Crime & Punishment

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Posts Tagged ‘unions

Reports are scathing of the RCMP, but little will change

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Two reports were released Monday by the Public Safety Minister in Ottawa. The first, was written by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP and can be found here.  The CRCC broadly reviewed workplace harassment and bullying in the Force.

The other was authored by former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. It looked at four particular cases where harassment lawsuits were filed individually by female members Catherine Galliford, Alice Fox, Susan Gastaldo and Atoya Montague. That report can be found here.

The RCMP has had both reports for several weeks but thus far has had little positive reaction to either report both scathing in their criticism of the Mounties essentially saying the organization is  dysfunctional and the harassment and bullying was systemic. Where have we heard this before?

I have long described the RCMP as “144 years of tradition unhampered by progress.” These two reports just reinforce that statement.

None of this is new. There have been a number of reports over the past decade or so and successive commissioners have mouthed all the platitudes including the current one, Bob Paulson, who has been described by a number of officers to me as the biggest bully of all. I cannot argue. Indeed, Galliford told me this is the fifth such report she has participated in.

Both reports recommend some form of civilian oversight for the Force. If that is to happen then the RCMP Act will require the appropriate amendments, if not re-written in its entirety, given the recent union certification application made by the newly formed National Police Federation.

But even then I am not sure much will change. The problem is the culture within the RCMP. It, in and of itself, causes the dysfunction. Part of it is the Old Boys network. For example when Gary Bass was the CO of E Division (BC) his sycophants were referred to as the Bass Boys Club or BBC for short. Promotions literally depended on whether one was a member of the BBC.

When Craig Callens took over upon Bass’ retirement nothing changed except the name. The sycophants were then referred to as being on “Craigslist.”

Another significant issue is the “go along to get along” unwritten rule. Members don’t dare colour outside the box. But the overriding issue is the, again unstated policy, not to do or say anything that could damage the reputation of the RCMP. This is at the heart of the problem.

If a member has a complaint about a superior, even if validated, which is rare, the member is discouraged from pushing it for the good of the Force or the miscreant is simply transferred. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak.

The RCMP Act was re-written in 2014 ostensibly to make it easier for the Commissioner to fire the “bad apples.”

The CRCC report identifies what the RCMP has done since it’s last report on the matter in 2013 were simply small initiatives that had little or no effect.  Said Ian McPhail, Chair of the CRCC in the report, “If the last 10 years, over 15 reports and hundreds of recommendations for reform have produced any lessons, it is that the RCMP is not capable of making the necessary systemic changes of its own accord.”

Stunning words. Paulson’s response? Meh.

Well, to be fair he did put out a one page response in which he gave no reaction to the major recommendation common to both reports, the establishment of civilian oversight committee or board that will assume control for administration, finance and human resource management of the RCMP.

This is his response: “These reports make recommendations that require careful review and consideration. They will no doubt help improve policies to further support a healthy and respectful workplace as the RCMP continues moving forward.” How about that for tepid?

McPhail’s report also says that little has changed in the RCMP from their previous report in 2013 to the present day. Paulson’s response? “It should be noted that many of the reports’ judgments rely on the historical context of RCMP transformation efforts that are not, in my view, reflective of current RCMP environment, policies or processes.”

Yeah, that sure sounds like he is seized with the findings and recommendations doesn’t it?

Paulson has already announced he is leaving at the end of next month. We don’t yet know who his replacement will be, but unless the Trudeau government picks a strong leader – a real leader  who can take the Old Boys’Network by the scruff and shake the heck out of it – nothing will change. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telegraphed today that the appointment will be either a female or someone well-versed in aboriginal issues. Leadership qualities apparently are not the criteria.

Equally, I don’t think Ralph Goodale, the Public Safety Minister, has the intestinal fortitude to take on the RCMP because any effort to establish some form of civilian oversight with authority over the Commissioner’s office will be fought every step of the way by seniour management in the RCMP. Take that to the bank.

The female members who were interviewed by Fraser were told that the Minister is “absolutely committed to follow the recommendations.” I’m sure Fraser believes that. I, on the other hand, don’t buy it for a second.

I spoke with former West Vancouver Chief and former BC Solicitor General Kash Heed to get his take. He said, “Nothing will change in the RCMP. There are consecutive reports over the past 15 years; Kennedy, Duxbury, Brown ‘et al’ calling for the same changes. The organization will not change unless they are redefined and stick to just federal policing.”

It’s hard to argue that. But that sort of institutional change would have to come from government. The same government lacking in the same sort of leadership that’s needed in the RCMP.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

Competence at heart of VPD / IIO court petition

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News broke yesterday that the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has filed a petition with the courts to try and force members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to cooperate with their investigators citing “obstruction” in the aftermath of a shooting which occurred in November at the Canadian Tire store on Grandview Highway in Vancouver. This is disingenuous in and of itself. The VPU has never said their members will not cooperate.

I have previously written about what happened that day. If you’re interested, you can read that piece here.

VPD Chief Constable, Adam Palmer, when he received a demand from the IIO that he order involved officers to cooperate and provide statements replied, on March 13, that he would be seeking legal advice. While he was in the process of doing that, the IIO filed the court petition, apparently not content with the Chief’s words and trying to force his hand. And with that, the battle lines are now drawn. Frankly, this was inevitable.

The IIO has been plagued with incompetence since its launch in September of 2012. I have outlined that incompetence in file after file in the intervening time. It has now gotten to the point that the Vancouver Police Union (VPU) has lost all faith in the IIO to conduct a competent investigation that they have picked this particular hill upon which to make a stand.

They want their members to have pre-interview disclosure to ensure whatever statement is made by any member will allow that individual to review CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) information, radio dispatch traffic and any CCTV video footage germane to the incident prior to talking to IIO investigators. If you want to understand why, you need only to consider the four RCMP officers who were involved in the taser death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR in 2007. Two of the four were convicted of perjury in what can only be described as a travesty of justice. (For more on that, click here)

The VPU wants their members to be able to avail themselves of as much information to ensure the accuracy of their statements in any IIO investigation. The IIO says no, they should rely on their memory and notes. In a situation such as occurred at the Canadian Tire store on that fateful day, as police were responding to first a robbery call, which escalated to a stabbing of a clerk, then a hostage taking, then an officer down, then shots fired, trust me, no one was making notes as they responded Code 3 to the scene.

As an aside, the IIO tried to manage the media coverage of this. In fact, the Vancouver Sun in their coverage said this: “A police officer was also hurt during the incident.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. The officer in question was stabbed multiple times by the suspect, Daniel Peter Rintoul, 38. Who, by the way, was a big man weighing in at over 380 lbs. The stabbed officer fired the first shot and fell to the pavement with his intestines hanging out. So, yes, I guess you could say he was “hurt” in the incident.

This is all about confidence on the part of the VPU that their members will be treated fairly and the investigation will be done in a competent and fair manner. Thus far, the IIO has proven its approach to investigations are anything but on both levels.

In this matter, the IIO was advised promptly, as required, by the Duty Officer. They ordered that all members on scene be held pending their arrival. There was more than 30 officers who responded ultimately to the escalating calls. It took the IIO more than five hours to arrive from their office in Surrey. Five hours. That’s a lot of police man hours standing around doing nothing instead of serving the citizens of the city they are paid to protect.

In point of fact, the IIO investigators tried to seize the uniforms and weapons of the ERT officers who responded even though they arrived after the shooting was done and the gun smoke had cleared. This in itself shows the incompetence. In the first place ERT officers weren’t there at the time. In the second place their weapons are high-tech and very personal, sighted in for and by each individual member. In the third place, VPD doesn’t have an armoury large enough to simply replace all of those weapons for however long it would have taken the moribund IIO to process whatever request they might have had for ballistics tests on weapons that weren’t used in the shooting. It’s madness.

The IIO then upped the ante for incompetence when they held an assembly for all involved officers at 2120 Cambie, police headquarters. They gave a Charter caution to everyone in the room and said they wanted to seize all laptops from police cars that attended the scene. Seriously.

Police laptops or mobile data terminals can communicate car to car and presumably the IIO wanted to ascertain whether any responding member had off-line communications which could be germane to their investigation. So, they actually wanted to seize dozens of laptops without considering what the VPD would use in the interim. The laptops are used to query criminal databases and write reports, stuff inherently needed by the police for virtually every call they take.

Common sense prevailed when the Duty Officer told them no in no uncertain terms.

A competent investigator would have simply attended EComm on Hastings Street where the computer servers are and had all communications downloaded from the server. Where, I might add, they would have to attend anyway to get the radio traffic for the incident downloaded from another server sitting right beside it.

This isn’t complicated stuff. Detective work rarely is, it’s methodical but it requires a level of competence and common sense and the ability to use critical thinking skills. Skills apparently lacking in the IIO and exactly why the VPU and Chief Palmer are taking the stand they are.

This will be interesting to watch and could dictate the fate of the current structure of the IIO moving forward. I only hope the provincial government is paying attention because this monster is their creation and only they can fix it.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

March 25, 2017 at 3:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Favours for political donations is corruption

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Reaction to my column this week in 24 Hours because of the NDP’s intention to give one last big favour to the unions in return for their being the largest donors to the NDP incensed some, all of whom are pro-union and anti-business.

 

Fair enough. I suppose that was predictable. But their aim was off with their pointed shots and rhetorical diatribe. In the first instance, it is the recycling of taxpayer dollars to government coffers, to government workers wages, to union dues to NDP donations that at best creates a conflict of interest so large you could fly a 747 through it. At worst it lends itself to a quasi-legal version of the corruption we are seeing played out in the findings of the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec.

 

In the second instance no comparison was made to somehow say business contributions were good but union contributions were bad. I said the NDP platform released two weeks ago contained a sop to the unions that was nothing more than reward for their loyalty and contributions – card check.

 

Card check is the term for the elimination of the secret ballot in an organization attempt for a union and in my view this will cost all of us a lot of money if the NDP get a majority and try and ram this through.

 

A version of card check used to be the norm in Canada, but more enlightened governments through the 80’s and 90’s brought in the secret ballot so that all affected workers could have a vote to say yes or no to the union’s application to organize a bargaining unit.

 

In a great leap of mental gymnastics, the unions say that one person, one vote is somehow not democratic. The reality is that a majority of Canadians want nothing to do with the shackles of a union and would never vote for a system that wants to create a universal system of mediocrity and support for progressive causes which by definition are nothing but.

 

Consider the case in Waterloo, Ontario last December when two activist type municipal workers were dispatched on a Saturday to build a shed behind a city building. With all the rest of their colleagues enjoying their weekend, they signed cards to join the Carpenters’ union which because Waterloo Regional Municipality allowed card check, certified them and all of their colleagues as members of that new bargaining unit. And the kicker is that they were already members of another union these two didn’t think were active enough.  (Here’s the story: http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blogs-and-comment/if-you-want-a-union-vote-for-it/)

 

So much for card check being democratic when the rights of two, simply because they were the only ones at the “workplace” that day, could affect the whole group. Whatever happened to Solidarity Forever? 

 

Card check is the antithesis of what is democratic and is exactly why the unions want it and exactly why this is wrong. The taxpayers of Waterloo are being held ransom to pay what could be an additional $20 million for the shed.

 

I have issues with of the misuse of taxpayer dollars at all levels. The donation of union dues taken from public sector workers, paid by tax dollars, and then given to the NDP is just one of those issues.

 

Corporate donations given to parties who are in a position to award contracts is also anathema to what is good for the taxpayer as evidenced in the Charbonneau inquiry. And is especially made more so when one adds organized crime into that equation.

 

As are donations by organizations in expectation of tax subsidies or other benefits. It all contributes to the corruption of our political system and costs all of us much more money that we need be paying for the functions of government.

 

I don’t have any issue with the NDP saying they are going to eliminate union and corporate political donations. In fact, I wish them good luck with that. The problem is that it is very difficult to police. 

 

Again, I point to the Charbonneau Commission as evidence of that. Suppose I am a family member of a highly placed union or company executive who wants to give money 

to a particular party or candidate. I donate $1,000 or whatever the individual contribution level is set at and my family member repays me for that donation. I am not out a cent. But I also get a tax-deductible receipt from the party for my efforts and will get a cheque from the government for somewhere between $300-$500 depending on my income level. The line-up to play along would be miles long.

 

This is especially more likely on the union side because they are not susceptible to things like annual CCRA audits or annual reports to shareholders. 

 

They technically have to report to their members how money was spent but with a line item marked ‘political activities’ they can hide all manner of mis-deeds.

 

Card check is wrong. Donations to political parties by public sector unions is especially wrong. Any donation for a favour in kind is also wrong regardless of political stripe.

 

That is called corruption.

 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

 

Written by Leo Knight

May 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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