Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cops do it right despite criticism

In the week since Graham McMynn was abducted the Vancouver Police threw every resource possible at the investigation. The stated “24” investigators working on the case cited in the media reports was thrown out by police as a number, but was no indicator of the actual police resources utilized in this very challenging investigation.A hint of what really went on came on Wednesday morning when over 100 officers mustered in a Vancouver armoury to get briefed on the plan to rescue the young man.During that week as well, the police were hampered in their efforts by some elements of the broadcast news media who simply would not do as they were asked and refused to “blackout” the story so the police could do their job. With a kidnap victim’s life hanging in the balance, one has to question the judgment in those newsrooms.But the story that really stuck in my craw was the piece done by CTV’s Lisa Rossington when she “tracked down” the rental car used by the kidnappers to abduct McMynn. Rossington spoke to someone in the car lot office who said the police had not contacted them, implying that somehow the police were incompetent. Given that the girlfriend of the victim was present at the time of the abduction and was the one who gave them the information about the vehicle, did Rossington really believe that the police wouldn’t have followed up on their only solid lead from the get-go? It strains credulity...

A crisis of confidence

News of the imminent departure of the Chief of Investigations of the Independent investigations Office (IIO) John Larkin was broadcast to staff of the IIO last Monday morning. Curiously enough, staff coming to work also noticed that the office of Director of Investigations Allison Hemming-Cook had apparently been cleaned out on the weekend. Her status seems murky. Staff think she’s on sick leave. If so, why clean out her office? Hemming-Cook says she is returning on June 20th following her impending marriage and honeymoon apparently to well-known Vancouver lawyer Monty Carstairs, QC. Which sounds like a vacation not a sick leave. I tried to get clarification from Marten Youssef, nominally the Acting Director of Communications for the IIO. All he would provide was the vanilla response, “The IIO will not be providing comment on any personnel matters.” What that triggered, instead of a clarifying communication to the staff, was an email saying the word had gotten out and Youssef got himself on the news that night to try and spin his way out of my questions. So, the staff there are left in the dark. Is there an open slot for a new Director of Investigations or isn’t there? If it’s a sick leave, how is it that a finite date for return has been set as stated by Hemming-Cook? The word in the office is that she was told in no uncertain terms to take sick leave. Whatever the reason, staff relations there appear to be the messiest they have ever...

Throw the bums out

If the first day of the new federal election campaign is any indicator, this is going to be a nasty fight. On CKNW’s Bill Good show before the Prime Minister even got to Rideau Hall to ask for the dissolution of Parliament, Mark Marissen, the Liberal Party of Canada campaign director in BC, came out swinging at the scariness of Stephen Harper. He evoked all the usual nonsense – the Tories are controlled by the religious right; gay marriage will be banned; women’s right to choose will be revoked.Clearly the Liberals are heading into the campaign bereft of anything remotely resembling an original idea. They stole our money then spent the days leading up to the non-confidence vote in the House trying to bribe us with what was left of it. I don’t know what’s more shocking. That they would try such an obvious ploy or that there are still voters in this country who would let them get away with it.The Liberals have proven at every turn that they are a tired, spent force as a government. Paul Martin played politics to a fare-thee-well to cling to power. He crawled into bed with Jack Layton to get his budget passed last spring and even bribed Belinda Stronach with a Cabinet post to turn her back on her party and her boyfriend. And then, when the opposition began demanding an election after the first Gomery report, he had the temerity to say he wouldn’t play politics, he was...

A Christmas filled with horror

The news started breaking around the supper hour on Boxing Day. By this morning the full horror of what happened in a busy shopping area in downtown Toronto was clear. Two groups of rival thugs started tossing shots at each other with the streets full of people taking advantage of the best shopping day of the year.When the smoke cleared, seven people had been shot and one was dead, a 15 year old girl out shopping with her family. An innocent victim of the escalating insanity dead with her whole life in front of her. It is absolutely outrageous.These little pissants don't give a damn about the rules of a civilized society and it is way beyond time we recognized that in this country and started doing something to take back our streets.We should all be sick and tired of the pablum we are being spoon-fed telling us that our sad excuse of a justice system is working. We are constantly being told that these scumbags deserve more chances and that jail doesn't work because they will be eventually let out. I call Bullshit!When a 15 year old girl can't go shopping with her family without getting shot, something is horribly wrong. And that something is the concept that the rights of the accused supersedes the rights of society to be protected. The concept of lawyers and the judiciary worshipping before the altar of the Charter in this country must stop. Vancouver has the highest property crime rate on...

And justice for all . . . to not see

No one will ever accuse me of being a defender of the Hells Angels. In point of fact, I am on record on many occasions saying that police must be given more tools and more resources to fight not only the bikers, but all aspects of organized crime. Which, I might add, notwithstanding the abdication of responsibility by Madame Justice Anne MacKenzie in the trial of full-patch member David Francis Giles, the Hells Angels are clearly a criminal organization as has been stated by courts in BC and Ontario in previous decisions. Having said all that, there is something decidedly wrong with what has occurred in the sentencing of three unnamed members of the biker gang for contempt of court. I don't know what has gone on in camera in this case in which Madame Justice MacKenzie agreed to a ban on publication of the names. And that is essentially the problem. The old adage is that Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.How can we determine if justice was in fact done in this case if we cannot know the names and the details of the offense? Justice carried out behind a curtain is not justice in a democracy. It may pass for justice in a tin-pot dictatorship like Cuba, but it is not justice in my eyes. Madame Justice MacKenzie demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of the Hells Angels and how their business operates in her judgement in Giles...

Using a sledgehammer to swat a Gnat

With the gag orders in place it is hard to get any information on what is happening with the outrageous action by Chief Jack Beaton in searching and seizing a computer from Jann Vahey who ran a website critical of his management. Even normally loquaicious lawyers are behaving like Trappist monks. However, if one diligently keeps one's ear to the ground, it is usually possible to at least get a glimpse into the situation. It is after all, a police department and cops do like to talk. With the pressure from the media heating up, including a lead editorial in the National Post headlined Calgary's Strongman, my sources tell me a move is afoot from within the Police Commission to get Jack to put this matter to bed. And promptly too, I'm told. The black eye the Service is getting arising from this sordid affair, is getting darker with each media hit. Negotiations are apparently ongoing, with Beaton pushing for a quick closure and admission of wrongdoing by way of an apology to the Service at large. Considering Vahey was defending the Police Service from the ham-fisted management of Beaton, that is rich indeed. I also believe, though I can't get anyone to confirm it with all the respective gag orders in place, that Beaton has demanded Vahey appear before a select group of police officers and answer their questions. If I were Vahey, I sure as hell wouldn't do it. A bunch of Beaton...

Political revenge or justice?

Last week the RCMP announced a single charge of Breach of Trust by a public official against Vice Admiral Mark Norman, the former second in command of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The investigation was conducted by the RCMP’s National Division, the section responsible,ostensibly, for “sensitive and international” investigations. This is the same section that conducted the investigation of Senator Mike Duffy in the Senate expense scandal. The problem is that it reeks of politics and seems to have little to do with justice. Norman had in his portfolio oversight of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which was intended to be the replacement of the Protecteur class of naval supply ships. While the project had been underway for several years, a series of incidents led to the premature decommissioning of the HMCS Preserver and the HMCS Protecteur in 2014. The government of Stephen Harper understood the problem of not having our own naval supply ships. There aren’t any gas stations in the middle of any ocean. That meant our navy was limited in how far our ships could travel. The navy scrambled and rented a supply ship from the Chilean navy for the Pacific, but that was a limited arrangement. They were in the process of negotiating with Spain for a supply ship for the Atlantic coast but that never came to fruition. The Harper government changed contracting regulations that allowed them to do a sole-sourced contract when operational necessity merited. They then entered into an agreement with Davie Shipyards to convert...

In a world gone mad

As I watched events unfold in the UK this past week, I couldn't shake the feeling the world has truly gone mad.In Gleneagles at the G8 conference, events pretty much unfolded as predicted in last week's entry. The anarchists, waited for what they perceived as the right time and attacked the police lines.The police, ready as ever, repelled the assault and made a couple of hundred arrests over the course of three days.The media consistently referred to the anarchists and mayhem-makers as 'protesters.' They are nothing of the kind. Sir Bob Geldof called for a day of protest. Many thousands answered the call, lending their voice and their presence in support for the cause. They are protestors.People who hide behind balaclavas, armed with tire irons, bottles, rocks and petrol bombs are not protestors. They are thugs and need to be treated as such, especially by the media who seem to think they are the victims.As it was all unfolding according to script, the unthinkable happened in London. A series of bomb blasts turned the city into absolute chaos, shutting down the transit system and leaving 55 dead and hundreds wounded.The world was horrified. Well, except for the followers of radical Islam and quite likely the anarchists who were arrested in the violence at Gleneagles. They of course will blame Tony Blair for blindly following Bush into Iraq and whatever other nonsense their moribund brains come up with.There seems little doubt that al Qaeda factions were responsible. There is also...

Justice Minister dishes up more of the same

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler had the opportunity to do something positive to stem the rising tide of crime in our cities this week with Bill C-70, the act designed to amend the Criminal Code to restrict the blindly stupid use of conditional sentences in our provincial courts. But, as with everything this Liberal government does, he booted the opportunity. The bill does nothing it is being touted as doing. Nothing.And for some reason, MADD is applauding this sleight of hand by Cotler. After generating over 30,000 names on a petition to get the fed's attention on this issue, they are pleased when he says he is doing something about it, but does nothing. Conditional sentences were first foisted on an unsuspecting country back in the mid-90s. Ostensibly, the concept was to give judges an alternative to jail in cases that were non-violent in nature and where there were circumstances that indicated the accused would benefit from a non-custodial sentence. In concept, it was still meant to follow the other provisions on sentencing in the Criminal Code in which the protection of the public was a salient factor. But something happened along the way to allow the courts to give conditional sentences for all manner of crimes even manslaughter. Despite calling this Bill an "initiative to restrict the use of conditional sentences for violent crimes," it doesn't.Apart from banning the use of conditional sentences for anything terrorism or organized crime related, this new Bill C-70 gives judges all the wriggle...

Citizen journalism lacks context

By now we have all seen the video of the Victoria police breaking up a nasty fight in the downtown core and during the arrests one police officer is seen kicking two different men.  On the surface, the video looks damning of the officer who has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. But on closer inspection it is clear that in the first situation an officer is struggling with one man trying to get him secured and the officer wearing the yellow jacket kicks the individual to get him to stop struggling.  The second is similar in that you can see one officer trying to get handcuffs on the individual who, I should mention, is 6'5" and 250 lbs.  The kicks are delivered in the context of securing that individual with handcuffs.  As soon as the man puts his left hand behind his back, ostensibly in surrender, there are no further blows struck and the handcuffs are applied. And here is the problem in a nutshell.  The police are allowed, by law, to use as much force as is necessary to execute their duty.  When they do, they must be prepared to justify that use of force and they are criminally responsible  for any excessive force.  The police know this and accept it as part of their job.  The test in each and every case is the key. For the purposes of this test, it is impossible to judge simply based on the video.  Whether this officer was justified in...

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