Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for June 2008

Judicial hypocrisy continues to offend

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O, hypocrisy, thy name is Justice. Or at least it should be.

In the same week, and very nearly on the same day, three different arms of what passes for justice in this disturbed Dominion made decisions which are as hypocritical as they are mired in either political correctness run amok or systemic corruption. You pick.

The first and perhaps most offensive is the decision of the BC Supreme Court issued yesterday saying that Crown prosecutors are protected from testifying about their decision to allow bail to an actual killer and that they weren’t protected in testifying about why they decided not to lay charges in the case of an aboriginal man, Frank Paul, who died of exposure after being released from the Vancouver Police drunk tank.

Unbelievable. What kind of leaps in mental gymnastics must Mr. Justice Thomas Melnick have made to arrive at this conclusion? To paraphrase a rather unfortunate MP who chose a curious way of pointing out a hypocritical cabinet minister, the judge can’t suck and blow at the same time.

This is a simple question: Are members the Crown Prosecutor’s office compellable as witnesses to explain their decisions or are they not?

Mr. Justice Melnick seems to have decided that if the potential accused is a police officer, or as in this case, two, they are compellable. But if the individual is a wife beating lunatic who is released on bail when any sane system would have opposed bail, who then goes on to kill his whole family, well, then they aren’t compellable. Presumably because they might have to actually explain why the justice system in this country is an absolute failure.

Or has political correctness reared its ugly head? Frank Paul was an aboriginal man and the family slaughter was committed by a man who was ethnically Chinese. Or is Mr. Justice Melnick simply prejudiced against the police? Either is a possibility for I cannot see any legal justification for making Crown compellable in one case but not another.

And then there is Mr. Justice Max Teitelbaum, a retired judge of the Federal Court who is still working. He has found a way to ignore the incredibly obvious. 
He actually struck down a finding by Mr. justice John Gomery following his well-publicized inquiry into the Liberal Party of Canada diverting advertising funds into the hands of their friends in business and laundering a portion of those funds back into their own coffers by way of donations. 

You can spell corruption any way you want, but the rotting fish still stinks from the head first. Gomery merely stated the obvious. Adscam was only a piece of it. What about the Billion Dollar Boondoggle. (Actually nearly four billion but why quibble over a name?) Project Sidewinder and the subsequent whitewash to protect the Liberal pals in China. Someone remind me, where is Maurice Strong living now after he got caught with his hand in the Oil for Food scandal? Oh yeah, right, he found sanctuary in the People’s Republic of China. Oh and that’s long before we talk about Chretien’s chief Quebec Lieutenant, the disgraced former Minister of Public Works Alfonso Gagliano. 

Welcome to the political toilet that masquerades as a proper Western democracy.

And just for laughs there is the story about the two lesbians who appeared drunk and were definitely obnoxious who showed up at the appearance of comedian Guy Earle. They disrupted his performance in a drunken, obnoxious manner and so, being a stand-up comedian, Earle engaged them head on.

What did he get for his trouble? The hate-seeking misses went directly to the BC Human Right folks to say they were offended. Well, boo-hoo! You can’t start something then be offended. Or more accurately, you can’t start a battle of wits when you are unarmed then whine because you were beaten.

And the BC Human Rights hand-wringers are actually taking the complaint which is going to cost Earle big bucks to defend himself and what about the obnoxious lesbians? Not a farthing. Nope, the good taxpayer of BC will fork over all of the cost for their right to be obnoxious and disturb everyone around them and not be held to account.

That offends me. 

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

June 27, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

It’s the little things that matter most

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For those folks who have wondered where I have been in the past couple of weeks, I took a break and went down to the desert in Arizona to do a little golfing. Well, more accurately, a lot of golfing.

And one of the things that really struck me in the Phoenix area this trip was the cleanliness and the efficiency of their road system and their traffic enforcement.

The first day I arrived, I was driving from the airport on one of the freeways when I noticed a flash of light in the opposite direction. At the merge point of an entrance to the freeway was a bank of cameras looking at oncoming traffic with strategically placed strobes and cameras to capture the rear license plate of vehicles caught doing something outside the parameters of what is allowable.

Interesting, I thought. In various jurisdictions in Canada we have tried photo radar and it always required a manned vehicle to set up, program, monitor and take down the system. Yet, here was a completely unmanned system, permanently installed causing people to follow the rule of law. In Canada, it wouldn’t last a week before someone would shoot it up or otherwise render it inoperable.

A couple of days later, while walking to a restaurant in Scottsdale, I noticed a red light camera set up at the intersection of Shea Blvd and Scottsdale Road, both major arterials. But unlike the red light cameras we use in British Columbia this one was not high up, but at arm’s length.

In the Greater Vancouver area, at best, about 30% of the red light cameras are fully functional at any given time. Yet in Arizona, with its liberal gun laws and Wild West image, the devices were not only wholly undamaged, but installed at a height that almost anyone could literally reach up and touch them.

The streets were clean and devoid of litter, overgrowth and dust. In Vancouver, which is getting ready to host the 2010 Olympics, I noticed this morning while on my way to the airport, heading to the Centre of the Universe, that freeway ramps were overgrown, concrete medians had weeds growing through and everywhere on my drive from North Vancouver to Richmond was visible litter and a general unkempt appearance.

Vancouver, which clamors for the tag “World Class,” is fast becoming class-less. Abandoned vehicles abound. On most streets one can see the residue of broken car windows done to sustain the habits of junkies and meth-heads that we simply will not say belong in jail.

In Phoenix, they have Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapoia, who treats criminals like criminals and tells them if they don’t like it in his jails, then they should behave so they won’t come back.

In Canada, where it is particularly difficult to do something egregious enough to actually get sent to jail, we do everything we can help the poor unfortunate thieves, dope dealers, murderers and rapists see the error of their ways in the vain hope they might return to society a valued and contributing member. And while that may be a worthwhile endeavor the first time or two through the system, we do it time after time after time after time after time.

Breach your bail conditions? No problem, here’s a couple more conditions. Breach Probation? That’s alright, have some more probation. Breach parole? That’s okay, we’ll work harder with you to help you become a nice contributing taxpayer.

In the 70’s and 80’s New York City was a frightening place, with upwards of three homicides a day, a cynical police force rife with corruption and organized crime acting as though they ran things and were untouchable.

Rudy Giuliani got elected Mayor in the early 90’s and espousing the “Broken Windows” concept of crime reduction, he literally cleaned up the city and made it one of the safest large cities, not only in the USA, but in the world.

Broken Windows was all about going after the bad guys for everything – jaywalk, here’s a ticket. Break into a car, you are under arrest. Breach bail conditions, go to Rikers. It was all about tough enforcement of the law and consequences for actions regardless of the seriousness of the offence.

But it was also about fixing things up so there was a standard of order, no broken windows (hence the name), no graffiti, no burned out or abandoned vehicles. Clean and safe streets was not only the goal of Giuliani, but the demand.

I saw the same results that New York achieved in Phoenix. Unfortunately, I see nothing of the kind in Canada.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

June 23, 2008 at 4:19 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Cardboard cut-ups

with 7 comments

The new Vancouver Police initiative to use cardboard life-size cut outs (Police unveil cardboard cops) of a traffic officer in full regalia replete with a handheld radar gun along the Knight St. corridor is creative, I will say that.

One wonders how long it will be before the first ones go missing, the target of a college prank or to decorate a dope dealer’s smoking room?  Or indeed, how long until the gang bangers start tossing rounds from a nine as they scoot by in their high-powered cars?

Knowing how well these tattooed half-wits shoot, I wouldn’t want to live in a home behind one of the cardboard cops.

There’s no question that the Knight Street corridor is the most dangerous in Vancouver for the number of motor vehicle accidents that occur along it.  And, there’s also no question that more traffic enforcement initiatives need to be deployed to combat the carnage.  But cardboard cops?  This is a joke, right?

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

June 7, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

The hypocrisy of the higher moral ground

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Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier’s public humiliation became complete with his resignation this week for being careless with cabinet level briefing papers that he evidently left at his former girlfriend’s home. Was that stupid? Oh, absolutely and undeniably. And he has paid forfeit with his job. And that is as it should be.
But the sanctimonious bleating by the Liberal Opposition is really wearing a little thin. No, more than a little thin.

The femme fatale in this sordid and tawdry movie, Julie Couillard, is basking in her 15 minutes of fame. It seems rather career, if not life-threatening to engage in any meaningful intimate association with this Black Dahlia. But all of that notwithstanding, the spectre of any Liberal MP barking about the risk to National Security considering the ties to the Libs of all manner of dodgy people they were happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with is not only absurd but insulting.

Where does one start?

Consider the demands that Mme. Coulliard should have been vetted by the Mounties before Bernier’s ill-advised dalliance. Uh, excuse me, but didn’t the RCMP try and stop the appointment of since-disgraced Minister of Public Works and ultimately Ambassador, Alfonso Gagliano to Executive Council because of his direct ties to members of Italian organized crime? And didn’t the powers that be in then Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s office ignore those warnings, much to their ultimate chagrin?

Gagliano always tried to dispute his connections to organized crime figures as co-incidental and the Liberal Party of Canada struck out against those who tried to tell the truth as anti-Italian and whatever racist allegation of the day that might stick.
Well whatever. Gagliano and Augustino Cuntrera (and indeed, all of the Caruana / Cuntrera familigia are from the same village in Sicily and they were successive leaders of the Siculiana – Cattolica Eraclea Society in Montreal. Any pretense of coincidence is insulting.

But the salient point is that despite the warnings from the RCMP and the initial refusal to grant him clearance for appointment to Executive Council, the RCMP acquiesced. Was the Force strong-armed by someone in the PMO? I don’t know, but I will leave you to formulate your own opinion.

Then there’s the holier-than-thou Bob Rae who may well go down in history as the worst premier in Ontario history, screaming and burbling about interference from the PMO.

Hmmmm, one of the worst scandals in this country’s history is the handling of Project Sidewinder and the political interference – dare I say cover up – by officials in senior levels of the government of Canada. And Rae, who undoubtedly needed a job to suckle from the public tit after being summarily tossed from office in a sudden and decidedly rare moment of clarity by the voting public in Ontario, was a member of SIRC, the handsomely paid civilian oversight committee of CSIS that reviewed the file and in the face of an incredible amount of circumstantial and direct evidence decided that nothing bad had occurred.

Project Sidewinder was a case of actual government corruption and influence peddling as opposed to the possible accidental leak of confidential information.

So, how does that work? How does Rae demonize the one, minimal event and exonerate the other, systemically corrupt problem? I guess one would have to climb into the confusing and convoluted mind of former NDP Premier, now Liberal MP, Bob Rae. Enlightening? Probably not. Hypocritical? Absolutely.

L’Affaire Bernier is sad and tawdry. The fact that this narcissistic MP from Quebec has embarrassed the government of Stephen Harper is sad enough. And there is no doubt that none of this would have happened had Harper been able to actually utilize the talent within his caucus. But unfortunately, this is Canada, and the Prime Minister had to find places for lesser lights in Cabinet simply because they come from certain politically necessary parts of the country.

And, at the end of the day, Bernier, no matter how he plays out in Quebec, simply isn’t that bright as evidenced by this whole affair. What is really sad is that the Prime Minister had to reach into the shallow end of the gene pool because of the tiresome politics of Quebec.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

June 1, 2008 at 6:48 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment