Sunday, July 15, 2007
Who wins, if we destroy the RCMP?
Tomorrow, we hope, the pre-trial Basi Virk Basi Hearings get under way again and I've been thinking about something for days. I'm sure others have too. Please bear with me, as I really need to say this and to hear your thoughts as well.
Let's start in Victoria during that 1996 storm of the century when a freak weather incident dumped so much snow that people were stranded in their homes, hospitals couldn't change shifts, planes, buses, trucks, cars, ferries couldn't move. It was an emergency requiring the army to move in, which they did, smiling to the welcome they received. And rightly so.
But here's where I started thinking -- did anybody shout: "Somalia! Remember Somalia? Somalia proves that the whole Canadian Army is so bad it needs external investigation and supervision!" Nope. Not then, not now. Rightly so.
Fast forward a few years. Another kind of storm hits Victoria when serious corruption is suspected right inside the B.C. Legislature. This was also a storm way too big, too deeply hidden for citizens to cope with. This, too, was an emergency and the army -- in this case, the para-military -- showed up to do its duty.
And I'm thinking: did anybody shout: "Thanks, guys! Thank goodness you saw that! Thank goodness you investigated! Thanks!" Nope, we didn't say that. There was a ghastly silence about the whole sickening issue until gradually the strange accusations began: rotten police, clumsy police, brutal police, unfair police ... until it became: never believe a word the police are saying. Oh? How come? Who decided on this media strategy? And who does that point of view serve in the longrun?
So here's what I've been thinking ... we know better. We know that nobody stays true to their highest potential under a steady rain of abuse. I'm thinking we all know what a scapegoat is and that rats when threatened will use any strategy to escape or defend themselves.
I've been thinking we know all sorts of things: that every human needs a decent bit of encouragement in their work. We know that the RCMP, just like the Canadian Army, has to face ugly, dangerous situations on our behalf; maybe for the RCMP it's even worse, as they face these dangers on a daily basis. Always on our behalf.
There's the Dad (retired), his two sons, his daughter, and his son-in-law.
We know too that our para-military Royal Canadian Mounted Police is forbidden to speak out publicly in its own defence, so we rarely hear about the great things they do. Maybe that's a wise policy; but certainly it also makes them easy targets for the rats and the unscrupulous.
And we know that even the family dog can tolerate only so much insult and whacking before he gives up and turns sour. We know all that.
So we should be able to guess what's happening in a Mountie's heart and mind each time we insult the entire national police force for incompetence and corruption. We know that isn't smart. If we keep it up, we know that in the end, the RCMP will become a disheartened, uncaring, resentful national police force ... which leaves one awful question to be considered.
I mean, Somalia did happen. Somalia involved real failures that went right up the chain of command to the Minister of National Defence (Kim Campbell). But Somalia was never allowed to define the entire Canadian Army. And I'm thinking: neither should Houston or Vanderhoof define the entire RCMP. [See: Report of Somalia Commission of Inquiry http://www.dnd.ca/somalia/vol0/v0s1e.htm]
So, one last, awful question: who wins, if we continue to disparage the RCMP to the point where they fumble, fail, and can't serve the nation any longer? Who wins ... the Good Guys? Nope, I don't think so.
I think it's the Bad Guys who will win -- and the good, decent citizens of this country who will lose bigtime -- unless we find a way to support and encourage all that's best in the national police force.
It's not a rhetorical question. It's an urgent question of immediate importance: If this public opprobrium continues and the RCMP is brought to its knees, who do you think will come out of it with a benefit? - BC Mary.
Retired RCMP Inspector Earl Peters' Letter to the Prime Minister
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Subject: New R.C.M.P. Commissioner
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
The recent appointment of Mr. Elliott to be the new Commissioner of the R.C.M.P. causes me to send this message, something that I have never done before.
I served in the R.C.M.P. for over 35 years, and consequently over those years worked for many Commissioners. I retired as an Inspector in 2003, but fortunately knew Commissioners Murray and Zacardelli reasonably well. Each had their own strength and/or weaknesses.
I also had numerous occasions to deal with many of the career Public Service employees at very senior levels who were forced on the R.C.M.P. It appalls me to hear that your government has made the decision to appoint yet another Public Service employee on the R.C.M.P.; and worst yet as the Commissioner.
Many of the problems that the R.C.M.P. has faced in recent years stem from several of those same Public Service employees who were parachuted in at the senior executive ranks. The media, and Mr. Brown, focused all of their venom on (retired)Commissioner Zacardelli. I know well that Commissioner Zacardelli was strong willed, and perhaps stayed too long, but many of the abuses connected to 'my pension fund' were committed by those Public Service employees; yet nary a word about them????
Every day that a police officer goes to work he or she puts their life on the line. I have known well, four officers who were murdered 'in the line of duty'. On more than one occasion, I myself was a trigger pull away from death. The R.C.M.P., (not true of the N.W.M.P.) has until recently traditionally required that its officers be promoted up through the ranks, unlike the military. It always gave me some comfort to know that the decision makers in the R.C.M.P. had once 'been on the street', so had some idea of what it is like to put your life on the line.
I won't belabor the point, other than to say that this appointment was a massive betrayal of all of those men and women who daily put themselves in harm's way to protect all Canadians (including you). Your decision to approve a Commissioner from outside the Force was at best poorly advised, your decision to approve a Commissioner who has zero years of policing experience is unforgivable. There is little doubt in my mind that this singular action will cause you to lose a significant amount of support from current members and their families as well as the vast majority of those retired members like myself.
It is apparent that there is also very negative feedback on this appointment (yet to be officially announced). Knowing the organization and human nature, as I do, it is also apparent, that Mr. Elliott will have to surround himself with a bunch of other Public Service employees to carry out his 'questionable mission'.
It appears that your government has a mission to turn the R.C.M.P. into a Canadian version of the United States F.B.I. If you knew anything about policing you would know that they are not held in the highest regard by the policing community within the U.S.A. The very 'paramilitary' nature of the R.C.M.P. is what made the R.C.M.P. the respected Force that it is today.
I can only hope that the Force can weather the tenure of this Commissioner and that his 'changes' will not have a long term negative impact on the Force that I know and love. You had far better options available to you, and yet you chose Mr. Elliott.
If this decision to appoint Mr. Elliott is indicative of your government's decision making ability then I look forward to the day when you are once again Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. I will no longer support you and your government, and will now actively work toward a change in government.
Salt Spring News, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Posted by: Jim Scott
For a different take on the current state of the RCMP check out Robin Matthew's recent piece over at:
The RCMP might be surprised at how much respect acting in an honourable manner would generate...that might be something to try.
I know several RCMP officers & they are all good people. You are right, we do need the police & it must be difficult to be an ethical officer in the shadows that have been created lately.
Unfortunately the RCMP, like any other large bureaucracy, has run amok thanks to a handful of individuals at on the higher echelons of this bureaucracy, that lost their way - not unlike what happens within government bureaucracies . . . Often the lower levels of the RCMP are at the mercy of decisions reached at higher levels & follow orders. It just takes a few bad apples to taint the systems & public perception.
Also, it is not a good idea for any system to investigate itself; too much room for cover-up & the public is never left feeling comfortable, especially those who were directly involved in various files/incidents.
It appears that there is a wrong, relationship at the higher levels of the RCMP with politicians, including what you have so ably covered on your site with the Raid on the Leg.
I believe that as the facts continue to be exposed in the pretrial/trial people perceptions will change according to the truth, including who was directly responsible for any inappropriate conduct within the senior levels of the RCMP & the Campbell Govt. Things may not be as they seem.
We have our Premier with probably 24 hr. protection by the RCMP. Conflicts of interests on files is too close for comfort where files involve issues related to the Campbell Govt.. What do you think?
Former Solicitor General Coleman's orders to the RCMP give me the shivers - not good. It begs the question:
How many other files were interfered with for political reasons, where it was expediant to slide things sideways vs pursuing the bad guys?
In the meantime . . . GOOD JOB! You got me thinking on a Sunday night, which is an achievement in itself.
Enough already. Couldn't we have a moratorium on beating up the RCMP? Just ... maybe ... until this Basi Virk Basi trial is over?
Are you really trying to discredit their testimony? If that's how you exercise your democratic rights, should we start beating on the others as well -- the Accused? the witnesses? the lawyers? the Judge?
Maybe I didn't say it clearly enough so I'll try again: any damn fool can throw rocks and insults. Rarely does it help any situation. In this case, it distorts the reality. A critically important reality.
Ask: who was it, that followed a thread of corruption leading into the heart of the B.C. government?
Who was it, that saw their duty and did it? I think it was the R.C.M.P. and I very much want to hear their testimony at the Basi Virk Basi trial. Are you, by any chance, hoping to shut them up?
In fact (to quote Anne McLellan), I seriously question anybody who tries to overwhelm the RCMP with abuse before they testify.
And that's my point: how can you expect them to do their best work in a hail of insult? What are you trying to accomplish?
I made no request for you to show respect for anything other than a fair trial in the Basi Virk Basi BC Rail affair. Slagging a key element of the trial isn't showing much respect for the public interest, if you ask me.
Both of you, Koot and anon 10:33, evade the question: who wins, if we destroy the RCMP?
Both of you, Koot and anon 10:33, evade the question: who wins, if we destroy the RCMP?"
"We," in so far as that refers to me, am not, never have been and am not trying to "destroy" the RCMP. Any destruction of the RCMP that may or may not be occurring is entirely self inflicted.
To "lose" a police force with a lack integrity at the upper levels and too many thugs at the lower levels and no accountability in general, is no loss, at all.
I know it goes against the code, but if the officers who aren't corrupt or thugs don't come forward and force accountability from those whose ethics are shall we say "lacking" then they are as guilty and complicit at those who act as if they are immune to the law.
Ask: who was it, that followed a thread of corruption leading into the heart of the B.C. government?"
And then ask yourself "How far did they follow this thread?" All the way to the "fall guy" "cut-outs" it appears.
How did that famous quote go about "The ferret is not and never has been (along with all other "elected" officials) a subject of this investigation. Yeah, and the next time the body of a professional South Asian woman is found remember that she wasn't killed by her husband.
Debruyckere is related to kelly reichart who is the executive director of the bc liberal party who is tipped off by debruyckere about the investigation - STIKE ONE.
Gary Collins is under investigation in December (as found to be true by Justice Bennett) but somehow mysteriously disappears from any notes etc after a massive surveillance operation at a restaurant in downtown vancouver. debruyckere states in his sworn affidavit (thanks for reporting this bill tieleman) although he was in charge of this investigation it was only his opinion that collins was under investigation. Sure whatever, nice one debruyckere next you will tell us that leading an investigation means you actually don't know whats going on, you only worked part time on the case. The judge found this to be completely unbelievable and stated "there must be documents that exist" pertaining to the CRIMINAL investigation of gary collins. Was there an investigation of Campbell and his upper echelon. STIKE TWO
From the day this thing started to the present there have been atleast 8 court dates set and then changed. As the judge stated "disclosure is a constitutional right" however this right is not just for the accused its also for the public, since we have a right to know whats going on. In her decisions in November - the first application by the defence, and her second decision in June, the judge has been very clear where the BLAME lies, its with the rcmp!! She states very clearly in her decision its not up to the rcmp to decide what they want to disclose. STIKE THREE
The links between debruyckere and the government go even deeper and are more troubling. It appears, again thanks to the judges decision, that rich coleman was briefed about the investigation sometime in October 2003 and it has also been established that rich coleman told the rcmp not to question collins or reid because some "cabinet confidences" may be expose. What a joke, since when, as Carol James stated, does "cabinet confidences" overtake a criminal investigation. The judge goes out of her way to mention this very fact in her decision. STIKE FOUR
A document was produced that was titled "NOT FOR DISCLOSURE". It pertains to a discussion an rcmp officer had where kelly reichart is asked about potential charges regarding basi and media monitoring. The judge mentions this specifically in her decision and she states there is no mention of this conversation in the notes of the rcmp officer, there is no reference anywhere except this mysterious document that was given to the defence in the middle of their arguments last month. Please go ask any credible lawyer with half a brain the significance of what "NOT FOR DISCLOSURE" means. STRIKE FIVE
One of the key investigators bought a home from basi and there appears to have been some dispute (we don't know what) but its been reported something wasn't right. This is a blatant conflict which the judge states in her decision could be very relevant and she questions how the rcmp handled this. STRIKE SIX
You ask us to give the rcmp the benefit of the doubt after they have been exposed so clearly for such sheer utter incompetence and questionable activities during this investigation? There were atleast a dozen affidavits submitted by rcmp officers (thanks again Bill for excellent reporting) to rebut the defence. These applications stated there was nothing more to disclose. Guess what, the judge did not believe any of them. She disregarded every single affidavit and agreed with the defence lawyers that there were more documents that exist. STIKE SEVEN
Almost forgot about ol bud bishop and his mysterious discovery of documents after a witness came forward, Priessel, telling the judge about his experiences with one of the star witnesses and how the rcmp wasn't too interested in why kieran was threatening him if his organization went after collins. The judge once again specifically made reference to the fact bishop stated via email to the prosecutor that all his notes and records had been disclosed. Guess what happens after this witness steps forward, bishop mysteriously finds more notes. Good one bishop, thats great, thanks for the effort. My question what else have they got hidden at rcmp headquarters or at the offices of the bc liberal party. STRIKE EIGHT.
The judge demands answers (because there is no written immunity deal) about a sweetheart immunity deal for people who have readily admitted to bribing public officials yet they were never charged, they were allowed to continue to lobby the government. If thats not strange you tell me what is. Last time I checked people who offer bribes are no better than the ones who take them. STIKE NINE.
I could go on.
Sorry Mary, there is more to this. In case you missed it there was a poll that was conducted recently about Harper's choice for the new commissioner by pollster Darrel Bricker. The poll commissioned by Can West News and Global National found 6 in 10 respondents supported Harpers move to hire a commissioner from outside the force to clean it up. The pollster went on to state he was "taken aback by how far the storied rcmp, long considered a national symbol and icon, have fallen in the eyes of the public".
You want us to support an organization where the good officers are afraid to speak out because they are then branded as whistleblowers by the bad apples.
The Arar affair, the Ian Bush case, the pension scandal, Sgt. Pepper at Apec, the Glen Clark case, the St. Arnaud shooting in Vanderhoof, the sponsorship scandal. To anonymous and Kootcoot, you are right, respect is earned not given.
What's to be "sorry" for ... ? I ask for a time-out on the insults ... I ask that we pay attention to what the RCMP will say in Supreme Court today ... and I say that the cop-beating has reached a level which has a negative effect on the expectation of a fair trial for Basi, Virk, Basi.
This has nothing to do with the Arar affair, the pension scandal, APEC, St Arnaud, sponsorship, or the Ian Bush case. Nothing. You drag it into the conversation as a form of continued and, in my view, unfair abuse.
Betcha wouldn't dream of dragging Somalia into the discussion whenever the topic of the Canadian Army is discussed.
So couldn't we address the facts of the BC Rail case? And only the BC Rail/Basi Virk Basi case? It's just too important to mess it up with other issues.
But thanks Peter, for your summary. It helps to have a programme, eh.
You wrote: If we keep it up, we know that in the end, the RCMP will become a disheartened, uncaring, resentful national police force ...
WE aren't destroying the RCMP, that's already been done. The mention of our military and what happened in Somalia is really interesting. I know for a fact the men on that mission are suffering terribly, those still alive that is. The rank and file RCMP is very much like those soldiers imo. They have been let down by corrupt culture, not the publics lack of confidence or pride. You ask what would happen if our military or the rcmp were broken?
Take a look around. We live in a country where more than 500 women have been brutally murdered and tossed aside like garbage. No coverage.
We've got the most horrific case of serial murder unfolding in a New West court room. Only a dozen or so media outlets are still covering it regularily. Theres little public interest, like in Somalia.
We've got law suits against the gov't for participating with the CIA in perpetuating torture on Canadian civilians.
We've got Conrad Black, we've got Olsen, Karla and Bernardo. We've got societal dysfunction.
Don't shoot the messenger,but the RCMP (as a whole) has been compromised, and so has our entire country. Denying the truth will only prolong the pain.
Thank you for starting this discussion. I am also interested in other people's views on this. I know I don't have all the anmswers or even the clearest view but I am sincere in my concern and horror over the scandals that have been rocking our country.
Your thoughtful comments are very much appreciated here. Thanks for taking time to send them.
I've been thinking a lot about this, too, wondering if I got it wrong, wondering why people keep bringing in so many other crimes but not talking about the B.C. Rail case. Are people saying the RCMP sold off B.C. Rail? No. So why are they fixated on other grievances, taking the attention AWAY from the Basi-Virk trial?
I gave the URL for the Somalia findings, hoping people would read it and see how many similarities there are in the way it was handled ... officially and in the media, it was nobody's fault right on up the army's chain of command to, and including, the Minister of National Defence ... but in the end, the whole Airborne regiment was demolished.
I keep remembering other things from past studies:
* a soldier is never to blame, as he is always acting under orders,
* and Field Marshall Montgomery's assessment of the Canadian soldier in WWII: "Magnificent soldiers! Terrible generals!"
I've never seen the RCMP as a stand-alone faction in the Basi-Virk trial. In apprehending criminal suspects and tracking events right into the Legislature, yes; but once the Supreme Court took over, no.
I thought the RCMP served, and were accountable to the Special Prosecutor's team. Certainly Judge Bennett addresses her admonitions to Berardino, not to the RCMP.
So are people saying that it's the RCMP refusing to fill requests made by the Prosecutors? Or that the Prosecutors aren't asking for the documents defence needs? Or is it that the government and/or their clerks who are refusing? And isn't that "obstructing justice", another crime?
Nowhere in this disclosure mess -- which is all we're hearing in these pre-trial sessions -- do I see where the RCMP has done something amiss. So why is everybody so disparaging toward the RCMP? What is it that others see, that I'm not seeing?
And why isn't the Victoria Police force included in these allegations?
Different on the political level. The pressures and manipulation on them must be awful. But who does the RCMP answer to? Who guides them? I remember that then-Commissioner Zacardelli was needed for the final OK on the Legislature raid itself.
I think maybe the RCMP is left carrying the can for a lot of things they may have no control over whatsoever.
Or ... do they? Be nice if they were free to speak in their own behalf.
One thing I don't forget is that it was the RCMP who tracked the bad smell of crime right into the B.C. Legislature and didn't flinch ...
So I think we miss the boat badly if we keep focused on other trials in other places at other times ... and don't pay proper attention to this Basi-Virk trial stumbling along right here and now.
Like, is it the RCMP not disclosing documents? Certainly Judge Bennett has never admonishes THEM for non-disclosure ... she aims her criticism squarely at the Crown, the Prosecution team, at Bill Berardino the Special Prosecutor which, I thought, was the way it's supposed to be ... with the RCMP answering to them.
You touched my heart, Hazel, when you said you are sincere in your concern. Me too. Same for most others. We need to get through this Basi-Virk trial focused on the here and now.
There are powerful forces at work which would like nothing better than to see this trial dismissed. We really should begin to focus our energy on the desperate need (as soon as this trial ends) for a Public Inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail.
What's kept me on the job is the hope that THIS trial will reveal the roots of corruption in B.C. and will lead to better things in future.