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(Prime Time Crime exclusive Nov.  8, 2007)

BC Follies

By Bob Cooper



As the song goes, "What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours......".  Solicitor-General John Les flip-flopped on the issue of a regional police force almost as quickly as he did on the Frank Paul Inquiry a few months ago.  To be fair, it wasn't his choice but rather the premier pulling the strings on both occasions.  In the most recent case, the premier acted in the face of public and media criticism of Les' public attempt to bully West Vancouver Chief Constable Kash Heed for daring to express a point of view which differed from his.  The motives in the Paul case are another matter altogether.  NDP Leader Carol James put it quite well in the House yesterday when she asked which viewpoint the public should prefer, that of a respected police veteran or a politician.  I've paraphrased Ms. James' comments and have been charitable in doing so.

I'm not going to weigh in on the pros and cons of a regional police force.  Personally, I recall working in the Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit in the late '70s and watching the Mounties I worked with tip-toeing around the boss worried that any misstep could trigger a transfer to places such as Spence Bay, Yellowknife, or worse yet, Surrey.  I took great comfort in the fact that as mad at me as the job might get, the furthest they could transfer me was the old Oakridge Sub-Station at 45th and Ash.

My point here is simply that the police must remain independent of politicians and that Chief Constables must never be afraid to express their opinions on matters of community safety.  Regardless of your position on the issue, the people of West Vancouver are well-served by a Chief with the courage of his convictions.

One thing the hapless Minister should thank his lucky stars for is our own Mayor, source of civic pride that he is.  Just when things are looking their blackest for Les, the Mayor wades into the situation and takes all the heat off him.  I mean, as a politician would you rather be seen as an egotistical bully acting out of political motives or a complete buffoon?  The Mayor's thought processes are so bizarre that his left-wing opponents appear sensible.  Makes one wonder if he and Ray Nagins are related.  The Lower Mainland is in the grip of the worst gang violence since Bindy Johal held sway.  Everyone is screaming for police action to stop the killings.  Everyone except the Mayor.  He says we don't need any more cops.  I guess he feels he has to take that position given his voting record.  He goes on to say that enforcement isn't the answer.  But Your Worship, gangsters are murdering each other in restaurants and on street corners, isn't that against the law and aren't the police supposed to do something?  If not enforcement, what then?  (ask terrified citizens waiting for an answer and strong leadership)

According to the Mayor, the answer lies in more money from Ottawa.  Money to hire more cops you say.  No, the Mayor already said we don't need any more.  Oracle that he is, the Mayor has the solution that has eluded everyone else.  He'll use Ottawa's largesse to take the profit out of the drug trade by providing pharmaceutical drugs to users.  Yeah, give them free dope.  Then the killings will just stop.  By themselves.  Whew!  For a second there I thought he was going to suggest something stupid.  Why didn't the rest of us think of that?  Perhaps because we have problems enough with most of the country's drug addicts being out here already and really don't need the few remaining ones who didn't have the sense to leave Winnipeg.  With these sort of policy suggestions the only one in Ottawa crazy enough to give us another cent would be Jack Layton and even he'd think twice about it.

Sometimes I think the people in Toronto are right about us.   We certainly give them enough ammunition.

Larry Campbell must be laughing his head off.

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