So many stories…

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

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

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

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

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

Moving on to the next story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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