Category Archives: Canadian Politics

Is it Time to Put the Mounties Out to Pasture?

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.


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). Continue reading

“I’m not racist, but…”

We often forget that racism is not something we’re always conscious of inside ourselves.

Richard Pound, chancellor of McGill University, former IOC vice-president, and point man for the 2010 Olympics recently called Canada a “country of savages” prior to colonization. When First Nations organizations complained, Pound tepidly apologized, insisted he wasn’t racist, and attacked the complainants for belittling his work with Aboriginals.

Pound’s response was painfully typical. Have you ever noticed that virtually no one ever admits to being racist? Apparently, the only race-related problem Canada has is too many people being hypersensitive about politically correct language. Continue reading

Lament for an Election sin Gusto

Elections should be celebrations.

I was in Spain in 1989, and incumbent Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez kept exclaiming that. He continually encouraged everyone to get out and vote, and kept using romantic Español to adoringly describe the election process as a celebration of freedom, as the crowning achievement of democracy, as a wondrous expression of a caring, responsible, civilized people. Continue reading

Our Government’s Deliberate Helplessness

The Victoria Times-Colonist ran articles last fall about delinquent doctors remaining licensed to practice. Evidently, doctors’ secretive, self-funded, self-regulating disciplinary and licensing body, the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons, is more interested in protecting doctors than in protecting the public. Under questioning, provincial government representatives pleaded helplessness; they had no authority over the college.

But after continuing scandalized media coverage, Health Minister George Abbott pledged to legislate more public accountability for our public doctors.

I was skeptical. After all, this scandal wasn’t new. I wrote about it myself for Monday Magazine ten years ago.

A former chief of psychiatry of Victoria’s Eric Martin Pavilion had been found guilty of drugging a female patient into a “zombie-like” state and sexually assaulting her over months while working in Ontario. He was back practising psychiatry here. I interviewed government representatives locally, regionally, provincially and nationally, and they responded in a chorus of, “That’s troubling, but we’re helpless. The college has authority.” Continue reading

CanWest Global Attacks Drug Ad Laws

It’s arguably the year’s most important health care story. We’ve heard little about it, though, because media are deeply implicated in it themselves.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs (DTCA) is unfettered in only the U.S. and New Zealand. Canada, as the world’s eighth largest drug market, makes a juicy target to be next.

But ironically, Big Pharma isn’t the one fighting to legalize pushing amphetamines during Degrassi reruns; it’s CanWest Global (owners of the Victoria Times-Colonist, Global TV, CH TV, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Dose, Metro etc). CanWest has launched a lawsuit under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, trying to tear down Canada’s limits on pharmaceutical advertising. Continue reading