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

Small Dutch boy needed…

There are a lot of analogies that would seem to fit the current state of bedlam in Surrey, that bastion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police efforts in municipal policing, their veritable flagship of contract policing. Mary Mapes Dodge in her story of “Hans Brinker; or the Silver Skates” wrote about the little Dutch boy who saved his country from disaster, by plugging a finger in the dike until help arrived the next day. It seems to be a fitting description of Surrey and the RCMP– in light of the back and forth bureaucratic political maelstrom now taking place in that fair city while also reflecting the current overall state of Canada’s national police force.

Of course in this metaphorical dike there is more than a single hole, there are many, all of which are being plugged by the fingers of the likes of Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, Assistant Commissioner Manny Mann, and Chief Superintendent Sean Gill. Playing the Dutch Queen, is the the illustrious and apparent policing expert Brenda Locke who is of course, now the mayor of Surrey with her 28% of the popular vote versus 27.3% of the popular vote for Doug McCallum.

Her lacklustre .7% win did not deter her from giving the speech about the “people have spoken”. Brenda Locke to keep her promise is willing to pay out over $100 million of taxpayer dollars to go back to the status quo of keeping the Mounties. (Did we mention that she used to be a party supporter of McCallum when he originally made it an election issue for a separate police force). She fell out of McCallum’s favour though and then switched her position. This all seems to be more about political revenge than thought out policy. In any event it has come about that on November 29th, Locke and her new group of councillors voting 5-4, have now endorsed the “framework for a development of a plan” to undo what has been done. This was after a presentation by A/Comm Edwards to the City council wherein he talked about what a great job the Mounties are doing and will continue to do when they get rid of those nasty Surrey Police Service upstarts, which by the way are now a few hundred members strong. A “Project Team” will oversee a development of this plan, that will need to be submitted to city council by December 12, 2022– which in turn would need to be forwarded to the BC Solicitor General and the Public Safety Minister for approval. Of course new Premier Eby will have a final say, one way or another.

One must keep in mind that the transition to a City Police Service has already been approved by all three levels of government.

For the BC Police Services and the Ministers to reverse that original McCallum majority government led initiative, one would think will take some real persuasion. Locke must realize that it is a high hill to climb so she has tried to stack her Project Team by hiring Dr. Peter German (clearly someone who has the ear of Premier Eby who had hired German when he was looking into money laundering and the casinos) and Tonia Enger (a self-declared “contract policing expert”). Both of course are former RCMP officers of lengthy service, and one would have to assume that their report will now have to be supportive of a return to the RCMP, and somehow also make it seem logical. Expect to see the money issue down-played.

The RCMP and their union, the National Police Federation, have been strident and vocal supporters of Locke to oppose McCallum, the Darth Vader of Surrey politics. I have been told on good authority that at the election headquarters for Locke on the night of the vote, Edwards, Mann and Gill were there in full glory, exhorting and cheering on their new mayoral hero. So much for police being politically impartial.

Then there was the curious case of public mischief brought against the Mayor, of which he was acquitted, much to the Mountie chagrin. What was curious about the case was that McCallum made a complaint of assault, and within a few days, he himself was charged with public mischief. The whole case should never have gone forward, but that aside, there is something highly suspicious about the Mounties bringing charges against McCallum in the first place, and in such a quick turnaround. Now, with little doubt, the City will also have to pick up McCallum’s very pricey legal bills.

There is also a ground level war going on between the Mounties and those that wish to replace them. The Mountie union for their part, will also be sending a report to the government with their view of the situation. The NPF spokesman, Ryan Buhrig, made an interesting comment to the press, in that he stated that seven of the fourteen “shifts” were currently “below minimum staffing levels”. Is this to blame on the transition, or is he admitting that the RCMP is currently not able to meet the contract needs? There is little doubt that these shifts were “below minimum” long before the Surrey Police Service came into existence.

I have by now heard from uniform officers from both sides. The RCMP officers I have spoken with make no bones about the fact that they don’t like the SPS officers, and the SPS officers in turn have complained about the brutal way they have been treated. Safe to say, the situation, morale wise is not good. I heard on high authority that the government at one time seriously considered making a formal complaint to the Public Complaints commission about the actions of some of the RCMP top management in their efforts to block the SPS. Their brief consideration was that the level of obstruction amounted to a form of “corruption”. They did not follow up for obvious political reasons.

If one wants to judge what the best course of action would be, there is a clear need to step back from the infantile actions of the politicians and senior police managers. One needs to look at this from the practical viewpoint and step away from the misinformation campaigns and the biased and often ignorant rhetoric. Let’s even forget about the monies spent, the monies about to be spent, or the monies about to be lost. The most basic decision and central question is whether or not the RCMP are even still capable of municipal and contract policing.

In the rest of the country, in academic circles, and even in the Federal RCMP rarefied air of Ottawa there is a very different dialogue going on. If contract policing is the dike then the holes in the dike, the holes in the organizational structure, are becoming increasingly apparent and they are numerous. The solution that is being discussed, proffered and debated is whether or not the time has come to let the dike break and in effect let the RCMP to get out of “contract policing”.

The most recent example is in an essay by Kevin Lynch and Jim Mitchell. Lynch is a former clerk of the Privy Council Office, and is now with BMO Financial; Mitchell is an adjunct professor at Carleton University. The paper got the attention of the Globe and Mail and is adding to the further discussion of this possibility. In the paper they argue that the problems of the RCMP are large in scope and that “they are inherently structural, requiring fundamental change to re-shape”. The Mountie “jumble of accountabilities” is supported by an “organizational model that fails them” and that they are “poorly positioned to discharge their responsibilities”.

Of course this is just the latest, in 2007 the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP, stated that there was a requirement for a “much higher degree of managerial competence and sophistication than that which is currently found in the RCMP”. The Bastarache report said that the “culture is toxic, misogynistic, and homophobic”. In July 2022 an all party committee of the BC Legislature was tasked with reviewing the Police Act for the Province, stated that “we need to end contract policing”. In an associated poll, 39% of the people agreed with replacing the RCMP, 38% opposed and 23% were undecided.

Further along this year we have witnessed the Portapique inquiry, which showed that the managers of H Division, at the senior levels were in-fighting with their municipal agencies. Lynch and Mitchell also believed that the Emergencies Act inquiry in the end “portrays an indecisive federal police force”. It demonstrated that the very top of the organization is fraught with miscommunication and that they have become a fully integrated “political” police force, more interested in playing the political game than the operational game. Again, none of these latest revelations are good and the tarnish is not going to wear off soon.

On a lower level, when it comes to the more basic issues and the ability to staff their contracts, I am being told that the Federal positions in British Columbia are now almost 50% vacant, while the other Provincial units are approaching 30% vacancy rates. There is a lack of recruitment and the RCMP is now having trouble enticing anyone to a career and therefore an inability to staff positions. This is not new, this organization has been failing in this regard for many many years. As a result ideas are being floated in British Columbia, Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan for leaving the RCMP contracts altogether.

The Eby government has now had to provide an additional $230 million to the RCMP to assist in “fully staffing” rural policing as part of his “Safer Communities Act Plan”. This would seem to go to the very heart of the issue of not being able to fulfill the current contract.

It is also impossible to argue that the RCMP is any “cheaper” than a municipal police force, as it is a myth that the 10% discount given to the RCMP is a game changer. This is wholly swallowed up with the extra manpower demands which come about due to Federal commitments at a cost to the municipal and provincial policing needs.

There is historic irony. The British Columbia Provincial Police were disbanded on August 15, 1950, a move that was made for two primary reasons. One, was the hope that by doing so, if they brought in the RCMP they wouldn’t unionize; and secondly, they wanted to put a better fight against Communism. It would seem that on both of those issues the fight is over.

The current structure of the RCMP is damaged, in need of severe repairs. As a retired RCMP who preferred contract and the criminal work over the Federal, it is indeed bittersweet to watch the current machinations in Surrey. It is difficult to watch the demise of the RCMP in its present form, but if you don’t think it is happening you are not watching. The organization will not disappear, but I suspect we will not recognize it 20 years from now. It was good while it lasted, but policing is evolving, the past is the past and evolution is necessary to keep up with the quickly changing times. In Surrey, there is a futile attempt underway to argue that all would be good if one were to return to the RCMP. But it is a dishonest argument.

Who knows or would even dare to guess where this group of politicians will lead us. If the government gives in to the misguided sentiment of Brenda Locke and her cohorts, the only known thing for sure that the Surrey taxpayers are going to be on the hook for a rather imposing tax bill. All to return to an organization whose time is now completely taken up in plugging the holes, trying to hold back the flood waters against structural and inevitable change.

Photo by bertknot Courtesy of Flickr Commons – Some rights Reserved

Is the World spinning Faster?

Policing issues and the stories that surround it seem to be growing exponentially, always accompanied by surrounding commentary and self-proclaimed expertise flowing from every social platform. Instagram, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter abound with the examination of the police and a professed expertise. The armchair investigators of Netflix are in full voice. In trying to understand why, I have learned that In the last few years the earths rotation has in fact been speeding up (on a normal day the earth travels at the speed of 1000 miles per hour as measured at the equator). So as I find my eyes ricocheting from headline to commission to judicial decision, blaming the earth’s rotation as being responsible is as likely an answer as any other.

In the past week to ten days we have had the start up of the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa; we have learned that 469 foreign criminals are “missing” according to the CBSA; two officers were killed in answering a domestic dispute in Ontario, ambushed by a male with an AK-47; and an Ontario court Judge has ruled that if you are an Indigenous offender you are not allowed to be cross-examined as to any previous offences. So now not only do you have the Gladue decision, you know have it dictated that the Indigenous are not to be subjected to the same trial process.

Closer to home, in the Surrey civic election the old dodger with the sore foot, McCallum, has been replaced by an equally woefully inadequate Brenda Locke. In the first 48 hours, she has already painted herself into a corner, by saying she is giving the Mounties back their job in Surrey, regardless of reality and cost.

So having to choose one story over another is difficult this week. That being said, as much as I would rather ignore it, I guess we will have to go with the Public Order Emergency Commission as the lead story, which is being headed by the Honourable Judge Paul Rouleau. This Commission (we have sure had our share of them lately) has been tasked with understanding “the Government’s decision to declare a public emergency, the circumstances that led to that declaration, and the effectiveness of the measures selected by the Government to deal with the then-existing situation”. As in all Commissions of Inquiry, one needs to be reminded that none of this is to determine criminal fault or civil liability. This is all to determine the “effectiveness” of the implementation of this draconian piece of legislation.

And like all good government Commissions, this too is filled with lawyers of every stripe and denomination: there are two co-lead counsel, five senior counsel, three regional counsel, twelve just “counsel”, three senior policy advisors, seven research counsel, and two “staff”. So including the Judge, there are thirty-two counsel and that is just on the government side of the ledger. The audience at these hearings will be for the most part other lawyers and the media. With this many lawyers there is diminishing hope that the truth behind the declaration of the emergencies act will not be watered down through all these filtering lawyers.

Judge Rouleau is a native of the Ottawa area, went to the University of Ottawa and then went on to be associated with several central Canadian legal firms such as Heenan Blaikie and Cassels Brock and Blackwell. He has been a Judge since 2002 and a strong advocate for French language rights, and would have probably been a better candidate for the Supreme Court than the new Justice O’Bansawin–but let’s put that aside for now.

The good Judge will be overseeing the evidence of sixty five potential witnesses, however do not despair and give up on your regular life schedule, as it is likely that you only need to begin to pay serious attention to the last twenty or so witnesses– which include the politicians such as Trudeau and Freeland. After all, the police have already established that they did not ask for the Emergencies Act, it has also been established that there was no real intelligence indicating that there was a foreign inspired threat in the makeup of the convoy group, nor conspiracies to commit violence, which should leave the Commission with some rather obvious starting points. There is going to be a lot of dancing to be sure. Commissioner Lucki has already done the two step in public committee hearings, where she was forced to admit to not having asked for the implementation of the Emergencies Act. As a devotee to Blair and company, she needed to backtrack, and she did this by saying what a great thing it was, once they had been given these extra powers. Justin Trudeau who spoke publicly about “foreign money” was clearly lying as the intelligence community today said there was no such evidence.

One should also remember that the government is not holding this hearing because they wish to be frank and forthright to the Canadian public, it is because the law states that they have to have an inquiry within 60 days after the enactment of the Emergencies Act. This particular group of Liberals are not fans of focused scrutiny, whether it is in the House of Commons question period or in front of a Commission. They have released some Cabinet documents but have raised “confidence” issues on them; so the general public may never be shown them.

In checking out a Commission it is always helpful to find out who has been given “standing” and “funding” in terms of appearing before the Commission, which simply put, is based on who has a direct and vital interest in the proceedings. So in this case, groups such as the Criminal Lawyers Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ottawa Coalition of Residents and Businesses line up for standing, and of course for the government to pay for it. These three groups were in fact granted both permission and funding.

However, there was some rather unusual decisions in this regard. Take the case of Mr. Eros who applied for “standing”. Mr. Eros is a CPA and dealt with financing and accounting matters related to the Convoy Group. He was also intricately involved in the administration of the crowd-funding campaign with this same Convoy group. He was however denied standing, as the Judge ruled that he was merely a “witness”. This may be fair.

However, incredibly, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs was granted “standing” and “funding” to participate in this matter. They argued that they had a substantial and “direct interest in the commission” based on its “role as an umbrella organization representing Indigenous governments” and that it plays a “critical role in governance in Canada in terms of its ensuring that other governments are held accountable for their actions”. Some of you may be surprised at their being Indigenous “governments” in Canada. However, to think that they are there to hold the other “governments” accountable is audacious to say the least, even under the current Federal Liberal love-in regime. So we now have a group who has supported its share of protests, such as the damaging of pipelines and the burning of rail lines which is now going to sit in judgement of the governments reaction to the Ottawa convoy.

The witness testimony has started and began with the bubble wrapped represented citizens of Ottawa talking about the nights of continuous air horns, the disruption of their businesses and the “occupation” of Ottawa. Terms are being bandied about such as a “siege” and a “horrific experience”. The lead plaintiff in the civil suit Zexi Li, is a data analyst, and the second witness. She was working for the government from home and her testimony was how it completely disrupted her life, a story which under cross-examination was by no means dramatic. Most of the city of Ottawa were at this time working from home.

In the last few days the Commission has now started to examine some of the government and police response, before, during and after this clearly “unprecedented” upheaval. What would you expect to find when you have three levels of government; the city, the Province of Ontario, and the Federal Government all weighing in on strategy and tactics with three different police forces, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ottawa City Police, and the RCMP? Now consider the Ottawa mayor who liked to have confidential discussions with Trudeau, Blair, and Mendocino, but not share those discussions with the Ottawa Police Services Board who supposedly were the designated oversight to the operations. There were Provincial and Federal concerns with the OPSB itself. Then throw in the new Ottawa Police Chief who with the other police managers from the other jurisdictions could not even agree on a “command structure” for several days. Throw in a request for 1800 Ontario Provincial officers, while at the same time consider the initial lacklustre involvement of the RCMP, and then consider an inability to even develop a policing “operational plan” for over 10 days.

Needless to say it was all bureaucracy, miscalculation and the very definition of too many cooks in the kitchen. Bill Blair was suggesting to the Ottawa Chief that he consider more bylaw enforcement, even though by that time 2000 bylaw tickets had been issued. I am sure he thanked Mr. Blair profusely. Justin Trudeau was busting on Doug Ford not doing enough, while at the same time, the OPP seemed to be the best at getting extra officers to the scene. Chief Slolys then resigned. With little doubt he was about to become the scape goat in this massive cockup.

The enacting of the act seems quite clearly to have been a reaction to a discombobulated police management action brought created by a lack of foresight and intelligence gathering, combined with meddling by the usual political group which surfaces in any calamity. It was done for the singular purpose of gaining a political upper hand in the media, to show that they were doing something, and it was concocted by the Federal government and the Liberal ruling party.

The core or the fuel for this action seems to been an inherent inability on the part of the liberal left to relate to the protestors driving these big trucks. They were seen as the working class, the blue collars. This was more than a paper exercise to the protestors. They had lost jobs and the ability to feed their families, and now they were being ignored and pushed to the sidelines. They were at times crude and in your face, willing to physically push back, but their cause was the centre of their existence. This was not a philosophical theory dealing with “systemic” complaints, theirs was a cause that affected their mortgage and their ability to make a living. They were not bubble-wrapped, did not speak in plural pronouns, and did not understand or adhere to the niceties of government levels and protocols. They were not from Ottawa, they did not look like they belonged there, they were not Liberal constituents, and most troubling of all– they drove very big immovable trucks.

So when they got to Ottawa, no one would talk to them, no one even liked them, and they needed to go, at any cost. It was hurting the images of the politicians in power. And the media were willing to report it without question or due diligence.

The protestors prevailed as long as they did because they were met with an unprepared and ill-equipped police force, governed by layers and layers of Ottawa political mandarins concerned only with optics. The politicians found themselves facing, according to the Ottawa mayor’s chief of staff, a “crescendo of collapsing confidence”.

They were also scared. They did not understand and could not relate to the visceral outpourings of the protestors. Their problems were not their problems. So this “local emergency” demanded in their view, the full force of government, the suspension of their inherent rights, and the seizure of their personal financial assets– and now they will be lying to justify it.

Photo courtesy of Ross Dunn via Flickr Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

We are all suing the Mounties…apparently…

On September 20th of this year, the Federal Court “certified” a class action lawsuit against the RCMP, and is asking for $1.1 billion. And you, whether you know it or not are a signatory– with no signature required.

We are with little doubt into a new age, in terms of lawsuits, everyone has a complaint and just as importantly everyone seems to feel the need for compensation. Hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact billions of dollars have been coming out of the Federal coffers; to pay off, or more accurately to “settle”, rather than facing a trial and protracted court cases. These settlements are often cloaked in secrecy, far from the prying eyes of the persons who are in actual fact paying out these monies. The end results or conclusions to these cases, are often just flashes in our mind’s eye, prompted by a headline or two, which makes us briefly flinch. Then we move on, our sanity and possible outrage papered over by our ignorance or our inability to dig deep.

What is somewhat surprising in this most recent lawsuit is the fact that every officer of the RCMP and reserve officer, since 1995 until the present, are automatically included in this particular lawsuit. The nexus of the claim, or your claim, is built around the central contention that we (present and former police officers) were subjected to “bullying” and “harassment”. Furthermore, the Mounties failed to provide a safe and respective “workplace”. One does have the option to “opt out” of being a participant, should you wish to fill out a provided form and send it in to the respective law firm before November 23, 2022.

So I and you (RCMP officers) am now being represented, without any effort, retainer, or affirmation by the firm of Kim Spencer McPhee Barristers PC. Since they are your new barristers it would seem pertinent to learn a little about them. It turns out that this firm is no stranger to the lawsuit game, in fact, their stated “focus” is “complex, high value class actions”. This Bay Street Toronto firm has been involved in many lawsuits and come up against such entities as ManuLife, General Motors, FedEx and Sunlife. RCMP members and ex-members have also been some of their favoured clients having been involved in the RCMP Gender Sexual Harassment and the RCMP Medical Examination suit.

The two principals of this law firm are Megan McPhee, a seemingly rising star in the field of class action suits in Canada and Michael C. Spencer, an American trained lawyer who brought his expertise in the field of securities and class actions from California and New York to Canada. This firm with regard to “our” lawsuit, has negotiated an agreement that will stand to net 1/3 of any awarded damages. That would be 33% of a possible $1.1 billion.

The firm have fronting this suit, two “representative plaintiffs”, Geoffrey Greenwood and Todd Gray, both RCMP members from Alberta. It was in 2019 that these two officers filed a suit alleging that they were the victims of “systemic negligence in the form of non-sexual bullying, intimidation, and general harassment”. The plaintiffs also argue that the RCMP chain of command that was “tasked to deal with internal recourse and harassment claims include those that are responsible for the harassment that is being complained about”. This they argue has led to a “toxic work environment” and is “characterized by abuses of power”.

There have been two other outside developments which seemed to have helped spur the lawsuit. One was the report by Chief Justice Michael Bastarache, “Broken Dreams, Broken Lives” which dealt with the sexual harassments claims of women in the RCMP. This report stated among many other things, that the RCMP can not fix itself “internally”. The lawsuit is also supported by a statement in 2016 when then Commissioner Paulson went on the record stating that the RCMP was guilty of “harassment and intimidation”.

The Federal government has by necessity tried to quash this latest suit, appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. They argued that the internal systems already in place for grievances, was a sufficient remedy for these types of complaints and allegations. Without any written reason, in March 2022 the Supreme Court rejected that appeal.

If one attempts to amateurishly dissect and analyze the central core of these arguments one could probably come to some relatively easy conclusions. Albeit subjectively, there seems to be some strong arguments to be made in support of this civil case. It would be difficult to argue that even the basic training academy at the earliest point of a police officers career, centres on discipline and uses intimidation and harassment as the basic tools to force compliance and reinforce that “team” mentality. Depot has mellowed significantly since the 1970’s and 1980’s, but let’s face it, it is still there and was definitely there in 1995. Does anyone from the early era forget the Drill hall? There was a large caveat though, it was all intended as part of a game of survival. It was expected. You were challenged to ignore and face the often offensive behaviour, it was part of the indoctrination, it was part of the preparation for facing the abuse on the streets. So if this type of thing is accepted under todays standards as being harassment or intimidation the lawyers for the plaintiffs seem to be in a good position.

There is also little doubt that the RCMP has always investigated these types of complaints internally, and often it was the immediate supervisors who were tasked with this very unwanted task. If one accepts that this generally inhibits fairness and objectivity, and in fact corrupts, that too would be an easy argument that could be made by many.

Where the argument in favour of this lawsuit seems to fail is when one draws from the specific to the general. Staff Sargent Greenwood, one of the representative plaintiffs, and the most publicly outspoken is now the Staff in charge of GIS in North Red Deer, Alberta. His specifics are what constitutes some of the base for this lawsuit. He began his career in 1990 and was transferred to Yellowknife in 2003. He says that his troubles started in Yellowknife Detachment where he was ostracized for trying to “uncover corruption”. In 2007 he was promoted to Sgt. and had begun an investigation into some criminal organizations. During this investigation, which included wiretaps, there was some audio captured which implicated some RCMP officers allegedly taking “kickbacks” in amounts up to $60,000; destroying evidence, and leaking the locations of undercover operations and drug raids. Clearly very serious allegations. However the officers were not identified in the tapes, but later an “informant” for Greenwood managed to identify an involved officer.

In 2007 a new Superintendent took over the unit. This Supt. for reasons unknown at this time, told him to drop the case, which Greenwood refused to do, or at least that is the between the lines indication. This Supt. would end up filing no less than seven codes of conduct complaints against Greenwood. All but one would be eventually “dropped”. From this point, we can only rely on the public record, but suffice to say the two had some major differences. Greenwood said he was “demoted” to desk duty and filed a harassment complaint against the Supt. as well as another officer who “tried to punch him in the face”. Greenwood further states that he had suffered harassment and intimidation “throughout his career”, but that in all that happened in Yellowknife he “lost my way for numerous years”. He said that “most members struggle daily” and that he suffers from PTSD due to the “reprisals and harassment on the job”.

Todd Gray the other representative for this lawsuit, provides evidence that as a member of the Musical Ride and while performing at equestrian events was “forced to ride in a bunk in the same trailer as the horses” which was “unsafe, dangerous, and illegal”. He was also made to ride his horse “despite a back injury”. Furthermore he was “ostracized and isolated when he accused a detachment commander in Nunavut of mistreating First Nations people”. At first glance, Mr. Gray’s examples seem somewhat more fragile than that of Mr. Greenwood. Riding in the trailers with the horses was common practise according to my recollection, and part of the shared duties in the Musical Ride. It would also be difficult to believe that if presented a medical certificate of a back injury that any supervisor would have forced anyone to ride a horse. Possible for sure, but it seems unlikely. As to his accusations against the Nunavut detachment commander, also possible, but likely mentioned and underlined in the lawsuit to strike at the Federal government sensitivity to anything indigenous.

Not knowing all the details of this civil suit makes it difficult to sort the real from the unreal or the exaggerated. The complaints of the representative plaintiffs may be real and have proven devastating for these two individuals. But I will also admit to a bit of cynicism in terms of the complaints as they feel more “new age” than “old school”. The proof will be uncovered in the civil case should it in fact go to trial. Given the propensity of the Mounties to cover all wrong doing with greenbacks we may never know the truth in these matters. I personally did not feel that I was harassed or intimidated by my bosses over a thirty-four year career, but maybe I was just lucky. Nor do I believe that “most members struggle daily” as stated by Mr. Greenwood. However, I have often argued that a union was needed due to the various member problems that were given short shrift over the years, lost to an inefficient and bureaucratic system which often suffered from a lack of investigation as well as a lack of outcome.

So good luck to you my fellow participants in the Greenwood versus His Majesty the King. The worst result of “our” civil case may be all of us getting cheques for 40 bucks in a settlement with no real public explanation. You know as well as I that the lawyers are the only real winners.

Photo Courtesy of howtostartablogonline.net via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Sharing a Patrol Car

The planned transition from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey to the new Surrey Police Service is beginning to fray a little bit. It would seem from one on the outside looking in, that there is a lot of time being spent in that muddled grey “transition” area; the area now “shared” by two separate policing groups. In practise currently, effective control of the policing in the city is still in the shaky hands of the Mounties. Official city signs proclaim that the City of Surrey is “where the future is”. The problem is that nobody knows where what lays ahead in terms of policing, a city which has more than its share of criminal problems.

The longer the residents live in this partially castrated middle ground there will be significant implications for the overall police service to that community. As of today, the RCMP are the policing agency of record, and from that viewpoint, nothing has really outwardly changed. However, as the new Surrey Police Service officers are very slowly being sprinkled amongst the various Watches, there are increasing reports of declining morale and personal friction between the two groups. Members of the two groups are now sharing a patrol car, at least in a theoretical sense, but this changeover is turning into a grinding process with no end in sight.

This shared policing mandate is by no means a normalized policing model and it is clearly unsustainable long term. To expect two separate entities to be tasked to police the same jurisdiction but play by different rules administratively and operationally seems obviously untenable. Even more worrisome is that this may continue for the next number of months or apparently even years. As time marches on, things such as investigational process and file management have a very real chance of becoming very blurry.

For the clarity of record, I have been in favour of an independent Surrey Police Service for many years. This is due mainly to the sadly crumbling RCMP no longer able to deliver what they are if fact contracted to do. There is no idealized thought held that a version of a new police force is the panacea for all that ails policing. Ottawa and its over bureaucratized structures is the albatross hanging around the neck of the RCMP; it is not the performance of individual officers in day to day policing. The structural, operational, and resourcing hurdles now facing the officers of the RCMP continue to be soul destroying and there does not appear any willingness on the part of Ottawa to change. This blog continues to maintain that a trained officer in one uniform is on an individual level, not much different than any other police officer. The colour of the uniform is irrelevant, it is the structure of how they are being asked to operate that is the key to understanding both the problems and the solutions in policing.

That said, sufficient time has now passed since the announced development of the SPS and there are questions that need to be asked and answered as to the overall expectations of this new police service.

The most blatant and obvious question is how long is this going to take? The Surrey Police Board was formed in August 2020. The first SPS officer was deployed in 2021, and now it is projected according to their own “Strategic Plan” for 2022, that in May of 2023 they will have in place 295 sworn officers. At first blush that number seems reasonable, as recruitment, hiring and vetting of new officers is in fact a very time consuming process. Plausible until one considers that the Surrey RCMP currently consists of over 800 officers. So after 2.5 years, the SPS will have only about 36% of the anticipated need of the current RCMP. A little more alarming is that currently, again, according to their own strategic plan, there is no anticipated or formative deadline for this newly formed organization. That would and should seem unacceptable to any Surrey taxpayer.

A second question is to do with the amount of monies currently being spent and what is projected. The first proposed budget for this transition was $63.7 million and it was to cover for the years 2020-2024. So far, the new group has spent $25 million in 2021 and will be spending another $79 million in 2022. There are still two years to go and clearly they are already over budget. Their claim is that the extra costs are largely the result of spending in the area of information technology. Should one assume and accept that in the planning stages they did not anticipate an IT transition in all of its cost and ramifications?

Can the slowness of the development of this new police service along with the budgetary failings be attributed to the fact that it is being overseen by the bureaucratic sounding Surrey Police Transition Trilateral Committee? The fact that this “committee” consists of three levels of government coming together to oversee and supervise this process may be your most obvious explanation as to delay and lack of deadlines.

If you go to the SPS website looking for some insight you will be disappointed. It is the flavour of what constitutes government communication in this day and age, prodigiously filled with government baffle which seems designed to thwart any kind of real examination. You will see all the usual governmental language flags of “appeasement” and “inclusion”. The all too common phrases of “local partners”, “best practises”, “community engagement”, all framed within their newly polished and enshrined motto: “Safer. Stronger. Together”. (One can only wonder what someone was paid for such a benign and lacklustre motto.)

On the website, you will see allusions to Robert Peel and his 9 rules of Policing, but in particular his 7th rule which ended with his less than profound “…the police are the public and that the public are the police”. You will also see a section where are listed the core values of this new age police department which is using the phraseology such as “honour’ and “inclusiveness”. I am sure by this time most readers could guess at all the others.

To reach the citizens of Surrey and be able to respond to their needs, the SPS points to the fact that from June to October 2021 they engaged in large scale community consultation. This included, “public opinion surveys”, “stakeholder interviews,” and the use of “focus groups.” All this has led to their grand 2022 Strategic Plan.

If you examine this “Plan” in greater depth you will find it broken down into three parts; operational readiness, organizational development, and employee development and wellness. Inside all of these three categories of planned action you will find references to the further need for more “research” and further time needed to “develop”. Under operational readiness you will see that their goal includes developing “a file transfer strategy” and the development of an “operational and administrative manuals.” Under the heading of organizational development you will see plans to “research body worn cameras” and “research best practises in community programs” such as the program for a “school resource officer”. This would seem to suggest there is still a lot of research and development to follow.

This is not to say that this transition is not an enormous and often complicated undertaking. It is. One does get the sense as well that the Committee is trying to insure that all the officers of the 2000 applications the SPS say they have now received, do not completely wipe out some of the current and local municipal forces. They have now started reviewing applications from outside the Lower Mainland, so as not to completely wipe out departments such as West Vancouver, Delta, or Port Moody. This underlines the fact that this is as much a political process as an organizational process, that Police Services sequestered in Victoria is trying to orchestrate.

The SPS does seem to be on target in terms of catering to the whim of the special interest groups and the ridiculous and often gratuitous media coverage. They list their community “engagements” as having four meetings with the 2SLGBTQ+, and 21 meetings with the Indigenous. The actual day to day policing needs such as file management, the continuity of investigations and the ongoing need for sustained expertise in investigations is not mentioned in the “Strategic Plan”.

In previous blogs I have questioned those that have been chosen to lead this new SPS. Those doubts have not been alleviated by what has transpired so far. Mr.Lepinski with little doubt, is astute at reading the political winds, bending and curtseying to the social liberalized version of what constitutes policing in this day and age. Whether this type of leadership translates into a vibrant operational police force is quite another matter.

I have been told that Jennifer Hyland in charge of the Support Services group is also overseeing the purchase of Yeti water bottles, ArcTeryx clothing, and Lululemon workout gear for those now under her command– it is not clear whether the Surrey taxpayers would feel that this is appropriate use of transitional monies. She is the one overseeing the hiring of over 800 new officers, so one can only hope the thought of a paid-for water bottle will move that process along a little more quickly.

The other unknown in this SPS transition is the pro SPS-Mayor himself and the civic elections slated for October 15th, 2022. McCallum is a bit of a swollen buffoon, he has been for many years, and some of that character will be exposed in an upcoming ridiculous criminal trial where he is charged with mischief for a false claim of a protestor running over his foot. The fact that he is the political wedge and image for this new police force is at the very least a hindrance. However, as unpopular as he is, with numerous mayoral candidates he may once again outfox the likes of Brenda Locke by splitting the votes sufficiently amongst the eight current candidates. There are over 56 candidates for council, so good luck to the Surrey voters figuring that one out.

I remain convinced that a separate municipal agency is the only viable route for policing in Surrey. But, to say that the current leadership for this new entity is capable of pulling it off, on budget, and with an operational emphasis is still a very open question. Woke leadership is not what is needed right now. They are clearly emblematic of the majority of police leaders operating in this current climate, Lepinski and Hyland are inhalers of all things political, and they have survived and flourished regurgitating the narrative which does not offend and that caters to the special interest groups. The Surrey residents are currently being fed a pablum of meaningless verbiage, and if that is all they wanted, maybe, just maybe, they should have retained the forever opaque RCMP.

An Unremitting sadness…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is all very sad.

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

A Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Examination ( for all Politicians )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c) Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will volunteer to hook up the electrodes.

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

No need for a Polygraph

Well, as luck would have it, there was nothing better for me to do on a hot cloudless July summer afternoon but to tune in to the Public Safety Committee hearings in Ottawa, and be given another opportunity to listen to Bill Blair and Commissioner Lucki testify to whether there was any political interference in the investigation in Portapique Nova Scotia. Judging by their on screen looks and overall demeanour, they didn’t want to be there either.

For those that have not been following the controversy, all of it stems from Ms. Lucki demanding and getting a meeting after a press conference on April 28th, 2020, which had been conducted by the H Division group overseeing the Portapique investigation. This was held a week into the investigation of Canada’s biggest mass murder. According to C/Supt Darren Campbell of H Division, who had taken notes as most police officers do, Commissioner Lucki had been “displeased” in this meeting with the local commanders. She was upset at her H Division underlings for not releasing information about the makes and models of the guns used in the attacks; details they had decided not to release in order to safeguard the ongoing investigation. This seemed logical and in keeping with investigational protocol, since much of the gun investigational inquiries was being conducted by the Americans. To release that information as the Americans were still trying to track the gun movement, would not have pleased their American counterparts and could have hindered the investigation.

C/Supt Campbell went on to describe that Commissioner Lucki said that she had “promised” the yet undisclosed information to the “Minister” and proceeded to chastise the H Division Mounties for not understanding her political world and that this all tied to the impending gun legislation, which coincidently, the Liberals were going to announce in a few days. She wanted that information.

The question is therefore: could this belligerent and clearly pressured Commissioner, eager to score points with her Liberal masters, in particular Mr. Blair; could this be translated or legally interpreted to say that she and the Minister were interfering in an investigation?

So these proceedings and this Committee composed of Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Bloc members were there to determine through their intrepid investigational techniques whether this constituted an interference in the investigational process by the Commissioner and the politicos.

For anyone that has not watched similar proceedings, one has to point out that these types of inquiries very much fall along party lines. In this case, the Liberal members of the Committee know they are in jeopardy and the evidence was not looking good. So the Liberal ministers on the Committee form a protective verbal V to shelter and block for Blair and Lucki. They were clearly there to try and defuse and their blatancy was at times laughable. The NDP member professed a cerebral approach and seem to be focused on what we can do better, the NDP credibility questionable at all times due to their current agreement to keep the Liberals in power for the next couple of years. So it is clearly up to the Conservatives and the Bloc to ask the tough questions, and to do so given the heavily constraining committee time rule limits.

It should be noted, that the Conservative MP from Manitoba Raquel Dancho was prepared and hard hitting and could arguably be said to have been the star of this particular show. She should be applauded for her efforts.

The huggable Minister Bill Blair started it off as the first witness. He was his usual rumpled self and as all LIberal cabinet ministers are now trained to do, answered any question with an unrelated political speech. When asked a question he began by immediately segueing into his gun legislation and his ongoing efforts to “continue to keep Canadians safety” at the top of his agenda. There were also his tried and true usual references to his being a former police chief. His Deputy Minister Rob Stewart sat dutifully beside him, quiet, never looking Blair’s way. Stewarts only contribution was that they were not solely focused on the guns, but just trying to learn the “full story of what had happened”.

Blair has been around awhile. He flatly denied speaking with Lucki “directly” or “never asked” her specifically about the guns. He says he was not in the meeting with H Division and therefore could not speak to it. The entirety of his evidence pointed to his Chief of Staff being the one orchestrating the gun legislation and trying to tie it to Portapique. The Chief of Staff was not there.

Next was the illustrious Commissioner Lucki, who is admittedly a little more poised and getting a little better at the deflect and obfuscate. But Lucki was immediately on the defensive, and obviously could not deny the notes of Campbell, but quibbled with the words “promise”, substituting “confirmed” as what she think she said.

She admitted to being “frustrated” with the flow of information coming to her, and denies that she had a particular interest in the guns that were involved in this mass killing. The question that was never asked was why would the make and model of firearms be the most pressing question in this large investigation that was still unfolding? How it was important could only be interpreted and tied to the Minister of Public Safety and National Security. He was in a few days introducing gun legislation through an order in council that was focused on the 1500 types of firearms they were going to ban. So there does not seem to be any other reason for the focus of Lucki and Blair’s department. There is no other reason for their drive to obtain this information.

On April 23nd a few days prior to the April 28th meeting, Ms Lucki had in fact been told that there would be no release of the gun information. She forwarded an email to that effect, saying that the information shouldn’t be released. This was forwarded to the “Minister” and by implication the PM’s office.

Between the 22nd and the 28th something changed in regard to the gun information. By the 28th she says she believed that the gun information was going to be released, based on her conversations with her press group, who in turn were talking to the H Division press group. It doesn’t appear like anyone in the investigation team told her that this was to be the case. A possible mis-communication? Who would believe in the current RCMP there would be such a thing?

Ms Lucki admitted to having a conversation with Bill Blair’s Chief of Staff where she was asked if the gun information was going to be released in the press conference on April 28th. She told him that it would be and no hesitancy in later that evening forwarding this information to others in the political machinery. By the time of the H Division press conference the Liberals were no doubt by now primed for this information to be released; a perfect springboard to show that the Liberals and their perspicacity when it comes to the banning of firearms. The biggest mass murder in Canada had some political points to score and maybe even a chance for a photo op with guns on full display. Ms.Lucki clearly knew this.

So the April 28th briefing was held by but there was fly in the ointment–H Division at the press conference never released the gun information.

In an email from Commissioner Lucki (that had no context) she sent to Blair’s chief of staff after the press conference said that the press conference “had not gone as expected”.

And it was after this that Commissioner Lucki called a meeting with H Division personnel.

Ms. Lucki according to her account was “frustrated” or “angry” according to the H Division people.

Ms. Lucki said she had been frustrated by the lack of information flowing to their offices in Ottawa. All of the information, not just about the guns. But about the guns, she says she was upset because she takes pride in the information she sends out and was frustrated that the information was wrong. She said she is “only a messenger”. She denied tying them to the gun legislation or Minister Blair. She did not want to argue with the notes from Campbell but that was how she remembered it.

So we had a classic case of he says, she says– except that Campbell took notes– and the Committee had not yet heard from the other officers in H Division that were up to testify next. Lucki left the meeting clearly on the ropes, the dramatic question which was about to unfold –could she survive the next witnesses? Would their loyalty to her win the day?

It is not often that this blogger gets to congratulate the senior executives in the Mounties, but I was surprised and was about to have some of my very diminished faith restored. Retired Commanding officer Lee Bergerman and Chief Superintendent Chris Leather became the next witnesses.

Mr. Leather who had been chastised many times in the press after the mass shooting, not only stood up well, but was articulate and refined, steadfast in his evidence and approach. Ms. Bergerman was succint and to the point, not mincing any of her words. Both showed courage in their convictions.

Both said that they agreed with the notes as taken by C/Supt Campbell. That they were an accurate reflection of the conversation and the tone of that conversation. They said they were taken “aback” by the conversation, “a bit stunned” and “confused” at these allegations by the Commissioner. Bergerman said that Lucki was “angry” and “knows her well enough” to say that. She confirmed as did Leather that Lucki spoke of getting “pressure from the Minister” that “she was under pressure”, and she had in fact mentioned the upcoming gun legislation.

Leather testified that it all began on April 22nd when he was asked by the Commissioner’s office to obtain a list of the guns. He said that he did forward a list, but under the direction of the shooting oversight body, SIRT, who specifically directed that this information was to stay in RCMP hands and not be disseminated. Bergerman and Leather were both asked if they would have in any event shared this information with anybody outside the investigational group. Both said they would not.

So Ms. Lucki defence is that it was all a matter of miscommunication and can give no real answer as to why she was so intent on getting the gun information to the Minster and his Chief of Staff.

The miscommunication Ms Lucki said stemmed from her in ability to get a “team” on the ground in H Division. Her reason they didn’t. Covid. The government would not allow it she said. Her reason was of course incorrect and dismissed later by Bergerman who said they could have come to H Division. There was no rule stopping someone from entering Nova Scotia if they were working during the Covid bubble.

Clearly there is some truth to the miscommunication allegation and the controversy that ensued. The myriad levels of bureaucracy that abounds through the RCMP and in particular in HQ has been well catalogued.

As has been stated many times before in this blog and by many others in the political chorus, Ms. Lucki is merely a foot soldier for the Liberal political elite, an echoing sycophant to the policies of “systemic racism”, “diversity” and “inclusion”. She has memorized the lines and been practising in front of a mirror. That is who she is, that, as she would say, it is part of her “DNA”, and that is how she was elevated to the highest RCMP office in the land. The lane one must stay in as Commissioner is a jagged and bumpy lane, and she has driven into the ditch, she doesn’t even seem to see the line.

The Committee hearings will continue and there will others coming to the committee, including Campbell and Blair’s Chief of Staff. But there is really no need for further revelations. The picture is already clear. Will there be a “fall” person? Maybe, but it is not likely to be Bill Blair. Have I mentioned he used to be the Chief of Police?

There is no doubt that Lucki is blurring the truth (some would call it lying) and she has now been caught, and not only caught, but called out on it by her own senior officers. It was as close to a revolt as one could get. Anyone with a sense of principle and a sense of what constitutes leadership would resign. She has lost her audience.

Picture provided by Marcin Wichary via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved