Monday, August 2, 2021

A troubling case gets worse

The Braidwood Inquiry into the Taser death of Robert Dziekanski has been ongoing for the past five months or so.  In the interim period we have heard more than enough about the structural failings of our national police force.  We have also heard ad hominen attacks against the four police officers involved who set out from home on that fateful day just determined to do their jobs.  They have been called thugs and murderers and all manner of hysterical epithets.  I have tried to keep the arguments on both sides balanced by stating discussions of  the actions of the members involved in the response to Dziekanski’s violent behaviour need to be separated from the way the RCMP handled the aftermath. The response by the four members involved was within the guidelines for the Use of Force set out by the RCMP and within that, the members acted appropriately.  Criminal charges of murder or criminal negligence or attempts by the media to pillory those members for their response that night are simply not warranted.  Could they have spent more time trying to reason with Dziekanski or otherwise settle the situation?  I think the response to that question is an obvious “Yes.” But not doing so does not make them murderers or thugs. But, saying that is not akin to agreeing with the RCMP’s media relations strategy or its response as the public sought to find the truth. Nor am I...

Companion lost

I cried a lot today.I know, I know, I’m a big tough guy. But today I had to put down my beautiful German Shepherd, Holmes, after 12 and a half years of being my unconditional friend and companion.We are masochists us dog owners I think. We know we will outlive our pets and we get the gut-wrenching inevitable end such as I experienced today. Yet we will do it again and again.Holmes was a terrific dog. I got her when she was just six weeks old. And walking her in those days down around Second Beach in Vancouver illustrated what a chick magnet she was. Or I suppose any puppy really. But damn, she was cute.My friend John Daly, the BCTV, now Global, reporter was responsible for her improbable name. She was little ball of fluff when he first met her. The first words out of his mouth were “Yo Holmes” and thus she was named.I spent a lot of time with her in the early days. She learned all the usual commands plus a few more. When she was told to “get busy,’ she went off the beaten path and did her business in an area where no living creature would likely tread. I remember a day when she was ill and had diarrhea. I had to go out for the evening and was concerned about the state of the house upon my...

Media distorts not reports

Media distortion runs rampant today in all manner of issues and stories.  One need look no further than so-called Global Warming as an issue or the tasering of Robert Dziekanski as a story, to understand the power of the media and the truth distortion that occurs to fit their ideological concepts. What concerns me most about this is that the role of the media is to inform and to shine light into the dark corners where those in power try to hide things.  Think Watergate and the yeoman’s job done by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  And those were certainly the lessons I learned as a green-as-grass puppy on the police desk in the newsroom of the now defunct Montreal Star studying in wide-eyed wonderment the methods of City Editor John Yorston or grizzled vet of the police desk Bob Taylor, or the oh-so-well connected Paul Dubois. They didn’t make news or ‘spin’ news.  They reported it.  They were fair and balanced but they always worked to get the story and hold those responsible accountable for what they did.  They never created a story.  But they worked tirelessly to get the story. And they questioned everything. Not so today I’m afraid.  Newsrooms today are filled with reporters whose only source is a fax machine and don’t question the pablum being served up by the spin-meisters.  Look no further than the slack the mainstream media give the Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver.  The...

Media distorts not reports

Media distortion runs rampant today in all manner of issues and stories.  One need look no further than so-called Global Warming as an issue or the tasering of Robert Dziekanski as a story, to understand the power of the media and the truth distortion that occurs to fit their ideological concepts. What concerns me most about this is that the role of the media is to inform and to shine light into the dark corners where those in power try to hide things.  Think Watergate and the yeoman's job done by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  And those were certainly the lessons I learned as a green-as-grass puppy on the police desk in the newsroom of the now defunct Montreal Star studying in wide-eyed wonderment the methods of City Editor John Yorston or grizzled vet of the police desk Bob Taylor, or the oh-so-well connected Paul Dubois. They didn't make news or 'spin' news.  They reported it.  They were fair and balanced but they always worked to get the story and hold those responsible accountable for what they did.  They never created a story.  But they worked tirelessly to get the story. And they questioned everything. Not so today I'm afraid.  Newsrooms today are filled with reporters whose only source is a fax machine and don't question the pablum being served up by the spin-meisters.  Look no further than the slack the mainstream media give the Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver.  The next time...

Reality at odds with picture painted by media in police shooting

In the middle of the media feeding frenzy pillorying the RCMP members involved responding to the disturbance caused by Polish traveler Robert Dziekanski who died after being Tasered, Vancouver Police officers shot and killed Michael Vann Hubbard in a busy area of downtown Vancouver.  The initial reports were that he was a homeless man being checked as a possible suspect in a theft from a vehicle and in the process pulled a knife and was shot.  The two officers involved were both female and the usual nonsense was inevitable from the media, the hand-wringers and the cop haters.  Some of whom, I might add, are indistinguishable from the others.But what was really amusing was the comments from some of the same folks blue with rage in their criticism of the RCMP for using a Taser on Dziekanski asking why the VPD officers involved in the shooting weren't armed with Tasers so they didn't have to shoot Vann Hubbard.  The mind boggles at the sheer hypocrisy.But even though the shooting is under investigation the cop critics were in full voice.  And they were happy to pile on the heels of the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Dziekanski.  Police were being referred to as thugs and murderers.  On Friday members of the Vann Hubbard family filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful death on behalf of the VPD.  Well, whatever.  They have described their father as gentle and law abiding.  Perhaps he was when they knew him, but when he was in...

Truth no defence for targetted police force

Many years ago when I joined the RCMP, it was a proud organization, albeit one rife with tradition and more than a little out of step with the times.  In those days, I referred to the Mounties as "100 years of tradition unhampered by progress."  To a degree that remains the same.  And, at the same time, the RCMP has struggled to reinvent itself to be more relevant in a changing world. In my early days in the RCMP training academy in Regina I began to learn about that tradition and proud history.  I became part of a family that I will never quite be separated from no matter how much water passes under the bridge.  Indeed, I had dinner last summer with Terry David Mulligan, the ageless DJ who has made a career for himself in rock 'n roll presenting and promotion.  Mulligan, as a young man was also a Mountie and during dinner we didn't so much talk of music, past, current and future, but of our like experiences in the Mounted Police. And it is that bond, born of running all over Hell's half-acre until you earned your marching orders and swimming with bricks and drill hall abuse that allows two people with disparate backgrounds to share a laugh and story about a challenge accepted and passed that will never go away. But part of that is the angst felt watching the media devour the RCMP over the Taser incident at Vancouver International...

Parents’ comments minimize Mayerthorpe reality

Three years ago I was sitting in a lounge in the Calgary airport when my Blackberry first started buzzing with information about a multiple shooting of RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.  The original information was sketchy but all too soon the horrors perpetrated by James Roszko were all too clear. Four young police officers, good Canadian boys, were dead.  Ambushed and cut down in the prime of their young lives by a man not fit to shine their boots.Roszko, in true cowardly fashion, took his own life when another member attending from Edmonton returned Roszko's fire and wounded him.  Roszko crawled back into that Quonset hut which housed his marijuana grow op and chop shop and took his pathetic life.The nation was shocked at the news and watched with heavy hearts as the Mounties gathered in record numbers in Edmonton to pay tribute to their fallen comrades. But once the tears were shed and four young men laid to rest, investigators had to piece together what happened.  How was Roszko able to get back onto his property and ambush the police officers?  Their investigation led to the arrest of two other young men who ultimately were the answer to that question.  They not only provided Roszko with a weapon, but they drove him to his property knowing full well he was going to do what he did.  And they did nothing to stop him.  Dennis Cheeseman and Shawn Hennessey were charged with being parties to the offence of first...

Court ruling defies democracy

In August of 1982, Ronald Smith, a drifter from Alberta, murdered two men in cold blood for the thrill of it.  That event took place, in Glacier National Park in Montana, not in Canada.Smith, in a plea arrangement asked for the death penalty, which I might add, was deservedly granted.  He also reiterated that request in March of 1983.  In the intervening years Smith has been on death row in a State that is relatively slow to carry out capital case executions.For years the Liberal governments of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin had their diplomats play the game with Montana authorities seeking, at least on the surface, some form of clemency for Smith, from the hangman's noose.  Metaphorically speaking of course.  I am not sure how Montana gets rid of its Death Row inmates.  Although what is ironic in all of this is that the State of Montana seems poised to get rid of the death penalty.  Their House of Representatives is to hold a vote later this spring on the matter.Smith also seems to have had a change of heart in that he has availed himself of every legal avenue to try and delay or commute his richly deserved death sentence.  With the election of a Conservative government, a different view was taken on the Canadian tradition of diplomatic intervention in death penalty cases.  The Tories said, and rightly so in my view, that they would not intervene with democratic countries with the death penalty in cases of...

Clouding the issue of gang crime

I have always taken a more Libertarian view of politics.  For the record, I believe in less government coupled with the strong enforcement of the laws of right and wrong.  As an example, Vancouver is wrestling with a spike in gun violence and an apparent gang war with the daily shootings in the most public of places like shopping mall parking lots.  As the politicians wring their hands trying to figure out what to do about it, they come up with empty public announcements about the addition of 168 more police officers and hiring up to ten prosecutors to work directly with police in the investigation of organized crime groups.  Well, super.  Considering it takes a minimum of one year to hire and train a police officer who is then deployable, that man or woman, on day one, has exactly zero experience as a police officer, it remains to be seen exactly how the announcement by BC Premier Gordon Campbell with have one iota of effect on the reality of the bullets flying today in the Greater Vancouver area. Equally, while I would never argue against the idea of having dedicated prosecutors working with law enforcement in organized crime investigations, the addition of ten will take more than a little time to find, hire, train and then be functionally able to advise the police involved in complex investigations.  And, for the record, while this 'problem' has only recently captured the public interest, regular readers will note that in the...

The making of a saint

I wonder when the Vancouver Sun will finish its canonization of Ivan Henry, the rapist jailed in the early 80's after a series of terrifying rapes in Vancouver.  Since Lenny Doust, the elder statesman of BC barristers, reviewed the case and said there were some procedural issues at trial which should be reviewed on appeal, the Vancouver Sun in particular and the mainstream media with the sole exception of Global BC, has endeavored to elevate this guy into another victim saint along with Donald Marshall, Stephen Truscott and, dare I say, Maher Arar.  Now we need to understand a few things about this case.  The Vancouver Sun has tried to paint a case against the Vancouver Police as is their wont, by portraying the image of Henry in a police line-up, being obviously there against his will, as though this was the evidence used to convict him.  It wasn't and not by a long shot.   In fact, the VPD detectives handling the serial rape case knew that Henry had queered the lineup process by his resistance.  And let's not lose sight of that little detail: it was the actions of Henry himself who made the lineup inadmissible with his physical resistance forcing the VPD to drag him into the lineup room.  So, they then put together a photo lineup and got their prosecutable identifications in that manner.  Additionally, in court all the victims that testified and at least two that were not called to testify pointedly, directly and without...

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