(This column was published in the North Shore News on Sept. 8, 1999)

 

RCMP action shameful in Cpl. Reed affair

By Leo Knight

SOMETIMES, as a columnist, a great amount of pleasure is taken in saying "I told you so" after predicting something or another will occur.  

 

Such is not the case this week as I heard about the shameful actions of the RCMP suspending Corporal Robert Read for going public with allegations of file tampering and fraud in the Canadian High Commission in Hong Kong.  

 

Last week's column ended with the prediction that Read would be subjected to vengeful discipline by the RCMP for speaking out. I also suggested he and former Foreign Services Officer Brian McAdam were heroes for what they did.  

 

Read and McAdam, you will remember, were behind the story that broke in The Province two weeks ago alleging that triads had breached the security of Canada Immigration's computer and had tampered with over 700 files on known Asian gangsters.  

 

They also told of 2,000 stolen visa forms and of bribes to consular officials. This, they claim, has allowed triad members and other criminals unimpeded access to Canada.  

 

But the single biggest allegation they made was of a deliberate attempt to cover up the situation by senior members of the RCMP and/or the Canadian government.  

 

But lest it be said that Read should not have gone public, it must be understood that he did everything in his power to get the matter dealt with within the system.  

 

"Before going to the press, I took my complaint of criminal RCMP conduct to the hierarchy of the RCMP," Read said in an interview with the Toronto Star.  

 

"I took it to CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), I took it to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission and finally I took it to the auditor general," said the 24-year veteran of the Mounted Police.  

 

"I was prepared to wait many more months for an investigation into my complaint, but I was forced to go public when I felt I was being discredited rather than my complaint being investigated," he said.  

 

Now the RCMP brass have shot the messenger so to speak. A classified document obtained by the North Shore News outlines the allegations against Read.  

 

"Between the 21st day of November 1996 and the 27th day of August 1999, at or near Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, you conducted yourself in a disgraceful manner that brings discredit on the Force ... "  

 

The document goes on to allege he did this by making "... some or all of the classified information and/or classified documents known to the media and/or Mr. Brian McAdam. Some or all of the information ... was published in the Vancouver Province newspaper on 99-08-26," the first charge concludes.  

 

The second charge is related and essentially says Read violated the Official Secrets Act.  

 

The document goes on to advise Read that he is suspended with pay, but then it tells him to report to work at "A" Division (Ottawa) everyday between eight and four.  

 

Two paragraphs later it tells him, "And further take notice that you will not have access to RCMP premises unless authorized by the Officer in Charge of Staffing and Personnel for 'A' Division and 'HQ' and escorted by a member."  

 

Huh?  

 

Apparently they can't quite figure out what he's supposed to do.  

 

The document is signed by Pierre Lange, the assistant commissioner in charge of "C" Division (Quebec), where, to my knowledge, Read has never worked.  

 

Read, for his part, has taken this entire matter in stride. He told the media after he had been suspended that he was going to fight on.  

 

"I'm not going to accept a slap on the wrist, hang my head and go away," he said.  

 

"I know what is in the files and they are simply not interested in getting to the bottom of it because it is potentially very embarrassing politically for the Canadian government," he told the South China Morning Post.  

 

Frankly the action taken by the RCMP is shameful and smacks of vengeance.  

 

What is really laughable is the 100-km restriction they have put on his movements.  

 

Compare that to the illegal migrants who keep floating up on our beaches. Statistics tell us that approximately 25% of them are criminals. Yet, once they are released by the Immigration Refugee Review Board, they can go where they damn well please.  

 

Read is a good cop who was just trying to do his job. Something the upper brass of the RCMP seem to be trying to prevent.  

 

Small wonder.  

 

Most of the senior management of the force can't remember when they have ever made an arrest let alone been a cop instead of a politician, which is what their positions have become.  

 

As a former and proud member of our national police force, this whole episode sickens me. And it should sicken you too.

  -30-

 

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