Coup de Police

October 30, 2013
in Category: Articles, BC Politics, Police
2 41632 0

Secret police chief association records provoke serious questions about lack of police oversight in this province.

As I read through hundreds of pages of records from two BC associations of chiefs of police, I discovered that a letter I had sent to the West Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable had been turned over to all of Canada’s major banks, Canada Border Services, CSIS, and the US Secret Service. This certainly made a mockery of my privacy rights. Yet I realized that much more than privacy was at stake. These previously secret records—a drop from a much vaster pool—painted a worrying picture of unchecked police powers.

A catch up: Last year, I set out to learn more about the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police (BCAMCP), because these groups have had tremendous influence on public opinion and provincial justice policies for decades, and yet there’s virtually no publicly available information about them. My quest became a saga (see Focus October 2012, May 2013, July/August 2013).

The chiefs weren’t talkative, and claimed they weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) covering public bodies (including governing bodies of most professional associations), because their associations were actually “private” groups of “volunteer” participants. I knew that both associations did a lot of lobbying of government officials, so if they were private groups, then I reasoned that at least some of their activities should be tracked in the BC Lobbyist Registry. However, the chiefs also claimed that they weren’t subject to the BC Lobbyists Registration Act because their work in the associations was actually being done in their official capacities as public employees.

Pardon?

BC Civil Liberties Association policy director Micheal Vonn not-so-sardonically summarized the chiefs’ shifting, self-contradicting descriptions of their associations succinctly: “We’re going to use a characterization that may or may not match reality as a shield against, well, whatever we decide we need to be shielded against.”

Were they hiding something? Read the rest at Focus online.

Rob Wipond

Thank you for reading.

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2 comments

  1. diana smardon

    Dear Rob:
    Your article Coup de police is most shocking with the surveillance by CSIS, U.S. Border Security of all people namely Michael Vonn of BCCLA. The Public must be informed of these illicit goings on. This is Big Brother on steroids. Would you be available maybe along with Ms Vonn to educate Canadians on the dangers of the consolidation of power by the police chief sand all their counterparts at UVIC, Camosun, or at the library? This is the fascist abuse of power. Maybe this could be sponsored by the Council of Canadians and BCCLA. Thank you for your kind attention.
    Diana Smardon
    250 382–3148

  2. Rob Wipond (author)

    Hi Diana,

    Thanks for your interest. In this case it wasn’t really “surveillance” — rather, my letter seems to have been simply handed out in an agenda package that went to all of those agencies that are “associate members” of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police.

    I’m usually game to participate in panels, discussions, answer questions etc. I’m not so likely to want to give a lecture/presentation on most topics I write about, only because it’s a lot of work to prepare a decent presentation… Micheal Vonn lives in Vancouver, so that creates additional hurdles for her to talk in Victoria, but you can contact BCCLA directly with respect to her availability.

    Rob

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