Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for April 2007

Justice is a myth in Canada

with 4 comments

It is quite amusing really to hear the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverly McLachlin, say that it’s a myth that Canadian courts are soft on crime. It is perhaps frightening to think that she might really believe it.
I guarantee that there is not a right-thinking person in this country who is not a criminal, a Liberal or a lawyer who would agree with the perspective spouted by McLachlin. It simply doesn’t matter which case you look at in Canada, justice is never done. There is a legal system in Canada, but it can hardly be described as a justice system.
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the courts in Manitoba who are blatently ignorant about the Hells Angels or the provincial court in BC who simply cannot or will not jail habitual criminals for anything longer than a couple of weeks despite dozens and dozens of previous convictions and in the face of the highest property crime rates on the continent, the courts in Canada are failing the citizens of this country day after day. And nothing the Chief Justice tries to spin will alter that fact.
A regular reader wrote to me this week after yet another judicial outrage. Here are his comments unedited.
When are we going to learn? When they blow up the CN Tower, the Lion’s Gate Bridge at rush hour? Acts of terrorism are acts of war and must be treated as such if we are to have any hope of defending ourselves. Liberals like Bill Clinton characterize it as a law enforcement problem which should be addressed with the Marquis of Queensbury Rules.
What a beauty this judge is. I can’t imagine how they missed appointing her to the provincial courts in BC. She allows the wife to go surety while at the same time noting that she has previously lied to the court and voicing concern that she will not carry out her responsibilities. Then she takes comfort in a Supreme Court of Canada decision that offers the ‘suggestion’ that the danger represented by a terrorist declines with the time he spends in custody. As Ed McMahon used to say on the Johnny Carson show, “I did not know that”. I guess spending time in a Canadian correctional facility miraculously saps the rabid hatred these people have felt for us all their lives. Right. Like it rehabilitates ordinary criminals and makes them fear going back. I also didn’t realize the learned judges of the Supreme Court have become such experts in international terrorism.

In addition to the obvious risk, there’s the expense of the physical and technical surveillance required to monitor this individual and ensure he respects his ‘extreme form of house arrest’. The liberals would have us believe that we should all be happy to foot that bill because by protecting Mr. Jaballah’s rights we are simply protecting ourselves. I know they like to think that Mr. Jaballah and his ilk are drawn to Canada for its diversity, tolerance, and multiculturalism and, of course, have no axe to grind against us because, after all, we’re not Americans. Call me suspicious, fascist, racist, whatever you like, but when it comes to terrorists I don’t believe anything they do or anywhere they go is coincidental or without purpose.

Based solely upon what was written in this article, Mr. Jaballah should have been on his way home a long time ago and the judge had the benefit of a lot more evidence than that. It galls me that all that is keeping this killer here is the ‘suggestion’ (as opposed to ‘evidence’, ‘high probability’ , ‘certainty’) of torture should he be deported to his native Egypt. Sorry folks, but when the presence of a committed foreign terrorist (Read: ‘enemy combatant) threatens Canada’s Security and that of it’s allies, in my mind the situation should be resolved in favor of Canada.

This is war and our rights trump his. Plain and simple.

Bob Cooper

Richmond, BC
The Chief Justice can spin all she wants. The evidence to the contrary is before us each and every day in our courts.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 22, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

The ‘Thought Police’ alive and well

with 3 comments

Following today’s appearance by former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli it would seem that in today’s Force, the buck, such as it is, doesn’t stop anywhere.
Since I first wrote Are the winds of change blowing in Ottawa? I have received email messages from police officers across the country. The men and women at the sharp ends of things in the service of this country are in agreement that something drastically needs to change in the culture of today’s RCMP.
One writer, I thought, was particularly poignant. I asked for and received permission to reprint his thoughts in this space as long as I witheld his name to protect his career. A sad statement in and of itself now isn’t it? Here is his letter to me:
Much ink has been spilled with respect to recent and not so recent revelations of fraud, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the most senior levels of the RCMP. Although it may have been received with some degree of shock by the Canadian public, it’s a fair bet to state that no regular or civilian member of the RCMP would have been surprised by these headlines.

The repercussions for the members who dared to speak out also came as no surprise. The words “culture of corruption” and “culture of vengeance”, attributed to members of parliament describing the RCMP, are all too fitting. Truer words have never been spoken. Any member, whether dealing with senior management or low level supervisors have undoubtedly felt the wrath for going against the grain and exposing improprieties. It is the ultimate sin! Truth be known, honesty and integrity are regularly discouraged and viewed with scorn. The Image of the Force is far more important.

There are many questions being asked by the public, by members and by members of parliament. How could this have been allowed to take place? Where are the checks and balances? Men and women in power will often give themselves tools to enhance their ability to rule and will often abuse these tools when situations arise which could affect their grip. The RCMP has given itself such a tool and they do not hesitate to use it.

The public, members of the RCMP and legislators should look no further than the RCMP Act. This powerful tool of intimidation, which contains the Code of Conduct, is the weapon of choice when attempting to silence members. It’s deliberately vaguely worded “catch all” sections, which permit senior management to make square pegs fit into round holes, can and do discipline members for exercising their S.2 Charter rights of freedom of thought, belief and expression. The fundamental freedoms that all Canadians enjoy are routinely denied to RCMP members. If my identity was known, I would be ordered to resign from the Force within 14 days or be dismissed. How’s that for freedom of expression?

As long as the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Senior Executive Committee are given absolute power, they will use it. And use it with a ruthlessness usually associated with totalitarian and dictatorial regimes. There is one way to solve this problem…let the members speak without the fear of reprisals. Repeal the sections of the RCMP Act that forbid criticism of the organization. A Royal Commission on the abuses endured by members of the RCMP would have Canadians glued to their televisions….that is why it will never happen.

The only reason the Image of the RCMP has continued to be a positive one is not because of the accomplishments of its membership, it’s because anything that has the possibility to tarnish its image, from within, is simply not permitted. Cover ups abound, members are silenced every day, threatened with disciplinary action or dismissed for having integrity. If anybody ever questioned just how serious the problem is, I would point to Deputy Commissioner Barb George’s recent statements indicating her misleading statements to a parliamentary committee are protected by parliamentary privilege. Thank you for thumbing your nose at our elected representatives Deputy Commissioner, you are a true model of the Mission, Vision and Values of the Force. The rot is not exclusive to Ottawa but is entrenched in every single Division across Canada.

Senior management has no fear because it controls everything. The Public Complaints Commission against the RCMP uses RCMP members to conduct their investigations and their findings are turned over to the Commissioner, who has the final say to accept or deny them. The Force’s internal investigations sections frequently have their strings pulled by the puppet masters at the top. Double standards abound. Interference and obstruction are standard operating procedure. Officers who conduct themselves in a disgraceful manner are routinely let off with nothing more than verbal reprimands while frontline members are fined, transferred, demoted, dismissed and ridiculed. It truly is good to be King!

Name witheld by request.
A pretty damning condemnation of the status quo, wouldn’t you say?
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 17, 2007 at 4:18 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

A dubious decision

leave a comment »

Every now and again a court renders a decision that would appear, for all intents and purposes, that the members of that court have lost whatever touch with the reality to which they might have, at one time, laid claim.
And then there’s the Manitoba Court of Appeal and their incredible – no, unbelieveable – decision, as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press (Hells Angel allowed to chat with biker buddies, says high court), in the case of Hells Angel Shane Kirton who had pled guilty to an unprovoked, vicious assault on an unsuspecting bar patron. And not, I might add, his first go ’round with the law.
But, back to the decision at hand.
The Court of Appeal overturned the decision of Queen’s Bench Justice Holly Beard to impose conditions on Kirton that he refrain from contact with his brother Hells Angels for the duration of his probation. Apparently, according to the Appeal Court, that condition infringes on his right to freedom of association guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the lower court should not have taken judicial notice that the Hells Angels are a criminal organization.
Chief Justice Richard Scott said, “It is hard to escape the conclusion that the sentencing judge was led astray by her preoccupation with the accused’s involvement with the Hells Angels.”
Oh? And why would she not? They have been found to be a criminal organization by superior courts in Ontario and British Columbia. The presumably well-read justices of the Manitoba Court of Appeal seem to have not read those decisions or a plethora of books written on the subject. There is simply no basis for them to assert that the lower court judge “could not” take judicial notice of that.
Equally, the Court of Appeal seemed to be fixated on the fact that the assault was committed when Kirton wasn’t wearing his Hells Angels patch and therefore wasn’t using his affiliation with the outlaw motorcycle gang in committing the assault. In doing so, the Court of Appeal demonstrated they have a profound lack of understanding of the Hells Angels.
Kirton was wearing clothing that clearly showed he was a member of the Hells Angels, who exist and further their individual criminal enterprises using intimidation fostered by an image which has been carefully cultivated. That the Manitoba Court of Appeal failed to recognize this demonstrates either their ignorance of reality or their complicity with, or corruption by, the biker gang.
The bottom line here is that the Hells Angels have been determined to be a criminal enterprise in BC and Ontario by superior, not provincial, courts. Gangsterism prosecutions have been filed across the country. To suggest that a convicted member of the Hells Angels, on probation, should not be limited in communication with other members of an ongoing criminal enterprise is blatently stupid or utterly corrupt.
There is no other possibility that I can see. I wonder which it is.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 11, 2007 at 4:04 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Are the winds of change blowing in Ottawa?

with 4 comments

For your outstanding leadership abilities, your commitment to the advancement of women in Canadian policing, and for your dedication to the effective delivery and management of human resources, wherein you have become an influential role model for all police officers. – 2006 Order of Merit of the Police Forces citation given to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Barbara George

The trouble with awards is that once given, they cannot be easily taken back. The other problem with national awards is that they are seldom given to those who actually deserve them. Too often they are given for political reasons, to individuals who just happen to be in a certain position or to members of the bureaucracy who tend to exercise some control on these things.

Barbara George was just another senior level bureaucrat when the Governor General pinned the award on her chest. What had she really done to deserve it? Difficult to say. She spent a career being a carpet cop and wouldn’t have the faintest idea what a real cop does for a living let alone being a “role model” for anything other than a bureaucrat wanting to climb the greasy pole in a federal government ministry.

Do I sound disparaging of the now suspended Deputy Commissioner Barbara George? Sorry, I don’t mean to. But, right after she was suspended by interim Comissioner Bev Busson following the testimony of several RCMP officers before the Public Accounts Committee concerning abuses of the Mounties’ pension fund and their attempts to get light shed on the subject, the Mounties distanced themselves from her pronto.

George herself testified that neither she nor former Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli had anything to do with hindering the investigation. Testimony supported by phone call recordings and other corroboration seemed to dispute that position. The Mounties outlined an atmosphere of corruption and condonation of corruption permeating the highest ranks.

Shortly after George was suspended, the RCMP erased any reference to her on their website. It was blindingly fast. Fortunately, the internet is a powerful tool and much could still be located. A review of her career highlights shows she was nothing more than a carpet cop. And therin lies the answer to all of this.

In 1984 the RCMP was politicized and the Comissioner was made a Deputy Minister with all of the political realities that entailed. In reality, the RCMP has become yet another moribund political bureaucracy.

This is not to belittle the hard-working members at the sharp end of things. No, not in the least. When I joined the RCMP two years after its centennial celebrations, I was given a quick education into the Force by a senior member. He explained the machinations of the Force as “A hundred and two years of tradition unhampered by progress.”

And that brings us full-circle to the scandal plaguing the RCMP that led to the suspension of Deputy Commissioner Barbara George. Throughout the 90’s and the the first part of the new century, the Liberal Party of Canada created a culture of those who were “entitled to their entitlements” among the bureaucracy. Why should the RCMP be any different?

Well, the reality was they weren’t as evidenced by the misappropriation of money from the pension fund by the carpet cops mired in the bureaucracy.

When members of the Force tried to raise concerns about the Pension Fund, the carpet cops shined them on, neutralized them by transfer or completely marginalized them. This is tried and true tactics by the carpet cops. Ask Bob Stenhouse or Robert Read. They have both been victimized by that culture.

Well, that corrupt culture has now been laid bare to the Public Accounts Committee. A senior carpet cop has been suspended. It remains to be seen if the price to be paid is real or mere window dressing and it is business as usual at Headquarters in Ottawa.

The RCMP should use this period in their history to reinvent themselves in their role as the national police force. And, what is now 134 years of tradition needs to finally see some progress.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 4, 2007 at 4:00 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment