada is sitting on a civilian case brought by an Indigenous member of the Vuntut Gwitchin band, who is challenging the need to be a resident on a Reserve before one could run for their local government. One of the secondary issues stemming from this case is whether or not the Charter of Rights is applicable to the Indigenous and their forms of “government.” In this case the First Nation is arguing, believe it or not, that it actually never consented to the Charter during its self-government negotiations with Canada, and therefore does not apply to them.

The Supreme Court is in a tough spot. They want to appease the Indigenous clearly, that is their liberalized pattern, but even they are stumbling with giving pseudo-governments the ability to deny those under their purview to live outside the Charter rights and freedoms which is guaranteed to all Canadians. One can expect a confusing and legal web of explanations to try and reach some middle ground. Again, it is lawyers, and more lawyers, appearing before Judges deciding a fundamental constitutional issue which could affect how this country is shaped and how it is governed.

We need to be watching them and we need less of them.

I rest my case.

Free Speech, not quite as free in policing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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