Is it Time to Put the Mounties Out to Pasture?

June 30, 2009
in Category: Articles, BC Politics, Canadian Politics, Media, Society
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Policing expert Paul Palango, author of a new book on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, argues we need to revamp the dysfunctional organization–or get rid of the RCMP altogether.

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Over the past few years, RCMP controversies have been in the news constantly. The extent of lying revealed during the inquiry into the tasering and death of Robert Dziekanski has been mind-boggling. High-ranking RCMP officials embezzled millions from the force’s retirement funds. The RCMP Commissioner misled Parliament about what politicians knew about Maher Arar. During a recent botched drug bust, an RCMP dog dragged a Surrey man to officers who kicked and stomped on him, even after the man had apparently pointed out they had the wrong apartment number. A long-awaited RCMP investigation found no fault with its officers, even after Ian Bush was arrested outside a hockey arena for jokingly giving a false name and, 20 minutes later, was dead in a jail cell from a bullet to the back of the head.

disperseThe debacles keep coming. Yet, somehow, the RCMP remains unassailable. Aside from the replacement of the Commissioner for his prominent lying, why have officers been subjected to only token reprimands or transfers? Why haven’t RCMP leaders or politicians emerged to be held accountable? Is it time to revamp an organization seemingly permeated with poor training, weak supervision, corruption and dysfunctionality? Should BC avoid renewing its contract with the RCMP in 2012, and instead create a provincial police force like it had until 1950? Paul Palango explores these questions in his recently-published book, Dispersing the Fog: Inside the Secret World of Ottawa and the RCMP (Key Porter, 2008).

Most of the book is old news; what makes it important is the way it gathers the staggering litany of cases the RCMP has bungled, and outlines wide-ranging negative impacts on Canadian society. Palango shows the RCMP’s politically-manipulated bumbling all over the interminable Mulroney-Schreiber-Airbus investigation, the increase in white collar crime, gang shootings, the Air India bombing, America’s frustration with our border security, the sponsorship scandal, the APEC riots, the Vancouver Olympics budget fiasco, and the alleged BC Rail bribes.

And Palango doesn’t lack credibility. From 1977 until 1990 he worked at The Globe and Mail, eventually becoming national news editor. Palango later published two widely-respected books about the RCMP, Above the Law and The Last Guardians, making him one of Canada’s most sought-after experts for radio, TV and print news media.

palangoDispersing the Fog, though–and Palango along with it–has fallen into a media black hole. There have been only a handful of book reviews, and relatively few interviews. CBC Sunday Morning, CTV’s Canada A.M. and CBC radio cancelled interviews without explanation.

The most likely reason is traceable to one section of the book, where Palango uncovers unreported facts from which he develops a controversial, even “blasphemous” hypothesis about what really happened to Maher Arar, the now iconic victim of a U.S. extraordinary rendition to Syria. But even if one ultimately disbelieves the hypothesis, the general media blackout mainly serves to underline Dispersing the Fog‘s disturbing observations about the worsening state of Canada’s Mounties, government and media.

To provide context for Focus‘ interview, Palango’s comments are interwoven with some of his book’s most compelling topics.

Mulroney-Schreiber, the Sponsorship Scandal and Bre-X

At $6 billion, the Bre-X “fool’s gold” scandal was the biggest investor fraud in Canadian history. While executives of Enron, WorldCom and similar massive U.S. scams from the same era languish in jail, the RCMP hasn’t managed to get a single Bre-X representative successfully prosecuted.

Similarly, during the Chretien-Martin era, millions of dollars ostensibly for pro-Canada advertising illegally greased palms in ministries, crown corporations and private companies. Yet the RCMP never got a single conviction against any politician, and only a couple of minor bureaucrats were ever charged. Worse, millions passed through the RCMP’s own coffers.

In Germany, Karlheinz Schreiber was found guilty of helping companies secure government contracts by bribing politicians right up to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Schreiber distributed tens of millions in Canada, most famously to apparently “encourage” our government to purchase Airbus airplanes. Yet, while numerous German politicians are doing hard time, the RCMP has never filed a single charge against any Canadian politician–not even against one actually caught hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in mysterious cash pay-offs from Schreiber, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Do we really have no corrupt politicians in Canada? Do we really have no corporate criminals? Or, suggests Palango as he examines these cases and more, do we just have the most inept federal police force on the planet?

“The RCMP have shown over the years that they do not know how to do white collar crime cases and they have no real interest in doing it, either,” comments Palango.

The central problem, he explains, is that the RCMP simply isn’t doing its real job. It’s supposed to be our national-level guardian police service, like the U.S. FBI. However, as a legacy from colonial times when the RCMP was customarily the only police force across much of the country, bred with the modern custom of government services being run like businesses, the RCMP now contracts itself out as a local police service to most rural areas and smaller cities outside Ontario and Quebec (which have their own provincial police). As a result, the agency responsible for investigating national-level crimes like corporate fraud, political bribery and organized crime derives the bulk of its operational funding from local service contracts that keep it preoccupied tasering confused immigrants and arresting people with open beers.

“It’s very much a problem, because [contracting out] is done at the expense of federal policing,” emphasizes Palango. “They’re not supporting other police agencies or doing organized crime investigations or money laundering investigations at the level they should be doing them nor the frequency they should be doing them, because they don’t have that manpower. It’s all dedicated to the guys in the streets… You don’t see the FBI in North Dakota driving around in marked cars handing out speeding tickets.”

He’s not alone with his opinion. Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser also noted that the RCMP is doing contract policing “to the detriment of staffing its federal policing activities.” The RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner concluded, “The RCMP should not be involved in contract policing.”

And while the RCMP are distracted from white collar crimes, Palango says they’re substandard contract police, too, due to their dubious legal accountability.

Lack of Local Accountability

As a federal agency, the Mounties aren’t subject to any provincial Police Act. So they may hold local meetings or discuss regional issues, but they don’t take orders from any provincial or local governments where they work. They’re beholden only to their Commissioner in Ottawa, and to vague, generalized business agreements with “client” governments. Meanwhile, says Palango, as far as everyday RCMP activities go, the Commissioner is overseen by no one.

“The Commissioner of the RCMP is probably the most powerful person in Canada other than the Prime Minister,” argues Palango.

He points to the Dziekanski case as a prime example of the delinquency endemic in this organization that’s long been responsible to no one. All the officers described Dziekanski’s actions wildly out of sync with the video evidence, RCMP officials admitted to deliberately misleading the public and, so far, no RCMP leader has fully apologized let alone announced firings or organizational changes.

“Mark my words they’re going to say, ‘Well, this was an exception to the rule,'” comments Palango. “But this is systemic. This is a force that will do anything to protect itself. It will lie, it will fudge… It will smear its enemies… It’s shown how this force operates and how it thinks, and that’s only because that’s an extraordinary event. And you have to ask yourself, well, if they did it in that case, what bigger cases and what smaller cases have they done it in?”

Palango commends BC Attorney General Wally Oppal for calling the inquiry, because the RCMP would otherwise never have held itself accountable to British Columbians and we would never have seen how unprofessional they can be. And Palango notes it’s no mystery why Oppal did it. In 1994, the former Supreme Court justice released a report he’d written about the RCMP. “The force simply must become more accountable to local needs and allow more participation by local government,” wrote Oppal. “In the event that the RCMP is not prepared to undergo the necessary change… it will be imperative for the province to consider establishing its own provincial force.”

Palango argues this lack of local accountability is even more dangerous when it dovetails with the RCMP’s inability to crack white collar crime cases and its susceptibility to high level political interference, as happened during a major BC-based investigation.

Political Manipulation, Chinese Embassy Corruption and Gang Shootings

In 1984, the Mulroney government turned the Commissioner of the RCMP into a deputy minister.

Imagine if Victoria’s police chief doubled as a minister under Premier Campbell: Would you trust a VPD investigation into Liberal corruption? Not surprisingly, then, Palango quotes an RCMP Deputy Commissioner soon complaining of “information improperly being disclosed to political officials or to officials of the minister” during criminal investigations of sitting politicians.

“The relationship since 1984, since the RCMP Commissioner has been serving as a deputy minister,” says Palango, “has made it quite clear that the force can be influenced by the Prime Minister.”

His book explores an unsettling illustration of the scope and danger of this problem.

Most British Columbians are aware of this decade’s surge in Asian organized crime and gang violence in the lower mainland, with Surrey as epicentre. But why is it happening? Are Asians simply more likely to be violent criminals than other immigrants?

In the late 90s, what eventually became a joint CSIS-RCMP investigation called Project Sidewinder began unearthing widespread corruption in the Canadian embassy in China. Our new “investor” immigration program was allowing people to buy Canadian citizenship for $250,000, and bribes had been opening doors for known drug criminals and Triad members to move here. Sidewinder investigators also believed the growing gangs, sometimes in conjunction with the Chinese government, were engaged in nefarious attempts to manipulate our elections.

At the same time, however, Canada’s economic and political ties with China were expanding at breakneck pace. So as Project Sidewinder gathered steam, the government became concerned. Might we offend our important new trading partner? And how many of our own bureaucrats, officials or even ministers could be indicted?

Eventually, the lead RCMP investigator would openly charge that the Immigration Ministry of both the Mulroney and Chretien governments had been stalling the investigation. He was transferred, writes Palango, and the criminal investigation was then dubbed a national security issue for CSIS alone. But CSIS is overseen by the government-civilian Privy Council and Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which at the time included numerous corporate representatives with extensive economic ties to China.

Project Sidewinder was shelved.

“A lot of the development going on in BC has come from money of dubious origins,” comments Palango. “There seems to be no political will to deal with this reality. It’s as if, ‘This is a boon for us, and hey, don’t stop the gravy train.’ I think this condoning of loose, dubious offshore money will come back to haunt the [lower mainland] in the long run, like it is now, with the growth in violence.”

And why is Surrey central? Surrey, points out Palango, is the official national RCMP training ground.

“BC holds the kindergarten for the RCMP. And where is that kindergarten? Surrey,” says Palango. “You have no senior policemen there. You have a growing problem in this fast-growing area, in that you have policemen who are basically rotated through the town in 18 months to 3 years and sent off somewhere else… There’s no continuity in the policing system.”

Criminals know as well as anyone that police need many years in a community to develop the intelligence they need to bust organized crime outfits, so they’re drawn to Surrey.

And while SIRC shelved Project Sidewinder for supposedly being just “insinuations and unfounded assertions“, Palango notes that similar allegations arose in the U.S. regarding Chinese embassy coordination of election manipulation efforts. After those assertions were fully investigated, 22 people were convicted of fraud or illegally funnelling funds into U.S. elections. Among them were people also caught smuggling assault weapons into Canada for gangs.

“This continually happens,” laments Palango, “where you see this influence by politicians on the RCMP in high profile cases affecting the elite of the government and the business world.”

Palango finds even more, hitherto undisclosed government influence over the case of Maher Arar.

Who is Maher Arar, Really?

“I’d planned to do one chapter on Arar,” says Palango. “Poor man gets victimized by dysfunctional police force, gets tortured, gets apology, gets 10.5 million dollars, and that’s it.”

But Palango’s coverage expanded as he uncovered a numbered company that connected Arar to Pietro Rigolli, a man eventually convicted in the U.S. of smuggling war materials into Iran through Canada. Mysteriously, someone in the government or RCMP had apparently later hidden this trail–including taking the unusual action of withdrawing related RCMP search warrants and affidavits from Montreal court files. Garry Clement, a lead RCMP Arar investigator, was shocked to learn about it.

“Somebody at the top of the RCMP had to know all this, but we were never told. If we had known about the company back then, it would have changed the whole course of the investigation,” Clement told Palango. “This puts a whole new light on things and raises serious questions about Arar’s version of events and what he was really doing.”

Through the ensuing mix of research, analysis and (sometimes irksomely fanciful) speculation, Palango wonders if Arar was a covert agent for the FBI, and develops a new perspective on how the Arar story unfolded in the government and RCMP’s backrooms.

Unfortunately this, undoubtedly, is the albatross dragging Palango and his book into a media black hole. Who wants to come anywhere near such a provocative attack on a man who has virtually become the Canadian human rights version of Mother Theresa?

The Vancouver Sun‘s Ian Mulgrew simply mockingly accused Palango of being a conspiracy nut–without addressing any of Palango’s factual arguments.

The Globe and Mail published a vague, pedantic dismissal of Dispersing the Fog, absent any disclosure that the book reviewer consults on policing for the federal government.

A Georgia Straight editor wrote a favourable review and intimated there might be something to Palango’s Arar theory, but didn’t investigate.

“In my experience in journalism,” comments Palango, “I would expect at least one reporter would have gone to Montreal and gone through the records and said, ‘Mr. Palango is full of shit,’ or ‘Mr. Palango’s absolutely right’, or ‘there’s more to this story than Mr. Palango’s saying.’ But to do nothing? In and of itself it’s an indictment of the state of the media. It’s about the sad state of investigative journalism in the country.”

I certainly didn’t have the time or resources. I did notice even Palango himself wasn’t immune to this epidemic of “under-investigative” journalism–there were some important unpursued trails and incorrect claims of fact in his book. And I did call Arar’s “volunteer media coordinator”. He said Palango’s writing on Arar was merely “an act of lunacy” that only interested the “lunatic fringe”. He also made it clear there was no chance even specifically fact-related questions I submitted would be passed to Arar.

Ironically, then, whether we believe Palango’s Arar theory or not, our media’s “non-response” effectively proves one of Dispersing the Fog‘s central complaints, that the decline of investigative journalism is making it even harder to hold the government and RCMP to account in high profile cases.

So which way should we turn?

Should the RCMP Contract be Renewed?

Most major police forces find the RCMP incompetent and unhelpful, says Palango, but they’re gagged. The RCMP’s working contracts with police agencies require the RCMP to approve public statements relating to its activities.

“The net effect is that the RCMP has the means to stifle any public discourse among policing agencies about its miserable performance,” writes Palango. Surveys back Palango up but, illustratively, Palango quotes former Vancouver police chief Bob Stewart, long after serial murderer Robert Pickton had been caught: “[T]he women were taken from Vancouver and murdered deep inside the RCMP’s jurisdiction. The media, with the assistance of the RCMP, sat back and criticized the city police. If the RCMP had been doing its job properly, that man would have been caught a lot sooner.”

So should BC fire the RCMP?

“I don’t think the contract should be renewed,” says Palango. And he’s not alone. New Liberal MLA Kash Heed and Vancouver Chief Constable Jim Chu have suggested at least pushing RCMP contractors out of the lower mainland by creating a regional police force. “More people are talking about it now than I’ve ever noticed in the last 15 years of watching this.”

Some argue RCMP contractors are cheap alternatives to a provincial force. Palango counters that an average RCMP officer costs us $156,000 per year; a municipal officer, $105,000 or less. This excess cost is only partially compensated for by federal subsidies of 10-30 percent. But it may be worse: Statscan complains the way the RCMP calculates its budgets and categorizes federal versus local responsibilities makes it impossible to clearly assess its policing costs.

But wouldn’t creating a provincial police force require massive outlays?

Palango suggests swapping authority over the existing infrastructure is all that’s needed. “You’ve got to remember the RCMP in BC was created out of the body of the BC provincial police in 1950. Maybe it’s time to do the reverse.”

What’s preventing it?

The RCMP harbours some dedicated professionals but, Palango contends, our resistance to revamping it has less to do with rationality than with a Mountie mythology pr­opagated partly through the RCMP’s long-time promotional relationship with Disney. “[N]o place is more devoted to the cult of the Mounties than British Columbia,” he writes, even though “the RCMP had likely generated more bad press and infamy for British Columbia over the previous two decades than in the rest of the country combined.”

“The majority of Canadians don’t understand the issue,” comments Palango. “If you look at the RCMP, no right thinking person would want them as your police force under this situation, unless you change the accountability rules. It’s basic. There’s no place in the world that has a police force like it in democratic countries. But it gets back to this sort of deferential nature of Canadians who historically do not like to challenge authority and do not really like change.”

If BC does keep RCMP contractors, Palango urges doing one key thing: “Bring accountability to the local level. Which means not only making the police accountable, but making the people who are overseeing the police accountable: the (provincial) Solicitor General and local mayors and local police commissions. Because right now no one’s accountable. Of course the RCMP like it. Of course the politicians like it, because nothing sticks to anyone! It’s a perfect situation for a local politician, having this police force in there that, no matter what they do, it goes back to some funny potentate in Ottawa.”

A Dangerous Future?

However, if we keep the RCMP, Palango worries about “integrated policing”, the RCMP’s unfocused vision of working more closely with all police agencies.

“It’s all based on the idea that police forces will trade information and act together in some sort of unilateral fashion,” says Palango. “But the lines of accountability are completely blurred. And this is actually a dangerous idea.”

Palango believes integrated policing may pave the way to one all-encompassing police force without checks and balances like the Soviet-era KGB, overseen by the RCMP, and controlled directly by government.

“I don’t mean to speak about it in a paranoid way. It’s just, that’s the way things have happened through history. If you’re not vigilant, bad things happen. And we’re not being very vigilant.”

Yet, BC has the power to influence that future greatly.

“Almost a third to 40 percent of RCMP members at any one time are serving in BC,” notes Palango. “So however BC treats the RCMP is going to determine the fate of the RCMP. If (BC) gets them out of contract policing, I think that the RCMP itself will have to get out of contract policing around the country. And it could precipitate a series of events right up to the national political level.”

In Palango’s mind, that’s good: The RCMP would have to be re-focused on its true job as a national-level guardian, like the FBI.

Although, he’s skeptical.

“Successive governments have shown no interest in trying to fix what’s wrong,” notes Palango. “So you have to ask deeper questions like, ‘How does Canada operate, then? If the governments aren’t interested in fixing the police, and they’re only paying lip service to doing it, what’s really going on?'”

Pointing back to the many unsolved organized crime, corporate crime and political bribery cases, he asks rhetorically, “Who does this benefit?”

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Originally published in Focus, July 2009.

Rob Wipond

Thank you for reading.

View my other posts

20 comments

  1. HH Kid

    This is a great article and has put in writing what anyone who has followed the RCMP over the past several years will agree.

    There are three separate topics here.
    The first, community and provincial policing.
    The second, the government control of police
    The third: the media reporting of police activities.
    1. I see little difference between the actions of the RCMP in community policing and community / provincial policing in Ontario.
    By calling it Cop Culture they get away with it.
    All COP FORCES are first and foremost are concerned with their image
    ( I refuse to call them police services for I do not see them providing an acceptable service)
    They will lie, deceive misrepresent, manipulate ….. to keep what they see as their image intact.
    Since these cops are most often bullies with shaky and fragile egos they go outside the law muck of the time. (Ever see a cop car driving at the speed limit except when they are trying to manipulate a driver to speed so they can give out a ticket)
    Thus there is constant need to coverup. There is a constant need for them to use power and to be seen as powerful.
    To achieve this, their egos have to be constantly stroked. They need a the myth that they are all powerful. They believe they are above the law and see nothing wrong with this. They love it when the press and their political salary payers tell them they are “placing their life on the line” every day. When a cop dies, cops from all over North America travel to the show at great public expense. It does not matter if the cop was on duty or whether the death was caused by their own actions.
    No other job gets this kind of ego boosting. Cops are not in the top 10 most dangerious jobs. Most cop deaths and injuries are caused by their own reckless driving. Here again they think they are superior – a delusion.
    We do not honour the fishermen, the lumber jacks, the miners, who also provide essential services and are in the top 10 most dangerious jobs.

    As an aside there have been calls for “Independent” review of police activities and there has been calls across the country for establishment “Special Investigation Units” (SIU) as in Ontario. Well, the track record of the SIU in Ontario is dismal. There are very few charges laid. The Ontario government Ombudsman has strongly criticized the SIU for several years. Most Ontarioians do not accept the SIU rulings. The SIU relies on the cops to provide evidence against other cops (seldom happens). The SIU has many former cops on their staff.
    Cops have as much fear of other cops as do the knowledgeable public. Once a cops “rats” on other cops there will be both denial and reprisal.

    2. Government interference is will defined and connected here. It is totally unacceptable but a fact of life.
    What is unbelievable is that when a province contracts a service they cannot control this service and hold them responsible.
    Is there any question that this is an element of a police state?
    However, there is little difference with the community and provincial forces in Ontario. Where communities have their own forces they have boards reporting to council to which their forces are report and are responsible. Where communities contract their police work to the OPP they have no say in what the OPP do. The OPP reports to the Ontario government. Police chiefs can and do change at the whims of these government bodies if the bodies do like how they are treated. Toronto fired Fantino because he was getting to close to home. Ontario hired Fantino as their OPP commissioner.
    Thus there is little difference whoever is doing the policing.
    As an aside. The top cops were not always top cops. They have the same minimal highschool education as the rest of the cops. Depending on the force some have 6 months at a “police college” where they are taught how to read and write and how to shoot others, how to bully others and the cop culture. Others forces require “training”. An electrician, a welder, and the rest of the trades serving the public must have several years of education before the can practice their trades.
    Yet these guys have the “power” to arrest people and in reality once one is arrested one is considered guilty and must prove their innocence at great cost.

    3. The media. 99% of police actions reported on the media end up with almost no information and one of the several cop standard lines such as “It is still under investigation and nothing more can be reported at this time.” is all we hear.
    Cops know the 24 hour news cycle well and there is seldom any further news report on these cop activities.
    The media know if they want to get any information from the cops they have to be kind to the cops and they are.
    (The news are no longer called programs but are now called “shows” – we must be entertained.)
    The news media does have the time to provide followup reports if they would remove the trivia which makes up a good portion of local news.
    (I use Google Alert to track cop stories – most stories never surface again and those that do are on the back pages)

    News corruption – An Example: Feb 2008 Barrie ON cops.
    Barrie police have a chief, deputy chief, and 4 other inspectors reporting to them and running the rest of the force. When this event happened the chief was on vacation in the Caribbean.
    One of the top 4, Inspector Ferrall, the one in charge of criminal investigation division and the professional standards branch which looks after disciplining officers for possible wrongdoing emailed a series of very degrading jokes concerning black youth entitled “Afrocentric MATH for Toronto’s new black school only”. This got to the media – probably by an anonymous black officer.
    The media in both print Toronto and Barrie reported the jist of the story. From the press ‘”It then goes on to list 10 examples. Here is one of the less graphic ones:
    “2 Leroy has 2 ounces of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Antono for $320 and 2 grams to Juan for $85 per gram, what is the street value of the rest of his hold ?”’
    The deputy was like a fish out of water – not knowing what to do. Finally – after talking to the vacationing chief the cop was suspended — with pay.
    The cop union rep called it “bad judgment”. The connotation is that these jokes are OK – just don’t let public know that cops agree with them.
    The local TV station ramped up their sensationalism but not before the Toronto media reported the story. They even called it “investigative reporting” the first and only time they have used this phrase.
    A few of the comments:
    (At a press conference question)
    “Yesterday when A Channel News contacted inspector Ferrall he had told us that this email was sent as part of a professional development and when we spoke with you after that you understood Inspector Ferrall’s reasoning. Why today did you change your mind ?????
    “I accepted his explanation of the intentions of sending the email to people under his command however, it does not justify the sending of it, period. Um, the intention could have been only one of 2 things. He sent it as a joke or he sent it for the reasons he explained to me. “
    Barrie’s mayor, Dave Acton was a city police officer for almost 20 years. He says he is satisfied at how the situation is being handled.

    Barrie Police Service has taken immediate action to deal with the inappropriate email that was sent by a Senior Inspector to specific members of units under his command.
    Inspector James Farrell who is in-charge of the Criminal Investigations Division has admitted to Senior Management that his actions of forwarding an inappropriate email to specific members of units under his command were an error in judgement and that he regrets his decision and is sorry for any offence this may have caused to the community.
    Inspector Farrell has been removed from his current assignment effective immediately until disciplinary actions can be determined once Chief Frechette returns from holidays next week and can meet with members of the Police Services Board.
    Barrie Police want to ensure members of the community that this is an isolated incident and that members of the Barrie Police conduct themselves in a professional manner each day to the community they serve. Actions of this nature are not taken lightly and will be actively investigated and if found inappropriate, they will be accountable for their actions. Barrie Police will be taking steps to ensure that all members are informed of procedures and protocol surrounding the area of misconduct related to inappropriate emails, jokes or slander within the daily operations of the Barrie Police Service.
    Deputy Chief Steve Rogers

    Barrie Police Services Board is satisfied that Senior Management has taken immediate and proper action relating to the inappropriate email that was sent by Inspector James Farrell to specific members of units under his command.
    The Police Service Board is confident that this is an isolated incident and that members of the Barrie Police Service conduct themselves in a professional manner to the community they serve each day. Barrie Police want to ensure the public that they strive to serve their community with integrity, diversity and quality.
    The Police Services Board will ensure that Barrie Police management will be taking appropriate steps to ensure that all members are informed of procedures and protocol surrounding the area of misconduct related to inappropriate emails, jokes or slander within the daily operations of the Barrie Police Service.
    I am confident that Chief Frechette and Deputy Rogers of the Barrie Police Service will follow procedures which are in place and while at the same time, maintaining the confidence of the Barrie Police Service.
    Barb Sinton
    Chair

    A racist e-mail distributed by one of Barrie police’s highest ranking officers has led to a major shakeup within the force.
    Insp. James Farrell had been put on leave after the offensive e-mail was sent to more than a dozen officers under his command.
    An unidentified officer told a Toronto newspaper the e-mail was slugged ‘Afrocentric Math for Toronto’s new black-only school’. It included math problems dealing with criminal activity, such as firearms, drugs and gangs.
    “Farrell had to move, there’s no question around that,” Barrie police Chief Wayne Frechette said. “But if you move one, you have to move two.”
    Farrell, who had been in charge of criminal investigations, including professional standards, moves to operational support, including the traffic and tactical units, both areas the former Toronto cop has experience in, Frechette said.
    Barrie police has four divisions: criminal investigations; uniform patrol; corporate support; and operational support.
    Insp. Mark Neelin takes over corporate support, while Insp. Gary Sommers, the force’s senior inspector, moves to uniform patrol, where he has worked before, the chief said.
    Insp. Bruce Carlson, presently taking a course at the FBI Academy in Virginia, will be in charge criminal investigations.
    Frechette compared the shuffle to pulling off a Band-Aid quickly versus slowly.
    “I didn’t want to see it drag on,” he said. “The more quickly it’s dealt with, the better.”
    Frechette said he and Deputy Chief Steve Rogers had discussed such a move in December, prior to the e-mail scandal, to give inspectors a new environment.
    But the Farrell e-mail hastened the process.
    “I can’t have an inspector staying home for the rest for their career, and I wouldn’t want to do that anyway,” Frechette said. “He had a momentary lapse in judgment and he’s paying for it.”
    The shuffle is effective Monday.
    Contact the writer at rbowe@thebarrieexaminer.com
    In a TV interview the only concern of the chief was the public image – or should I say a mirage.
    There was never any press content which questioned this story. They bought the smoke and mirrors of the chief, the police service board, the excop mayor.
    The press made a great show the cops fix – shake up at the top of the cops.
    It does not take an IQ of more than 90 to see that this racial attitude is the attitude of this cop force. The cop force never apologized – and I suspect realized – that they are racial – that this is the attitude of not only the email cop but of the force and so it seems their political masters.
    BUT the press with all their investigation – a few interviews – bought the story and sold it to the public.

    THE POINT IS THAT THE RCMP ARE NOT ALONE.
    THIS IS SYSTEMIC ACROSS ALL POLICE FORCES
    THIS IS SYSTEMIC FOR MOST OF THE PRESS

    Just look at the Taman affair in Winnipeg. The RCMP had little involvement.

    The only difference in the Taman and RCMP in BC is that the public made such a stink the press had to react. In the case of Dziekanski it would too have been buried except for the international press and the cell phone video.

    GETTING LOCAL AND PROVINCIAL POLICE IN BC WILL NOT CHANGE A THING.
    ONLY A WHOLE SYSTEM OVERHAUL

  2. Rob Wipond

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, HH. We have to laugh at the comparable level of thought that went into Jim the critic’s response…

    I understand where you’re coming from and in principle agree with much of what you say. I’ve certainly seen a lot of bad things going on in many different police agencies, too. I got the sense that Palango’s perspective would be that, nevertheless, we’re generally better off with a greater number of independent police forces than the current vast, all-encompassing RCMP, because it affords at least the opportunity to insert more independent, systemic and political checks and balances.

    So for example, I note that recently our new Solicitor General says he’s going to strengthen the provincial police complaints commissioner’s powers. Clearly, this is a result of the many years of public pressure on the provincial government surrounding BC police forces. However, despite that, the RCMP still remain beyond the reach of that (slightly) improved situation.

  3. BERNEredfeathers

    The tarnished image of the RCMP has been a concern for me for some time. They used to be the pride of Canada. It seems to me that we have been inundated with rent-a cops with specific contracts to the highest bidder and the concept of justice is only a secondary concern. I don’t know the influence that Disney marketing or management have had on the RCMP but probably had a lot to do with ego. Since the U.S. has moved to using mercenary forces in Iraq and Blackwater (now known as “EX”) is responsible for training many police officers the business of policing is more important than policing. It is big business. An argument could be made here that Security companies having a vested interest in keeping crime alive just to make themselves necessary.

    Add to this, Mayor Miller of Toronto calling the Refuse Handlers “soft services” meaning not as necessary as policing perhaps. Do we now rank Canadians in categories such as essential and non-essential?

  4. alex

    I totally agree with all of you except Jim. I know first hand how it works I recently retired from the force because I found it too hard to believe the direction we were and are heading. I like a lot of members “were” proud to be part of it years ago. it’s sad the way it went.

  5. Rob Wipond

    Thanks for your comments. Alex, please drop me a line if you might like to be interviewed in future. At some point I’d like to do an article that interviews people who worked/are working in law enforcement to discuss the RCMP. Could be anonymous or not.

    I agree, Berne… We see similar dangerous attitudes developing amongst staff in the privatized U.S. prison system. Palango actually discusses it a lot, I think especially in his previous book The Last Guardians… what is the importance of this notion of what it truly means to be a “public guardian”?

  6. Nicole

    I’ve been following the RCMP’s reputation since childhood. (I couldn’t help it. My father worked in military intelligence.) Reading your great article reminded me of the 1950’s investigation into Vancouver Chief of Police Walter Mulligan bribes, scandals, and other corrupt goings-on. Police Chief Mulligan eventually escaped to the USA and the powers-that-be didn’t pursue an extradition. The RCMP’s corruption is a terrible national shame in comparison, but it seems as in the old Mulligan investigation, someone or some group (political or corporate) is definitely protecting them.

    Is it just me thinking this way, but BC seems to foster corrupt policing more than other provinces?

  7. Rob Wipond

    Nicole: It’s not just you thinking that way. Palango points out in his book that BC has had by far the most RCMP scandals, and directly connects it to several factors; one primary one being that Ontario and Quebec have provincial police forces and, as the next biggest province, BC has 30-40% of Canada’s Mounties.

    But there’s also a problem in our major regional centres, surrounding Victoria and Vancouver. There, we have a different problem: The way these areas have developed, we have too many small municipal areas run like their own tiny fiefdoms with their own little independent RCMP or municipal police forces (e.g. we have some dozen police forces for 350,000 people on the south island). This has created jurisdictional policing chaos in places that are essentially one jurisdiction, and led to political and police ‘turf wars’ or subtle power struggles and responsibility confusions that certainly do not enhance the development of a single cohesive, independent, cross-jurisdictional anti-corruption effort.

  8. Julie

    I really hear you. However, the crimes the RCMP commit, are sanctioned by our government, and have been for decades. Have governing officials ever tried to stomp down the corruption in the RCMP? The corruption is through the entire Nation. From what we can tell, corruption pays very well, especially for those on top of the food chain. In the eyes of the world, Canada has fallen into disgrace. The RCMP and politicians are the main reason are the main reason Canada is way down on the list of the most corrupt country’s.

    Have a good look at premier campbell in BC. Can anything be lower than this? Giving himself a 53% increase in salary, his henchmen also did extremely well. He crammed the carbon tax down the throats of BC citizens. He lied about the deficit,he lied about the HST,to ensure he would be elected again. He was corrupt in the sale of the BCR and our rivers. He lied about the olympics being on budget, he had committed the crime of DUI. Do people in this country not see that, campbell is setting the bench mark for the rest of Canada? I had 3 brothers and a sister in WW11, they say Canada is not far from a fascist Germany. I mean, this is what Harper is promoting, the destruction of a once upon a time a good Canada.

  9. Leanne

    The RCMP, commit crimes that, are just as bad as the criminals they arrest. The murder at, Vancouver Airport, was despicable, but of course, the police did no wrong. One of those murdering officers, was driving drunk and killed a young man on his motorcycle, guess what, another murder committed, and, it was just fine, that cop left the guy dying. How much more disgusting can the RCMP get? The RCMP, have paid teenage prostitutes, for sex. RCMP, have molested little boys, they launder money, they have been involved, in the drug trade, and they murder, lying and covering up, is a way of life for, Officers of the RCMP. And, I believe,they lie as much as our politicians do. The two top reasons for corruption in Canada, is our politicians and the RCMP. The both of them, are a disgrace to Canada. The RCMP, should be kicked off the planet, as well as our corrupt politicians. Citizens, no longer want the RCMP as an icon of Canada. However, the, Canadian Constitution, is no longer recognized, by our Prime Minister, nor is democracy and freedom. In all my many years, these, are the lowest standards, Canada has ever sunk to.

  10. alex

    ITS IS OUT OF CONTROL AND THE RCMP NEEDS TO BE DISBAND.iT HAS LOST ITS TRUE MEANING AND PROFESSIONAL STATUE. iT IS A DISGRACE. I have more respect for the local police force. The rcmp force is a loose canon and they are no different from those organize criminal element. sometime they do behave like the SS of post ww2. Maybe they are the new and improved SS.

  11. Scott

    The rcmp get away with murder and how they get away with it and untold other crimes against civilians for so long ,I can’t understand. People are like sheep,reminds me of Natzis during war.Why are we putting up with this shit. Time to put an end to rcmp, we need an honest police force. I don’t have any respect for them so I guess if I ever get stopped by them bastards,they’ll either tazer or shoot me. I feel hatred towards them whenever I see one,I wonder why? And I want to DO something !! I’m pissed off

  12. 4q2

    when police investigate police things will only get worse, when people investigate police, things will only get better. when government lies to the people the police will soon follow suit.

  13. Rudy

    They are criminals and terrorists! Did not the Vancouver airport incident strike fear into your heart? If you cannot speak English or French you do not get a translator, you get tortured to death. I myself was framed up by them. The officer did not even do any investigation. Lied about it in the courtroom, said she did, then three times refused to answer direct questions. When I asked her if someone had to know her personally to have these bogus charges done she turned absolutely beet red, had a giant lump in her throat that she could not swallow ( witnessed even from the last row in the courtroom ) stared at the crown proceutor to get her out of this, and refused to answer. One of three times of this contempt of court. The corrupt judge just sent her off the stand and told me I was guilty. This was all done to protect a violent bully that I stood up to. They are the ” queen’s cowboys” and as such should all be placed on a plane and shipped back to England never to have anyone with one drop oh their corrupt DNA to enter this country for eternity.

  14. Norm

    As far as the r.c.mp. are concerned and polititions and our good for nothing judical system they all sleep together thier bank acc and pockets should be checked not by government officials they are the programers of this so called free country so close to comunisam they only difference is that our custabo have nice red and black uniforms and of course yellow stripes . yellow has a meaning and they sure live by it . Also all the guns they confiscated I know a lot of people who bought some of these so called confiscated guns collector guns as a matter of fact and for some hefty $$$$$$ to booth arent we lucky to have such fine people running our country cant you tell how well we are doing LETS DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT Disband the castapo first and the rest will follow lets get of our butts people unless you want to die a pauper .

  15. Norm

    HOW COME THEY CAN BE rCMP WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD ANSWER THAT ONE AND THEY CAN DRIVE DRUNK KILL PEOPLE AND BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF PEOPLE AND GET AWAY WITH IT WE SHOULD ALL DO IT SEE WHAT HAPPENS THEN MAYBE THEY MIGHT EARN THIER 35.00 DOLLARS THATS ALL THEY ARE WORTH A WEEK AND THATS OVERPAID
    wHY FILL IT IN SO THEY CAN COME AFTER US

  16. keith

    Things should go better now with crazy chrissy she is as bad as they are as far as b.c. is concerned the people deserve what they get as they sit on their twisters and let those assholes do this to them and now the government shut down the veterans Affairs where do these sonsabitches come from put the veterans in charge they at least can be trusted more than these communist that are ruling us Mark my words people you all will have an rcmp standing at your bedroom door to collect luxury tax for our politicians when you go to bed

  17. Farren McDonald

    RCMP hiring protocol is as such:

    ‘Potential employees must possess the following attributes:
    -Narcissistic.
    -Egocentric.
    -Feel the need to belong to an entity greater than themselves.
    -Unwavering devotion to an entity greater than themselves.
    -Respect for hierarchy.
    -Must possess borderline psychopathological traits.
    -Must possess a personality that is eager to please and readily pliable.
    -Stoic allegiance to the mantra of ‘Brother’s Keeper’–to defend a colleague whether they are right or wrong, regardless of the severity of any situation that may arise.
    -Full ignorance of what the RCMP, that is but a corporation designed to exploit the Canadian tax payers, and will likely be dissolved or merged into an entirely new entity with entirely new principals in the future.
    -Ignorance that all empires inevitably fall, and that belonging to an ‘elite club’ is a excersise in hedonistic arrogance.
    -Astute ability to overlook humanity. All potential candidates must consider themselves a Mountie first, and a human-being second–this is key and crucial to our hiring mandate.
    -Grade 12 completion compulsory, regardless of earned or not, so long as a signature is on an ‘official’ document declaring the applicant has the acedemic wherewithal, though not insofar as to include the abilitiy to discerne right from wrong.
    -Natural bully instincts.
    -Indifference to human suffering.
    -Must have a personable demeanour–a crucial component of a psychopath’s ability to sway the gullible into jumping on his good-guy marketing bandwagon.
    -Must be willing to kill innocents to protect the lucrative ultra-billion dollar policing business that the select primary shareholders in London and Edinburgh have, in their infinite wisdom and taste for brazen irony, entitled “RCMP”.
    -Full knowledge that “Serpico-ism” will be dealt with in the most severe fashion possible.
    -All applicants and potential recruits must put our lucrative revenue-generating company first, themselves second, and least of all, to uphold Criminal Code law.
    -All new recruits must consider themselves superior to non-company personnel. This is mandatory and compulsory.
    -All applicants and recruits must be pliable, gullible sheep, willing to shed their fleece for the good of the company. Endangering themselves in uneccesarily hazardous activities is promoted, as it provides marketing fodder for increased personnel acquisitiion and its subsequent infrastructure.
    -The goal of the cash-cow Corporation that is called the RCMP is to have one in every two citizens in Canada a member. The remaining portion of the populace will be under a STASI-like command. This is to ensure a “safer” Canada, which, of course, is of a near-secondary concern to us, the primary shareholders.
    -Potential recruits must also possess an inherent malevolence to anyone who questions their sanctioned authority.
    -Potential recruits must also possess an ability to coerce their neighbours into promulgating any personal vendetta or crusade they impart upon a “bad-guy”—again, the psychopath’s ability to persuade is of utmost importance. Financing for public get-togethers (barbeques, picnics, parties) to sway neighbours is permitted upon just need.
    -All new recruits must know their limits in their personal criminal endeavours. Any unsavoury activities that threaten our revenue generation will at first be dealt with in a typically Rothschild fashion, but should that tack fail (use of media to market need for more recruits and infrastructure), the new recruit must fully understand that they will not—under any circumstance—affect the bottom line.
    -No recruit or member will ever partake in any stocks, holdings, or investments that the corporation is involved with.
    -No recruit or member will ever investigate any shareholder or partner of the corporation.
    -No recruit or member shall wilfully suggest change or methodology of our corporate structure, nor shall they criticize such.

    -We congratulate you for your wise decision to belong to a superior group of society. Here is your gun, your car, your body-armour, your requisition forms, your tax-payer funded credit card, your get-out-of-jail-free-card, your badge, and your license to kill and commit thuggery with impunity. Welcome!

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