An Unremitting sadness…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is all very sad.

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

A Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Examination ( for all Politicians )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c) Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will volunteer to hook up the electrodes.

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

Reflections from a distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crumbling Integrity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are disconsolate times, good reason to be bitchy.

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

The “Casualty Commission”

The Mass Casualty Commission has finally begun public hearings in Nova Scotia. Two long years since the tragedy of Portapique, a night of infamy when twenty-two people were killed over an agonizingly long thirteen hour period; the perpetrator driving the back gravel roads– his victims pre-determined, his justification firmly contained in his own mind. His thoughts and twisted goals now locked forever by his glory seeking death in an innocuous Irving gas station parking lot.

Two years in our lives would seem more than enough time one to conduct and complete any serious criminal investigation. After all, the one and only suspect was dead, albeit with numerous crime scenes but all conclusively tied to him forensically. However this is government, so we are just now at the stage of public witnesses and the tendering of what this 38 person Commission has found to date. Barbara McLean who is the Director of Investigations, even went so far as to say that the investigation is “ongoing” despite having collected thousands of documents and taken numerous statements numerous times from all involved.

These particular public hearings are to go for a further several months with the final report not due to be completed until November 2022. Some observers allege that the length and breadth of this investigation is in itself, by design, structured to mute the outrage. Time, or the buying of time, being the best governmental tool to dilute an upset public.

It began on February 22nd and the public record of it goes up to March 9th as this is being written.

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael MacDonald began the hearings with the usual thanks to the Indigenous for allowing it to take place on their “un-ceded territory”, which if nothing else signals to all that we are indeed involved in a governmental hearing. This is followed by a daily tribute to the victims with a listing of all of their names. Day after day this tribute will be repeated and over time runs the danger of becoming more political governmental theatre than substance.

The majority of the first day was an orientation, which then evolved into a panel discussion on the psychological impacts of the events on Nova Scotians and on the rest of Canada. This panel, which consisted of a therapist, a psychology professor, and the President and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. There were a few others, but suffice to say they were there to continue and extend that mantra of all of us having been victimized by the events in Portapique. The Commission felt that part of their mandate is a need to help us “normalize and validate emotions people have felt or have been feeling”.

This somewhat incongruous start continues into the next day which begins with another panel discussion this time designed to “introduce the communities”. This second panel consisted of Chief Sidney Peters who spoke about the Indigenous causes(Chief Peters specializes in Agricultural and Housing Programs); an Anglican Rector Nicole Uzans; Alana Hurtle, the head of the Rotary Cares Committee; and Mary Teed, a social worker.

The rather bizarre use and questionable need for these panels was summed up by a Global News reporter who asked during a question and answer session what these opening remarks and panels had to do with the questions uppermost in the minds of the families. He asked pointedly: “Do you feel that you have lost the families?” While another reporter asked the more obvious: “Whats the point of the panels?” A Halifax Chronicle reporter, clearly miffed at two already long days listening to pointless and mostly irrelevant commentary, asked whether if it was “necessary” to hear what it was like to be living in “rural” Nova Scotia.

It was suffice to say a rocky start.

One would be remiss at this time to not outline the nature and make up of the Commission. If one ever wanted to see a liberalized government structure in full bloom, this is your opportunity. One must also keep in mind that the Commission was formed after some reluctance by the Attorney-General for Nova Scotia and only after pressure arose from the victims families.

The Commission themes play consistently like bad Muzak. There is obsessive talk of victims, the constant strum of words like “working together”, “safer”, “stronger”, “shared understanding”, and a “shared purpose”. In his opening statement head Commissioner Michael MacDonald says with grandeur that one of the goals of the Commission is to make “sure that it never happens again”.

The other two primary Commissioners are Leanne Fitch, the retired seven year Police Chief of the Fredricton police department; who in her opening statement talks of her work in community policing, dealing with what she deemed the “most vulnerable”. The third Commissioner, Dr. Kim Stanton, a lawyer and academic speaks to making the world “safer”, and the commission leading to a “shared understanding” and a “shared purpose”.

Then there is the rest that make up the Commission. There are the Commission Directors: eight of them. Then there is the Commission Team which consists of a further 27 individuals; nine of whom are lawyers. One thing that sticks out, in fact it is rather striking, is the number of women on the Commission staff. Twenty-seven of the thirty-eight are women, thereby making up 72% of the Commission (22% of the RCMP in Nova Scotia are women). I honestly don’t know what that means or whether it will have any bearing on the outcome– one can only hope. The assigned seven “investigators” are all men.

Did I mention there were a few lawyers? The ones mentioned above just work for the Commission; then there are the lawyers for the victim families, the Federal Justice Department, and lawyers for the National Police Federation to name just a few. Those logging 8 hour billable days may be the only group which will survive this lengthy process.

So with all these lawyers one can make a few predictions. It’s going to go longer than necessary. Secondly, the gut wrenching truth, the bare truth, will be softened and weakened by a layer of protection over the various interests that may feel, or imagine, they have some exposure.

Running in the background and outside of the Commission are a couple of civil cases the lawyers for whom are present, and would more than relish some damning information to come out of these hearings. One is being brought by the victims families, and the other by Lisa Banfield who is suing over the suspect Gabriel Wortman’s $1.2 million estate.

Maybe, this is being too harsh or cynical, after all this is not a criminal proceeding. This is, in the words of the Commission mandate “…is not designed nor intending to determine guilt or assign blame”. They are there to work “in a restorative way”. They are there to “restore a sense of safety”, to insure that there is “public safety in our communities”.

To outline the investigational narrative this Commission is using what is termed “Foundational documents”. Although Roger Burrill, the Commission counsel, states that they are “foundational” and not “determinative”. The use of these “Foundational documents” is not common.

In a criminal proceeding one would tell the narrative with the presentation of evidence and witnesses usually in some form of investigational order. In this instance, they are only using witnesses in their words to “fill in the gaps” left by the Foundational documents. They are also vetting out crime photographs and you will not hear all of the 911 calls in their entirety. This they explain is so that they don’t victimize the victims once again; even though this policy clearly flies in the face of a fulsome disclosure. Our sensitivity as a Nation according to this Commission precludes us from knowing all the details, as gruesome as they may be and as uncomfortable as that may make us.

So far, three foundational documents have been shown– twenty-seven more are coming.

There are twenty-seven proposed witnesses up to this point in time and those witnesses will eventually include Commissioner Lucki, A/Commissioner (retired) Lee Bergerman and C/Supt Chris Leather. That will happen when they get around to the foundational document entitled “Command Decisions”. That testimony should prove slightly more interesting than a panel on whats it like to live in rural Nova Scotia but that may show my personal bias.

The first two foundational documents now on record pertain to the events in Portapique on April 18th and April 19th 2020. These are the base events from which all else will follow. The first officers responding, the calling of ERT, the trapped kids in the residence on Orchard Beach Drive. Even abbreviated, the circumstances facing the officers who arrived thirty minutes after the initial call and their subsequent ninety minutes spent together in the dark, not knowing where the suspect was, or even the extent of his damage will awaken the senses of every police officer listening.

Csts. Patton, Beselt and Merchant, were the only police in this man-made Hades. The house fires lit their way as they stumbled across bodies lying bloodied and unmoving in a yard or gravel driveway. Their senses over-loaded and in the end even though reacting as an “active shooter” procedure, can do nothing but “hunker down”. They deserve all our credit.

The original caller, Jamie Blair, calls 911 at 10:01 pm on that fateful night, witnessed her husband Greg being gunned down on the porch. She will die a short time later as Wortman comes after her and kills her in cold blood. The phone call ending.

The heroes will likely be the four children who huddled together in the basement of 135 Orchard Beach Drive, two of which, ages 9 and 11, had witnessed their parents being murdered. The two escaped to the McCauley residence.

Earlier Lisa McCauley an Elementary school teacher, had guarded the bedroom door, her children trembling behind her. She was shot through that door. When Wortman enters the bedroom, unaware of the children behind her, he shoots her once again.

The horror of those thirteen hours and the single mindedness of someone capable of such extraordinary violence is numbing to even listen to.

It is indeed unfortunate that this Commission is off to a less than auspicious start. Their desire to project empathy and understanding seems to overwhelm them, and thus may overwhelm the ability to get to any meaningful dialogue or expose what may have gone wrong. Legalistic and bureaucratic niceties seem destined to dull the edge of this inquiry. Future months of interminable testimony could prove more banal than enlightening.

There will be the predictable complaints of manpower, broken communication, and the odd moment of embarrassment. It seems likely that the lack of police investigation in the early days of Wortman, those days preceding his violent crusade, his domestic abuse, and his gathering of offensive weapons and building replica police cars will likely prove more damning than a lack of a Provincial wide Alert. The evidence of Lisa Banfield will undoubtedly give us a glimpse into a crazed man. Maybe it was all predictable, but these psychological breakdowns usually defy our current ability to understand.

This Commission is not designed to assign blame so blame they will not find.

In the end, Government Recommendations will flow with abandon from an over wordy eventual report, and they will all likely be dealt the fate of most government recommendations.

Making the families endure another eight months of this may in fact be the real re-victimizing– the families despair likely to be replaced with ever mounting frustration.

The rest of us may all be just another “casualty”… but stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by mrbanjo1138–Some Rights Reserved

Canada’s Truly Undefended Border…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is particularly evident thru the vast Prairie Provinces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what was the RCMP response?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry X!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

We will see you on the flip side.

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

“Cake”

The officers of the RCMP just got handed a magnificent piece of “cake”. A surprising large slice of a pay raise, a 23% larger piece —albeit spread out in several layers to cover the period from 2017-2022. 

The Mounties have been salivating since 2017, as various municipal agencies boldly ate their cake right in front to them, licking the crumbs from their lips. Times have now changed, the involuntary Mountie patience paying off, the timing exquisite in terms of a possible Federal election. 

Now, the retroactive cheques alone, have them blowing out the candles and dancing in the aisles of Leikin Drive in Ottawa. The spending fairies now twerking in their stetson covered heads; a new boat, a new car, private schools for the kids. 

A young Constable or Corporal are about to get retroactive cheques in excess of $16,000; a Sargent in excess of $19,000;  and a S/Sgt in excess of $21,000. That is indeed mouth watering. 

According to some reports, the calculation of the settlement was based on a 1.5% annual salary increase and a “market adjustment of 1.5 to 2.5 % per year”. In average citizen terms, this market adjustment and new rate of pay was designed to move the RCMP into the top ten paid police forces in Canada. 

Mounties for years, and most recently the NPF have been lamenting their fall from the police “universe”, that comparative scale of other police agencies. They were below 100th place in the rankings, and now they are back in the top 10. A young constable by the year 2022 will now be making $106,576.83 per year. A S/Sgt  $138,463.95 per year. This will add $238 million to the annual RCMP payroll. Sick leave and benefits have not been touched. (The Mounties get unlimited sick leave currently)

All in all they have done very well in the current political climate that continues to spill over from the United States, those bleating cries for defunding and/or decreases in police funding. The negotiators for the union membership of the RCMP would have also been up against a tidal wave of bad news emanating from the Mounties. The last number of years have not been the best for the Mounties pride and reputation.  Daily allegations of assaults captured on video, cries of racism, cries of an unadaptable structure, mindless bureaucracy, ineffectiveness against white collar crime, unsolved homicides, all while burying their heads in their single-minded hunt for diversity and inclusion. The “defunders” would also be quick to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been paid out of Federal taxpayer dollars for the claims of sexual harassment within this once mighty organization.  

To be fully objective, one needs to put the size of this raise in perspective. In the most expensive city in Canada, Vancouver, the average “family” income is $96,423. The average “single” income in Vancouver is $50, 271.00.  Even before the pay increase the most junior Mountie was making more than the average single individual in Vancouver. The current single salary for the RCMP Mountie, with three years experience, will be greater than the combined family income in Vancouver. This is not including benefits and a more than generous sick leave provisions. 

However, this is not a debate as to whether the raise is warranted. Police salaries and the ratcheting up of those salaries has been going on and upwards for years. That is the crux of the issue which needs to be addressed in the near future. The police bargaining logic has always been the same. They have always pointed their organizational fingers at the Municipal groups, saying if they are entitled, we are entitled. Clearly it is a logic primarily found in government circles and does not often work in private industry but it has worked for policing. 

The cost of policing in general terms has been steadily increasing for many, many years and this blogger has previously written about the levels becoming precarious in terms of government budgets and the ability to afford policing as we currently envision it.  

So what goes into the bargaining process for policing? Usually the cost of living in a particular city or area, the danger element of the job ( let’s keep in mind that the operational side of the RCMP worked throughout the pandemic, and no one was throwing them any parades of appreciation). After those considerations things get a little stickier and much harder to measure, especially in the national scope and broadly structured RCMP with its myriad levels of function and administration, where there are hundreds of officers, if not thousands, for which this criteria would not apply. While operational officers worked through Covid, there were many officers “working from home” in Ottawa, Toronto, or Montreal as an example.  

Productivity measurement in the RCMP, or any police force, is a tremendously difficult measurement. Number of arrests, type of area you are policing, number of cases you are handling, what measurement tool would you put in place? Some of those would be considered basic elements of police productivity, but they would have almost no bearing at all on other parts of the country and in the roles of the RCMP. 

Like all rising waters which floats all boats there are many officers benefiting greatly from this raise, who likely are not “operational” using the strict definition. In the RCMP there are thousands of officers in the 20,000 strong force who are in no danger whatsoever —other than tripping on their laptop cord on the way to the lunchroom. And therein lies the hitch—and what makes the RCMP unique. No matter what job you are doing in the RCMP, one salary fits all. 

Cost of living calculations is also difficult when considering the RCMP. Local police forces use as part of their negotiation the cost of living in their particular area. In the RCMP you can be living in Manitoba, Vancouver, or Gander Newfoundland. An officer working in Kingston Nova Scotia is getting the same wage as the person working in Vancouver or Toronto. Mounties in small town Canada are often some of the highest paid people in the town while in the more expensive cities they struggle. 

There are many RCMP officers who work hard, work long hours and often sacrifice their families for the greater good. And, it should be pointed out that you can work just as hard in a small rural community as a big city.  It would be difficult to argue that those officers don’t deserve to be in amongst the other police agencies in terms of salaries— especially if you want to keep recruitment levels equal or provide sufficient monetary compensation for a job where everyone feels that you are an easy target, including your own bosses. Whether they should be in the top 10 or the top 20 is a mugs game.   

There are layers to this raise though that have ominous overtones, which could alter policing as practised by the RCMP in this country and change the very face of policing. 

The vast majority of operational RCMP officers are working in “contract” provinces. The various Provinces have signed contracts with the Federal RCMP to police their jurisdictions and have been providing this service for decades running on twenty or twenty-five year contracts. 

The Province in turn, then downloads to the cities or small towns either 90% of the costs or 70% of the cost, depending on the population size. So the Federal government agrees to a settlement of enormous size, and then with sleight of hand they effectively download those costs to the Provinces— through these Provincial Police Service Agreements. 

The towns and cities can only raise money through property taxes, it is their only source of revenue. When the light goes on there will be some serious pushback and an outcry from the already financially strapped communities. No one is broadcasting the fact that in many areas of the Provinces the RCMP is simply not able to fulfil even its current contracts. 

During this negotiation phase, the RCMP has been telling the various Provincial bodies and municipalities that they should be budgeting for a 2.5 % per year raise. Whether some or all have done this remains to be seen. This raise amounts to 4% per year. 

The Alberta government has already stated that this increase in policing budget will have a direct impact on the discussions underway as to forming their own Provincial force. The RCMP’s biggest detachment Surrey, is already in the process of being lost to a municipal style police force. 

The Toronto Star recently did an article on the municipality of  St. Mary’s Nova Scotia, which pays 70% of the cost. The article was mourning the thought of the recent increase in the police budget of $19,000 which they were not anticipating. The monies they allowed for policing paid for 3.5 officers with an annual budget of $513,990.  This  allowed  for one officer for the day shift and one for the night shift. 

This was before this most recent pay increase. To now absorb this just announced increase the town will likely have to forfeit policing coverage, as it is now possible that they will not have enough funds to provide a single police car for a day or night shift. 

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has been warning their members of the upcoming raise and retroactive wages. They have told them to anticipate a 30% increase in Constables pay and a 15% increase in a first class constables wage. Have the cities and towns of B.C been listening? 

In the town of Oliver, B.C. Residents have faced recurring 9%property tax increases for the last number of years, and then when the population exceeded 5,000 residents, the town then found themselves on the hook for 70% of the policing costs. The current anticipated budget to maintain six officers in Oliver is $1.1 million with their increase in population, so to cover this the chief financial officer was anticipating another 14-15% increase in property taxes. This too does not anticipate the current pay raise

The NPF will begin boasting about their hard work soon in obtaining such an increase (and nobody can deny its a very large increase). The same NPF that spent the last year campaigning against the new Surrey Police Service as the Mounties were —“cheaper”. The NPF knew from the outset that the Mounties were going to get more expensive, so their campaign was at best duplicitous.  

This agreement reeks of a settlement that was designed to keep everyone happy. The Liberals felt the need to move the Mounties up regardless of the possible outcome for those in the municipal and Provincial trenches. That price will be paid later on, when people have forgotten and the Liberals are hoping to have been re-elected to a majority government. 

The alternative for the Provinces is that the free spending Trudeau and Freeland come riding in once again to dole out additional funds to re-imburse the very hard pressed Municipalities and rural areas.   

Otherwise, this may be the pay raise which generates police lay-offs. 

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, there is very little being reported in the media. The agreement has not been ratified as of yet, so it hasn’t been made “official”, but why write about the public security being threatened when instead you can report on the various ways to avoid sun exposure in a heat wave. 

Meanwhile the celebratory dance will continue in the detachment dance hall under that scraggly Buffalo head, and there is now plenty of cake to go around.  Pre-retirement aging Mounties have even found their dancing legs, and will decide to stay in for awhile, to get the old “best five” in terms of salary leading to pension. That could be good or bad.

For the most part we should be happy for those hard working Mounties, but we should not lose sight of the fact that there is always a cost to unbridled largesse. There will be fundamental policing changes in small towns and cities throughout this country. The once “cheaper” Mounties are no longer a bargain which may stir up political dreams of an independent and more accountable police force. 

The RCMP executive for the time being has gone deep, running silent, not wishing to rock the boat as the executives themselves now can enter their own negotiations for a pay raise, “ratcheting up” on the unionized contract. Commissioner Lucki did say this was a “monumental day for the RCMP”. 

But, as the taxpayers begin to pay more, for less and less policing services— this pay raise will not likely be quite as comfortable for management, or quite as defensible to the Canadian public.   

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons – Stephanie Chapman – Some Rights Reserved

An update:

Commissioned officers have settled. In fact they settled back in March 2022. 1.75% for every year from 2017 to 2022. In total a 18% raise over the next six years. For added perspective, In April 2017 a Sr Inspector made $134,507. In April 2022 a Sr Inspector will be making $156,682. A Supt from $149,303 to $171,566. And so on..Deputy Commissioner from $214,988 to $237,352..All in all a pretty good raise, but apparently the officers involved in the negotiation were upset, that they didn’t get the equivalent 22% that went to the non-commissioned.

A Difficult Story

 The “discovery” of the children’s bodies found on the property of the Tk’emlups te Secwopmc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C  has captured the attention and the hearts of Canada.

This residential school operated from the 1890’s to the 1960’s and now in 2021 pronouncements are circling the globe claiming a “discovered” “mass grave”, where the bodies of two hundred and fifteen children have been interred. The clear and intended implication was that the bodies were  hidden purposefully to avoid criminal responsibility. The discovery with the use of ground radar, was now held up as “proof” of the “genocide” of the Indigenous perpetrated by the government of Canada, the Catholic church, and the often not-mentioned Protestant religious groups.  

It is an event or story which leaves even those some distance from the issue, affected, wordless, searching for things to say, or at least some sort of explanation. The death of any child, society’s innocents, layers us in emotion and draws up unstoppable grief. As some anonymous person said, “losing a child is like losing your breath… and never getting it back”. It is routinely described as unimaginable and easily overwhelming. It is a difficult story, but there is a problem— it is not totally accurate. 

It seems that we have reached a state of affairs in this country where one must question almost all that is being written or reported in the main stream media. It is becoming painfully apparent that almost everyone has an agenda, whether it be political, or social, and, it is permanently warping our ability to trust. Context is almost always missing. Instead, we are being fed polar views delivered by the loudest insistent voices of there being only one truth. In this case, there is the immediate gush of fury, followed by outlandish statements and demands for retribution. There is a palpable governmental and corporate fear of being on the wrong side of any issue and the  factual information is lost in the rush to judgement. 

By putting the deaths of children in “grisly” and “shocking” terms, the headlines wrote themselves. All who may have been directly or indirectly involved are immediately identified and placed on the wrong side of the  blame spectrum; accusing fingers pointing at the presumed guilty, the stain of that guilt never to be removed. History has shown us many times that this quick need to assign fault, the ignoring of rational alternative records, has not served us well, nevertheless we rarely learn. 

To ask questions, to examine the record, of that which is being portrayed in this residential school story, risks insulting the mainstream. Alternate stories are guaranteed to offend almost all who only see black and white. Be forewarned, I am about to offend those of you who only think in straight lines. That rationale that it has been said therefore it is true. Reality is that almost always the facts are found in various shades of grey. Often, a single one-sided glance can be deceptive. 

These deaths are difficult to process, but it was equally dismaying to see the commentary on the news; the reporting of the deaths as a “genocide” a “crime scene” of unequalled proportions all of which reverberated through the radio, television and print media.  Children “stolen” from their homes and culture. The media in its various forms showing no compunction in knowingly feeding the fire of outrage. The oft repeated story portrayed intrepid searchers stumbling across the evidence of heinous crimes. An unmarked grave site, where children were buried in anonymity. Predictably, politicians of every stripe, climbed on board the indignation train, innuendo solely fed by untested claims of criminality. 

Jagmeet Singh, the Federal leader of the NDP, dramatically, breathlessly, and tearfully, literally unable to speak. The Liberal Apology Party, having apologized several times before, to no avail,  are now demanding apologies from the Vatican— a political sleight of hand designed to make you look the other way. The wokes scurrying around the country trying to hide the statues of Sir John A., the now damned originator of residential schools. 

The purpose of this post is not to examine the policy of the residential schools. Was it an attempt by colonists to wipe out the Indigenous culture, or on the other hand was it an effort to assimilate and educate? The answer is likely somewhere in the middle. The current accepted view was that it was a misguided policy at the very best and it is likely equally clear that many of those involved in the early years were unconcerned at the time with preserving the “culture” of the First Nations. That is a never ending circular debate. The purpose of this post is to merely examine what the evidence actually shows up to this point in time. 

The early reports of the findings by the use of “ground radar” gave one the impression of it being an unexpected  “grisly discovery”. Grisly yes, but it was not a “discovery”. 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in examining residential schools identified the names of, or information about, more than 4100 children who died of the 150,000 children (some estimates are lower at 3200 children). That represents a fatality rate of 2.7%, or if one accepts the lower rate, 2.13%. 

In 1950, in Canada, the infant mortality rate was 2.92%. A higher death rate nationally than in the residential schools. 

That aside, that children were dying in saddening numbers in the years of the residential schools is a fact. However, the biggest killer in 1900 was pneumonia and influenza and those two illnesses alone recorded 202 deaths per 100,000 people in Canada. There were other killer diseases lurking: smallpox, typhus, cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis. TB by itself was widespread in children after WWI.  It was also deadlier, as it was slow to recognize, as it affected the glands, bones and joints rather than the lungs. Those children that contracted tuberculosis had a very low survival rate. So this is being reported as a “genocide” when to date, there has been no evidence of anyone being purposefully killed. 

The second question was why were they then placed in unmarked graves on the property? Was this an attempt to hide wrong doing? There is a simpler but yet unpalatable answer. The cost of returning the bodies to the families was prohibitive during those austere times. That has been documented. Secondly, record keeping in those times both on the Reserves and by the Church were spotty at best and often totally absent. Many children had only their assigned names and a guess as to their true age.

So the children were by necessity, dictated by the times, buried on the property. The fact that the children were buried on the sites of the residential schools throughout the country— some in unmarked graves, others in marked graves, has been known for a very long time. 

The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement had already recognized that there were 139 residential schools across the country. (These are only those that received Federal support, there were others run solely by religious orders or provincial governments).  An undertaking to return the bodies to the families would be, even to this day,  a logistical nightmare.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 in releasing their report even included a section on missing children and burial grounds. They recommended 94 calls to action. One of those calls was for the the Federal government to work with churches, indigenous communities, and former students “to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children”. 

So two years ago, in the 2019 budget the Liberal Federal government allocated $32 million to implement the burial recommendations. There is still $27 million left. Now, Mr. Trudeau says the government is leaping into action and is going to distribute the money “on an urgent basis”.  These graves were not uncovered and fully documented sooner for a simple reason—government and Indigenous bureaucratic inefficiency. We should also keep in mind that the Provincial government paid for the examination of the the Kamloops residential school site. This clearly was not a cover up. 

There is the additional claim running rampant as part of the cover up theory— that the Catholic Church and the Federal government is withholding records from the schools. 

In fact, the Federal government did indeed destroy documents related to the residential “school system between 1936 and 1944, including 200,000 Indian Affairs files”. Were the records destroyed as a result of a governmental cover-up, or were they destroyed as a matter of routine?  Government records often run on a twenty-five or fifty year timeline. One could presume that death records of any kind should never be destroyed, but that is a separate issue. 

In the early times of the residential schools, accurate record keeping was in short supply. Children were coming in from Indigenous communities where there were often no records of births or deaths, that was the custom. The schools upon receiving these children, were also seemingly sparse with their documentation when compared to standards of the  21st century. Also contrary to the current reporting, in fact, records at the Kamloops residential school have already been provided. It showed only fifty one deaths compared to the two hundred and fifteen, but is that the result of poor  and absent record keeping, or was it a conspiracy to only reveal some of them? 

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the academic director at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia, stated that the records from the Kamloops residential school had not been provided to the Truth and Reconciliation group. However, she admits that the “churches handed over most residential school records, but in a few cases, the narratives were withheld, notably at Kamloops and St Annes (in Ontario)” So the Church records, like the children’s bodies were and are hiding in plain sight. The fact that no one has acted on them is probably the story that should be pursued.  

The final question is whether or not this is a site where there is evidence of criminal activity.  Is it as NDP MP Leah Gazan says, that all the residential schools are the sites of “active crime scenes”?

Well no, they are not crime scenes, because crime scenes need to have evidence or confirmation of wrong doing. Now some may argue that the stories told by the Indigenous “survivors”, is evidence enough of criminality. In recent years we seem to have taken the approach that allegations standing by themselves are sufficient evidence of wrong doing. As any homicide investigator will tell you, that is an untenable position.

Little is yet known as to the condition of the bodies. Ground radar (actually it works like sonar) shows very little, other than shapes in the ground. The exhumation of the bodies and subsequent pathology could possibly show evidence of assault, or lead to estimations of causes of death, but to pronounce it so, so early in the investigation is unprincipled. 

Was there wrongdoing at the schools in the form of physical abuse or sexual deviance? Lets ask the current Armed Forces or the RCMP whether its possible that their organizations have been open to abuse and sexual assaults over the last number of years? Would we think the Catholic churches any different?  It would seem impossible that the Catholic church, whose wrongdoings have been hauntingly exposed during the last several years around the world, would not be guilty of some criminal offences over such a lengthy span of time. However, the evidence in the burial site will not likely aid that level or type of investigation.  

Even if  one is to assume that this was in fact a crime scene, then it should be suggested that the RCMP do more than “offer its full support” to the First Nations who are now in attendance and overseeing the “crime scene”.  A crime scene by the way, which will now be forever tainted in the event something is discovered amongst the bodies. The RCMP, if they believe that this is a possible crime scene, should be taking charge and control of the scene if that were the case. Instead, the Minister Bill Blair says the RCMP continues to go forward with its “work towards reconciliation”

Mr. Blair also apologizes for the RCMP having performed according to the law and carried out the “clear and unavoidable role”.  He is late to that apology, probably confused, because Commissioner Zaccardelli apologized in 2004, and then Commissioner Paulson apologized in 2014. 

Despite all these inconsistencies, the fallout damage in the reporting on the residential school  is now done. The political gains that the Indigenous movement hoped to engender have been cemented. The world is now believing that Canadian history includes the genocide of their Indigenous population. 

Now, of course, when pressed on the word “genocide” the spokespersons are falling  back to the more acceptable argument of  “cultural genocide. And, only yesterday an Indigenous spokesperson walked backed away from the “mass grave” description and now clarifies the record to say that they were actually “individual” un-marked grave sites. 

The Perry Bellegarde’s of the Indigenous movement will now proffer up the discoveries as a lever to aid in the battle to get passed– the recently introduced Liberal legislation Bill C-15— the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples Act. Who would dare to question the bill, while expressing their overwhelming guilt in the treatment of the Indigenous. There is a valid argument that this future Act could give the Indigenous possible veto power over the economic development of Canada. One would have to be incredibly naive to think for a moment that this point has been lost on the Indigenous leadership in Canada. 

In the next few months,  monies will be provided for further examination of marked and un-marked grave sites throughout the country, a process which could take years and years of painstaking “investigation”. The Mounties will no doubt dutifully continue to “standby” and “provide support”.  Commissioner Lucki will be the lead social worker.  

The Indigenous can and will be encouraged by the media to continue to narrate the verbal claims of abuse and “incarceration” at the schools. The dominant reported narrative, like the one surrounding the Indigenous Missing Women’s task force, will remain by its very origin, clearly slanted. The masses will be satiated with apologies or flowered monuments. The truth will have to surface on another day and in another time. 

Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Mark Miller will continue to ask the Pope for an apology as there preferred policy option. It is interesting to note that Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto of the Catholic Church, said that he felt Trudeau’s comments were “unhelpful” and “not based on real facts”.  Amen to that. 

That truth is that children were removed from often desperate situations and sent to sparse boarding schools during a time of disease and illness— ailments from which this country could not protect them; run by religious groups who brought with them there own inherent dysfunctions. This is a difficult story, but up to this point in time, only a partial story. 

Photo Courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons by GotoVan – Some rights Reserved

So, how is that “Defunding” going?

We seem to be now living in a world of catchy phrases, facile answers, and overly simplistic diagnosis. We can no longer tolerate complexity. We can no longer live in the world of the grey— black and white answers are being demanded. Daring to disagree or present a counter-point can only lead to banishment. The video and sound bite world is today’s dialogue, inflamed, exaggerated– a fire hose  of outrage, discontent and victimization. We have lost the ability to reflect or to understand nuance. 

It is in this world that the trial of the Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin is about to begin. Accused of the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd. It is in this world that todays frenzied headlines talk about an anti-Asian serial killer who targeted the massage parlours of Atlanta. 

But beneath the obvious conjecture and quick assumptions that instantly become facts there is a deeper layer. It is found in the folder of corroborated and tested information where historically you would have gone first. Once opened, you would be exposed to something completely at variance to the various assertions voiced by the indignant social warriors. 

Joe Biden is travelling to meet up with the Asian American community today, to console and pledge to fight the anti-Asian racist scourge, yet, there is literally no evidence that the killings in Atlanta were perpetrated or targeted against Asians. After 24 hours of exclaiming that this was evidence of the xenophobia in America, we are now learning that this individual was sexually twisted and fighting the demons of his religion. 

The “can’t breathe” seconds long George Floyd video that tumbled around the world and generated massive black outrage is not quite the facts that are now reluctantly being exposed. Is it pertinent that Mr. Floyd was screaming that he couldn’t breathe long before he was on the ground? Is it relevant that the subduing of Mr. Floyd was actually a taught restraint position by the Minneapolis Police Department? Is it also relevant that the autopsy showed overdose levels of drugs? It doesn’t matter in this world. The damage has been done, the points scored, the leaders of the day have proclaimed the guilt of officer Chauvin many months ago. 

Even more spine chilling is that even if the world is corrected about the circumstances; there will be no stepping back, no correction for the record, no recanting of the story as originally told.  One needs to go deep into Google search to find any actual circumstances of the Floyd incident. Even then, the inference and headlines remain the same. The City of Minneapolis who seem to have caved to the social guilt, long before trial, have now settled a civil case against the City and awarded the family $27 million. A staggering amount with highly suspicious timing.  

It was the George Floyd incident of course that sent the Black Lives Matter movement from simmering into full boil. Banners and protests filled the news screens for days on end, chants of indignation in front of every thrust microphone. No one could countenance the over-whelming injustice of it all.

Their answer: “Defund the Police”.

These three words had all the characteristics of the perfectly designed cry of anger. It swivelled the focus of the t.v. cameras and the radio talk shows. It was short and easily shouted, obvious in its conclusions, and proposed a simplistic understandable solution. Perfect for the masses who convene on Twitter and Instagram. The police must be “broken” the argument goes, unable to cope with the societal needs of the progressives, ill equipped to recognize this new age of victims and the vulnerable. Like all the headlines of the day this was an inarguable cause.

However, once one got past the slogans and a few months went by, the purveyors of this belief have stumbled. They are unable to deal with the obvious follow up question of how? Their demands and solutions it would now seem were simplistic if not blatantly ignorant.

Nevertheless, most politicians were undeterred and once again the principles of honesty and fairness ran a distant second to the need to appease. Picture the Prime Minister on bended knee on Parliament Hill. Picture Commissioner Lucki forced to kneel with him at the alter of “systemic” racism.  

So, now that a few months have gone by, after a year of COVID ravaging any critical thought in this country, where are we with this defunding?

How is the defundthepolice.org coming along? Have they figured out what they are going to defund? Have they figured out the actual role the police play in this country and how they are going to be replaced?

A search for signs of progress for this movement in Canada is indeed sparse.

One thing that they have managed to do on their .org web site is add up the amount of monies spent on policing in this country.  It is a large number and hard to miss. In this country, policing on the municipal, provincial and Federal level amounts to $15.1 billion.  So the proponents of de-funding almost invariably point to the large amount and then simply conclude that these budgets need to be cut for the mere fact of its overall size. Too big must fail.

The thrust of their main and central policy argument is that “others” are better equipped to respond. They propose that social workers and doctors attend to calls for mental health services. They recommend civilians take over “traffic services”.

They make statements such as “police intervention into an ongoing violent crime is rare”. Domestic disputes and abusive relationships seems to be beyond their level of comprehension or life experience. It is truly a utopian future in their world of alternate policing options. 

Since these more complicated issues are proving to be difficult to countenance they have lately been transitioning their policy options to more simplistic levels. A recent favourable solution is to ask for the removal of the police from the “school” programs. Or if the laws can’t be enforced by their solution matrix then let’s decriminalize all the drug laws.

In this country, thankfully, their efforts are for the most part being completely stymied. They are running headlong into the wall of reality and they are getting an obvious headache. 

In June of 2020 even the City of Vancouver (with its left leaning city government) rejected a 1% cut to their $339 million budget. 

This same month the City of Toronto rejected a 10% cut to their $1.12 billion budget. 

In Victoria, home to those deep political thinkers the “Raging Grannies” were unable to reject the progressives completely; the city settled for a review of the “gender and ethnic component of the police force” but the police have now asked for a 1.5% budget increase.

In NDP led British Columbia, a government who never ignores a good cause, are trying to appease the left by “reviewing” the Police Act to “examine the scope of systemic racism”. Premier Horgan does admit when pushed that the defunding mantra is “a simplistic approach”.

 In Saskatchewan they are moving to more body cams for the police while in Regina, the City counsel have rejected outright any de-funding as the “crime rate is too high”. 

In Manitoba, Premier Palliser says that de-funding is a “no go”. 

In the North West Territories where normally the Indigenous cause reigns supreme, even there, the Justice Minister says that “Indigenous led justice systems” is “not practical”. 

In Montreal the mayor, Valerie Plante says that a cut in funding of $300 million “would be a big and trying conversation”. They have now voted to increase the police budget.

Halifax, no doubt under the influence of its relatively large African American community could only manage to defund its plans to buy an armoured vehicle for the police— giving the monies to the local housing authority. 

The Edmonton Police Service seems to have gone the farthest down the road to placate the disenchanted. It has cut its funding by $5.5 million per year for the next two years, amounting to a 3% budget cut from their $388.8 million dollar budget. They are forming a “four step” process which includes a “community safety and well-being task force”. The Edmonton activist Tesa Williams calls it a “slap in the face”.  

In many ways the activists in Canada are only imitating their counter parts in the United States. After all, aren’t their problems our problems? Isn’t their racism our racism, the long discrimination of African Americans and its often shameful history is our history. Of course, this isn’t true, but nevertheless what’s playing in video feeds in the U.S. now stokes the narrative of this country. So the “defunding” formula is imported in all its silliness no matter its relevance, no matter its history. 

The NYPD, led by the failing Mayor de Blasio, which policies a city of 25% African Americans has gone the furthest, slashing $1 billion from its policing budget. How have they done this? They have reduced or eliminated uniform and civilian overtime by $352 million; and they have moved the School Safety Agents out of the NYPD and moved them to the Department of Education, for another savings of $307.5 million. They have done sundry other small reductions like moving School Crossing Guards from the NYPD at a savings of $55 million. 

The LAPD who police that bastion of wokeness, Los Angelas, slashed $150 million by cutting police hiring. This hiring freeze has a more meaningful effect to be sure, as now the LAPD is at the lowest manpower it has been at in 12 years. It was proposed that the money saved would go to street paving and sidewalk repairs, but that was voted down. 

L.A. even had a plan to send crisis intervention workers to “non-violent 911 calls” but that has not passed the committee stage, no doubt hung up on the fact as to how one would ever determine that a “crisis” would not always have the potential for violence. 

So where does this all leave the police of today? Should recruiters stop going to “career days” at the local high school? Should mid career police officers look to change into carpenters and plumbers or take that on-line course on photography? Seems unlikely.

One just has to remember that everyone wants to play with the lights and siren but no one is rushing into the blood and the guts.  The activists, the politicians of every stripe, and the talking heads will no doubt continue to shriek to the converted of the injustice and the “systemic” discrimination. 

One must be patient, even though it’s not easy to ignore the absurdity. Remember that they are just toggling the sirens and staring in awe at the blue and red lights. They don’t really want to be in the position of answering the calls. As that oft quoted Mr. Einstein said, “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”.

Photo Courtesy of Backbone Campaign via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved