(This column was published in the North Shore News on Feb. 25, 2004)
Don't embarrass the 'carpet cops'
By Leo Knight
THE takeover of B.C.'s Organized Crime Agency (OCA) by the RCMP is just the latest example of the carpet cops putting the boot into the good guys to the advantage of organized crime.
I have written many columns about RCMP Cpl. Robert Read and how he got jammed by the carpet cops for trying to do the right thing. Read, you'll remember, was investigating a number of corruption-related issues at our consulate in Hong Kong, a part of which allowed Asian gangsters to buy their way into this country.
His requests for assistance and further investigation were but cries from the wilderness for all the good it did with the carpet cops at RCMP headquarters. After being pressured to drop his investigation, Read tried everything he could within the system, including going to the auditor general whose name is now synonymous with rooting out corruption.
Frustrated, Read finally leaked some material to Province news editor Fabian Dawson, resulting in a scandal and allegations of interference and cover-up against former prime minister Jean Chretien.
The RCMP fired Read and the decision was appealed to the RCMP adjudication board which ruled that the Force had in fact booted the various corruption investigations in Hong Kong and Read was justified with what he did because it was in the public interest.
But the carpet cops don't take it well when they get embarrassed. Last month, RCMP assistant commissioner Tim Killam announced that the board's decision had been rejected and Read's termination stood. Read has since appealed to the Federal Court of Canada.
Killam essentially said Read demonstrated disloyalty to the RCMP. Perhaps, but he stayed true to his oath to Queen and country that he swore when they gave him his badge.
A similar matter played itself out in another case in federal court last week. In 2000, RCMP Staff Sgt. Bob Stenhouse, frustrated with the lack of efforts to combat the threat posed by the outlaw motorcycle gangs, leaked a few documents to journalist and author Yves Levigne for his book Hells Angels at War.
But the documents were benign and it's also fair to say that Levigne's books on the Hells Angels have done more in the fight against organized crime than the efforts of the RCMP through the '90s. They told how the carpet cops planned to try and fleece more money out of the government by scaring the public. What frustrated Stenhouse was their plan was all about money and nothing to do with actually taking on the Hells Angels. So he showed Levigne what the carpet cops were up to.
When Levigne's book hit the shelves, the carpet cops were outraged and started the ubiquitous witch hunt. Stenhouse, being a man of integrity, refused to let his colleagues get put through the wringer, so he put his hand up. Then his personal hell began.
The carpet cops began plotting to get his head on a pike. None less so than Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino who wrote a letter to the commissioner expressing his outrage. He even said Stenhouse's actions were the worst act of "corruption" he'd ever seen. Maybe that's why he didn't recognize the actual corruption going on in the drug section of his own department that has resulted in more than 40 criminal charges laid against his own detectives just last month.
Stenhouse was nothing like Fantino who actually thinks the gun registry is a good idea. He actually did real police work throughout his career.
As an example, Stenhouse was the undercover operator who nailed murderer Michael Caster for the Feb. 28, 1997 execution of dope dealer Mo Mirhadi in a North Vancouver movie theatre.
But apparently, his big sin was that he cared and he tried in his own way to get something positive done in the fight against organized crime. He really cared, and he knew that the carpet cops were failing in their duty to go after the ever-growing menace presented by the likes of the Hells Angels.
And it seems like it may be happening again. In the weeks since Julian Sher and William Marsden's book The Road to Hell has been released, it seems another witch hunt is going on.
The book deals at length with the apparent unwillingness or inability of the RCMP in British Columbia to do anything about the rising threat in the '90s that the Hells Angels presented.
It is embarrassing for the Force.
Well, more accurately, it is embarrassing for the carpet cops. And, so it appears, that they will go to any length to uncover and have their revenge on anyone they think they can prove aided the authors to write their important book.
Unfortunately, yet again, it appears a few really good cops are in the sights of the carpet cops.
And the manipulation that went on to wrestle control of the once independent, effective agency, OCA, will now allow them to harm the only effective weapon this province has been able to bring to bear upon organized crime.
It's shameful, but then the carpet cops have no shame. Their priority is to make sure theirs is the biggest desk. You see, that's how they measure their worth.
Personally, I use Read and Stenhouse as measuring sticks.