Bowing to Ignorance

It was hard not to feel sorry, or a better word may be uncomfortable for the beleaguered Commissioner Lucki, or maybe even the befuddled Deputy Commissioner Zablocki. These two individuals have risen to the upper echelon of the Mounties and have been drinking in that rarefied air, playing to a political agenda in relative peace and harmony. But here they were, in the last few days, cornered and out-gunned by the more politically correct, the masters of appeasement. Even they could not have imagined this looking glass world of righteous indignation which was being thrust upon them with increasing ferocity.  

Through their careers they have been promoted and extolled for their adherence to the themes of diversity and inclusion, and in many cases had to abandon ethics and principle. They were required to chant in unison the mantra of the enlightened progressives. Go along to get along would have been their placard as they eyed and encircled that executive corner office. In this and that environment there was absolutely no tolerance for dissension or counter-point. Similar minds were recruited and pulled up the ladder by the other similarly minded. 

Say nothing offensive, say nothing for which you could later be held accountable. Job experience or the position that was held was a distant second to conforming to “the system”. Pandering to those favoured interest groups and following the progressive line has been “systemic” for a number of years. 

But in the last number of weeks, we reached a point of significant accounting, a “crisis” if you prefer the new word for news. Of course I am referring to this newly professed outrage of police brutality and rampant racism in the RCMP, all of which had been ingrained by some sort of conspiratorial process.

The force of the cable news pushed Ms. Lucki out of hiding. Most of all the throngs were demanding acquiescence. Like the Papal blessing from the Vatican, they wanted the head of the RCMP to publicly acclaim their beliefs and proclamations of “systemic racism”.

So, she consented to do an interview with that bastion of special interest bias, the CBC, to be conducted by the“Senior Political correspondent” Rosemary Barton. Ms. Barton, who no doubt feels that she is the epitome of the probing journalist, is well connected to Justin Trudeau and the inner Liberal sanctum. Ms. Lucki must have believed or may have been comforted in the fact that she was in normally friendly territory. 

Throughout this interview, it was clear that Ms. Lucki was referring to her notes when she was being pressed on the terminology of “systemic racism”. Finally, Ms Barton pushed, so “you you didn’t answer the question, do you believe there is systemic racism in policing organizations, including yours in the country?” 

What followed was an inept stumbling meandering response to that “interesting question”.  Clearly, Ms. Lucki knew it was coming, clearly it was the thematic background for the entire interview. It was also equally clear that  the CBC was pressing to have Lucki admit on camera to “systemic” racism. The masses demanded it. Ms. Lucki was not ready. 

Ms. Lucki chose to respond by saying that she was confused by the many definitions of “systemic racism”.  One had a mental picture of Ms. Lucki surrounded by Funk and Wagnals, Oxford English, or Miriam-Webster dictionaries desperately thumbing the pages trying to gain some insight. But, it was all to no avail apparently, frustrating she said, as there were so many “versions” of it. 

It should be noted that the interview with Ms. Lucki was a day or so after the interview given by Mr. Zablocki— who in after an apparent dose of sodium amytal stated that there was no “systemic” racism in the RCMP. Unfortunately, the dosage wore off a few hours later. 

Still struggling, Lucki looked down at her notes to say “if you mean unconscious bias” —then she would admit that the RCMP was guilty as charged. 

The interview painfully continued and Ms. Barton opined at one point that in this country “people feel scared calling the police”.  Even this outrageous comment did not force the docile, pliant Commissioner to react in defence. She trotted out her tested and true response: “We need to get better”…”my expectations are high”. She went on to agree to review the carotid hold which was still in use, to bring better accountability through possible use of body cams, as that was part of her “digital policing strategy”. After all “we need to get better”.

The interview concluded with the Commissioner inappropriately telling Ms. Barton “thanks for your respectful questions”. She was clearly relieved; but this too would be short lived. 

A day or so later, Trudeau threw them all under the bus. 

Of course, there is systemic racism in the RCMP according to Trudeau. It was everywhere. 

No one missed the irony that this was coming from the three times “black face” Prime Minister, the white privileged Prime Minister. 

Shortly thereafter, predictably, Ms. Lucki turtled, fell into the prone position, hands over her head and ears, instinctively warding off the blows of the persistent masses. Through the safety of a press release said:

“…I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP…I should have”. 

So given this state of confusion, this intrepid blogger feels obligated to help these poor confused mandarins of the RCMP.  

“System”, from which the word systemic originates, is referred to as the “structure, organization, order, complex, administration” etc. If one stretches the definition and refers to “the system” in the modern vernacular, one could be referring to “the ruling class, the regime, bureaucracy”.

So follow along you poor, confused, Mountie managers, if one is claiming “systemic racism” one is claiming that the bureaucracy, the administration, the laws of this country, the structure of the RCMP, is in fact racist. Systemic racism to exist and meet the definition, must be built into the rules and the structure of the organization. Miriam Webster says that “systemic” means that it is “fundamental to a predominant social, economic or political practise”

Does anybody inside the RCMP believe that to be the case? 

Of course, you are allowed to have that opinion but, there is a convincing argument to be made that in the last twenty or thirty years that the administration and the bureaucracy, and the management of the RCMP organization has in fact been the exact opposite. 

Affirmative action hiring, recruiting, promotion, transfer policies, have in fact been tailored to meet the demands of the growing multi-racial society of Canada. Community policing, school liaison programs, Youth Intervention, and the like have all been tailored to meet the growing demand of diversity and inclusion. (How successful they have been is quite another matter. )

Nevertheless the Commissioner of the RCMP (and there have been no dissenting voices among the other RCMP managers) has now implied that everyone and everything in the Mounties is racist. The entire system. 

This charge is absolute nonsense. But, no one is daring to step in front of the stampeding herd. The herd has declared it to be, therefore it is. Celebrities and sports figures joined in.

It should be noted that when we go to these protestors, or their talking heads and seek specific examples of this systemic racism none are proffered.

Chief Allan Aden of the Athabascan Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta stated “If a white man is denying systemic racism, that is systemic racism”.  This is the level of intelligent debate in this country.  If I deny I am a sexual predator, I am therefore a sexual predator. 

This very same logic was used by the minority leaders of the Opposition NDP who has never missed a cause or a bandwagon on which to jump. So he was poised for this latest cause. He proposed a “unanimous consent” bill, for all parties to agree, that the RCMP was systemically racist and that RCMP officers were killing the Indigenous and blacks in this country. It was clearly an act of grand-standing, and after making his support speech, he pompously sat in his seat, assuming all would agree.

All political parties voted for it, a disturbing lack of support for the police to say the least, but one single member of Parliament, Alain Therrien for the Bloc PQ, said no.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, jumped up, clearly upset. He then called the Member of Parliament a “racist” for not going along with the bill.

He was a racist according to Mr. Singh because he didn’t agree with Mr. Singh. The same logic as the Chief.

Justin Trudeau, went further and refused to criticize Mr. Singh, despite Mr. Singh having been removed from the Commons for the day for his “un-Parliamentary” comments. His justification was that Mr. Singh was a “racialized” leader and therefore it was forgivable.  

These last few days, the seemingly endless accusations continue to be stoked by the irresponsible of this country. It is discouraging and is tearing at the very fabric of this country. The lack of informed narrative, and the often ridiculous proposals to counter this ill-defined problem have left many parts of this country speechless. The pundits and media commentators in this progressive world have gone from being expert on the coronavirus to experts on policing with often comedic speed. A quote from Oscar Wilde resonates, “by giving us opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community”.

Where will it all end? When will reasonable dialogue return? It is difficult to say. This blogger never imagined a time when political dialogue in this country was so blatantly biased and absent of substance. The level of this demand for conformity rivals any historical third world despot.

The tearing down of statues and the rewriting of history, the calls for defunding the police, and the chants for a revamping of the RCMP will one day run into the wall of reality. These protests and cries for reformation are not based on any intimate knowledge of policing, they are based on slogans. The day when the social worker arrives at the domestic dispute or to deal with the mental health patient instead of the police, is a very long way off. 

When someone can actually point to systemic racism with an objective rationale, then we can begin to address it. The danger now is knee-jerk policy to appease the masses and Trudeau is already floating trial balloons. Most will end up meaningless, a let them eat cake moment and of no intrinsic value. 

As for the Commissioner and the rest of the Executive of the RCMP. Maybe they should consider that now is the time to fade into the night. Their time to show leadership arrived and they shrivelled before your very eyes. They should be bowing their heads in shame.

Some one should also wake up the National Police Federation from their slumber. Although willing to speak out about the formation of a Surrey Municipal Force, they have now conveniently lost their voice, when their officers are being slandered, ridiculed, and even endangered in the heat of these protests.

Maybe, it’s time for the police of this country to march on Ottawa. Maybe it’s time that the ground level police nationally form a strong and singular political voice. It may be time for their protest. And if I was planning the parade route, it would definitely go by Mr. Trudeau’s “cottage”, and end by occupying Mr. Singh’s office.

I wonder who they would call to remove these 68,000 blue uniformed protestors? Maybe a social worker.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons and Yannick Gingras – Some Rights Reserved

Mandate

Like a 1950’s child running to meet the postman for the Sears catalogue, one wonders whether Ms.Lucki dashed to greet the postman who was delivering  her new “mandate” letter.

If you were bored, frustrated, killing time waiting for shift end, or enjoy a little masochism, then you too may have read with anticipation the Honourable Ralph Goodale’s “mandate letter” to Commissioner Lucki.

The document is surprisingly brief from the illustrious Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. It was likely “ghost written”, by a high placed bureaucrat and screened by a legal team, nevertheless it is still revealing. With a little in-between line reading, if there were any doubts as to why Commissioner Lucki rose to the surface and became the cream of the crop in the view of that Liberal august selection committee, then this document should remove that doubt.

What is interesting is what is missing, what was not worthy of mention. If you want to believe that operational policing is the soul of the future RCMP under Commissioner Lucki, you may be wrong. If you think terrorism, cyber crime, white collar crime or child pornography are occupying the minds of the RCMP management in the endless future meetings at 73 Leikin Drive in Ottawa,  you will likely be disappointed.

The letter begins with a reference to Section 5(1) of the RCMP Act where the Commissioner of the RCMP has the “control and management of the RCMP and all matters connected to the Force”, but of course at the “direction of the Minister”. He goes on to say that “police independence underpins the rule of law and ministerial direction”,  that he will rely on the “advice and input” to “help me” establish “strategic priorities.” Blah blah blah.

All that requisite dribble aside, he then goes on to outline what Commissioner Lucki’s “role” will be. Which will be to “reinforce” and “support” the organization in its effort to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture”

Its future “transformation”, as envisioned by that old sage Goodale will include the “health and safety of the RCMP employees”… “including from harassment and violence in the workplace”….and of course “enhancing its role in reconciliation” with “Indigenous peoples”.

All predictable of course, in light of Justin Trudeau and his cabinet recurring themes, but stark all the same in its simplicity.

The next paragraph mentions “internal and external governance structures and practises”, no doubt a reference to a future civilian administrative oversight.

Then the letter returns to clearly its main preoccupation. “You will need to prioritize that the RCMP is free from bullying, harassment, and sexual violence” and that she should prepare an extensive response to the reviews that were outlined by Sheila Fraser from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. She will need to “ensure that the RCMP is representative of Canada’s diverse population, including gender parity, and that women, Indigenous Peoples and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership”.

Mr. Goodale ends by reflecting on Commissioner Lucki’s previous posting of Training Branch in Regina, and he lauds her for her commitment to training, including “diversity, inclusion, and a respectful workplace”.

So where does this leave us? Like any change in power, whether it be in government, or in a government agency, it is helpful to look at the scope and focus of the change and try and determine who are the winners and who are the losers. Who are now in favour, and who have fallen out of flavour. Here are some predictions.

The Winners

If you are indigenous in the RCMP, or if you are even partially indigenous, or if you can claim a distant ancestry to anything resembling an indigenous group you are a clear winner.

If you are a member of the First Nations Policing Program in 2018 the Liberals have already invested $291 million in the program over the next five years. You are a winner.  This group which is overseen by this same Ministry is designed to “enhance the effectiveness of policing services in First Nation and Inuit communities.”

What “enhance” means in government speak can be anybody’s guess, but lets face it, they will likely be able to reach that goal.

If you want further proof of the constant indigenous theme, don’t stop at Ms. Lucki, look at the rest of the Senior Executive Committee of the RCMP management. Besides, a clear background tendency to the Federal policing side, you will also constantly see the theme of indigenous relations and its level of importance.

Even the more vocal and somewhat rebellious indigenous groups in Northern Manitoba are winners. Commissioner Lucki worked and resided in that area and received an Order of Merit for her “efforts to improve relations”. It doesn’t say that she did improve them, just that she made an effort of course.

The second clear winner are female officers.  With a relatively pristine record, and if you have more than 15 years of service, your odds of becoming management have become markedly greater.

This is not new. The trend for more women officers has been moving along at a high clip since the 1980’s when they first became the hiring priority.  In 2006 there were only 6% of officers were female, in 2016 that number has increased to 21%; more than a 250% increase. In 2016 as well, 13% of senior officers in policing were women.  There will need a massive advancement of female officers in the next few years to have a visible measurable impact, one which Lucki can hold up as evidence of success. Expect demands for more flexible work hours, greater considerations for pregnancy and eventual return to work accommodations.

If you self identify as a member of LGBTQ during the recruitment process or a member of any of the visible minorities, then you too should be a winner.

If you have a claim under the sexual harassment class action you will be a winner. There is little likelihood that this Liberal free-spending government will be eager to deny any claims even if some may be spurious and would normally warrant some authentication. There has been an exponential growth in claims, so expect that to continue.

The Losers

If you are a farmer or resident of the North Battleford area of Saskatchewan which enjoys the highest crime rate in Canada you are a loser, and you should not expect any improvements in policing for the next few years. You are in the way for those who will be pushing the indigenous agenda, so therefore you are politically expendable.

If you are an officer in Chase B.C. or Dauphin Manitoba, hoping beyond hope, that a replacement will be found to fill your position, you are a loser. The current staffing consensus indicates that there are not enough new people to even fill the retirement levels. Lack of manpower has been the theme for a few years, but expect this to continue as it never even gets honourable mention anymore. Clearly, they have given up on the phrase “more for less”, as its marketability has become more irritant than salve for the masses.

If you are optimistically expecting a pay raise to bring you back into contention in the police universe, you are a loser. The Federal government is clearly sitting back and waiting for the union process to get settled. Is it necessary to also point out that manpower and wages are not mentioned in the mandate letter? They haven’t quite figured out that morale, quality of life and optimism are directly linked to these issues.

Are we making too much of this mandate letter? Is this the thin edge of the knife?

The concern of course is that there has always been a curtain drawn, a line not crossed when it comes to the relationship between the police and the State. Goodale even makes reference to “police independence” in the beginning of the letter. However in real terms policing is at a crossroads. In the U.S. Donald Trump is trying to wrest control and direction of the FBI with political shenanigans only impeded by a robust 5th Estate, and an unwilling to go along attitude of the Justice Department and the FBI themselves.

Has Canada, the docile and compliant country that we are, now entered into a relationship between the police and the state which is a little too close for a properly running democracy? Have we now rolled over and woken to a new political RCMP, one wholly directed and run by the authorities?

Has that line been crossed? Is Commissioner Lucki now no different than the other Ministers who rely on the government of the day for their survival?

Maybe we are reading too much into it. Maybe the RCMP bureaucracy is so stultified that nothing will ever get done, maybe we can rely on bureaucratic incompetence to keep us safe.

But there is little doubt the RCMP is teetering, in fact it may be too late. It may have already become a fully engulfed political institution, part of government, not separated from it, no longer an ethical divide between them and the governing party of the day.

In the end the ultimate winner may be Commissioner Lucki herself.

After all, if she succeeds in pleasing her political masters in the next few years and if the Trump of the north continues to reign, who knows, maybe the Liberals will make her a Senator too; for a job well done of course, a job done as directed.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by elPadawan Some Rights Reserved