Gordon Campbell

Scary stuff – one group above the law

Gary Mason is a long time Canadian columnist. His work helps The Globe and Mail be Vancouver’s prime corporate news source. Sure, this victory comes by default but Mason is often worth following. He combines words skillfully and has an understanding of ordinary events and common people. After the Braidwood Inquiry’s astonishing adjournment June 19, Mason had this to say:

The death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski is threatening to engulf the RCMP in one of the biggest scandals in its history.

Just when you thought the reputation of our national police force couldn’t sink any lower comes news of the existence of an internal RCMP e-mail that contradicts the sworn testimony of the four Mounties involved in the fatal confrontation with Mr. Dziekanski.

. . . What happened? Not only does the inquiry deserve an explanation but the public does too.

This is scary stuff.

The Vancouver Sun’s Ian Mulgrew demands termination of the Braidwood Inquiry and immediate appointment of a Special Prosecutor. In addition to criminal counts related to the original homicide, additional charges of perjury and obstruction of justice seem appropriate. Mulgrew also wants the B.C. Law Society to investigate conduct of federal lawyers involved in the disclosure failure. He wrote:

The situation is as bad as the most virulent critics of the Mounties feared. This is no longer about four officers who made mistakes in judgment: It’s about an organization that thinks it is above the law.

“I find this delay in disclosing it to the commission appalling,” an upset Braidwood said. “The contents of this e-mail goes to the heart of this inquiry’s work.”

Exactly.

On June 19, Art Vertlieb, Commission Counsel for the Braidwood Inquiry spoke to Justice Braidwood about the need to postpone final summations and reopen the investigatory and evidentiary segments of the Inquiry. Vertlieb’s contained anger was obvious:

The other relevance of this email Mr. Commissioner is that it indicates that by that November 5, 2007, three weeks after Mr. Dziekanski’s death, the officer in charge of IHIT and two of the most senior officers in E Division, had information suggesting that the four officers developed a plan enroute to the airport to use the conducted energy weapon against Mr. Dziekanski if he did not comply. As far as I am aware, there is nothing in the other materials this commission has received from the RCMP to this effect.

This point is crucial. The RCMP claim to have cooperated fully with the Inquiry. Yet the important email from November 2007 indicates a possibility that the YVR 4 committed perjury when they testified in March 2009 and the most senior RCMP officers in BC had to be aware. These high commissioned officers knew two versions of one event, the one written about in the email and the one spun to Braidwood.

Both could not be correct but the Chief Superintendent and the Assistant Commissioner said nothing, did nothing, called nobody. However, the record does shows that C/S Dick Bent went on to argue that the RCMP should not participate in the Inquiry by claiming a jurisdictional excuse. Now, we find that the Chief Superintendent may have been motivated by a desire to hide his own bent integrity.

According to the present RCMP version of events, this important 2007 email was given to DOJ lawyers in April 2009, before the media relations issues were to be reviewed. Clearly, that document had impact well beyond media relations and should have been turned over early in the lifetime of the Commission. Those were not idle comments about an insignificant subject. The RCMP executive level made a considered decision to withhold it from Braidwood’s early stages.

The problem now is that we have no authority in British Columbia capable of investigating wholesale obstruction of justice by the RCMP. The force already looked and found itself innocent of wrongdoing and has now had almost two years to purge investigation files and recordings, logs and documents and airport security videos that might have provided irrefutable evidence. Art Vertlieb and his tiny Commission staff have done a fine job of organizing information and evidence but they are limited by resources and the existing mandate. That could be changed by Gordon Campbell’s provincial Government but it has its own problems with the BC Rail scandal. Can they put the RCMP at further risk without paying a price themselves. Police files always scare politicians. J. Edgar Hoover played that game to perfection through many U.S. administrations.

The question now is whether or not we have whistle-blowers at work in the RCMP. For sure, people inside E Division headquarters know the truth. Are they prepared to speak or does loyalty to the paramilitary ultimately win out?
—————————————————————
2009-06-19 14:29 PDT — The RCMP wishes to make the following statement regarding today’s events at the Braidwood Inquiry:

  • From the outset, the RCMP has cooperated fully and participated fully in the Inquiry.
  • We have produced thousands of documents to our legal counsel for their review and for them to transmit all relevant material to the Commission.
  • Commissioner Braidwood was informed that a specific document was not provided and he himself accepted the Government of Canada’s sincere apologies for this oversight.
  • This was simply an oversight. Unfortunately in an exercise of this magnitude, such an oversight can occur.
  • It was the RCMP, working with our legal counsel, who brought this oversight and this document to the attention of the Commission.
  • The Commission indicates that it will thoroughly look into the matter, including into the relevance, if any, of the specific document, about which there are significant questions.
  • The RCMP is as disappointed as all of the parties involved in this inquiry that there will be a delay in the completion of the Inquiry as a result of this unfortunate development.
  • We will continue to cooperate fully with the Inquiry. The RCMP wants all of the facts surrounding this tragic event to be known so that we can learn as much as possible and make any further required changes to the RCMP’s policies and practices.

The RCMP will not be making further comment on this issue.
—————————————————————

8 replies »

  1. So if the “RCMP and legal counsel” had not brought the information forward, AGAIN, the inquiry would not have know about it as Braidwood was preparing his report. That hardly seems like a cover up to me. But then that does not fall into the conspiracy abyss in which you dwell, so therefore it cannot be true.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. Does this meet your standard of full cooperation or is this a tardy response to their responsibility?

    “. . . this important 2007 email was given to DOJ lawyers in April 2009, before the media relations issues were to be reviewed.”

    BTW, a source tells me this document was turned over after a somewhat rancorous internal debate.

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  3. How many times must the informtion be given up for analysis? Would you be happy for 3 times or 4?

    Rancorous debate…. so what? It still came forward, by them, for the SECOND time. The question you should be asking is why the lawyers a. missed it, or b. ignored it. the first time.

    The other questions surropunding it are to be gotten at via testimony under oath. It would not suprise me that upper management is too far removed to be totally steeped in the minutae of any event untill all the cows have come home. Keep your conspiracy hat in hand until the facts are in, dissected, and recommendations provided.

    Check with your “sources” and see if the soon to retire micro manager was ever really in know about every detail of every situation in the Province. Can one ever really be?

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  4. You ask, “How many times must the informtion be given up for analysis? Would you be happy for 3 times or 4?”

    How about once, in timely fashion. Braidwood was appointed Commissioner Feb 15, 2008. That should have triggered immediate gathering and protection of documents, tapes and correspondence related to the matter.

    The document in question was provided by the RCMP to DOJ lawyers in April 2009 and given to the Inquiry Commission in June 2009.

    But, I don't focus solely on the acts of a few people on a single occasion. The organization remains today unwilling to acknowledge faults and continues to blame the victim for his own death.

    This is predictable human behavior. Members want to believe the RCMP is guided by justice and fairness so they rationalize inexplicable acts by searching for things that the victim might have done to deserve his fate. This deflects their anxiety, and lets them continue to think positively of themselves, even if this comes at the expense of victims.

    Observers who are critical of the RCMP believe that much has been wrong in RCMP management throughout a range of issues for a considerable time. Pretending that all is well will not be helpful.

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  5. Thousands of documents were part of the information forwarded to the Inquiry. Do the math Norm. The RCMP did not even have to legally paricipate in the enquiry. Read you own entry above on the statement from the RCMP.

    If you have ever worked with sizeable amounts of documents from diparate reaches within an organization of size you would have some idea. February to April (when it was FIRST supplied) is not a long time considering that the RCMP chain of command had to decide whether or not to become part of the Inquiry, legal issues decided by their in-house counsel, liaising with counsel for the 4 members at YVR, searching for, documenting, assembling and then forwarding thousands of documents. Assigning personnel to handle the tasks, and finally running it all past the in house lawyers. Do the math Norm. The document by your staement was given to the Inquiry in June by the lawyers. April to June in the hands of the lawyers. Do the math Norm. Why are you not asking what the lawyers were doing from April to June?

    Any organization that is of the size of the RCMP has organizational issues from management to the working stiff. If in your armchair position you want perfection, too bad. It will never happen as long as you are dealing with people. What you should be dwelling in on is precicesly the individual actions because that is why situations happen.

    Spare me the “they were following their training” drivel if that is your first thought. Go a bit deeper and ask how they managed to have applied their training “incorrectly” to the situation.

    Over a million calls for service in the BC province. And most of the time the police are called into bad situations. Unlike yourself, I have some faith in the Inquiry process, the CPC process and the legal system, such as we have made it.

    Thanks for the psychology lesson, but I am afraid you are misguided there as well.

    If you spent your whole life on the wet coast, you will remember the shooting of Billy Hamilton. I can just imagine your thoughts on that.

    Oh and by the way, nice slander: “…may have been motivated by his own desire to hide his bent integrity” If I was him I would sue your ass off. But by the look of your comments section I seem to be the only contributer.

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  6. In conclusion, I'll remind you that the subject document was written in November 2007 and forwarded to DOJ in April 2009, some 18 months later. It documents that senior officers were saying something different internally than their reps were saying in public. When you are in CYA mode, these variances may or may not be innocent. Probability rests with the one I suggest.

    You are right, the pun about integrity is perhaps near the line. I resisted a bolder version.

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  7. I do not really put any weight on when it was written. Who were they going to forward it to in November if you are correct in its date? The fact that the RCMP, as per policy, deletes emails after 90 days unless under some form of enquiry or other prodecures indicates to me that it was kept for the inevitable “in the event of” which denotes accountability. The fact that senior management is not completely in the know or makes contrary steatements is not surprising to anyone who has worked in large entities. Only under oath evidence will tell the entire story. To expect premature 100% accuracy in any complicated and high profile situation is folly.

    The only persons that actually know of which they speak in these situations are the persons that were there. The very reason for inquiries is to determine under oath if they are accurate or not, if there was misfeasance or not and to ascertain cogent recommendations to try and prevent a future disaster, and hold those accountable for the present situation.

    Another question you should be asking is why the inquiry was called when it was. Do you realize that it ipso facto postoponed the Coroner's Inquest by the very fact it was called when it was?

    Evidence given at a Coroners Inquest is not subject to legal wrangling as per the Provincial Inquiry in that the RCMP cannot deign to be non compliant. Compliance is mandatory. Evidence is given and can result in further leagal proceedings dependant upon discoveries. The Coroner has wide latitude in summonsing of persons he deems necessary to fulfill his mandate.

    In the overall zeal to appease the naysayers and squeaky wheels, the inquiry was called, without due regard to the processes in place. Imagine if the inquest would have proceeded and the evidence under oath recorded THEN followd by the inquiry. Move from that sphere to the inquiry realm, which would now have the ability of hindsight on the inquest and be asking the pertinent questions that arise from there, such as the noted discrepancies etc. Stories could not be changed or massaged. New persons to testify, new information revealed and would that be instructive? Make sense Norm?

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