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

Defining Terrorism

If you have been drawn to the Emergencies Act Commission in recent days, you would have seen that finally, we are now getting into the nitty-gritty of Ottawa backroom politics. There has been a delay in this blog as I dutifully awaited to finally hear from the grand master himself, Mr. Trudeau. These are the persons who determined that Ottawa was under “siege” and “occupation” and that the implementation of the Emergencies Act was in their view, sound judgement. They are the ultimate masters of circle talk, the power members who reply to questions with some combination of condescension and frustration as they try to explain what only they can see. A frowning Freeland, a puffed up Montecino, the arrogant Lametti, and the actor Trudeau, all in agreement with their righteous stance that what they did was both justified, and in fact the right thing to do. In their political view, the convoy, and the blockades was causing “threats to the security of Canada that are so serious as to be a national emergency”.

Their evidence of those beliefs is clearly inflated but not fully revealed, as it remains hidden behind cabinet confidentiality or because of client solicitor privilege as in the case of Justice Minister Lametti. They clearly struggled with their rationale, unable to point to what caused them to come to this belief. When confronted with the exact words used in the Act, which were lifted from the CSIS definition– that there must be “serious evidence against people or property, espionage, foreign interference, or an intent to overthrow the government by violence” they are stuck. You can physically watch them spin their mental wheels in the mud of the face of actual detailed fact . CSIS themselves of course testified said that they did not find any evidence to meet the criteria. Freeland argued that the Americans, in not getting their auto parts on time from Windsor was sufficiently damaging to the economy of the country and the reputation of the country, that she felt that it constituted a national emergency and a threat to Canadian society. She also related how the Biden government was concerned and that they needed to do something because they had been told by the Americans that they needed to do something. She did not know how to answer the fact that the blockade on the Windsor bridge was removed prior the implementation of the Act.

Is it possible then that the use of airhorns and the illegal parking of trucks was stretched in definition by the Liberals, to include a convoy of truckers protesting a vaccine mandate? In essence were they a terrorist group? Were they trying to overthrow the government? It defies the imagination, but alas, this is Ottawa, a city filled with cocoon like towers of Federal bureaucrats, all huddled in their cubicles, normally free from outside concerns. In this world they speak their own progressive lingo (a terrorist is an IMVE – Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremist), they are intolerant of those with differing opinions, safe in knowing that they and only they know what is best for the country, as they spend their lunch hours wandering Sparks St Mall looking for a cheap Chipotle lunch. They are for the most part safe from dissent, or at least the dissent of the unwashed, and they are never threatened with such things as job security, or the possibility of someone living amongst their midst with callused hands and poor manners. Marco Mendocino stated that this group was traumatizing the working from home residents–the “residents are terrorized” he exclaimed early during the protest. Lametti thought maybe they should use tanks. Although he says he was just joking in the email. He felt scared to the point that he re-located to the safe confines of Montreal. They came to a decision early on that these heathens needed to be removed, along with their children and pets who were apparently part of this un-controllable siege, who according to Trudeau were using the children as protection. Freeland said it was like playing “wack-a-mole” trying to control the discontented from rising up. Trudeau testified today he was frustrated by a lack of a plan by the police, and then was confronted under cross- examination with a 73 page plan that was distributed before the Emergencies Act imposition. You may also be interested to know that the Liberal government discussed the Emergency Plan and using it during COVID.

There was lots of testimony heard about the lack of a need for the Emergencies Act from the police and others. That it was not needed nor was it requested. However, political necessity always overrides fact, especially amongst this apparently now quivering group of Cabinet members. They wanted to do something and they were clearly having bad dreams about the American events of January 6th in Washington. But, they needed to be coached through this, someone who gave credence to their plan for implementation.

Along comes 40 year civil servant, Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council Office, who writes a memo to the gathered group of senior ministers in which she states: ” the public unrest is being felt across the country…which may provide further momentum to the movement and lead to irreparable harms–including social coercion, national unity and Canada’s international reputation” She goes on to say that this “fits with the statutory parameters of the Emergencies Measures Act”. Of course it doesn’t, but again why let the facts get in the way, and she gives us a hint as to the psychological incentive for the Act when she says: “god help us if we have another January 6th”. If you analyze the words of this statement it gets even a little more Orwellian. She feels the act is warranted because she is worried about “social coercion” to a non-Liberal sanctioned cause, namely the vaccine mandates. As far as Canada’s international reputation, she may want to speak directly to the Prime Minister about having hallway chats with the Chinese leadership. But that is for another time. Trudeau says that the Charette memo was “essential” in his decision.

When grilled as to the fact that none of the reporting agencies felt that the protest was a national emergency, Charette said that her job and the job of the government was to look at the “totality of the circumstances”, that even though there was no “specific site”, no “specific actor”, it was the movement itself which had her perturbed. The movement apparently in her reasoning was a monster all by itself, it breathed life on its own, it was not made up of individuals. She did say though, in her memo, that the use of the Emergencies Act “could be challenged”. Apparently even this non-lawyer knew she was skirting and widening the legal definition. But her pronouncement was apparently enough for the cowering politicos, who a couple of hours after the Cabinet meeting, decided that the Emergencies Act should be implemented.

But let’s assume she was right– and the charges against Tamara Lich and Chris Barber for mischief, and counselling mischief, and the 3000 parking tickets met the requirements to justify the use of this militarized piece of legislation. If one accepts this to be the case, then let’s compare the Ottawa convoy to something which happened in a lonely part of northern British Columbia.

Approximately 60 kms south west of Houston, B.C. there is a Forest Service Road which if you go up about 60 kms, you will find the the Coastal Gas Link pipeline being built by TC Energy. At this particular location, the $6.6 billion pipeline, which has been approved by all levels of government, goes under the Morice river.

But there is a problem. This particular area is also described as “sacred land” by the Wet’suwt’en First Nation. This particular “un-ceded area” to which they claim is made up of 22,000 square kilometres of land, and is “overseen” by no less than six elected Band Councils. However, the problem is that even though the Band Councils approved the pipeline (with the usual amount of economic incentives given to them) the “hereditary chiefs” of the Wet’suwt’en were not in agreement.

On February 17, 2022 about 20-30 white camouflaged hooded individuals decided to take matters into their own hands. These masked individuals came up the Marten Forest Service Road, in the middle of the night, carrying axes, fire sticks, an even a cordless angle grinder, used to cut through the security gates. Another similar group was attacking from the other end, closer to the Morice River drill pad, where an overnight crew was preparing the site.

The security guard in his truck was immediately attacked, windows broken out of his vehicle and axes swung at his vehicle, one which such force that it ended up in the back seat of the vehicle. He tried to escape, but the road was blocked, so he came back and was once again attacked. They then also tried to torch the back of the vehicle. The group continued with their rampage, smashing heavy machinery beyond repair, remote buildings were gutted, and bulldozers pushed on to their sides. The local RCMP was called shortly after midnight and began the journey up the forest service road. At kilometre 41 the road was blocked with tar covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes, tarps and lit fires. Some of the attackers were there as well and began throwing smoke bombs and fire lit sticks at the police. One officer was injured in stepping on a spiked board. Once past this roadblock, another 2 kms up the road, an old school bus was being used to block the road. By the time they reached the actual site of the attack, millions of dollars in damage had been done. The pictures are self-explanatory.

In the words of the then C/Supt of the RCMP Warren Brown was that this was a “calculated and organized attack”.

Of course this was not the first attack, nor are the primary suspects in these matters hidden, in fact they are hiding in plain sight.

In 2020 protestors who supported the Hereditary Chiefs, calling themselves the “Land Defenders”, blocked the work site for 59 days, and finally after receiving an injunction and an eviction notice were then forced to leave, but they did not go willingly, another police action was warranted and/or in the words of the CBC, thirty people were “violently arrested”.

In November 2021, again the protestors attacked the site, commandeering heavy equipment, trenching the road surfaces, and erecting blockades. About 500 employees were stranded and unable to leave the site.

More recently on October 26, 2022 there was an arson attack in Smithers, B.C., in the parking lot of the Sunshine Inn. A total of eight vehicles were burned, four RCMP cruisers, along with four other vehicles which included a BC Hydro truck and an ambulance. One of the RCMP vehicles was marked with the “C-IRG”. The RCMP have set up a uniform contingency group to patrol the areas, their vehicles identified by the “C-IRG” on their vehicles, who are there to safeguard from any further “energy industry incidents”. This is the hotel that the police usually stay at when working the security patrols for the pipeline. The mayor of Smithers, Mayor Atrill, admitted that there was a “temptation in the community to ascribe the crime to conflict…over the pipeline”.

So up to this date, it is currently estimated that over $275 million in economic damages have been sustained in attacks on this build of the critical national infrastructure. The RCMP at the time felt that they had identified one or two of the suspects in the axe attacks, but currently no one has been charged, even though the RCMP claim that they have had forty officers involved in the investigation. There remain no leads, nor any confirmations of the funding or methods of the attackers.

The Band councils after the axe attack at the site said: “we call on those who are inviting violent non-Wet’suwet’en people into our territories to withdraw their invitations”. A curious wording to be sure, and one could interpret this as an admission that they are aware of the suspects while at the same time saying it is not them.

Are they concerned about the economic damages? Not really. They are concerned about that this attack “…should not have any ongoing investigations negatively impact their ability to carry out their traditional practises or limit access to their territories”.

Much more recently there was a fire in Montreal in a residential driveway, where a Jaguar and a Land Rover were burned. The home was owned by Royal Bank of Canada, Michael Fortier. RBC has been involved in the financing of the pipeline, although one can only surmise that it ties into the pipeline issue.

So let’s compare Ottawa to the events in northern B.C.

What is the most terroristic act?

Could we get the Liberal cabinet ministers together for another meeting, like the one in Ottawa, and let them decide whether this set of circumstances meets the criteria for another declaration of the Emergencies Act. In northern B.C. the police clearly are being stymied, they have no other avenues of investigation left open to them, unlike they did in Ottawa. The attacks are national in scope, there are claims being made for their own governments to replace the current existing authorities, it is violent, it is causing economic harm, and it is attack on the basic infrastructure of the economy.

If the government invoked the Emergency Measures Act in Northern B.C. , maybe they could freeze the assets of the Wet’suwet’en until such time as the Bands could come forward with a more co-operative effort and a list of the suspects.

Of course, one knows this is not going to happen. Let us not mince words. There is a Go-Free card that the Indigenous pull out at every opportunity in the Canadian monopoly game. This includes the breaking of the laws of this country and committing acts of “terror”. They have been over-stepping the bounds of the law for quite some time now, and they continue to do so with impunity.

The only explanation for this is that they are the Justin Trudeau’s cause, so much so that Lametti when asked by the Indigenous lawyer representative at the Commission as to future possible use of the Emergencies Act, said they would look at including the Indigenous in the any future decision making process when in judgement as to what constitutes an act of insurrection and a future use of the Emergencies Act.

It is said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The Indigenous are the freedom fighters, the convoy members are the terrorists. It’s all in the definition.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Ross Dunn – 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

Reflections from a distance

Recently, this blogger had the opportunity to leave this country for a couple of weeks. For me, usually a time to re-generate one’s faith in the greater good, to re-gain some perspective on the news items of the day, to adjust one’s vision on Canada and where it fits into the world. It is somewhat naive in this day and age to think that one can totally escape from the digital blather, there is no real way to hide the constant onslaught and the insistent reminders from “back home”.

So as I found myself maneuvering through the various airport security systems, my ArriveCan app firmly embedded in my phone, there continued the never-ending notifications on flights and flight times, the constant beep of information headlines coming from my pocket wanting to make sure you haven’t missed a minute of the breaking news that was washing over this country, as if I was of some importance, and the need for me to have the information vital to my survival. The first headline was the airport itself.

As I stood in the never-ending line of wannabe “check-in” passengers, I was increasingly thankful that I was not flying through Toronto, where Pearson International has apparently turned into a rugby scrum played in the middle of thousands of un-claimed Samsonites. Canada now stands proudly number one in the world in something– cancelled flights and late arrivals.

The “at least” three hour check-in times are of course ridiculous, but the airline industry has for a number of years put passengers at the lowest end of the priority scale. They have made it seem that the client relationship had been inverted. We were there to please them our job was to be thankful that they are taking us anywhere. They have expanded the numbers of seats but in ever-increasingly small planes and the joy and excitement of flying has now officially been replaced by a feeling of herded cattle being moved through the gates of the abattoir.

Then of course there is the fact that the Federal government group who was responsible for security screening at Canada’s airports had not “anticipated” that a shortage of staff and a pent up demand for travel could result in a strain on the system. Maybe working from home made them numb to the exertions of the general working public. In any event, I dutifully strapped on the mask for a number of hours, as the tv monitors in the airport displayed the twice infected Trudeau on his private plane, skipping through Europe with Melanie Joly and Anita Anand into the latest NATO meetings.

I did not of course have the luxury of travelling with the entourage of the Governor General, who although she does not speak both official languages, is clearly well versed in the language of Federal government largesse. She apparently served up three dinners, breakfasts, lunches and snacks while en route to Kuwait to electrify the troops with her presence. I had a bottle of water and some cheese and crackers.

The next breaking news item concerned the beleaguered and battered Commissioner of the RCMP, who seems to trip every time she goes public. Commissioner Lucki is truly turning into an embarrassment, possibly only outdone by Minister Bill Blair the senior party member in that Cabinet of high schoolers that Trudeau has brought together. She and Blair continue their Abbott and Costello routine of who’s on first –in terms of who is telling the truth and who is lying. Clearly they are both lying.

Does anyone in the country believe that Supt. Campbell made up the notes? It would be a weird thing to make up, whereas it would not be hard to believe that Lucki was given orders to release some information on the investigation that would assist the government in their proposed gun legislation. The timing was perfect after all; a perfectly timed mass shooting had the government salivating over how to score some political points; a chance to illustrate how dedicated the government is in protecting us from ourselves.

Clearly, the need to please her Liberal masters was front and centre in Lucki’s less than savvy mind. A clear feat of insensitivity considering the subject matter of the meeting. The fact that Campbell’s notes were not in the first disclosure package to the Commission, and then were found in a second package will bring out all the conspiracy theorists. One will need to tune in next month’s public hearing where one will be able to watch Lucki try to dance on the head of a pin. Expect riveting well coached explanations such as “It was a tense discussion..my need for information should have been weighed against the seriousness of the circumstances”.

Politics of course often gets pulled in and over an investigation in the policing world, the more high profile the investigation the more the pull for politicians. I experienced it on a couple of files, as did many of my colleagues. One has to be strong to withstand what is sometimes incredible pressure. She is clearly not strong. So the revelation that she was trying to score some points for the Liberals, should not be surprising, she simply just got caught at it. It needs to be admitted that the RCMP Commissioner role is by its very nature, half politician and half police officer. It is a fine line that needs to be walked if one is to enjoy any level of success. Strong principles are paramount to that success. She is not principled.

This incident has put on full display he one dimensional style of leadership and underlined her lack of credibility with the RCMP membership. It is a glaring illustration of how she managed to get to the highest job in the Mounties and how she got there with little understanding of an investigation or the characteristics of an investigation. If the foot soldiers in the Mounties had felt any kind of loyalty to her, that has now been washed away, gone forever. She has become a caricature.

The other story albeit a little less dramatic, which captured my attention was the release of the Cullen Commission. 133 days of hearings, 199 witnesses, thousands of investigative hours, resulted in an 1800 page report. 600 pages more than Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. (I often wonder if Judges, like typists, get paid by the word.)

The conclusion of this massive multi-million dollar legal effort were the more than obvious conclusions that FINTRAC had failed and Civil forfeiture provisions need to change. That’s it. There was no evidence uncovered of parties having been “motivated by corruption”, but plenty of evidence of bureaucrats and all those involved in the industry doing nothing– despite knowing about and observing the clear violations.The farthest Judge Cullen would go out on the judicial limb was by saying “They should have to explain why they didn’t take the steps to combat money laundering”. In the end though nobody loses their job for not doing their job, and the clear moral of the story for bureaucrats if observing criminal behaviour– look the other way.

Mr. Cullen recommended that there be more “education” for lawyers, accountants, and mortgage brokers. This seems to be based on the somewhat naive thought that they were unaware of what was going on. Is it not more more likely that they were gaming the system, knowing full well that nobody was investigating them? He did say that a lot of the problems in what went on have been addressed and possibly rectified after the earlier Peter German report; which only makes me want to conclude that this Commission was a redundancy.

My travels went well despite my futile attempts to keep myself in some form of isolation from Canadian news. I firmly believe that everyone should leave this country and look back, it changes the perspective and alters your tools of measurement. There is no denying that this is a country of benefits and resources. At the same time, there is clearly a particular North American culture and society, subtly different, but indeed different from Europe. Different mores and aspirations. A culture where we seem keen to imitate the U.S. Their problems and their solutions are our problems and our solutions.

This led to some minute observations as I walked through the aging and historic cities. Cities which presumably are not immune to the same world problems we all share. There was a different atmosphere, difficult to identify, but it gradually became clearer. There was no blatant pan-handling, no mentally disturbed persons yelling and swearing at the heavens, the streets and public washrooms were cleaner and there were no multiple reports of people being randomly accosted on the streets. How was this possible? There were less sirens and air horns, no observable road rage, less eyes-down purposeful walking, a place where people seemed to work only to live. The police seemed more approachable, more one with the public, less robotic, less military. There seemed to be a greater element of trust of the people.

Has age and history simply made them more mature, more prone to pay attention to the history.

It is always good to get home and we do have a good country, but it is a young country. Maybe like teenagers we think we know everything and maybe know nothing. There was a lingering gnawing sense that maybe, just maybe, we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along our path.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Nicholas Doumani – Some Rights Reserved

The Art of Looking the other Way

Fraud has many formulations and iterations; corruption, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, and outright theft. In this country it has become dispiritingly common place. The blatancy apparent in whichever direction we look. Is this dwindling of basic economic honesty beginning to fester, to grow, and create a doubt. Is there a sense that our democracy and our economy may be crumbling from the bottom up, slowly but methodically. Not by a directed sense of purpose, but rather by our obsessively looking the other way.

Outwardly, those in government corridors, put on a stern and concerned face when confronted with financial matters that go wrong. They give us solace and point to our economic stability, point to our formidable banking institutions, and of course our stable democratic government. But are we rotting through incompetence, disinterest and a lack of investigative desire? Are we being effected not suddenly by a heart attack of malfeasance, but instead a slow eating cancer of general ineptitude.

Fraud, even in its most basic clear cut form is continually around us. Just consider that in a recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers it was estimated that half of the companies in Canada report being victims of fraud. When the Covid “waves” hit, how do we ignore and countenance that during the much celebrated Liberal CERB benefit program over $500 million was paid out to persons who were multi-collecting; from CERB, the Canada Revenue Agency, or the Employment and Social Development Canada office.

In terms of just the CERB payments, a recent House Finance committee heard further discouraging testimony that the Auditor General can not even look into the fraudulent obtained payments– for another year– even though they have known about it since 2020. The CRA confirmed that they are not expecting to make a dent in the wrongful payments until 2023, probably about the same time that Federal government workers will actually have to go back to the office. Apparently, we are waiting on the Canada Revenue Agency to get their act together.

Is it a minor problem? You decide. CERB was budgeted to cost $24 billion –it came in at $81.6 billion. In July 2020 Employment and Social Development Canada knew already that $442 million was sent out to 221,320 people in the form of those double payments.

One must always “follow the money.” Where the money goes is where you will find people looking to take benefit from it and see it as an opportunity. The structure of these particular Covid programs created enticing pots of gold. Very little deception was needed.

Since Canada seems “reluctant” to undertake any kind of investigation or go after those that ripped the system, one wondered whether this was a North America wide malaise. Did this exceptional level of forgiveness for the under-handed equally permeate all of the liberal governmental establishments in the U.S. and Canada. As it turns out the American response to the potential for fraud that they too are now uncovering was in fact distinctly different.

In fact, the contrast in our two countries, even though they were running similarly intended programs is startling. If we reflect on the differences in approach and put Canada up to the mirror, our fermenting complacency boldly looks back at us.

Of course, the money amounts in the U.S. are staggering due to the size of their population versus Canada. The PPP as it was called in the U.S. was almost a carbon copy to that of CERB in Canada. (PPP was the Paycheck Protection Plan) The Canadians and the Americans also had more than one plan in effect. For instance, the U.S. also had the Covid disaster relief fund, and the unemployment relief fund.

Before one looks at the numbers, remember that the overall justification in Canada was at the onset of Covid, also echoed by the U.S. government. In Canada sacrificing “security for speed”, getting out the cheques to the populace was more important than the “security” of the system and the quick dispensation of the monies. The U.S. authorities also admit that most of the money was and is, “unrecoverable”.

Unlike Canadians, the Americans are a little more harsh in their language. They have no hesitancy in saying the program was: ” an invitation to fraudsters”, and the “largest fraud in U.S history”. That according to the official who was overseeing the payouts.

The Americans estimate that 10% of the monies paid out under their PPP was fraudulent. (We have seen estimates in this country under CERB of up to 30%). The Americans paid out $800 billion, therefore they estimate that $80 billion was paid out to fraudsters.

In addition, they estimate that $90 billion at a minimum and up to a maximum of $400 billion was taken from the secondary unemployment relief fund. Another $80 billion from a third program, the Covid disaster relief fund. Interestingly, they estimate that at least 1/2 of the stolen funds from the unemployment relief fund were stolen by “international fraudsters”.

Unlike Canadians, the Americans seem upset. They have set up the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee which is headed by General Mike Horowitz. This group has been given a mandate of 10 years to pursue the fraudsters.

Their results so far are in their words “minimal”, with only 178 people “convicted” so far. One wonders if in this country in the last thirty years if we have charged that many with significant fraud. What the investigators have uncovered is that the size and scope of the fraud may be overwhelming, continually expressing surprise on”how blatant it was”.

Using AI programming they are now scanning over 150 million records to identify patterns of fraud, such as the gas station in Houston whose phone number was used for over 150 applications for PPP. The perpetrators are appearing and being charged in increasing numbers; David Hines in Miami took them for $3.9 million; another person $7.2 million, some spending their financial gains on Lamborghini vehicles and mansions. A California couple stole $18 million and eventually pled guilty– the husband getting 17 years in prison, while his wife got 6 years. Yes, in the U.S. they also go to jail.

They have found that the service provider BlueVine, who was contracted to help the government dole out the funds and gave out $4.5 billion bragged about processing applications in less than 5 minutes. They estimate that a stolen identity or a fraudulent single identity could translate into a possible $30,000 in possible claims and benefits. The perpetrators would steal legitimate company names from the internet, inflate the number of employees or create the employees and then apply for the business loans.

One of the more blatant fraudsters was Danielle Miller out of Boston. Taking names from the state website and applying for Covid relief loans allowed her in 40 minutes make $100,000.

There is another myth that is also now also being dispelled. In speaking with experts in the fraud industry and in talking with private businesses they are quickly finding that “trade offs between speed and security” is simply not true. As one person pointed out, if this were true, why wouldn’t large private industries with a consumer facing business and who featured rapid response; why are they not going bankrupt? They describe it as categorically “false” narrative that speed necessitates neglect and oversight.

Of course, maybe none of this could happen in Canada, maybe we are much too honest here.

Auditor General Karen Hogan released a report which included the fact that the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) “focused on delivering the benefit quickly…both organizations understood the rules…” and they “relied on applicants good faith”.

Let’s remember that the Canadian CERB program allowed anyone over the age of 15, who made a minimum of $5,000 in 2019, could apply for $2,000 for a period of 28 weeks; following an extension of the program in August 2020. If that was not enough, once the CERB ended for these folks, the government then directed them to a revamped Employment Insurance Program.

The Auditor General admitted that a “pre-payment screening structure could have been put in place” and that telling the government agencies to “ignore warnings or red flags” of fraud may not have been a good thing. The CRA did open a “snitch line”. The thinking must have been, if they couldn’t find the fraud, maybe the public could lead them to it.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by the end of January 2021 had 8500 cases of CERB related identity theft.

In a 2020 FINTRAC Report made public in November 2021, that the CERB program was “knowingly and actively defrauded ” by scammers, organized crime, and that payments were made to people engaged in illegal or suspicious financial activity”.

Have we learned anything? In 1991 in Vancouver, Murray Pezim was investigated for fraud, the classic pump and dump strategy in mining stocks. In 2022 the U.S. Securities firm (not the Canadian authorities) charged David Siddoo for employing the same system. In 2021 the Cullen Commission exposed billions of dollars in money laundering. Really, nothing has changed.

In this country we are structurally not set up to look for fraud, or any variation of fraud. And if we aren’t looking we are sure to never find anything. The RCMP were recently investigating Trudeau and the Aga Khan who were allegedly influence peddling through elaborate vacations– and lo and behold they found that there are no rules that really apply.

The RCMP which should be the first stop in large scale fraud investigations in this country, as an organization has proven itself time and time again as incapable in the field of economic crime. Investigations in this country are talked about in years, not days, weeks or months. The solution is either that this type of crime is pulled from their organizational mandate, or they need to be dismantled and re-built and resourced to 2021 standards.

Maybe, the general public is willing to let their rage to continue to bubble away just below the surface. The Liberals and the NDP are counting on it. Is it that we are so complacent, so ensconced in our own sphere of security and relative prosperity that we just shrug it off, politically helpless, morally and ethically spent.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons by Ryan Steele – Some Rights Reserved

Conviction politics

This is a policing story, or more accurately a story about how the police should police. The resulting judicial action in this story should send a chill down the spine of all officers. It may even require you to re-assess your career choice.

This story originates in that bastion of polarized viewpoints and guileless political pandering that makes up those fifty states and one District to the south of us. The theory is that if you want to predict upcoming policing developments in Canada you usually don’t need to look much further than to our brother and sister officers in the U.S. of A.

At first blush it is easy to point out that the atmosphere in the United States and in Canada over the last couple of years would not be one that has conjured up positive attitudes to the police. With Trump gone (albeit astoundingly threatening to come back) Uncle Joe has now found his new left social conscious. We are watching as he and Justin, holding hands, run to the social democratic cliff like Thelma and Louise. Their audience and intended target for their attention and genuflection, and hopefully they assume their votes, is anyone who is in a minority– take your pick.

Racism in the United States is racism in Canada. Systemic racism in the U.S. crosses the border unencumbered to every level of government policy in Canada. The need for diversity in the U.S. is quickly mirrored with cries for diversity in Canada. Tearing down Confederate statues in the U.S. is met with the Indigenous and all those that consider themselves “woke” tearing down statues in Canada. We seem to copy the U.S. collective guilt with gleeful abandon.

We mimic their police in our garb and militarization, our stance indistinguishable from our Southern neighbours, so it is natural that we also suffer the consequences of policies designed to curtail the authoritative nature of policing or when things go wrong. We copy but then express surprise at the negative consequences.

The George Floyd incident in Minnesota left those already convinced of racism at every level spitting in rage and indignation. It sparked the de-funding police movement, and it sustained the belief that all police are systemically racist and ill-intentioned. The black community demanded justice at this the latest outrage, and rioting swept through the country. When the charges were laid against Derek Chauvin, there was a palatable fear of an acquittal by the government overseers of the police. The evidence as a result became secondary– a show trial was demanded, granted, and delivered.

Did George Floyd deserve to die? He did not. Was it intentional murder was then and remains the relevant question; the question that many are afraid to voice in this climate of angered throng justice.

Despite our differing histories, the after shocks in Minnesota and Portland Oregon were borne along by the allegedly shocked media, travelling unabated and unquestioned into this country.

Defunding the police, Black Lives Matter, “systemic” racism and uncontrolled cries of victimization, now resonant and rebound off the walls of government committee rooms on Municipal, Provincial and Federal levels. All allegations no matter how outlandish are now met by nodded knowing assurances from our politicians and their constant pledges of forthcoming change. Apologies have become an art form. To do otherwise, to even countenance the merits of an argument, is met by denunciation and ridicule.

So now the George Floyd case has produced another unjust and unreasonable outcome.

I am speaking of the conviction of the three officers who were also in attendance during the George Floyd arrest.

Two of the three officers were rookies, brand new to the topsy-turvy world of policing.

They were convicted of failing to intervene and prevent officer Chauvin, the senior officer at the scene, from kneeling on the neck of George Floyd on that dark day in May 2020. In essence they were convicted of failing to save the life of George Floyd. It was the proclaimed truth that Mr Floyd was in fact being “murdered” in front of them, and they did nothing to stop it.

Even the NY Times described it as an extraordinary “rare” example of the Justice Department prosecuting officers for their “inaction”. The Times also stated in typical rarefied righteous Liberal thinking, that this was a “signal” to the police– that “juries may become more willing to convict not just officers who kill people on the job, but also those that watch them do it”.

The officers, Tou Thao, age 36, J Alexander Keung, age 28, and Thomas Lane age 38 had apparently violated Mr Floyd’s constitutional rights by not providing “medical care” when he lost a pulse–two were guilty of not intervening to stop a fellow officer from planting a knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. Even though there was evidence at the Chauvin trial that this was a police taught restraint technique.

Keung and Lane during the incident assisted in the arrest and had wrestled with the resisting Mr. Floyd on the ground when he was being handcuffed. If you watched the video and who hasn’t, Mr Thao was the one standing some distance away –trying to keep the crowd from interfering.

The officers could be sentenced to life in prison.

If that is not enough, they are also facing other charges of aiding and abetting a murder and have another trial scheduled for later this year. If you ever wanted to see a legal dog-piling of charges; this is it.

Of course, there is a huge problem with this verdict. It is illogical. It is naive and it defies common sense and observation. It comes from an ivory tower perspective and a viewpoint one where reality never dares to come into focus.

It is entirely hinged on the belief that the officers knew, or should have known that officer Chauvin was “murdering” George Floyd. Again, if one watched the video that was played across the nation every 15 minutes on the cable news networks, there was no evidence in the officers reactions that would support this theory.

One must also remember that an ambulance had already been called to attend to Mr Floyd. If you were witnessing, condoning, and sanctioning a “murder” would you be calling an ambulance? Would you intentionally kill someone In broad daylight with several onlookers– who were willing to film it and even though someone was getting “murdered” –did not think they should intervene?

It completely defies reason– except in a court system which in recent years in the United States has become distorted and warped by the winds of political expediency. Somewhere along the line the judiciary lost the ability for judicial reasoning.

Joe Biden has promised and is on the record as saying that he was going to be more aggressive in prosecuting civil rights violations. This Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Lyndon Johnson and was an act which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex or national origin”.

In this case, the jury had to be convinced that the officers actions or inactions was based on racism. It was because Mr. Floyd was black, not because they were responding to a complaint about Mr. Floyd. Yet, again, there is no evidence whatsoever that was introduced at the trial which gave rise to an allegation of racism. For the record, Mr. Keung is Chinese, Mr. Thao is Vietnamese.

But Biden and the Justice Department is playing to those that elected him as the Democrats struggle to keep the votes for the upcoming Senate and House Elections. If he was going to look forceful to the black vote to which the Democrats now desperately cling, George Floyd presented the first high profile case where he could flex his political muscles. It is this same desire which made him announce ahead of time that he was going to appoint a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter the rightful logic, announcing it ahead of time was pure politics, he couldn’t help himself.

This is not to argue that there are no circumstances where officers should not intervene. There clearly are times when officers are in the wrong.

In the Rodney King incident in Los Angelas, four officers stood by while officers beat Rodney King into submission. They were never charged although they clearly should have been. The recurring question is whether or not that incident is comparable to the George Floyd incident.

Upon hearing this latest verdict in the George Floyd matter, the press predictably turned the cameras to the more than willing Floyd family and in a clearly staged and rehearsed moment, George Floyd’s brother said that he “can finally breathe again”.

This was an unjust death, but it has now been layered over with an unjust verdict. The public believe that in this case two wrongs do make a right.

Could this happen in Canada? Of course, it could and likely will. Trudeau and the current administration see racism in every element of society and are thus determined to eradicate it. This is their truth as well. Commissioner Lucki has agreed, well at least after a gentle prodding.

In the United States Georgetown University has already enrolled 215 police departments on a course teaching how police officers should “intervene” if observing misbehaviour of other officers. It is also called “active bystander training”.

As a principle, this seems like a worthwhile course. As a practical exercise it is fraught with peril. By definition it runs head long into the paramilitary structure of policing. What no one seems to be currently considering is that this very same para-military structure is often paramount to street survival.

So on the one end of the pendulum, “snitching” on another officer is removed as an obstacle. At the other end of the action pendulum could be an officer failing to take control and command in a violent situation. The reality is that the instantaneous form of decision making which is prevalent in policing, is usually not conducive to open, long, or prolonged debate. That happens in those white towers.

When police officers get in trouble, it is normally because of an inability to control anger. The anger is often instantaneous and unpredictable. I am not so sure that this course will alter any outcomes despite the best intentions. Maybe time needs to be spent on an officers psychological make-up early in the recruitment process. Maybe trying to intervene with an angered officer, with the wrong disposition, maybe too little too late.

One can rest assured though, that if any police officer in Canada finds themselves in similar circumstances in this country, the politically enlightened will embrace the George Floyd verdicts regardless of borders or history. The staging and production of the George Floyd trial will become a touring company, soon to be coming to a theatre near you.

Photo courtesy of Renoir Geither via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Breaker, Breaker…got your ears on Justin?

I will admit at the outset, that anything that tends to shake up the political minions of Ottawa, usually makes me feel a little better. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ottawa, went to University there, strolled the Sparks Street mall with the polyester suited crowd of government workers on lunch. Enjoyed the tax funded parkways and museums.

Ottawa is the leading “government town” in this country where roughly 40% of the employees work for the Federal government. It is therefore a town that caters and kneels at the feet of the Liberals. This week they are shaken, scared by the coming to town of the dishevelled, those unwashed “anti-vaxxers”.

The government mandarins are usually safely ensconced in their Ikea designed home offices, family dog at their feet, who are in no hurray to actually go back to work –are now feeling “threatened”. Those damn incessant horns disturbing their Apple watch controlled sleep patterns.

They are our 21st century landed gentry, while the honking truckers represent the medieval farmers storming the barricades. During this Covid shutdown, their productivity sliding, this Federal government work force has actually grown in size. Some of them have actually obtained pay raises; unimpaired by the pandemic restraint on others, their economic well-being never being threatened, their safety guaranteed by being able to live in their new bubbles.

It was ok to make a vaccine exemption for the truckers, for two years, when the initial threats against the food chain delivering your loaf of bread and the steady same day delivery of Amazon packages were being threatened. But now, the political thinkers surrounding Mr Trudeau and Mr Biden in the U.S., now they feel the time is right, now is the time to impose further restrictions. All while the rest of the world is going in the opposite direction.

How dare a group of outsiders (meaning middle income mostly rural working class people and farmers) challenge this current and righteous aristocracy. After all, they are the enlightened, they are the believers in science, a science only which they can properly interpret. They who are now demanding vaccines for children less than five; they who are open to the idea of fining anyone who dares to show up at a hospital having not been vaccinated; and they who want to limit those that don’t vaccinate from the ability to function in daily life. No restaurants, movies, no ability to travel, or special events for you. And if you are working for the Federal government you will be fired unless you agree to let the government inject you with a vaccine. How dare anyone question the logic of restrictions and their haphazard and diverse application.

The overall justification for three years of lockdown is to protect us, but the justification for the vaccine is vacillating. It now protects you from getting really sick from Covid. It doesn’t stop you from getting Covid.

Ignore the mental health concerns, the increasing rate of suicide, the losses of years of education, the thousands of cancelled “elective” surgeries. Ignore it all.

Make no mistake about it, this convoy of largely blue collar workers has touched a nerve. They are pressing on the accepted and acceptable narrative nerve. How dare they challenge these enlightened that form a minority government in Canada. How dare they confront the social democratic changes which Canada is now undergoing and the massive growth in government oversight and regulation. The government now tinkering with control of the message and forms of communication and ones ability to speak freely. Think of Bill C-51.

“Public safety” is our new God. A risk free society the ultimate goal.

So to the barricades the Liberals march, the dutiful media close behind, relaying their portrayals of the ignorant protesters, seeking those afraid of the bellowing air horns, believing it plays well to their albeit quickly disappearing audiences. The Liberals don’t want to fight as they are really not good at confrontation, they are after all appeasers by heart and by trade.

The media on the other hand welcome a fight, they raise the January 6th storming of the Capitol as a comparison, after all nothing draws viewers like violence led by clearly evil minded people.

Ironically and a point often missed is that the “anti-vaxxers” who are being portrayed as right wing radicals, uneducated, ignorant, fringe members of society, daring to drive their big rigs into the heart of woke society in Ottawa. They are not actually anti-vaccine. The vast majority of the people involved have been vaccinated. This misstatement of the issue on a continual news loop is disheartening and dishonest.

The convoy is about “restrictions” and the imposition of those restrictions which is having an adverse affect on their ability to work and to feed their families. It seems to be a legitimate gripe, at the very least it seems to be a discussion worth having.

But the Liberals and their supporters have made a call to arms, there is no turning back, they have already determined that these protestors are not worthy. They have established their position and they are not going to sway from it. After all, they are not Indigenous, they are not members of Black Lives Matter, they are not protesting members of the LGBTQ community. They have no standing like these other groups. Clearly, they are also not likely Liberal supporters, so they are patently irrelevant.

So how do the the Liberals and their followers do battle? Through innuendo, false narratives of impending violence, searching out the fringes of the movement for the ill-advised comment, the inappropriate flag carrier.

They are searching out the outliers knowing that the fringe of any group is always off-side, ill-tempered and wanting to foment upheaval. That is why they are called “the fringe”. The larger group tolerates them, but ignores them for the most part.

The police reaction to all of this?

First and foremost one must understand that if you want to find a “woke” police department, you probably came to the right city in Ottawa. You could have picked Toronto, or Vancouver as well, but Ottawa has to be the most firmly entrenched group of the politically like-minded. The police chief and those surrounding him immediately took the side of what they surely believed was the side of the righteous.

The language of those in government went straight to inflammatory, and the Ottawa Police Chief followed suit with Chief Peter Sloly espousing his “surge and contain strategy” to stop this “very dangerous protest”.

“This is putting our city and our residents at great risk”.

He intimated that there was “reason to believe that money from the U.S. is helping the anti-vaccine mandate”. The Ottawa Deputy-Chief Trish Ferguson, before the convoy even arrived in the city, said that they were “preparing for a range of risks” from “counter demonstrations” and “interfering with critical infrastructure” to “criminal activity”.

As of this writing the Chief clearly languishing in his 15 minutes of fame is saying that he may call in the Army to dispel the protestors. He is continually calling on an increasing police presence, more Provincial police, city police, RCMP and the RCMP Emergency Response Team. There is constant oblique references to domestic terrorism, funding from the outside, social media disguised as intelligence. No evidence is ever presented.

The Prime Minister of our country was not “going to be intimidated” by the protestors. This after having being “moved to a safer location” for security reasons. Trudeau continues to refuse to meet with the protestors saying that they are “an insult to truth”. They are a “fringe minority” although no explanation as to how this fringe raised $10 million GoFundMe dollars in a couple of weeks.

For two days the media searched out the radicals, the violent among the protestors, there big discoveries the unfurling of a single Confederate flag and the fact that someone had put a ball cap on the statute of Terry Fox. They hit the jackpot when someone raised a Nazi flag.

As it turned out though the protestors were using it as an illustration of the Nazi’s mistreatment of the Jews as similar to their rights being removed( not a good comparison for sure) but the media outlined it as Nazi’s being involved in the protest. The baseball hat on the statute of Terry Fox was a desecration according to the apoplectic media commentators equal to the burning of a cross on a front lawn.

There was a story that some people danced on the Tomb of the unknown soldier. Not a good image, but there was little coverage of the the fact that convoy members then formed a ring around it to keep out some of their “fringe” players.

So Trudeau marched to the podium, armed with the latest media evidence. Trudeau grasped and gasped at the “…Nazi symbolism, racist imagery, and desecration of war memorials… “.

Let us compare this to other protests.

When 2,000 aboriginal protestors marched on Ottawa on December 12, 2021 making demands under the “truth and reconciliation commitment” as part of the “Idle no More” movement; saying that “we are not going to back down” to the gathered media, what did the government do. They agreed to meet with the protestors, saying they “are constitutionally entitled to” meet with the government. The media reported that the march “remained peaceful” even though it too had “shut down a major downtown street”.

When Black Lives Protest hit Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau waded into the crowd, and then took the opportune photo moment to take a knee with the protestors who had as a rallying cry the defunding of the police.

When more recently the Mohawks in Ontario and Quebec stopped and burned rail lines there was nothing but talks of conciliation.

As this becomes a week long protest, as sympathetic demonstrations are happening throughout the country, the media breathlessly awaits the confrontation. In Vancouver today, the media is warning people of the threat of violence, before a supportive convoy from Langley to Vancouver had begun; saying that the convoy would be driving by three hospitals. The hospital unions began warning their staff, not to wear their scrubs in case they be singled out for violence. The absurd inferences almost laughable.

This is first and foremost a convoy of ordinary people. An ordinary people who are completely frustrated, alienated and trying to struggle with the proper words when faced with a barrage of microphones and cameras. They go to work, go to the local Tim Hortons for the “double double”, and maybe even the local bar at the end of the day. Their lives are not glamorous, their social calendar was once filled with taking kids to soccer fields or hockey games and for the last two years we have robbed them of their ability to lead those lives, and even more importantly their chance to financially survive. At times they can be rough around the edges but they are also what keeps this country going, even during Covid. They don’t like Trudeau though, but then again he doesn’t like them.

Mr. Singh for his part is for the working man, just not these workers.

Mr. O’Toole flip flopped on the convoy issue, part of the reason he lost his job this past week. There is no other voice for the protestors.

This is not a fringe element. The GoFundMe page, which the government and the police pressured to shut down was the 2nd largest raising of money in Canada since the tragic Humboldt bus crash in Saskatchewan.

So we have a government and their supporters; in favour of censure; in favour of restricting individual and collective liberties; in favour of a controlled media message (bill C-51); and in favour of police actions which reflect their wishes. Does it sound vaguely similar to other countries.

Could it be any clearer that we are at a dangerous place right now and the police are in a even more dangerous place?

The police management in this country are now fully politicized. No longer the neutral upholder of laws, now the perpetrators of selective enforcement. The target of that enforcement fully determined by political winds and and the social media that drives it. Police normally survive on good faith and a sense of fairness and being a neutral arbitrator. Under this generation of police leaders they have badly strayed.

All this could have been averted, de-escalated at the very least by Mr. Trudeau. The protestors are Canadians and the very least he could do is listen to what they are trying to say. Meet with them. Don’t be scared. They also have a constitutional right to be heard.

The decried polarization of the U.S.-between the right and the left, urban versus rural, disadvantaged versus advantaged, the educated versus the uneducated is now being grown in the little petrie dish of Canada. I am not so sure Canadians in general have thought this through.

And for the citizens of Ottawa, when night falls, put your Ipods on and listen to some soothing water sounds of the Rideau canal, it will help you sleep and awake fully refreshed for another day of Team calls and committee meetings.

Photo courtesy of Zarina Petrova via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved

Casting a Blue Ballot

As the Provincial and Municipal politicians dutifully follow behind Mr. Trudeau, like gulls to a BC Ferry, their hands grasping at the dollar bills gracefully floating through the air behind the wake of the woken Prime Minister. With a spring in his step Mr.Trudeau bounces along, freshly shaven, oblivious to all but the CBC paparazzi. Ms. Freeland, scurries behind at a respectful distance trying to put the hose of monies spewing forth in some semblance of a thought out policy. Destined for at least another election to be the gal with the shovel behind the elephants in the political circus. 

Besides making the world go round, money of course is the best harbinger for a nearing election. Trudeau and his crew apparently now confident that they can keep it to a one issue election —the issue being how well they dispensed (no questions asked) monies during a time of “crisis.” There is the secondary issue of climate change nipping at the politico heels but that is more controversial, being that it is still difficult to sell an electric F-150 to the oil patch worker or convince many in the general public that paper straws at A & W is the most efficient way to attack our 1% world portion of greenhouse gases. 

Every election, police organizations and their card carrying officers have always been required to walk a fine political line. Police officers are dictated by political norms to be apolitical. They are told not to express their views or get involved politically, but it is a line which has been crossed many times. Active police officers have even tried to run for political office.  But for the most part they are supposed to stay uninvolved, enforcers of the law, not makers of the law. 

Where you do see officers taking off their officially issued blinders and actually get involved with that pesky public is when they retire or resign. Then they are then able to find their voice. Some have even risen to great heights; usually propelled by a puffed up policing career and resumes filled with Queen Silver Jubilee medals. There is the likes of the illustrious Bill Blair in this country, or the Democratic front runner for the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, who is a former police officer, who has no compunction against championing his relatively brief stint with the NYPD. 

The burning question now though– is who should a cop vote for if in fact Mr. Trudeau calls a Federal election? Should they vote with their head, heart, or wallet? Is the young cop of today a different voter than the more predictable officers of the past, those whose favourite colour has always been blue. 

Traditionally the old cops were the poster children for law and order, right over wrong, all answers black and white. No colours or shades of grey cluttering up a polar argument.  He or she did wrong — therefore he or she must pay goes the dictum.  

So when it comes to the current law and order issue, what is different between the parties? Can the police officer find a clue in who to support by examining the platforms of the political parties?  

Mr.Trudeau is clearly soft on most crime issues, well to be completely accurate, all crime issues. He takes a knee on Parliament Hill or apologizes to the Indigenous for one wrong after another on a continuous basis.

In fact, if you go to the official Liberal party platform, law and order as an issue is nowhere to be found. In their 72 plus page document, crime and the issues that flow from it do not even appear. You could interpret this two ways. Everything is perfect in the policing world or it simply doesn’t warrant attention from the myopic Liberals. 

Mr. O’Toole (who?) who leads that dynamic Conservative Party has only one issue that comes close enough to be called a law and order plank in his platform. That is priority #2 if you are following along. They want to pass an anti-corruption law for no other reason than they think they can then go after the Liberals in Ottawa. So, this historically and tradition law and order party have no promises or political planks to deal with such issues as the growing rural crime, cyber, white collar and organized crime or the insufficiencies in the courts. Nothing even warrants a “promise” or a policy change. 

Then there is Mr. Singh and the New Democratic Party. As this is being written if you go to their “platform” site you are greeted with the message “we are in the process of updating this page”.  It is truly hard to imagine the NDP running anything in this country with any level of success. 

If a cop would like to get financially comfortable, maybe one should be tempted to go towards the NDP. After all, they are the Victim party;  everyone suffers, everyone is misunderstood, each of us a victim of some form of discrimination. They believe that everyone is under “stress”and is wistfully dreaming of a fixed annual salary. Their reasoning is that the government is the best positioned to take care of us all and bring us all to a peaceful harmony.  If they obtained power, an admittedly unlikely prospect, then all officers could theoretically argue, with little effort, to be suffering from PTSD. A medical pension for life would not be far behind. Everyone would be calm in their self induced altered state. There would be no need for police or mood rings.  

The Green Party? Ya, you’re right, not a chance. They are even having trouble keeping their newly-elected leader Annamie Paul around. The former tree hugging leader Elizabeth May now doing her best impression of American Sniper, aiming directly at the new leader. Not enough medical marihuana on Vancouver Island to ease her discontent. 

So, even in this year of defunding the police slogans reverberating through the corridors of policing, none of the parties are interested in law and order issues. So where is the dedicated copper wrapped in concern for his country and the Canadian flag supposed to turn? 

Should the Mounties follow their leader Commissioner Lucki to the ballot box. Clearly, at least publicly, she is about as Liberal as you get. It served her career and it preserves her current job to be the doppelgänger of any preeminent Liberal politician. Maybe she is also aiming for a Senate seat too.  

Is it possible she is a closet conservative and in her fevered dreams she wishes for a rejuvenation of Stephen Harper? Possibly she is tired of spending her lunch hour wandering Sparks Street Mall looking for anyone of colour to pull into the recruiting office. We may never know, so in that sense, we can not let her be the guide as to how one should vote. 

What if the police were to vote with their wallets?  If that was the case there would be no contest. The Liberals would be the uncontested winners, hands down. They just gave the Mounties a 23% raise. Is this  enough to garner all those Red serge types to go “ahhh, he’s not that bad” and biting their tongue, cast that X for the Liberal candidate. These new young Mounties are more career focused than those of old, advancement is important, money is more important. Pension is still God. If the Conservatives got into power and come face to face with the actual debt and deficit would they not be looking for ways to cut back. Government pensions have been a traditional target and that would have the Mounties wringing their hands in worry. Would the Conservatives cut off the thousands of Veterans benefits now going to retired Mounties with poor hearing or a bum leg? 

Ramblings aside, as the election draws near, it is truly disturbing how little choice exists. The parties and their platforms are almost indistinguishable except for the size of their political wallets.  As a country we seem to be in desperate need of a new broom. But, who would dare to step forward in this era of examination, this era of Tik-Tok and Instagram tailored speeches. No one who has stood at the barricades or formed an opinion would make it through the electoral political filters now in place which regulates speech and action. 

To expect the largely publicly funded  5th  Estate  to establish some sort of fire break between what the politicians promise and what they deliver is apparently just wishful thinking. 

Thomas Jefferson famously said “the government you get is the government you deserve”. Really, what did we do to deserve this?  Have Canadians become sheep? Soft in the middle voters, all hoping for that government pension and lulled into a sense of mediocrity? Has our need to not offend given us a government we deserve? 

The cop out answer (pun intended) to not voting is often said —“they are all the same anyway”. That’s too easy.

We need to vote, cops and all Canadians need to find their voice. The police in this country, as in all countries, is a true reflection of the held values that can be found within their boundaries. We need to like what we see.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons by Liz West – Some Rights Reserved

So, how is that “Defunding” going?

We seem to be now living in a world of catchy phrases, facile answers, and overly simplistic diagnosis. We can no longer tolerate complexity. We can no longer live in the world of the grey— black and white answers are being demanded. Daring to disagree or present a counter-point can only lead to banishment. The video and sound bite world is today’s dialogue, inflamed, exaggerated– a fire hose  of outrage, discontent and victimization. We have lost the ability to reflect or to understand nuance. 

It is in this world that the trial of the Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin is about to begin. Accused of the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd. It is in this world that todays frenzied headlines talk about an anti-Asian serial killer who targeted the massage parlours of Atlanta. 

But beneath the obvious conjecture and quick assumptions that instantly become facts there is a deeper layer. It is found in the folder of corroborated and tested information where historically you would have gone first. Once opened, you would be exposed to something completely at variance to the various assertions voiced by the indignant social warriors. 

Joe Biden is travelling to meet up with the Asian American community today, to console and pledge to fight the anti-Asian racist scourge, yet, there is literally no evidence that the killings in Atlanta were perpetrated or targeted against Asians. After 24 hours of exclaiming that this was evidence of the xenophobia in America, we are now learning that this individual was sexually twisted and fighting the demons of his religion. 

The “can’t breathe” seconds long George Floyd video that tumbled around the world and generated massive black outrage is not quite the facts that are now reluctantly being exposed. Is it pertinent that Mr. Floyd was screaming that he couldn’t breathe long before he was on the ground? Is it relevant that the subduing of Mr. Floyd was actually a taught restraint position by the Minneapolis Police Department? Is it also relevant that the autopsy showed overdose levels of drugs? It doesn’t matter in this world. The damage has been done, the points scored, the leaders of the day have proclaimed the guilt of officer Chauvin many months ago. 

Even more spine chilling is that even if the world is corrected about the circumstances; there will be no stepping back, no correction for the record, no recanting of the story as originally told.  One needs to go deep into Google search to find any actual circumstances of the Floyd incident. Even then, the inference and headlines remain the same. The City of Minneapolis who seem to have caved to the social guilt, long before trial, have now settled a civil case against the City and awarded the family $27 million. A staggering amount with highly suspicious timing.  

It was the George Floyd incident of course that sent the Black Lives Matter movement from simmering into full boil. Banners and protests filled the news screens for days on end, chants of indignation in front of every thrust microphone. No one could countenance the over-whelming injustice of it all.

Their answer: “Defund the Police”.

These three words had all the characteristics of the perfectly designed cry of anger. It swivelled the focus of the t.v. cameras and the radio talk shows. It was short and easily shouted, obvious in its conclusions, and proposed a simplistic understandable solution. Perfect for the masses who convene on Twitter and Instagram. The police must be “broken” the argument goes, unable to cope with the societal needs of the progressives, ill equipped to recognize this new age of victims and the vulnerable. Like all the headlines of the day this was an inarguable cause.

However, once one got past the slogans and a few months went by, the purveyors of this belief have stumbled. They are unable to deal with the obvious follow up question of how? Their demands and solutions it would now seem were simplistic if not blatantly ignorant.

Nevertheless, most politicians were undeterred and once again the principles of honesty and fairness ran a distant second to the need to appease. Picture the Prime Minister on bended knee on Parliament Hill. Picture Commissioner Lucki forced to kneel with him at the alter of “systemic” racism.  

So, now that a few months have gone by, after a year of COVID ravaging any critical thought in this country, where are we with this defunding?

How is the defundthepolice.org coming along? Have they figured out what they are going to defund? Have they figured out the actual role the police play in this country and how they are going to be replaced?

A search for signs of progress for this movement in Canada is indeed sparse.

One thing that they have managed to do on their .org web site is add up the amount of monies spent on policing in this country.  It is a large number and hard to miss. In this country, policing on the municipal, provincial and Federal level amounts to $15.1 billion.  So the proponents of de-funding almost invariably point to the large amount and then simply conclude that these budgets need to be cut for the mere fact of its overall size. Too big must fail.

The thrust of their main and central policy argument is that “others” are better equipped to respond. They propose that social workers and doctors attend to calls for mental health services. They recommend civilians take over “traffic services”.

They make statements such as “police intervention into an ongoing violent crime is rare”. Domestic disputes and abusive relationships seems to be beyond their level of comprehension or life experience. It is truly a utopian future in their world of alternate policing options. 

Since these more complicated issues are proving to be difficult to countenance they have lately been transitioning their policy options to more simplistic levels. A recent favourable solution is to ask for the removal of the police from the “school” programs. Or if the laws can’t be enforced by their solution matrix then let’s decriminalize all the drug laws.

In this country, thankfully, their efforts are for the most part being completely stymied. They are running headlong into the wall of reality and they are getting an obvious headache. 

In June of 2020 even the City of Vancouver (with its left leaning city government) rejected a 1% cut to their $339 million budget. 

This same month the City of Toronto rejected a 10% cut to their $1.12 billion budget. 

In Victoria, home to those deep political thinkers the “Raging Grannies” were unable to reject the progressives completely; the city settled for a review of the “gender and ethnic component of the police force” but the police have now asked for a 1.5% budget increase.

In NDP led British Columbia, a government who never ignores a good cause, are trying to appease the left by “reviewing” the Police Act to “examine the scope of systemic racism”. Premier Horgan does admit when pushed that the defunding mantra is “a simplistic approach”.

 In Saskatchewan they are moving to more body cams for the police while in Regina, the City counsel have rejected outright any de-funding as the “crime rate is too high”. 

In Manitoba, Premier Palliser says that de-funding is a “no go”. 

In the North West Territories where normally the Indigenous cause reigns supreme, even there, the Justice Minister says that “Indigenous led justice systems” is “not practical”. 

In Montreal the mayor, Valerie Plante says that a cut in funding of $300 million “would be a big and trying conversation”. They have now voted to increase the police budget.

Halifax, no doubt under the influence of its relatively large African American community could only manage to defund its plans to buy an armoured vehicle for the police— giving the monies to the local housing authority. 

The Edmonton Police Service seems to have gone the farthest down the road to placate the disenchanted. It has cut its funding by $5.5 million per year for the next two years, amounting to a 3% budget cut from their $388.8 million dollar budget. They are forming a “four step” process which includes a “community safety and well-being task force”. The Edmonton activist Tesa Williams calls it a “slap in the face”.  

In many ways the activists in Canada are only imitating their counter parts in the United States. After all, aren’t their problems our problems? Isn’t their racism our racism, the long discrimination of African Americans and its often shameful history is our history. Of course, this isn’t true, but nevertheless what’s playing in video feeds in the U.S. now stokes the narrative of this country. So the “defunding” formula is imported in all its silliness no matter its relevance, no matter its history. 

The NYPD, led by the failing Mayor de Blasio, which policies a city of 25% African Americans has gone the furthest, slashing $1 billion from its policing budget. How have they done this? They have reduced or eliminated uniform and civilian overtime by $352 million; and they have moved the School Safety Agents out of the NYPD and moved them to the Department of Education, for another savings of $307.5 million. They have done sundry other small reductions like moving School Crossing Guards from the NYPD at a savings of $55 million. 

The LAPD who police that bastion of wokeness, Los Angelas, slashed $150 million by cutting police hiring. This hiring freeze has a more meaningful effect to be sure, as now the LAPD is at the lowest manpower it has been at in 12 years. It was proposed that the money saved would go to street paving and sidewalk repairs, but that was voted down. 

L.A. even had a plan to send crisis intervention workers to “non-violent 911 calls” but that has not passed the committee stage, no doubt hung up on the fact as to how one would ever determine that a “crisis” would not always have the potential for violence. 

So where does this all leave the police of today? Should recruiters stop going to “career days” at the local high school? Should mid career police officers look to change into carpenters and plumbers or take that on-line course on photography? Seems unlikely.

One just has to remember that everyone wants to play with the lights and siren but no one is rushing into the blood and the guts.  The activists, the politicians of every stripe, and the talking heads will no doubt continue to shriek to the converted of the injustice and the “systemic” discrimination. 

One must be patient, even though it’s not easy to ignore the absurdity. Remember that they are just toggling the sirens and staring in awe at the blue and red lights. They don’t really want to be in the position of answering the calls. As that oft quoted Mr. Einstein said, “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”.

Photo Courtesy of Backbone Campaign via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved