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 Sledgehammer and the Peanuts…

As Justin settles into his darkened library in the night, blanket over his knees, alone with his thoughts– in a MacKenzie King moment, his father whispers to him from the darkness– haunting, possibly taunting him. Pierre Trudeau, the deceased former Prime Minister spirit shadowing his young son the high school teacher and latest Prime Minister; as his lesser equipped son try’s to find out how to remove a Peterbilt from in front of the Centre Block.

The Emergencies Act? Really son, you think that this is comparable to my day when I was facing the FLQ”

“Dad these people are “terrorists”.

“well not really son, …those Quebec bastards in October of 1970 were real terrorists..or at least that was the way they were acting. They kidnapped people and even killed a Provincial cabinet minister. They were actually plotting the secession from Canada.”

“but these guys Dad, they are not like us, they are all white supremacy extremists, you know the type, redneck roughnecks from that middle part of Canada.. they even put a ball cap on the statue of Terry Fox… and those damn horns…the noise Dad, the noise…besides the media are all over me, comparing me to you, portraying me as ineffectual and weak.”

“Yes son, I hear them, but let’s face it you are not me. You know I always hoped you would become more like me than your mother. But, if it will make you feel better, go for it. Keep in mind, you can’t let up if you want to stick to this narrative, you need to keep using those words of insurrection and occupation, that they are a threat to national security. Let’s face it, this doesn’t really meet the definition of a national emergency. Keep referring to them as Nazi’s, nobody likes a Nazi. You will be alright in the end because by the time it goes through a week in the House and the Senate, everything will be long over, and you can at least look decisive and not really have to face any of the negative consequences”.

“True… thanks Dad I feel better now”.

Other than being visited by the ghost of his political upbringing, there can be no better explanation for Mr. Trudeau Jr. to now step up. Clearly he does not know history and maybe he hasn’t even read the Emergencies Act, after all it has never been used before, so why would he. What he did know was that he was getting angry with “those people”, he was getting angry that no tow truck drivers would cooperate, he was getting angry with the media egging him on questioning his ability to govern and his toughness. He was getting especially angry that people around the world were paying attention to the dispute in Canada; how was it possible that the enlightened leader of Canada could be being called out, dispelling the Canadian utopian image.

Even Grandpa Joe called from the U.S. to say, hey get on with it, those cars need their parts.

To understand the Emergencies Act, one must first understand its predecessor, the War Measures Act.

The War Measures Act which gave broad powers to the Federal government was to be instituted as a “declaration of war, invasion or insurrection”. Which would explain the Liberals deftly referring to an “insurrection” all the time now. The need for WMA and its imposition came about only three times. During WWI, WWII, and during the 1970 “October Crisis”.

During WWI, between 1914 and 1920 it was enacted to intern Ukranians and some other Europeans, who were declared “enemy aliens”. It also allowed them to disallow any person who had membership in a “socialist or communist organization”. We have since apologized for our behaviour.

It was used during WWII to intern the Japanese. We have since apologized about our behaviour then too.

And it was used in October 1970 to thwart the Front du Liberation de Quebec, who kidnapped James Cross and Pierre Laporte. Laporte was later found murdered. The FLQ were making demands and pushing the Province secession from Canada. The Army invaded the streets of Montreal and by the end of it 465 people were arrested without charges and eventually released. The law effectively removed the need for habeas corpus.

The War Measures Act in 1970 was not without dissenters. The NDP leader Tommy Douglas said the that Pierre Trudeau was using a “sledgehammer to crack a peanut”, and the separatists argued that they were criminalizing the separatist movement. To this day, the decision to enact at that time was dividing. This may explain why Yves Blanchett last year asked for apologies for the enactment of the War Measures Act for his fellow Quebecers. (This would also explain why the Premier of Quebec is now saying that he wants assurances that the Emergencies Act will not be employed in Quebec.)

Ironically, when it was discovered that the RCMP may have exceeded their authorities during this time of the War Measures Act implementation, they ordered a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP; known as the McDonald Commission. After a lengthy inquiry the McDonald Commission recommended a curtailing of the War Measures Act, which led to the production of the now in the news Emergencies Act.

The new now apparently gentler Emergencies Act, which has taken its place and is front and centre in the news of today, lays out four criteria for its implementation.

  1. a public welfare emergency
  2. a public order emergency
  3. an international emergency
  4. a war emergency.

In the regulations you will also find that in order for conditions to be met for the implementation of this Emergencies Act, it has to be pre-determined that “the existing laws of Canada are not effective in addressing the situation”

If any of the above criteria are met, and that is a big if. this Act would allow the government to “ban gatherings” around such things as national monuments and the legislatures” , and to make there be “protected places” such as Justin’s house. It would “prohibit public assembly… other than lawful advocacy or protest or dissent”. It would allow the government and the banks to determine who was providing funds through platforms such as GoFundMe and the like, and it would allow the government to freeze the bank accounts of those that contributed.

So as we examine the criteria, does this constitute a public welfare emergency? Across this nation is the welfare of the public in danger. Well, if not that then, is this a public order emergency? Is there a need for public order across this country? Do you now feel threatened sitting in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Halifax right now? Maybe in Ottawa off Bank Street, but now this protest into its third week and slowly being dismantled has been determined as a public order emergency? Is this a threat to all Canadians or just to the shrill folks of the Ottawa Police Board?

In terms of the criteria in points 3 and 4. Neither of the latter are applicable.

So how do we explain this ongoing lunacy?

Is the infringement of human rights a legitimate concern? If the answer is yes, why is it that the Prime Minister refuses to meet with them? He clearly went down the political path of labelling them, speaking down to them, and could not personally relate to them. He orchestrated this dialogue and thus put himself nicely in a diplomatic box. His stubborn attitude and ego is keeping him there.

To explain this lack of dialogue, he had to turn up the heat to prove that these people were illegitimate. The convoy raised a great deal of money during their trek to Ottawa, so they even went after the GoFundMe page, and the page folded to that political pressure.

They went after the fringe players that are always drawn to any type of anti-government protest. Lets face it, all protests draw the lunatic fringe. When the indigenous were protesting did they go after the flags they were showing, the tearing down of statutes they were orchestrating, or the multiple torching of churches? Did they examine those involved in the Indigenous protest and seek out the radical few on Twitter or Instagram? Did they stop any funding to the Indigenous?

Do you think Black Lives Matter has a few radical elements? Do they think the environmental protestors had not radicals. Of course, they all do. So what makes this different?

The police in all this are in the usual difficult position of trying to smoothe out a litany of missteps by our illustrious politicians. The “progressive” Ottawa Police chief resigned. The Ottawa police board has now fallen apart as the politicos are throwing around recriminations and in-fighting. The Federal Liberals have been trying to direct the investigation of the convoy from the outset, even trying to direct where the trucks should be parked but most importantly effectively orchestrating the us versus them dialogue with inflammatory language and accusations. (Yesterday in Parliament Trudeau accused a Jewish Conservative member of being in favour of the Nazis—in the category of you can’t make this up)

Are the existing laws of Canada not sufficient to quell this “uprising”?

It seems that when pushed the police are charging people and arresting people and towing away some vehicles. So the laws are there, but the willingness to enforce, and the resources to enforce are in short supply–lets face it they underestimated the support this convoy would generate.

Do you think it is coincidence that this convoy has been compared to the January 6th uprising in the United States, which the Democrats in that country are working hard to try and prove that Trump was trying to overthrow the duly elected government. Similar claims of right wing Aryan nation types abound in that dialogue too. Proof of it is far less compelling.

Now the government is pointing to four individuals who have been arrested and charged with “plotting to murder RCMP officers” and nine charges of mischief and weapons offences against nine others. The police press release says that they launched into an “immediate and complex investigation to determine the threat and criminal organization”. The group of four conspirators, all of whom work for a lighting group in Calgary, had “three trailers” associated to them and a warrant was duly executed. In it they found 13 long guns, a handgun, body armour and a machete along with ammunition.

This could require some thoughtful dissecting. It was acknowledged that the conspiracy to commit murder of the RCMP officers stems from, in the police wording, that this group had a “willingness to use force if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade”.

Not for a moment do I think that these are unwarranted charges. If they were planning to bring out the guns if the police moved in, they should be prosecuted and the police applauded for cutting off potential violence.

My only question is the portrayal of the investigation as a discovered attempt for insurrection and a “conspiracy to commit murder”, planned resistance being far different legally and morally, then planning to go out to kill police officers.

Looking at the background of those charged and the various ages of those involved, one also wonders whether this would constitute a normal person’s version of a no named “criminal organization.”

It all just makes you wonder where all this ends up when it goes through the inevitable court siphon.

But Trudeau, Freeland, and Mendocino know one thing.

The majority of Canadians according to the latest poll want the convoy to end, and they don’t mind if some people get hurt.

68% of Canadians felt that they wanted the military and the police to do so by force.

Just 26% of Canadians thought that they wanted a negotiated settlement.

Paradoxically 54% a slight majority are not impressed with the politicians.

Maybe the people of this country who have been willing to set aside their civil rights in the fight against a virus, comprised of a generation of individuals who have never faced a real crisis such as war, are now more willing to take it out on others. The media portrayal has indeed worked while to be fair, even some of the journalists were thwarted when asking for the evidence. The overall effect however has been an us versus them, good versus evil. The always right against the perpetually wrong.

It is time they say, and clearly believe, to unleash the power of the government on the people who disagree and dare to voice those concerns.

In this writer’s opinion, this is a sad and dark day for Canada. Not for the actions of the police but for the actions of the politicians carried out by the police.

If things go badly in the next few days, and people get hurt, including the police, my guess is that years from now, we will be apologizing once again. The police are now facing an intransigent group, a cornered dog that has had rocks thrown at it for three weeks, and now is facing clubs being swung at its head. Some may bar their teeth and snap back even though a leader in the convoy said that if approached they will take a knee.

My hope though is that in a few years this will not be remembered, the overtime cheques will have been duly paid, and we are left with this having been a tempest in the teapot. One albeit, that was totally avoidable. All we needed to do was listen.

Then all the restrictions will be off– something the convoy wanted from the beginning.

Photo courtesy of Hailey Sani of Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved