Gary Mason is one of the finer columnists in Canada. His work helps ensure The Globe and Mail is Vancouver’s prime written news source. Sure, this victory comes mostly by default but Mason is always worth following. He combines words skillfully and has a dead accurate 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.”
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.