Free Speech, not quite as free in policing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2023 ready or not, here we come…

Well we made it to another year. Congratulations. Making it to this point is a good thing.

In our last post we looked back, now we are being encouraged to look forward. We are of course relieved to hear that Justin is back from Jamaica; refreshed, no issues with baggage or told to lie down on the airport floor for a couple of days while the airline tries to figure things out. The fact that there was a state of emergency in that country did not impair him from strolling the beach taking the odd selfie, patently oblivious to most anything back in Canada.

The Governor General has “hope in her heart” for we Canadians. Is that relevant to anyone? Or are we more interested in Harry and Meaghan and the stress that life brings these poor unfortunates? One can only assume that the Governor General’s New Years resolution includes cutting back on flight meals to Europe.

Forgive me if I take a larger look, beyond the borders of the usual policing issues. What is on the horizon for “we the people”? Honestly, at first blush, it does not look to be that exciting of a year ahead of us;, although most of us might accept a certain level of dull, a year free from the drama of the past couple of years.

To listen to the Prime Minister and his cohorts, all is good in Canada and our future prosperity is guaranteed. Nothing is “broken” and we should all just be thankful to be heading into a banner year led by such a dynamic family of politicians on the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels. Calling us “broken” is where Mr. Trudeau says he puts his foot down, that is where he says the Conservatives have crossed over the line. He is such a half full guy.

Locally, the RCMP Mounties and the officers of the Surrey police service should very shortly hear the decision of the Provincial government as to whether they carry-on with the transition to the Surrey Police Service, or return to the tried and true Mounties. It would seem completely illogical for them to dismantle the current Surrey Police Service at this stage of the game and the argument being put forward by Surrey Council simply does not hold water. The recent dramatic announcement and twisting of the figures by Mayor Brenda Locke is meant to raise fear and it is based on the belief that most Surrey taxpayers are not very bright. But this is politics and a decision to be made by new Premier Eby in British Columbia. He who has been on a massive drive to raise his profile with almost daily good deed announcements and promises to spend more. Any person in that position is only looking at the problem from one angle–whether the policing controversy will hurt him or help him politically? When a politician is in those circumstances, no one can accurately predict the outcome.

A burning question (well, maybe thats an exaggeration) is whether Commissioner Lucki will resign this year. It is truly remarkable that she has managed to keep her job for this long. Maybe she should run for the Chief’s job of the Ottawa City Police? One of her favoured Deputies, Superintendent Lesley Ahara, is in the running I am told. Ahara is apparently a fan and a favourite of Commissioner Lucki. It would be hard to believe that the Ottawa city police would be considering a Mountie for the job after all the fallout from the Emergencies Act and Portapique. But again, this is being decided in the whisperings of the diverse and inclusive back room’s of the illuminated Ottawa.

There is some interesting legislation which will come under scrutiny this year. Bill C-92 which will give Indigenous the rights to create their own child welfare system, their own family policies and in fact even their own laws pertaining to child welfare, is now being challenged. The Act is already implemented and underway, with five Indigenous bodies asserting their control over child and family services. However, it is now being challenged, and it is making its way to the Supreme Court of Canada because of Provincial opposition. So far, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories have all joined in opposition to the legislation.

One needs to understand the enormity of this issue. Currently, as of 2021 –53. 8% of all children in the child welfare system were made up of Inuit, First Nations and Metis children. The logistical issues of the Indigenous taking over responsibility for these children is overwhelming, and in fact on a local level could prove dangerous to children, as they swap culture for safety. Of course, as always, it is part of a larger issue for the Indigenous. They are translating this and seeing this as a “watershed moment for Indigenous self-government in Canada”. The opposing Provinces are arguing, that the Indigenous simply do not have jurisdiction under the Constitution, that this is in fact under Provincial purview. Should the left leaning Supreme Court go along with the Indigenous broader self-government it will in effect re-shape the constitution of this country. Quebec went for independence and we fought them mightily. The Indigenous in a hazy, unspecific and disorganized way are trying to achieve the same level of independence, but this time with the aid of a Federal liberal government consumed with being on the side of the righteous and apparently willing to have the taxpayers of the country finance this independence. We should all be paying attention.

In February this year we will hear from Judge Paul Rouleau and the Emergencies Act Inquiry or the Public Order Emergency Commission as they like to call it. We will as well get the results of the Commission of Inquiry, or what they like to call the Mass Casualty Commission into Portapique. Neither of these reports will be a good or positive thing for policing in general, especially for the Mounties in Portapique and the Ottawa City Police during the convoy protest. One should not get overly concerned however. There will be a lot of hoopla headings when they are released, but it is highly un-likely and improbable that anyone will be held to account. Both investigative groups seem more intent on comforting rather than elucidating. All the named groups will promise to carry on–with the usual accompanying promise to do better.

The Canada Revenue Agency will in the next year probably not collect any of the “suspicious” $24.7 billion paid out for Covid. The Auditor General has alerted them to it, they just don’t know how they are going to get it back. The evidence suggests that the political popularity of the Liberals overrode any fiscal responsibility at the time. When questioned– the first response is always how “quickly” they got the money out, the political equivalent of throwing out cash instead of candy in the Santa Claus parade.

Bill C-21 dealing with the firearms regulations, will continue to be discussed in this coming year, as the Liberals try to position themselves politically to “fine tune” the legislation. Their original legislation was poorly thought out, another knee-jerk reaction to a headline, and it was not long before someone pointed at some obvious flaws despite all their “consultations”. It would appear that this Liberal government who feels that they have the inside track when it comes to what is good for us, felt no need to approach and consult with groups like farmers and hunters. In Liberal progressive circles, those individuals are known as the “unenlightened”. Now they have a real mess, a detailed mess which most people would never understand if forced to read the actual legislation.

It is also a foregone conclusion for the coming year that every storm and every strong wind will be referred to in 2023 as “climate change related”. Whether they are right or not, is not for discussion, Greta Thunberg tell us it is so. Greta, now a learned 19 years of age, was the youngest Time Person of the Year in 2019. So how could this teenager be mistaken? Mind you they had also named Donald Trump as Person of the Year in 2016.

Will we have a Federal election in 2023? It seems unlikely. The economy is souring, Mr. Jagmeet Singh is still in danger politically and needs to buy as much time as he can. It was only a little over a year ago that Trudeau thought he would ride in to a majority as the saviour of Covid, the dispenser of funds, the provider of masks, the overseer of the greatest needle use in the country outside the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. But he only ended up with another minority government. It would not seem advisable to swing for the fences again. Singh is unlikely to develop a backbone over the next 12 months.

Of course an over-riding story of interest to mainstream Canada is the economy. Inflation appears to be still out of control and the Bank of Canada is now going to try and repress the worst inflation in the last 40 years. It seems highly likely that this squeezing will cause a recession, it is just a matter of how deep of one. Which for the workers at the lower echelon will not be a good thing. Government workers will be fine as will the high paid executive levels of this country, who never seem to take a hit, or can at least re-structure themselves around the problem. The number of government workers expanded during these last few years, and almost all have by now been given pay raises. The grocery chains, the banks, and the oil industry will continue into 2023 trying to put a spin on how they achieved record profits during this time of enforced austerity. The average person in this country will continue to not be able to buy a house, or travel, or eat beef. If you are lucky and have a house, the people, especially in the east of this country may not be able to heat that home, as the government pursues their carbon tax agenda.

I think we should expect some serious outrage in the months to come.

There will be three Provincial elections this year; in Alberta, P.E.I, and Manitoba. If anyone cares there will also be a gathering of the Green Party in Manitoba. Meanwhile the Sovereign Act in Alberta is driving the progressives wild. Therefore, Trudeau will be hoping that Danielle Smith loses in the Manitoba election– so that he will not have to go face-to-face with the U.C.P. Smith, for her part seems to be itching for a fight.

The biggest story in 2023 will remain the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Putin seems determined to re-build the former USSR and he has played to the weaknesses of the west, initially taking over Crimea without a whimper. Ukranians are putting up a determined and deadly fight to retain their relatively new found freedoms and to avoid once again coming under the oppressive regime of the Soviet Union. As people die in horrendous fashion, on both sides, we must always remember that first and foremost– this is a war like all wars. It is a political war and in this 21st century that war is also being fought on social media.

Ukraine could not win this war on its own, it needs others, and they need to win the social media wars as much as the war on the ground. They need to continue to convince the west that they are the vanguard in holding back Putin and his conspiratorial plans to overtake all of Eastern Europe. To do so, they want into NATO, because a clause in NATO would mandate that the NATO nations would thus have to join the war thereby forcing all the NATO nations to take up the military option. It is indeed scary to consider Putin winning, but it may be equally scary if Ukraine manages to pull all the others into the war. Meanwhile, other countries are now the economic and political hostages. At the controls, the ones who are able to pull the levers, there is the aging and often senseless Joe Biden, a former stand up comic in Zelensky and a former KGB officer in Putin.

The Western media has fully endorsed Ukraine and the countries of the West. Rightly so. The Russians were the ones that started it. But it should always raise concern and be suspicious when we are being exposed to the herd news mentality which is now pervading the West. There is no counter-narrative being suggested or sought out. Putin is evil, Zelensky is good. Russians are committing atrocities, Ukraine is not. But this conflict is more complicated and conflicted than one that can be boiled down to a single aphorism.

Their internal histories go back centuries, not just since Ukraine won their independence. This war like all wars is heavily layered and being fought over economic power, political power, oil interests and military ports. It is being fought to re-draw boundaries and the control of riches; boundaries which have been re-drawn over the centuries several times. Neither side is willing to compromise, although in the end you know someone will have to compromise.

The poor and the uneducated, who are the ones usually enlisted to fight all wars, will continue to fight. Both sides of political leaders will bring up images of patriotism to spur on their troops and try to gain an upper hand in public approbation. Those fighting will face dying a horrifying death, and their family units will continue to be dis-membered and crushed. Nothing good can ever come of this war, which now seems destined to go throughout 2023 — no one should be cheerleading this war.

The war serves only one good purpose and that is to diminish the scope of our problems in Canada.

As our hospitals struggle unable to cope with an influx of flu cases, as winter storms completely disintegrate our airline and transportation infrastructure for days at a time, as unwanted pieces of legislation get pushed forward, as our food bills increase and those on fixed incomes watch their savings diminish, I can not possibly forecast a good or great year.

Admittedly, I’m more of a glass half empty person.

Photo courtesy of Ron Frazier via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Here’s to you and all the things we take for granted…

It is traditional that when this time of year comes around, we are supposed to pause, to reflect, to gaze into the mirror, to whittle away at the perplexing issues of life, big and small, and the changes that were both great and insignificant. It is a time of re-assessment.

We remember some of the headlines, some of the stories of interest and the stories that got scant little attention but meant something to us personally. In the past year there has been a cavalcade of digitally formatted information, both good and bad, some of it judgemental and some of it merely misinformation. The headlining messages are always bundled as “news, or “breaking news” when it is in fact old, history just merely repeating itself.

We seem to be in a cycle of loudly expressed frustration and immobilizing constant stress, however, we also need to remember that this is also a time of great exaggeration. We are being inundated with the latest apoplectic event, a rain storm is now an “atmospheric river”, a snow storm “a polar vortex.” The press has become irresponsible and driven purely by a need to inflame and agitate, to warn you of constant impending doom or crisis. It is clearly an effort to remain relevant to the phone obsessed and relevant to the attention deprived general population. We as humans have allowed ourselves to be transformed, we are now an extension of those phones and logically therefore under the command of the persons that control them. Children in strollers now work their little fingers on an i-pad with the dexterity of a programmer, a constant presence disguised as a babysitter.

It is indeed a confusing time, a time where the economics doesn’t seem to add up, a downturn in the economy and upward inflation apparently not affecting the Xmas shopping, the lines at the airport, or the constant updates on Facebook by all those booked into the the all-inclusive sunnier climes. The look-at-me beach pictures are juxtaposed over longer lines at the food banks and growing tent cities. A recession predicted, but it does not deter Federal employees from threatening action over having to go back to the office, clearly not concerned for a loss of those jobs. The teens and the early 20’s now boycotting all the lesser paying jobs, somehow able to be comfortable with not working at all. Inflation not seen since the 1980’s not deterring every unions demand and every government in response giving greater pay raises then ever seen before, thus fuelling the same inflation. But the over-hanging cloud of complacency may be the most un-settling; a careless disregard combined with un-precedented narcissism.

This Christian holiday period is our time of escape, our safe room, despite most of us being non-practising Christians ironically or not Christians at all. But it does give us this chance, when we should try and look below or above all the overflowing narratives. To be thankful in our ability and outright luck to live in the 1st world. It is also time to thank those people who are continuing work with dedication and resolve regardless of acknowledgement or thanks. Also to those that live and who still gain pleasure in giving and receiving the simpler things.

In this vein I do have some random thoughts and general wishes.

To those past officers, who policed in different times, and have now left us. You were part of a disappearing policing history, one that seemed simpler, one which seemed to be more about human interaction and less about modern tools of containment and restraint. I salute you and will always remember that there were others that went before.

I hope that one of these days we can find the humour in life, to not take everything so seriously, and able to withstand minor slights. Humour is all around us and it will often provide greater insight than that found in the academic journals.

I do hope that soon we will be able to announce people without including their gender or race as a primary descriptor and that we return to some level of measurement by merit.

I hope that common sense becomes more fashionable.

I hope that someday everyone will be open to try and see the other side of the issue, to understand that every view has a right to be heard, as I truly believe that our very democracy depends on it.

To those that I took aim at over the past year– those policing senior managers such as Commissioner Lucki, those sometimes unfathomable politicians such as Justin Trudeau, and Chrystia Freeland, and other entities such as the National Police Federation, and the Indigenous; to name just a few of my favourite targets. I hope you too have a good Xmas. Most of the people behind these issues are well-intended and even though I often heatedly disagree with the policies, or what they are proposing, or the job that they are doing, I do not dislike them as individuals. In the end I am only trying to report, trying to propose or unearth facts, nothing else.

I hope that sometime during this season you too are allowed some time to be alone with more gentle thoughts, or to just be allowed to take it all in. It seems trite, but I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy. Vaccinated or un-vaccinated, I don’t care.

I would like to thank those of you who have been faithful readers of the blog, allowing me to vent and tolerated me when I sometimes overstepped the line. You know who you are.

Lastly, I would like to thank those police officers who on Xmas morning find themselves sipping on the bitter 7-11 coffee, in the quiet hours around sunrise, too early to head back to the office, when the only distraction is the crows bouncing around the parking lot for that tossed wrapper of grease. Enjoy that time, you’re only one call away from it possibly getting worse.

So a Merry Xmas to all of you, thanks for reading, thanks for being at the other end of this blog.

We will see you in the New Year….when we will go back to all those other issues.

All the best,

Pete

Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

It’s Time to get to the Children

Like most of the general public last May 2021, when there was an announcement by the Tk’emlups te Seccwepmc band that they had “discovered”, through the use of ground radar, 215 “unmarked graves”, I was taken aback, and a little confused. How is this possible, how could they have gone un-detected for so long?

In a few short days, the discovery and the original news reports began morphing and transitioning, building to a crescendo of evermore outlandish and suspicious headlines. The “unmarked graves” quickly turned into “mass graves”. The allegations captured news eyes from around the world and the international headlines began to follow suit. One of the first, the prestigious New York Times, the liberal media conscious of the United States, reported on the “mass graves” that had been found on the Kamloops Residential school grounds.

The use of the terminology “mass” graves is a tricky one. In most peoples minds and in the current lexicon, it infers criminal activity, the nefarious and clandestine disposal of bodies. It conjures up, in this case, the horrific image of children meeting a brutal and homicidal end. As the months have now turned into a year most of that which was an implied– all those reports that had stirred the loud voices –turns out to be inaccurate and much less than the reports had suggested.

Terry Glavin writing for the National Post, in a recent and well researched article dated May 26th of this year, wrote about the extent and breadth of the misperception. He puts the responsibility for the exaggeration and the inflammatory headlines squarely at the feet of the National press. It was the press he argues that turned the headlines even contrary to the original press releases that had been issued by the various bands at the time. As an example, the Kamloops Band initially spoke of bodies “buried on site”, and it was the press, both television and print, who began to twist the wording to one that was more suitable for them and the headline writing editors. As Glavin points out time has now shown that there was “no mass murder”, “no evidence of mass murder” and “no evidence of concealment”. In fact for those children that died there, they were not returned to their original home for the rather mundane reason of it being a “cost-saving measure”; not to hide what had gone on.

The repercussions and the political and social media churn after the reported “discovery” moved into high gear, and the Liberals who clearly govern by headline could not wait to be seen as pre-eminent keepers of our social and political conscious. They wanted to play to their constituency. Canada Day was cancelled and the flags were put to half-mast for over five months. Apologies were demanded and received, tears flew out of the eyes of every politician standing in front of a bank of microphones. None dared to question even the slimmest of facts. Investigative journalism was non-existent.

The secondary results of the outrage, the burning of churches, the toppling of statues, and the bellicose demands for “reconciliation” reached a fevered pitch. Every news report had to include the tears of the Indigenous elders, stories of torture and abuse, and had to decry “colonization”. It was the accepted script. As the words and terminology ramped up, the term “genocide” began to gain acceptance in liberal circles. It turned out to be a step too far, and it was then that some push back began. Including the residential schools with the likes of Auschwitz was beyond the pale, even for the fringe. Somewhat un-deterred “genocide” changed into the more acceptable “cultural genocide”.

What was really discovered of course, was “undocumented deaths”.

This is not to deny that the endemic deaths of children, especially in the late 19th century were at unfathomable levels, some estimates reaching 20% of the children who had attended the schools. They were in fact dying of malnutrition, tuberculosis, and influenza. The conditions were deplorable at the schools run by the Churches but the deaths were “not a surprise”. In fact 100 years ago, the Department of Indian affairs head resigned because of the number of deaths from tuberculosis, in his mind had reached unsupportable levels.

The conditions at the schools has in point of fact been exhaustively explored for decades: inquiries, public hearings, criminal cases, settlements and Federal investigations. The largest and now most pointed to was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada; which ran for over seven years, from 2008-2015.

In that report, using the numbers that they produced, the following was revealed for the years 1890-1969:

3,021 are listed as being “undocumented deaths” and there is no record of 1391 of those children. 832 died in schools, 418 died at home, 427 in hospital, 90 in non-school situations, and 43 died in a sanatorium.

But, looking at the facts would have tapped down the rhetoric. Rarely does anything get in the way of this Liberal Federal government or in the Provincial political corridors when there is an opportunity to make political statements of empathy. They are all apologists to the core. It plays well. The unglued Indigenous Minister at the time, Carolyn Bennett expressed hope that the finding of the graves would be a “catalyst” like “George Floyd”. Again the inherent implication was that these children were killed.

Since that time, billions of dollars are being spent in one form or another for the “survivors” who suffered at the hands of those who ruled that “white supremacist, colonial settler state”. Two billion dollars in reparations to survivors, a $10,000 “common experience payment” to the 90,000 or so current survivors, an additional $3000 per year for every year they went, and over $200 million for funding “healing and education programs”. That was in 2006.

In 2019 there was a class action suit launched for those that attended day school, returning home everyday after school. That allowed for those survivors to be paid between $10,000 and $200,000 depending on the level of “abuse” claimed. Recently in a third suit settlement, “survivors” and “descendants of survivors” who died before May 30, 2005 can now also apply for compensation.

I will admit as being one who has always been confused how monies and the payment of monies to grandchildren for instance, somehow “reconciles” historical wrong doing but suffice to say that the price for any wrong doing seems to have at the very least been paid and paid in full.

Now, according to Chief Rosanne Casimir of Kamloops, commenting on the one year anniversary says that they have now entered into a new “phase”. The lead investigative group for this matter is now the Band itself, the Mounties there to give “support” only. Even with that said, a debate continues as to whether the bodies should be exhumed at all.

“The remains are there, what more proof do they want” exemplifies that thinking.

All this is of course a tacit admission that this is not as originally inferred a “crime scene”. Chief Casimir now describes it as an “exhumation to memorialization”. The focus is now to find “evidence of remains and link them to their home communities”. Ever so quietly they now seem resigned to the fact that the findings to date do not meet the criteria of anything bordering on a mass grave. The RCMP have already said that they have opened a file, but they are not actively investigating, clearly believing from the outset that this was not a crime scene. Garry Gotfriedson, a “survivor”, and head of the Committee, is even quoted as saying “all of us that attended the schools already knew that they (the bodies) were there”.

So the headlines that bounced around the world have now come full circle. The remains of these children have gone from being a symbol of a Church led criminal conspiracy to becoming a political lever, pawns in the game of “reconciliation”, pawns elicited to generate legal apologies. The deaths of children by some form of criminal behaviour is almost unthinkable but it is those thoughts and inferences which are now being used in various political arenas. Translating this narrative to various forms of reconciliation is the base of every political and economic Indigenous demand. It is unseemly. It should be criticized, not condoned.

Despite the recent announcements there is no current timeline on the exhumation of the bodies which is unlikely to yield little if any evidence of criminality or wrong-doing. Everyone knows that. They also know that the story will be reconstituted when that exhumation process begins (if ever) and that the results could actually water down the current political Liberal accepted narrative.

A thirteen person “committee” has been assigned by the Kamloops band to oversee the exhumation; the first stage being the “oral telling by elders who survived the school”. They will then use that information to begin collecting DNA from those survivors to try and identify the children remains.

“There is no manual for us to follow, so we are taking things slowly” said the Chair of the Committee Gottfriedson.

It is only after that stage will they begin to exhume and “only at that point will forensic archeologists and archivists begin their work.”

He estimated that the first stages “will take years” and the ever present caveat that the Federal government must fund the entire multi-year operation.

Is the process being prolonged and forecast into many of years to come intentional? Or is it due to a need to control the narrative? They are impolite questions to be sure. But the Indigenous need to be held to some form of accountability, both to the makeup and conduct of the investigation and its eventual outcome. Reporting on those findings and being questioned as to the process is also part of that expectation.

The grieving has to be subsumed and the political staging replaced by the real need to get to the children. At the very least you could give them back their dignity and their identity in their deaths.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by GotoVan – Some rights reserved

Policing in Canada’s LaLa Land

Hitting the headlines in the past couple of weeks was the fact that the NDP led government of British Columbia released a report by the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act , dated April 2022, entitled “Transforming Policing and Community Safety in British Columbia”.

Fairly or unfairly, most times these types of reports receive little or no attention. This report by ten MPP’s seemed to garner headlines for two primary reasons; one being that both of the current political parties produced a bi-partisan report in a rare act of consensus; the implication being that this report could therefore actually result in action. Secondly, it was news because one of its eleven recommendations was that the currently contracted RCMP should be replaced as the Provincial level police force.

It is still a government report of course, so it will likely atrophy on those always burgeoning government shelves. Especially a report with especially grand recommendations. Even In the body of this ninety-six page report they state that enactment of their recommendations will take: “many years and successive parliaments to enact”. So if you are a bettor, bet the under, as the odds of retaining the political attention of successive governments are not good.

In terms of full disclosure, few of you who on occasion read this blog would be shattered to learn that there is a belief, that this once proud organization is structurally flawed and needs to be re-built. Nothing less than a tear down– if there is to be any hope of reformative change. If that is not possible, unlikely, or more accurately never undertaken, then there is little cogent argument against having the RCMP replaced in the Province of BC or any other contracted Province.

This current proposed structural re-alignment is not the first time that this has either been proposed. So no one should be shocked by a recommendation of this kind.

What is shocking is an actual reading of this report reveals some clear and deeply flawed assertions, some mis-held perspectives and is more a reflection of “woke” in-breeding than thoughtful contemplation.

What is truly appalling is the recommendations in this report which are not being talked about. Recommendations which are aimed at totally altering the policing structure in this province to the benefit of a single favoured political group. Even though they state that the goal was to work towards “modernization and sustainability”, the flaw and subjective bias in this report is revealed quickly at the very beginning of this report.

In their words there is a need to determine the “scope of systemic racism with policing agencies” and that their study must be “consistent with the United Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Their underlining principle therefore is formed around the “increasing widespread awareness of systemic racism in policing…(therefore) transformal change is required”. This is of course a perspective that those in policing circles, if brave enough, would categorically dispute. Unfortunately, police leadership in this country are proving themselves to be sheep not shepherds.

To be fair one can not accuse this committee of not spending a great deal of time listening (and tax dollars) in the pursuit of their truth. They list over four hundred and ten agencies and individuals who came before them over the course of eighteen months. Predictably, there were the usual organizations, those that seem to appear before every committee: Civil Liberties, social workers, Downtown Eastside Women’s centre with a group called “Red Women Rising”, numerous Indian bands throughout the Province, Pivot Legal Society, and even the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre .

The police were also more than adequately represented: the RCMP, the Chiefs of Police, various Municipal police agencies, Vancouver City Police, the Pacific Training Centre, Depot Division of the RCMP, Nelson Police Department, and the list goes on. One has to wonder what these policing groups thought of the final report and whether it reflected their views in any semblance.

This smorgasbord of agencies and individuals led the committee to come up with eleven recommendations based on hearing “clear evidence of systemic racism in policing as well as the colonial structure of police services”. Ironically, they also heard that many of the Indigenous communities were both “over-policed and under served” –all in the same breath.

The “clear evidence” of systemic racism is a little more difficult to find in the report. There were muddled explanations of that evidence, such as the one by the Human Rights Commissioner who found there were “patterns of behaviour..that create and maintain the power of certain racial groups over others”. How one patterns the entire report on a presumption, without definitive evidence of the underlying premise, is manifestly frustrating.

The police agencies appearing before the Committee, with little doubt talked about things such as service delivery, oversight, accountability, and funding. There was talk of the mental health and addiction issues, and the recommendations coming from that part of the world are also highly predictable. More resources, more funding.

So what are the Eleven recommendations? They are listed here as they appear in order in the report. I paraphrase them here, in the interest of brevity.

Leading the recommendations, first and foremost, is not the creation of a Provincial Police force but:

  1. That the Indigenous have direct input into the structure and governance of police services. The Indigenous need to be involved in the drafting of a revised Police Act.

The Indigenous clearly have now garnered a special advisory relationship in all matters of government whether it be pipelines, the environment, climate change, or lumber and mining, and this now continues into policing. Special laws and special courts already exist, and now their wish is for their own police departments. Their claimed expertise seems limitless. On page 64 of the report, they go even further in that there was a need to “establish robust and well-funded Indigenous civilian police oversight bodies…in all jurisdictions”

2. The formation of a BC wide Provincial Police Force.

This is explained as now being needed primarily because of the “fragmentation” of services. The report authors also point to the needs of of consistent education and training and the sometimes jurisdictional boundaries which interfere with communication and that consistency.

3. That the Indigenous have direct input into their police “service structure and governance”.

What the authors imagine is that the Indigenous be allowed to have their own self-administered policing services as well as the full governance over those services.

This recommendation also includes a revision of the type of training and education that will be required for all police services. In effect extending programs such as “Circle of Understanding”. In anticipation of this being a successful venture they hypothesize that the Indigenous police services may be able to expand and offer up their services to other non-Indigenous neighbourhoods and jurisdictions who are in close proximity. Logistically just to be clear, in this Province there are 13 municipal departments, and 65 RCMP municipal agencies. There are 198 “distinct First Nations”. Does that mean a potential 198 new police departments? (One wonders how one points to an apparent problem of the fragmentation of police services in the province and then recommends further fragmentation.)

The Indigenous want to be involved in oversight to “observe and oversee in (all) cases involving Indigenous peoples”.

4. That there be some revision of the Mental Health Act which includes integrating Mental Health worker attendance into the 911 dispatch system. They also recommend that there be “increasing investment in social services”.

5. That there be “equitable access to high quality police…” …which is “informed by the community”. It is not real clear as to what this even means.

6. An equitable shared “funding Model”.

7. Police Education to be increased.

8. The need to collect and report “disaggregated race-based” demographics. This is interesting because for a number of years, questions directed as to race involvement in crime were in and of themselves discriminatory. The intention here is that if they gather this disaggregated evidence they will be able to prove that there is racial inequality in the enforcement of laws in this Province.

9. Civilian oversight. Not easily done but difficult to argue against and most police officials would counter by saying that there is already policing/civilian oversight.

10. Review of the Mental Health Act.

11. The establishment of an all-party standing committee on policing and community safety.

Of course this report is much more effusive under each of these categories, but you get the intended direction.

The National Police Federation are already out on the hustings, running countering media spin, no doubt apoplectic at the thought of their union representation taking a 4,000 member hit if in fact a Provincial Force was formed. They are reverting to their tried and true arguments, calling the recommendation a “little odd” and a “little premature”. After all they say they have done “waves and waves of independent research in policing in British Columbia, and consistently British Columbians have told us they were very satisfied with policing they receive from the RCMP”. Of course it is not independent research, but that may be nitpicking, but they too are missing the point. This is not about individual police officers being liked or doing a good job. This is about the structure of an Ottawa headed police force being inert and ineffectual in terms of its ability to police portions of this country.

The possibility of a Provincial replacement force, first surfaced in 1994 under Judge Wally Oppal. It has now surfaced a couple of decades later, and will likely re-re- surface again a couple of decades from now. There is little need to concern ourselves with this recommendation.

As to the other recommendations. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the government would review the report and its recommendations and consult with “community groups” and “First Nation leaders”. Apparently you as the actual police, have no input here as to the recommendations.

This report is another ridiculous and over bearing attempt by the government to genuflect to the dialogue of the enlightened, to bow to a special interest group, regardless of the actual needs of policing. It would establish a fragmented policing structure, where different laws and different levels of enforcement would create two separate classes of individuals, laws and their enforcement based on race, not on equality before the law.

This report should be buried on the very last shelf in the dingy basement of the Legislature.

.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by Stuart Butterfield – Some Rights Reserved

The Dog Days

Well, we have finally reached that part of the year, the mid-August doldrums; the time of the year that Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fear, mad dogs, and bad luck. Check, check, check, check. These are indeed the dog days of summer. 

During this brief summer sojourn there is a couple of weeks when the news of the world and the torturing headlines which endlessly announce another dilemma, another wrong doing, another catastrophe in the making, all fuse into a gauzy shade of blue. 

All those exclamatory headlines and social media alarms which have been demanding your immediate attention, now flow over and around you, the waves of shouted discontent dissipating in the waves of dry heat. It is as if you are under three feet of water looking up at the refracted light just above the surface. You can hear the voices, you can hear the speakers agitation, but the words are muffled, jumbled into drawled out nonsense. The narrative of continuous pessimism during this past year, miraculously transforms in the sticky humidity into something else, something less important. Whether you sit on the sand, waves a few feet away, or stare aimlessly at the embers of a campfire you enter this neutral state of mind. And it’s ok. 

There is a legitimate scientific reason for the “dog days” of August. This is when the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius (not Siri)  and it is at this time of the year that Sirius is actually the brightest star visible from any point of Earth—part of the Constellation Canis Major; the Greater Dog. 

So as you take comfort in your bliss of unfettered thoughts and guiltless pleasures, it is incumbent upon me —in fact it is my duty to prepare you for the coming months, for the days and months when your stupor will sadly end and you will be forced to re-focus.  

Let’s begin.

Mr. Trudeau, as predicted, only two years into his mandate, has already dissolved Parliament and you will find yourselves at the polling booth lineups on September 20th. The newly appointed Governor General, with her one official language, who has now taken up residence in her fancy digs, has now given him her permission. The story that will be brewing is the raising up of the mailed in ballot, expected to go from 50,000 to 5,000,000 which will cause a delay in announcing the results. Apparently Canadians were not paying attention to the furor in the United States during their last election over mailed in ballots.

You will awaken to a campaign in full swing, a cacophony of practised and unsurprising slogans and issues. Pancakes being flipped throughout the country. The economy, jobs, global warming, the restoration of the middle class, the taxing of the very rich, and of course reconciliation. It will be difficult to tell one leader from the next. Thirty second video and radio sound bites will dominate the air waves; the political managers will insure that every race, gender and relationship will be represented on your television screens. Even though it only constitutes  a four week election campaign you will be numb by the end and likely no better informed.

As you emerge, shaking yourself awake, the Covid vaccine campaigners will be in full force in their fight against the Delta variant. (Just wondering, are the next variants, the Echo and the Foxtrot?) The government will continue to push for further restrictions of your human rights, your ability to travel or attend events throughout the country. The Government is apparently now comfortable decrying that you as a member of Canadian society have no choice. (One government agency was even giving out yellow stars to be worn if you were one of the enlightened chosen.) You must take the sanctioned injection or be barred and banned from participating in society.  So quit pointing out issues such as human rights, show your card or newly minted medical passport and you will be allowed in. After all you are saving lives. 

It being September when you awake, you will find the teachers front and centre. Masks on, masks off. The debate will not likely every involve math or history. It will instead focus on the quality of air filter systems and the teaching of critical race theory.

By the time you rise, there will be another class action lawsuit by the Indigenous. The one currently in seed and should be in full bloom soon will be one concerning the hospitals that were formed in 1945 in the fight against tuberculosis. The Indigenous have started a claim, that they were treated worse than all others when sent to these hospitals. Word of mouth passed over the generations is their evidence and they will never be accused of originality as they are even seeking funds to look for grave sites in and around the hospitals.  

As your eyelids flutter open, you will be quickly alerted to the fact that there has been no progress in the church arsons and no one seems to be talking about it anymore. 

In all likelihood as you re-awaken, soot from the wildfires will still be falling and the wildfires  themselves will still be burning “out of control”.  So depending on where you live some of you may find that your most pressing and singular issue could be your livelihood or your home.

The farmers euthanizing their cattle so they don’t suffer a horrific death and losing their ranches in Westwold and Falkland are not commandeering many headlines, but those that have been greatly affected, contrary to the hope of the NDP government in British Columbia, may not go quietly into the night. There should be some further information on what went on in Lytton. There is a mysterious silence on who or what caused that fire as the police wait for “forensics”.    

As the fires continue, there will be building pressures for the B.C. Wildfire Service to give some accounting as to what happened. Grossly unprepared, under resourced or ill managed?  Questions should be asked.

Afghanistan will have fallen to the Taliban and one of the most inept military and global strategies ever undertaken by the west will be making all foreign policy headlines. The soldiers who died in this losing cause will likely never forget or forgive. Canadians and Trudeau have already agreed to take in 20,000 Afghans (although there seems to be a problem with the logistics of actually doing this) who are being forced to flee in some sort of panacea to an ill thought out and performed military operation. 

Stress will be the mental health issue and the word of the day into the future months. Work stress, school stress, family stress, relationship stress, loneliness stress, financial stress, medical stress, and by the time you awake — the no CRB available stress. 

Unemployment will continue to remain high and inflation once again may be talked about in government circles, unless of course the Liberals return to power. 

We will need more housing for the first time buyers and for the homeless. The homeless have a better chance. 

The opioid crisis will be ongoing and unchanged. People are bored with people dying in the streets apparently.

Bike lanes will continue to grow despite little growth in the number of people riding bikes.

On a more local level, The National Police Federation under President Brian Sauve will continue his political in-fighting with the newly formed Surrey Police Service. His ill thought out and seemingly personal campaign to keep the Mounties in Surrey is reaching new lows, now calling on Ms. Mohan whose son was a victim in the “Surrey 6 ” Mountie case for her support. Apparently she loves the Mounties and is therefore qualified to address the issues of the necessity or sustainability of the new force. “They are like family”. It was during this case, you will remember, that the investigators got caught sleeping or trying to sleep with the suspect girlfriends and almost jeopardized the entire case. Strange case choice for political support.

So, one can only hope that you are enjoying these dog days. They are good days, a chance to re-sort and re-assemble. Time to pay attention to the little  things in life. When these days end you are going to be faced with the new news, which will greatly resemble the old news. The world will be moving forward regardless. 

The policing world will be un-changed, still demanding, still impatient, and still inexorably slow to change. 

In spite of what is going on around the town, around the city or around the globe, policing and the practised art of investigation is a constant, rarely impacted by outside influences. It is virtually un-deterred by pandemic or cries of defunding. The calls will still come in, the lunacy of people interacting with other people will carry on unabated, adrenalin will still on occasion course through your veins, and there will still be the laughs amidst man’s inhumanity to man. 

But by the time you return, another summer will be in the glow of the tail lights, the harvest moon not far off. And once again we will try and make sense of the caterwauling. 

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons by William Prost – Some Rights Reserved

Pandering

Under the cloak of COVID, while monies are raining down from on high, the Canadian government has decided that this is an opportune time to pander to the select groups who hold the Federal Liberals dear to their socially active and political hearts. Their slobbering self interest doesn’t seem to know any bounds and it is certainly not constrained by any concern for budget. 

Is it all aimed at a near future election call by the Liberals? Most likely. Is it cynical, opportunistic and ethically questionable? Yes it is. Do their actions have any merit? Possibly, but it would be difficult to measure. However, their motivations are obvious. 

On February 19th of this year, in a single day, the Prime Minister announced three items with that somber voice designed to instil righteousness and clearly aimed at those of us with Grade 8 education levels.  

The first, which is economically debatable but politically obvious, was the extension of the CERB benefits for an additional 12 weeks. Sick benefits were extended as was Employment Insurance for a cumulative total of 54 weeks. The pros and cons of doing this is one for the economists to debate. Clearly though, the handing out of funds never seems to engender any liberal or social antipathy and Mr. Trudeau seems to relish the daily ritual coverage of the doling out of monies, as he guides us to health and prosperity and implores us to save lives.

The second announcement was the re-tooling of the Official Languages Act, which Mr. Trudeau described as legislation to further enhance that “beautiful french language”. In this “modernization” of the Languages Act  as presented by Ms.Joly (a rumoured “favourite” of Mr. Trudeau) should raise some concern and debate; although admittedly no one seems to be paying close attention to an Act to do with languages. It seems like strange timing in terms of priority, until you read what the changes entail. The Bloc Quebecois and the NDP who are currently supporting the minority Liberals must be aware that Mr. Trudeau is preparing to try and pull the rug out from under them— by usurping their claim as being a better representative of the people of Quebec. 

The first amendment is to Section 83 —which states that “nothing in the Act abrogates or derogates from the rights of other languages, by explicitly mentioning Indigenous languages”.  This is lawyer inspired convoluted language but the intended results are that Nunavut and the North West Territories will officially recognize English, French and “indigenous languages as official languages”.  Surprisingly, little fanfare to announce that Canada has another “official” language? It may also seem trite but compliance to this could have profound effect on the courts and the providing of government services.

Also in this Languages Act the government is proposing to “encourage” further funding for french immersion across the country– including the hiring of more french immersion teachers, and even stream lining a “Francophone immigration corridor”. All this to aid them in their search for French speaking teachers outside of Quebec. 

No matter how meritorious this promotion of the french culture and language it is coming at a time when French as a language and culture is dwindling. Using their own statistics, the francophone population outside of Quebec in 1971 was 6.6%. It was 3.9% in 2011 and is anticipated to be at 3.0% by 2036.  One has to question whether an “immersed” Canada outside of Quebec is a relevant and achievable goal. The Liberals clearly think so, but they are likely more concerned in how it will “play” in Quebec. 

Finally, since 2016 the Government of Canada has been “committed” to appointing “only functioning bilingual judges to the Supreme Court of Canada”. However, there was an exception clause in the act under Section 16(1) which was purposefully placed there in consideration of the need for geographic representation on the courts and a possible lack of bilingual judges in the unilingual West. The Liberals are now going to remove this exemption, so that all will have to be fluently bilingual to serve on the highest court in the land. This could have a direct impact on the makeup of this highest court, more francophone than representative.

As an oblique aside, the Government says that “it will be necessary to keep in mind the importance of representativeness of Indigenous peoples in the highest institutions of our country….”. They then direct the Government to “actively envision the appointment of Indigenous judges to the Supreme Court of Canada”.  One has to admire the “actively envision” language as camouflage for a direct order.

Which brings us to the the third announcement of this busy day.

It pertained to Bill C-22, which is to deal with the “Mandatory Minimal Penalties (MMP) as outlined in the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  They are announcing changes to the fourteen offences in the Criminal Code and six in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Why? If you follow this Liberal government you probably have already guessed. Because, minimum sentences “targets black, indigenous and racialized communities”. 

Their blatantly stated goal is to bring down the numbers of the Federally incarcerated who are there due to “systemic discrimination and racism” and a system which they believe punishes “black and indigenous people”.   Mr. Lametti seems to want us to believe that this “over representation” was some form of pointed racist selection process, not the result of persons having committed the crimes.

The statistics are bold and clear.

 From 2007-2017 they argue “black and indigenous were more likely to be admitted to federal custody for an offence punishable by a MMP”.  Although only 5% of the population is indigenous, they make up 30% of the Federal inmate population; blacks represent 3 % of the population but represent 7.2% of the incarcerated. The answer, according to the social progressives, is not to try and stem the crime by fighting the obvious crime instigators like poverty and unemployment in these communities. Their solution, if parties are caught in a criminal offence, is to promote “judicial discretion”. They are directing Judges that they “must take into consideration the individual and their experience with systemic racism”. 

They will even be funding $28 million to “social contracts training” for  Judges in case they are missing the message. 

Is there evidence that mandatory sentencing doesn’t work? Yes, but there is also evidence that it does work, so this reformation is not necessarily based on the evidence— what it is based on is playing to a certain minority.  

In 2008 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that minimum sentencing was constitutional but maybe not an “appropriate response” to Section 12 of the Charter which deals with cruel and unusual punishment. 

The pros of minimum sentencing point out that it eliminates disparity, provides consistency, and avoids Judge shopping. If one holds that the law should reflect the peoples wishes, in 2005 —74% of Canadians felt that sentencing was too lenient. It should be remembered that the minimum sentencing was brought into effect under the dreaded Stephen Harper Conservative government in response to Canadians and their complaints about the lack of justice. 

But none of this seems to have been the motivating factor for Justice Minister Lametti. What may be more relevant is that the multi-party “black caucus” issued a call to action  and “demanded the elimination of mandatory minimums”. Mr. Lametti a signatory to this document.  

There is little doubt that Mr. Lametti has been emboldened and given comfort by the courts, which are allowing him to play to the minority audience. 

In 2016 in R vs Lloyd, when dealing with some drug offences, the court thought that the drug offences and sentencing for them did not take into account “indigenous heritage and the impact of colonialism”.  In R vs Gladue the Judges said that a different “analysis and approach is required by Judges when sentencing aboriginal offenders and that “imprisonment is a less appropriate or less useful sanction”.  

Far be it for this writer to be in disagreement with the learned judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. They are a distinguished group of scholars, but their voting records seem to have a very natural lean to the left. Mr. Lametti and the Liberals are also playing in the Biden band and trumpeting whatever is currently playing in the North American media. The riotous Trump entourage is now thankfully gone but we now have the Trudeau and Biden love-in which could prove equally destructive and divisive with its approach to social issues, or rather its dogmatic adherence to Twitter driven policies.

Having lived most of my life in the criminal world, the positions of this Liberal government when it comes to crime and minority rights, seems at times completely ludicrous. We have been traveling down this left branch of the victim road for an interminable many years now. One has to wonder and ask that with each further step— are we getting any closer to some ill-defined justice utopia ? By creating different classes of criminals with different levels of personal and cultural responsibility are we moving towards justice and fair and equal treatment, or away from it? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the definition of justice is a concept on ethics and law “that means people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone”. Minimum sentencing seems to fit that definition whereas the policy of Mr. Lametti feels that the principal of proportionality applies and one should allow for “the role of the social context”, which seems counter-intuitive.

The symbolic scales held by the Roman Lady of Justitia symbolizes giving fair and objective consideration to all evidence, without showing bias one way or the other. Mr. Lametti and his Liberal colleagues are unhesitatingly standing on those scales and even trying to influence who hold those scales. They are brazen in their efforts, choosing a time when debate and accountability have been Zoomed out.

The fifth estate have been completely coopted by the the social agenda, content to just count the number of COVID cases and their variants. To them, application of justice, or the breach of charter and constitutional rights are far less interesting than Oprah, Harry, and Meaghan. The pablum of celebrity successfully diverting us from worthy debate on issues of importance; and, that is what the Liberals are counting on.

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

Loved and Defunded…

My news intake has admittedly been reduced to an almost ignorant level. A few snippets in the morning and then nothing else for the rest of the day. A prescription for a blissful day and for the most part unabashedly content in that ignorance. No t.v., no Twitter, no Facebook, no radio intruding on rational thought. The world, or at the least the world of large capitalized headlines, temporarily pushed aside. 

Yet, the continuous carousel of causes swirls around and around, constantly exposing us, albeit inadvertently, to the special interest punch lines. The catch lines are designed to instil a reaction of fear or outrage. In turn the politicians continuously seek public affirmation. Constantly chumming the waters for us to bite and be hooked.

 Frustratingly— you once again find yourself having fallen into their trap. 

The bellowing cry to “Defund the Police” is one that has garnered the herd following, and like almost all of the ideas born by protestor insemination it seems to lack any real substance. There is no specifics on how this would work or any articulated policy flowing from this fragile concept. Of course this does not deter the politicos. Form and function is irrelevant.

In New York City, which commands the largest city police force in North America, the city counsel just “defunded” the police to the tune of a $1 billion. N.Y of course, is an enclave of democratic power, so it is not much of a surprise that they have reacted with knee-jerk reflexes and near sightedness. The polar fringes reacted with those on the left saying that it was “not enough” while on the other end of the spectrum, usually portrayed as “red necks” saying it was “too much”.

Nevertheless, this fashionable debate forces one to ponder what started this process, this lack of confidence in policing? How did the police manage to ostracize so many? Did we help to create this?  Is it wrong to look inward when things go awry? Should we just assume that all who level  criticism at the police are by definition fools?

How did we get here and how do the police get out? After all the police practise and policies during the last number of years has been driven by the  need to be “liked. Is it possible that the police in their attempts to be everything to everyone has completely backfired?

Managers of the various police outlets all adapted and were co-opted to the theory that the way to improve policing was to be accommodating, to be all encompassing to special interest groups. The new school of management preached in public administration that government bodies needed to be more imbued within “the social fabric”. All the problems that that would entail could be surmounted by an understanding police department. This was the birth of the politics of “inclusion”.

It’s explains how when the police hear the recent cries of “systemic” racism that it all seems so ludicrous. The police can not relate to these allegations. They have been living through this “new”age when the RCMP and other police forces have been extolling the virtue of the police being all good, all present, and all connected. 

Police departments sought out affirmation and were being directed to the goal of being loved by everyone; to be one with all members of society, no matter where you appeared on the economic or political spectrum, we wanted to see through your eyes. The police began hugging everyone in their immediate vicinity, crying when deemed appropriate by those that demanded empathy and conceded the need for retribution for all of the historic real or even perceived “wrongs”.

If you want the gay movement to like the police, march in their parades.  

 If you want children to like you, let them climb around your cars and hit the siren button. (That was learned that from the fire departments actually)

 If you want to relate to teenagers, put officers in the schools where they can be one of them; play basketball with them, or dance with them at school fund raisers. After all, officers dancing in the streets to some neighbourhood rap has become one of the favoured youtube draws. It plays.

Recently, a video showed a female officer in full uniform going down a “slip and slide” became a viral video; clearly aimed to garner love and “likes.  The police have been feeling the need to demonstrate to all that they are in fact humans too; we feel, we rejoice, we are sad. Or so was the theory.

This love and acceptance would lead us into a better policed world and therefore a better society, a “just society” to intone former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. They wanted to grow beards or wear tattoos as it would show that we were just like them. We would be “cool”.

The events of the past few weeks has proven that this theory which was to drive the police to a utopian acceptance –was entirely wrong. 

In the love/hate relationship with the media the pendulum has also been swinging with abandon. Modern thinking was that if you want the press to like you, then answer all and every question. Be at their constant disposal. Twitter out events as fast as you can— god forbid that the press didn’t have the latest police sound bite. In this quest the police have issued tweets that were about events before the police even got to the scene.

It is this incessant need to accommodate that led to the questions as to where was the Amber Alert in Nova Scotia? They want the press to love them, to come to some understanding of how hard they work, to not misunderstand them. They are doing good work, so how can you possibly write bad stories about us.   

This too clearly is not working. That damnable ungrateful press has now turned on them.

This overall theory founded on the need to be “liked” is clearly and universally flawed. The counter argument being suggested here is that the police do not in fact need to be liked by everyone and not all the time. 

But, they do need to be “respected”.

The way to gain and achieve that respect is to be seen as being objective, fair; both in their investigations and in their decisions. A police force should never be seen as being on one side of an issue no matter what the issue. The police can not be “political” and survive in a society made up of disparate and diverse groups.

It is impossible for the police to be seen as independent, fair, or objective if they are seen as being influenced by their political masters or favouring one political entity over another. They are there to enforce the laws, not to influence or pander to variations or interpretation and enforcement of those laws.

In all areas of policing, the police having been enamoured with inclusion and affirmative action politics have by necessity become political on multiple levels. The once arms length approach to the role of government and the political executive arms has disappeared.

In the RCMP Ms. Lucki and her mandarins have proven conclusively that they are under the direction of the current government. One does not have to look any further than the recent flip flops over “systemic racism”. But, there are numerous examples, some far more damaging in their outcomes. 

Does anyone believe that the RCMP will investigate with any fervour the corruption that is implicit in the recent awarding of almost $1 billion to the WE organization and its connection to the Trudeaus. Does anyone believe that any corruption on the part of the Indigenous would ever be investigated? Does anyone believe that SNC-Lavalin was investigated without prejudice?

The general population of Canada, watches and sees this clear political influence being exerted on an almost daily level on the police. They roll their collective eyes and shake their collective heads. The confidence of the public is wavering in the ability of the RCMP to conduct any investigation, not just the ones that require some level of sensitivity. 

So, if they want to defund the police, lets throw them some bones. Let’s defund the sections that are solely aimed at being “liked” and instead reinforce the investigative mandate.

Let’s get rid of all community policing officers and let’s get rid of all school liaison officers. Give that money over to the hiring of another school counsellor or some other community program. Let’s shut down those child safety programs, like the bike rodeos, or the pretend officer training programs. Let’s get rid of any program that are echoes of social work. Let’s get rid of the Safety Bear. 

Let’s get rid of all those media relations officers and all their respective units, including the “strategic” media units. From now on, officers on a case of particular importance can issue a one page press release if there is a need.  (Believe it or not this was easily done in the past). Let’s get rid of the Twitter and Facebook feeds. We should not be part of the social media universe with all its frantic and frenzied radicalism on both the right and the left. It’s an internet conversation and therefore those conversations are mostly ridiculous. 

Let’s not react to any 12 second video clip without conducting a full investigation.

Again, remember the public wants confidence in your fairness and your thoroughness. Prove through investigative results your case for the value of objective policing. 

Investigate all in a timely and fair manner.

If undue influence results, then the leaders of those investigative units must step forward and publicly call out any attempt to influence. The police leaders have to re-establish their independence from the legislative and administrative arms.

There is little doubt that this would take tremendous courage, which is admittedly in very short supply in these off-kilter days. The managers need to lead and not just post on Linked-In their leadership skills. There would be some “hills to die on”.

The public would eventually be on their side if that trust could be re-established. 

 Chief Adam Palmer of the VPD recently stepped forward after some hesitation to address systemic policing. It was a dangerous move with the left leaning NDP Mayor of Vancouver watching from a safe political distance. Maybe Chief Palmer was still angry over having his police budget cut by the bike lane loving mayor, but in any event he stepped up. He will likely pay an eventual price, but he did what was right. 

The people just want to have faith in their police force. It is really that simple. It will be difficult and will involve facing numerous hurdles, but it can be done.

The public wants to be assured of the police arrival, confident in the job that will do in a fair and impartial manner, without regard for race or community. The public want the police to be professional and above all else immune to all the faces of favouritism.

We do not need to like them.

Photo courtesy of Carole Raddato via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

In need of a Churchill

There are many types of Principles. There are Principles for Life, Principles for Work and Principles for Success. The exponents of Principles vary from the Baptist preacher, to the hundreds of wannabe consultants populating Linked-In.  All preaching fundamental and quite obvious truths. There are principles of science, law, journalism and farming— but let’s deal with the fundamental building block of principles for life— that of the need to seek and speak the truth. Veracity and strength of character, in what you say and do and the willingness to sacrifice for that truth.  It is the rarest of all qualities. 

This blogger was taken down this philosophical wandering path into human principles and basic truths by a recent biography on Winston Churchill. It is an incredibly long and extensively researched book, by Andrew Roberts, a total exploration of the times in which Churchill lived and the circumstances over fifty years which led to his becoming the Prime Minister of Britain in 1939.  Appointed Prime Minister as the world was preparing for the Second World War. 

The book is not always admiring; it points to faulty decisions, obstinate views, less than charming personality traits and all the other foibles which make up every human and make us just like our neighbour.  In his long build up —as a child born into privilege, unbridled love for a less than generous father, bullied at school, a troubled relationship with his son and a sometimes unfaithful but loyal wife that all became part of his being.  This was combined with a world wide and extensive education, through travel and schooling, W.W. I, being a Prisoner of War, and shot at during the Boer War.  This mixture of circumstance and education joined with his social DNA to create the man, the man who many would argue was the saviour of Britain and the saviour of the world from Naziism and the scourge of Hitler. 

There are a few obvious characteristics which stood out to all that watched and listened every night to the BBC broadcasts during those trying times. In examining both this man and this time in history, it is impossible not to be struck or attempt a comparison to the leaders of today. Clearly, the qualities or abilities that were on full display from 1940 to 1945 are in short supply in this day and age. It is both interesting and disheartening if one considers current policing management and the general political atmosphere in Canada.

In recent days, in this country the politicians and the policing administration has been exposed. A bright harsh light is shining down on a group of leaders who seem helpless and ridiculous—hoisted on their own petard of political correctness.  Held hostage by a minority who believe that the rule of law does not apply to them. The economy stalemated by a small group of people, a radical fringe basking in their ability to cause upheaval and spout outlandish claims to the other 95% of Canada. 

There has never been a greater need for a Churchill and the qualities which seem in such short supply in February 2020.

First and foremost was a fundamental honesty. And he wielded that honesty with great relish and effect. In speaking to the masses or his political War Cabinet, even in the very darkest of times, such as the evacuation of Dunkirk, he did not underestimate, play with the numbers, or fudge the losses. He was direct and sincere in his grief. He had faith in the ability of the general public to discern truth from fiction, to tell right from wrong, and to understand dire circumstances. 

Secondly, he was a great communicator. He believed in the power of oratory, the power of inflection, nuance, and tone. He studied it, practised in front of a mirror, and when he rose in the House of Commons to speak, even the opposition (and there were many who disliked him) grew quiet in anticipation of what he was about to say. Most people do not know that Churchill was a writer, a journalist and one of the greatest historical record keepers in modern times. When out of power, he lived on his writing skills, and he wrote honestly and with endless fairness, even when speaking about those that had often opposed him. He skillfully injected humour into often seemingly humourless situations in an effort to alleviate the tension in which they were then living. 

Thirdly, he was intelligent. He studied continuously; interested in almost every vocation and profession that entered into his sphere. He was a military expert, in tactics both in the air, on the land and on the sea. He could comment on armaments, proposed one of the first tank vehicles, and could cite naval tactics going back to Lord Nelson. He predicted the Second World War and the rise of Naziism, five years before the actual event. He talked and wrote about the plight of the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe long before it was noticed by the rest of the world. He created MI 5 and MI 6 because of his fundamental belief in the need for intelligence even when the country was not at war.  

It was intelligence based on an un-abiding intellectual curiosity, a need when in a group to speak to everyone, consider every point of view, and not avoid those with counter-views. He had no problem marching in and in front of a hostile and rambunctious crowd with little regard for his personal safety but intent in trying to argue reason over emotion. That being said he did not handle fools easily. He had no interest in the lazy and intellectually vacant. 

And finally, he was brave, tireless, indefatigable, relentless in his pursuit of in what he believed and fearless in terms of pursuing it until the end.  During the war when travelling to meetings he often carried his .45 revolver, not out of fear but out of a belief that if someone was going to try and kill him, he would only go down by taking someone with him. 

He was famous for his afternoon naps, his cigars and his enjoyment of a good drink. A sense of  life, a sense of the relatively short time we spend on earth, often working until the wee hours of the morning. While in Cabinet, he still took time to paint and to write 1500 words a day, all while the world was changing in dramatic rapidity and demands for his attention became insistent and never-ending. His decisions during the war, often involved the life and death struggles of young soldiers in the trenches, while his city was being bombed around him. 

To compare our 21st century Canadian problems to that of the past seems patently unfair, as we can not easily comprehend the world in which Churchill and many others were forced to live and endure. We can not relate to real stress. Quite naturally, we have become softer, we have entered into a time period when little things become big things where “life and death” can be portrayed in an emoji.  

Our lifestyles have grown along with our financial outlook and with our egos which are being projected into the ether, dutifully recorded by endless selfies. Twitter and Facebook allows us to share our small world problems with the rest of the world, yet paradoxically in Canada we seem to have no real knowledge of the other world.  We are immune to the wars in Syria and Afghanistan, to famine in Africa, or massacres in Rohingya. But we are often consumed whether two members of the Royal family live in Canada as if it gives us some validity as a country. The numbers of those that have contracted coronavirus are counted and published in large “War” like headlines and displayed in graphics that would be the envy of Pixar. 

But as one reviews the principles and the fundamental needs of leadership that were exemplified by Churchill, is it fair to look around and compare? Maybe not, but can we not demand that this current leadership group should have at least one quality? Can we look at Trudeau, John Horgan, Kennedy Stewart or the Commissioner of the RCMP, Perry Bellegarde of the First Nations—anyone? 

Let’s examine some of the needed principles. Honesty? Well, it has been a long time since any of us ever felt that we were not being lied to, or that we were getting the unabashed truth. When was the last time any of you sat around a police meeting room conference table and felt that there was room for honest discontent, or an opposing opinion — without the fear of being ostracized? Try to be honest in your answer.

Has not the rule of thumb to be promoted to management ranks in the RCMP or any other police force in the last number of years, been that first and foremost you must be  a “company” man or woman.  There is no room for any counter opinion or dissent. All is good, all is well is the ongoing theme for the aspirants to the top of any government institution. Preach the political platitudes and all will be well. 

Finally, are these leaders intelligent? Many are, but what is exasperating is that many have chosen to subsume that intelligence in order to advance a better career, or an increased position of power.  They are expending that intelligence on doing what plays politically. What fits the polls?  They often rose to positions of substance, by being non-committal, never getting caught in venturing an opinion, forever fearful of the negative spotlight.  They seemed to have turned that intelligence away from the honest and forthright and have adopted the belief that the truth can not be handled by the masses. Only they know the way forward, they are the elites. Free speech or even unfiltered speech no longer a founding principle for democracy. 

So where does that leave us? We have not reached the epic problems of Churchill’s time. But, we have arrived at a junction where a lack of leadership is putting us close to the precarious edge of revolt. The growth of the populist right, is being nurtured by a growing cynicism, energized by these sycophants to the liberal political ideology of appeasement at all costs. 

Yes, we are in desperate times, as we scan the horizon for a leader who exudes the qualities of a Churchill, but the landscape is indeed barren. Someone intent on speaking the truth. Willing to stand for the principles of honesty and integrity and most importantly willing to be unpopular. But convinced of their stance which is supported by experience and an extended knowledge of the situation. Someone who has a basic understanding of right and wrong.

 Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Mark Miller,  Brenda Lucki, Jagmeet Singh, Elizabeth May  and Justin Trudeau are clones; interchangeable. They are trying to propagate the belief that they and only they are the humanistic preserve of the enlightened.

Now all these issues and policies to which they marched, lock step, arms linked is now playing out on the news every night. The issues of the day are now exposing how trying to appeal to everyone, to be on both sides of the fence, will eventually lead to contradiction.  Let’s be clear. Not being on the fence, but literally trying to be on both sides of an issue.

The police have gone down this road of being inseparable from the legislative arm. No longer are they strictly the enforcers of the law, independent and impartial, they are now part of the political process, enforcing and being directed only when it meets and suits the political agenda. This slippery slope comes at great cost. The RCMP has now been tainted, painted with the brush of bias, favoured interest groups being treated differently; in this case the Liberal indigenous cause.

Police management and the politicos are clearly working together now, trying to see a way out, when neither has any vision.

The economy is now staggering under the weight of illegality, but they are currently willing to sacrifice the economy to support their policy platform to which they are inexorably tied. It is their only hope for political survival. They pray each night to the gods that the indigenous will tire of their just cause, whatever that might be as the end goal is anything but clear. Their fear of violence erupting if they adhere to the rule of law would destroy their “reconciliation” platform, and their fear is palpable. It is hard to take a stand, when your only stance is to be popular.

It is pathetic to watch and it is a long way from Churchill. 

In a famous speech Churchill said: ” Let us brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say; “This was their finest hour”.

This is not this country’s finest hour.

It was learned today that the CO of E Division RCMP Jennifer Strachan wrote to the indigenous hereditary chiefs offering to pull back from the enforcement of the blockade near Houston, B.C. as a sign of “good will”. No doubt a suggestion from some of her political bosses.

She and the others should pay head to another statement by Churchill:

“An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile–hoping it will eat him last”

Collision Course

In a ruling this month by Justice Margeurite Church of the B.C. Supreme Court, it was decided that Coastal Gas Link, the company constructing the LNG pipeline from north eastern British Columbia to Kitimat British Columbia, had satisfied the requirements for an interlocutory injunction against the protestors of the natural gas pipeline.

Listen closely….can you hear the echo?

The year before in December 2018 the court had granted an interim injunction against these same protestors. That time the RCMP eventually moved in and 14 of the protestors were arrested and the encampment taken down. All of it much to the chagrin of a small sect of the Indigenous who were being supported and prompted by the usual wagon jumpers of the enlightened liberal left.

So here we are again, a year later, same issue, different court date. Ms. Church in this latest court verdict went a little further in her ruling saying –that there is evidence to suggest that the protestors had engaged in “deliberate and unlawful conduct” for the purpose of causing harm to the plaintiff and preventing it from constructing the pipeline.

Of added interest may be her comments reflecting on the general state of the laws pertaining to the Indigenous movement reflected in this particular case:
“There is a public interest in upholding the rule of law and in restraining illegal behaviour and protecting the right of the public, including the plaintiff, to access on Crown roads…the defendants may genuinely believe in their rights under indigenous law to prevent the plaintiff from entering into Dark Horse territory, but the law does not recognize any right to blockade and obstruct the plaintiff, to access on Crown roads.

In any event, another court decision, another group of lawyers, all kicking at the peripheral issues and avoiding the central dilemma of defining the role the Indigenous are to play in this country.

One would be hard pressed to imagine a more convoluted, ridiculous, and multi-layered predicament. Often mis- guided policy and vague initiatives have been all wrapped in endless litigation and court interpretation. The politically righteous argument of aboriginal rights, simmering away for the last forty years in a cauldron stirred by hundreds of lawyers. Apparently none able or overly concerned to define the central role of the Indigenous in this country. No one able to say whether the Indigenous are simply Canadians, just like everyone else, with the same rights and benefits, and subject to the laws of this country; or a “Nation” unto themselves, independent in spirit and governance, albeit financially dependent.

The popular view being force fed by the Liberal government Federally and a Provincial NDP government is that there is a 2nd “Nation” in this country. An ill-defined nation to be sure, no central authority, no common economic agenda or engine, old ways versus the new.

Non the less this “Nation” has indeed found a receptive audience in the current government and is grabbing for the ring of political acceptability and political empowerment, with ceaseless demands for increased financial resources and independence. It is demanding its own school system, its own policing and justice system, its own health care, its own social services, all to be run by a disparate range of communities.

A “nation” system made up of 634 different groups or “nations” speaking over than 50 different languages. Varied in language and cultural beliefs and spread throughout a massive geographic and often isolated area it is difficult to see a unified coherent and plausible plan.

As the years tick by this stew of government initiatives have been tendered, milked and prolonged by a legal and political community fuelled by the increasingly politically astute indigenous leadership.

Since 2000 there have been 21 cases involving indigenous rights and claims heard by the BC Supreme Court. There have been 9 cases since 1984 heard by the BC Court of Appeal, 14 cases heard by the Federal Court, and since 1970, 64 cases coming before the Supreme Court of Canada.

The result is layers of court systems all pronouncing their particular spin on what it all means. Supreme Court Constitutional decisions, common law precedents, treaties, Reserved land, “ceded” and “unceded” lands, Canadian law, Indigenous “laws”, hereditary chiefs, elected counsels, and Provincial declarations echoing United Nations Declarations.

The need for “reconciliation” spews forth at every turn, the beauty of the word “reconciliation” being is that it is infinite, there is no end. By very definition the issues can never be “reconciled.” The devil incarnate of course is “colonization”.

The movement has taken down statues, removed names from buildings, re-named Provincial and Federal Parks, and moved to ensure that any business done has to include a portion of the pie for them.

Some Indigenous are living in the most hideous squalid communities, living in poverty, poor education, no drinking water, and out of control birth rates. No hope of economic sustainment on one hand, while others are developing billion dollar city properties.

There are oil-rich Indigenous bands where the average income is $125,000 per year, and only 4% of the income comes from the Federal government, only because they are blessed by the good fortune of sitting on often barren lands but lands where there is black gold running under their feet. There are others that are almost 100% funded by the Federal government, defecating in buckets, no clean water, and no siding on their houses.

In this systemic chaos only the lawyers are winning. No one else.

It is all leading to darkening clouds and a possible storm of discontent on both sides of the two “Nations”. A low pressure system consisting of 96% of the population moving inexorably toward an Indigenous high pressure system made up of 4% of the population.

The latest example is now being played out near Houston, British Columbia. The Unist’ot’en and Wet’suwet’sen “nations” and their “hereditary chiefs” versus the rest. This latest collision to be where there is the proposed site of a natural gas pipeline to be built for a $6.6 billion by Coastal Gas Link. (The pipeline is to link to a $40 billion LNG export plant that is to be built in Kitimat, B.C.)

The NDP government of British Columbia with a straight face, state that they are both anti-pipeline and pro- pipeline. Hereditary chiefs disagree with elected counsels. Some bands are pro development seeing it as a financial windfall and the only hope out of abject poverty; others are just against it.

Last week a BC Supreme Court issued an injunction ordering that all obstacles to construction be removed. Pretty simple right?

The problem is that it was one Nation, going through their legal system, that obtained the injunction. The other Nation doesn’t recognize those laws.

Grand Chief Stewart Philip says that it is a very “complicated issue”. It’s complicated mainly because it is difficult for him to argue both for and against.

On the hereditary chief side you have reported comments like;

“It’s our territory. It’s not Canadian land. It is not the Queen’s. It’s not the RCMP’s. Its Wet’ suwet’sen land. “

The builders are “settlers on stolen land”, this is “environmental racism” all part of the “Canadian legacy of colonization”.

Immediately the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs jumped on the practised narrative, led by Grand Chief Stewart Philip who issued a statement saying: “A police exclusion zone smacks of outright racism and the colonial – era pass system sanctioned by the so-called rule of law, which our people survived for far too long”.

And in between these two nations is the politically correct RCMP. Their political masters want them to be gentle, do not offend at any cost. Their legal bosses are telling them to enforce the order and in the past, there was no hesitancy around a court ordered injunction. The Mounties traditionally and constitutionally were there to enforce the laws, not to interpret them.

But this is a different world now. This is the world of appeasement and the Mounties are going to find that they have no friends on either side.

The Mounties, god bless their souls are trying none the less, to be friends to those who can not countenance any meeting of the ways. They have asked the Indigenous protestors to meet and negotiate with the very same company that went to get the court order, the Coastal Gas Link group, who must think that they are is some sort of Twilight zone.

In the meantime the protestors have been cutting down trees and setting up their camp, while the Hereditary chiefs continue to say that the pipeline violates “Indigenous law and does not have consent”.

This is a fundamental collision. This is not going to go away.

It circles around aboriginal title which has been a decades long argument. What “title” or the “duty to confer” or “honour of the Crown” all means, with all its varied interpretations also includes such arguments as to whether treaty’s extinguished those title claims. Some even argue whether Indigenous groups in signing some of these treaties even understood them.

The countless cases which have been brought forward, have all circled around Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982 which proscribes to the protection of indigenous and treaty rights. Unfortunately, it didn’t define those rights, but none the less in 1995 the government began to adopt a policy of an “inherent right to self-government”, and the Penner Report to the House of Commons in 1983 spoke of this inherent right.

Adding to the legal and political confusion is the fact that the rights being claimed by the Indigenous do not come from an “external source”–they claim it is a result of Aboriginal people’s own occupation and relationship with their home territories as well as their own ongoing social structures and legal systems.

This would mean that in their view, they control and define aboriginal title.

Today, no political party, Provincial government or Federal government wants to be seen as decisive in terms of defining what these rights will be or how they would integrate with the rest of Canada in terms of self government.

The lawyers drone on in every level of courtroom. They are seemingly content in this ongoing lucrative dark hole of litigation.

The silent majority sit back and wonder where this is all leading. Is Canada prepared to have a separate entity operating within its borders, with its own laws and government, while at the same time supporting them through tax dollars. Are they prepared to let 4% determine what flows through economically to the other 96%. It seems unlikely, but there is no current political party asking that this central issue gets addressed definitively.

At some point the police are going to have to act in Houston. Every police officer involved will be left standing out in the field and roadway and it will an open hunting season for cries of violence and racism the minute they come within a few feet of the protestors.

The journalists stand by at the ready, camera rolling, salivating at the potential for filmed violence. ( the Canadian association of Journalists even jumped into the recent fray— arguing in court the fact that they were worried that the police could use the exclusion zone to prevent media from covering the RCMP enforcement of the injunction.) Maybe this is a sad conclusion but in this age of “breaking news” it is hard to dispute their intent.

None of this is new in terms of the RCMP being the potential fall guy. There have been many times in the past where the enforcement of an injunction has been violent and they have been pilloried for their abuse of power, rightly or wrongly.

The concern is that there is not a lot of confidence or recent evidence in the current RCMP management being behind their operational officers. Will they be supportive of the laws of Canada and the enforcement of those laws, or will they succumb to the un-written laws of a frenzied very vocal political “Nation”. After all it is a management group which has been genuflecting in front of the Indigenous cause in deference and in parallel with their political masters for the last several years.

We will see shortly. Time is running out in their “negotiations”.

A note to those uniform officers. Make sure those body cams are charged up and the audible is working. It may be the only friend you have in this instance.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Tony Webster