Thursday, March 20, 2008

 

Canada: a deepening police state?

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Powell River is a peaceful seaside town way up the B.C. coast. But the other day, the City Administration hired outside lawyers to threaten three of its citizens with lawsuits for civil comments made to The Peak, the local newspaper. That story lends an unexpected urgency to what Robin Mathews has written in the following essay. - BC Mary.
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CITY THREATENS LAWSUITS
Lawyer demands retractions and apologies for written comments

Laura Walz, editor
The Peak - 03/20/08


At least three residents, including a newly elected councillor, are facing legal action if they don't apologize and retract statements about the City of Powell River.

Councillor Patricia Aldworth, Noel Hopkins and Win Brown have received letters from the city's lawyer, Michael C. Woodward, of Woodward Walker in White Rock. While the wording in each letter varies slightly, the last paragraph states, "A timely and unequivocal retraction of these statements, and publication of an apology for this wrongful allegation can be expected to mitigate the damages you have caused, and to reduce the damages to which your defamatory publication has exposed you."

The letter to Aldworth, who is the president of the Townsite Ratepayers' Association, came as a result of a sentence in an email she circulated to Townsite residents. {Snip} ...

Woodward's letter to Hopkins refers to a letter to the editor he wrote which was published in the February 13 issue of the Peak, titled System Has Flaws. Woodward wrote to him that the letter "conveys the false and defamatory imputation that the City (a) is involved in a corrupt election preceding[sic]; (b) is unethical."

Hopkins, who is 86 years old and has been a member of the city's liquid waste management advisory committee for eight years, said he is not going to back down. "I wrote a letter expressing my view to the Peak ," he said. "I'm not withdrawing it."

Brown wrote a one sentence comment on the Peak's website about Hopkins' letter. "After reading the letter from Noel Hopkins I think that the RCMP should be involved and a fornsic [sic] accounting should be conducted to seen [sic] where our tax dollars have gone."

Woodward wrote to Brown that "your publication conveys the false and defamatory imputation that the City has utilized funds in an improper way, which requires a comprehensive criminal investigation. That imputation is false and injudicious. More fundamentally, it is actionable against you."

After The Peak declined to publish a retraction, Brown read a statement at the March 11 council meeting, saying he "would like to retract" his statement after receiving a letter from Woodward Walker. "The letter stated these comments are actionable against me ... {Snip} ... I would like the taxpayers of the City of Powell River to accept my apology for my comments which resulted in your hard-earned tax dollars to pay Woodward Walker local government counsel to send this letter to me. I had no idea how far the city was prepared to go. I'm a pensioner on a fixed income. I could never afford to fight this lawsuit in court. If I tried, it would financially destroy me, lose my home and family."

... Brown declined to comment further on his statement. "I have no comment for fear of retaliation from the municipality," he said.

During media inquiries, the Peak read Brown's one sentence comment and asked if this is the kind of opinion the city believes to be actionable.

Alsgard referred the question to Stan Westby, chief administrative officer. "I just wanted to advise that this particular matter is under litigation and I refer your inquiry to our solicitor, Mr. Michael Woodward, and I can arrange that if you wish," Westby said.

Woodward has not returned the Peak 's phone call.


Read the full story at:
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19408196&BRD=1998&PAG=461&dept_id=221589&rfi=6

To contact the Editor, Laura Walz, her e.mail address is: editor@prpeak.com
And while you're on their web-site, why not vote in their online poll, which asks: "Do you think the City of Powell River should threaten people with defamation lawsuits?" Yes? or No?

Special thanks to Lynx for sending us this story. We should speak up in support of the three Powell River citizens who were voicing civil opinions about their own home town! And a large bouquet to the Powell River Peak for a principled stand on behalf of free speech. - BC Mary.

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CANADA: A DEEPENING POLICE STATE?

Robin Mathews


We begin, of course, with the police. At the same time, as hopeful Canadians, we want to deny there is any reason for concern. Naturally. But whether sparked by a random murder by police, the violation of innocent demonstrators (UBC), a pension scandal at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, the huge RCMP "stumbling" in the BC Rail Scandal, the almost certain RCMP cover-up in the Alberta Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice case, the disaster of the Vancouver International Airport Taser death and apparent attempted cover-up by RCMP, or the Maher Arar fiasco - and much more - real questions arise.

They keep arising. They become insistent. We do right to think unexamined (really unexamined) police actions, the seemingly obvious protection and cover-up of police wrong-doing, and the failure to review police behaviour in depth and to institute serious reforms point to a malaise, to something that looks like a dangerous increase in police power.

Those things make up the tip of an iceberg. They are not by any means the whole story. Because the police in Canada have distinct, real authorities to whom they must answer. Attorneys General, Solicitors General, the federal cabinet, provincial cabinets, and, finally, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons. All of those authorities may act to oversee police activity.

The inaction of responsible authorities points to the real meaning of the phrase "police state". In a police state the police are merely the public face of a corporate tyranny, one which, almost by definition, is supported by the major press and media. In addition, is has to be supported - however opaquely - by the so-called "independent judiciary". And, finally, it has to be operated and controlled by a combination of cabinet power and corporate wealth. The purpose of a police state is to turn the wealth of the country (and its power) away from the people of the country and to funnel it to a small, influential class inside and outside the borders.

Go under the surface, below the tip of the iceberg. Two things are evident. Cabinets are closing doors on the people they are elected to represent, moving into greater and greater secrecy across the country. The Stephen Harper government, for instance, passes limp "accountability" legislation while gagging elected MPs and cabinet ministers, refusing to face the press, and making access to information increasingly difficult - and expensive - to obtain.


That government even goes farther. The Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice case - just for instance - has given rise to allegations of RCMP misconduct, serious malfunctioning of the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary, violations of professional conduct among dental and legal organizations, and the suspect involvement of some Alberta government officers and the government contracted corporation CGI. Repeated solicitations have been made to Rob Nicholson, minister of justice, and to Stockwell Day, minister of public safety - over some months (from a number of people). Neither man will do as much as acknowledge receiving correspondence. The press and media are completely mute.

Asked, as well, for a public inquiry into the bizarre circumstances of the case, Alberta's Attorney General, Ron Stevens (falsely) wrote that he does not have jurisdiction. Alberta's Solicitor General, Fred Lindsay, refused to discuss allegations of RCMP wrong-doing, reporting (falsely) that he has no authority over the RCMP in Alberta.

In British Columbia the Gordon Campbell cabinet gives every indication of attempting to thwart the pursuit of justice in the B.C. Supreme Court case arising out of the corrupt sale of B.C. Rail.
Allowed clear sailing, that case might well point fingers at guilty cabinet ministers and the premier.

The RCMP gives many signs - to quite innocent, ordinary Canadians - that it is using every impediment it can dream up to obstruct disclosure of accumulated evidence in the case. Be assured, the so-called RCMP "cop-on-the-beat" is not deciding to frustrate the work of the court. If the foot-dragging, the apparent obstruction, the incompetence perceived are really there - are not a figment of the imagination - the reason for them has to be at the highest levels of RCMP decision making. And that suggests the highest levels of RCMP decision making may be shaking a devious hand with members of the Gordon Campbell cabinet. The major press and media ask no questions. They report, a little. Because they have to.

In the Alberta case, the RCMP looks as if it broke confidentiality, assisted a huge corporation in wrong-doing, and provided information to harass and to practice barretry* against an innocent single mother (Kelly Marie Richard) with a real grievance to make a claim upon.

By persisting I was able to have R.R. Knecht, RCMP Deputy Commissioner of the North West Region and Commanding Officer of Division K, undertake an investigation of RCMP behaviour in the matter. The resulting Report was so lame, so lamentable, such a transparently perverse charade that most Canadians wouldn't believe it was possible. In fact, the "investigation" was such a piece of trumpery, in my judgement, it could not have happened in the way it did by accident.

Is it possible to say in the Kelly Marie Richard case that the RCMP deviously cooperated with a huge multi-national corporation, hand in hand with professional organizations, the Alberta cabinet, and judges of the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta to destroy the integrity of justice in that Province? While the major press and media looked and look the other way? If that scenario is real, if it really happened (and is happening) we may say it offers us a picture of a police state in action.

In British Columbia, concerning the BC Rail Scandal, the same kind of numbers seem to be adding up. The Gordon Campbell cabinet and the RCMP appear to be pursuing the same goals instead of radically different, independent goals. The court seems helpless to stop them - or distinctly unwilling to do so. The Crown, prosecuting the criminal case, appears to be almost ineffective on matters of disclosure of evidence when it is not giving the appearance of active procedural delay. Since, unlike the Alberta case, the RCMP is not (yet) itself in direct question in the B.C. case, its apparent connection to other "police state" forces is not as clear.

All of this is not a matter of undertow gossip, back-room rumour, or vapourous allegation. It has been thrown into searching light by the Report of the Task Force on Governance and Culture Change in the RCMP, submitted to the federal cabinet on December 14, 2007 - a scant three months ago.

The Task Force was created by Stephen Harper in order to prevent a more wide-ranging investigation of the RCMP. By-passing a Public Inquiry with a Task Force, Harper effectively prevented any of the apparent violations mentioned above from being investigated. He asked the Task Force for a prompt reporting. Among the five Conservatives appointed all were not Stephen Harper Republicans. Some were Canadian Conservatives of integrity who respect the rule of law and believe in a democratic framework for Canadian society.

The result was a clear Report within the boundaries drawn for the Task Force. It records that "trust in the management of the RCMP has been shaken. This has had a stunning impact on the members and employees of the RCMP and on the Canadians they serve." The Task Force heard "with remarkable consistency about major problems with the discipline system, recruitment, performance evaluations, promotion and personal development." It goes on that all "of this led us to conclude that there is a need to radically overhaul the way the RCMP is governed." (p.vii)

In Chapter 5 of the Report, the Task Force members recommend the immediate appointment of an "Implementation Council" with a purpose: "to make fundamental changes in the governance, culture and accountability of the RCMP". (p. 47) They recommend that the Council establish "a timetable for reform" and be responsible for "development and execution of an implementation plan". The Task Force recommends the first "progress report" of the Implementation Council be no later than June 30, 2008, and that subsequent reports follow no less frequently than every six months". (p. 48)

We are now approaching the end of March 2008, three months from the first deadline the Task Force has set. Only today Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, announced there would [be] movement on the Report's recommendations. Almost unquestionably, an "Implementation Council" will not be able to make its first Report by deadline date. In fact, no one yet knows how far the Stephen Harper government is willing to go to make the Task Force recommendations meaningful.

The members chosen for an implementation body are of key importance. The list provided is not promising. Suspicions widely held in Canada of a deepening police state will either be confirmed or gently put away with the Stephen Harper action on the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP. If the Harper cabinet does a botch-up of the RCMP overhaul similar to the one it perpetrated in its move to ensure government accountability, we will know the Harper Republican Party is the willing architect of a police state in Canada.

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* BARRETRY. The practice of exciting and encouraging lawsuits and quarrels.

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Comments:
"Only today Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, announced there would [be] movement on the Report's recommendations"

The fact that this process is under the management of one of the biggest clowns in a government composed entirely of unfunny clowns, hardly leads one to expect the process to lead to improvement in the RCMP or the Justice System in general. It is hard to imagine their goal is to make the "system" produce true "justice."

People will only respect a "fixed" Justice System so long before they decide to pursue justice in other venues and using other means...........

Students of history may have difficulty digging up legal papers seeking redress from the Court of the earlier King George by Thos. Jefferson and colleagues, and even if some were filed, it took other means to bring redress as we all know today.

If the economic system they've been gaming should crumble and fail to satisfy even the basic materialistic needs of the public, Vancouver might find their upcoming 92 new police officers fall far short of enough to maintain a "civil" society!
 
I must say, it is most refreshing to read Robin Mathews post and know that the policemen (in all Canada) are responsible for all the crime, dysfunctional society, Government coverups, mismanegment, Law suites against Powell River citizens you name it, blame it on the Police. Way to go Robin, I'm sure we could function extremely well without them. Jo5ey
 
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Jo5ey,

You exaggerate just a wee bit, don't you?

As I am the one who posted the Powell River item -- not Robin Mathews -- I think you are being unfair to link any policemen to the threatened lawsuits against the 3 citizens. That was done by the Powell River City Council and their out-of-town lawyers. Nothing to do with any police.

But then, Robin didn't suggest that we could function as a society without police, either.

Most refreshing, you say? No. Kind of discouraging, that you missed the point so completely.

I hope you'll give it another try.

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The 'police state' started long before the Harper government, it was when the Liberals were in office that the PC's and Cnd. Aliance merged. Which borned their campaine to get 'tough on crime'... The military could provide some assistance to combat a rogue police force, however the governing electives must see the need!? The Queen,international police/community could intervine? But, how would the world know whats going on if the mainstream media doesn't report the whole truth and nothing but the truth?! I believe the sitting PM knows of the need and doesn't care if Canadians get sold down the river...The marginalized take up resoures, and do not contribute to the revenues that make up our ONCE, beautiful, strong and free land! I'd like to vote for the Conservative Party, but not for Stephen Harper!
 
No Mary, I do not think there was much exaggeration there. The association to the Powell River deal was through your headlines, identical. I did read the article on Kelly Marie Richards. There is nothing in that to give information on what the malpractice lawsuite against the dentist was over. The article is lengthy,very much one sided, with allegations (unproven) that make the insinuations of the Powell River Councilor look like compliments. I do believe this is justly unfair. And a timely reminder, there is always TWO sides to any dispute. Perhaps Robin is not up todate on the actions now taking place in the HQ of the RCMP.
Jo5ey
 
Make no mistake about it, I do appreciate and admire Robins efforts on the BVB - BC Rail case. I also agree with him that drastic changes have to be made. We MUST get some level of JUSTICE back into the legal system we now operate with.EVERY public body must be transparent and accountable to the electorate. However, no changes will ever be made without changes to the way we elect our reps, both Fed. & Prov. Mixed Member Porportional is a "no brianer" as in that system we elect approx. 2/3rds of the reps, the remainder are "chosen" from party lists. Who does the choosing, the KING of course. So, who do these "chosen" ones owe their allegiance? Who else? BC-STV may not be perfect, no system could be, but the one GREAT advantage it will do is diminish GREATLY the power now concentrated in the "bosses" office. Controlled and conducted by non-elected appointees. Who appoints them, none other then the "boss", and who runs the Government, those same non elected loyal subjects (read Dobel),our elected reps are no more and no less then "wall dressing". And we can make this change if we honestly want to. Jo5ey
 
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Joey,

"City threatens lawsuit" is the headline for the Powell River story. There is no mention of police in the Powell River headline, in the small intro., or in Powell River Peak story.

So when you make ironic police references where no police were mentioned, I stand by my reply that "you exaggerate a wee bit." Correction: you exaggerate a lot.

"Canada: a deepening police state" is the headline for Robin's essay in which he sets out the reasons for his general concerns -- all sourced so that you can look them up and decide for yourself.

His references are to police incidents already under investigation and/or reported elsewhere in the news. He provides data which is not easily found in the daily newspapers. Then you, the reader, must make up your own mind about it.

He was not discussing the Kelly Marie Richards case ... rather, he was reporting on the way HE was treated when he tried to help.

Give us a bit of a break, Jo5ey. We may not be perfect but we do our best. And that ain't bad.

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.Jo5ey,

You're scaring me. Are there two of you, or what?

Anyway, it's nice to see the old Jo5ey back again.

I guess we're on the same trail together, after all.

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