Friday, July 06, 2007

The new RCMP commissioner: is Stephen Harper crazy?

The RCMP has been in the midst of the worst string of bad news in their history.

First there was the case of Mr Arar. The RCMP falsified terrorist information about him, passed off to the USA as fact, and ignored his pleas as he was arrested in the USA, and deported to Syria where he faced incarceration and torture without trial. He was innocent, and worse still, it was found that the RCMP fabricated information to cover up the issue. RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned after providing inconsistent testimony over the Arar inquiry.

Next, it came to light that the RCMP hired a pathalogicial liar as a civilian agent, paid him large quantities of money for cleverly constructed lies, and later erased his prior criminal record by entering him into witness protection program. Under his new identity, he now faces murder charges.

Third, the Pension-fund scandal. Millions of dollars went missing. It is currently under investigation. Still, for the supposed protectors against fraud and theft, to be ripped off themselves, by themselves, is a little shocking.

Fourth - the Air India bombings. Despite the RCMP claiming they knew nothing of the Sikh extremists terror plot, considerable evidence from the recent inquiry proves otherwise. More than one witness has given evidence that they passed on specific intelligence of an impending terrorist attack on an Air India flight. Even more startling is the seeming lack of security for that particlar high-risk flight on that particular day.

The most recent scandal to hit the RCMP is the death of Ian Bush. He was shot in the back of the head while in police detention. Even more startling, is that his arrest was for having an open drink in a public place and providing an officer with a false name. RCMP Constable Koester claims self defense in the incident, citing that he was attacked. An expert has, in what he described as an extremely difficult decision testifying against his colleague, said Constable Koester's version of the facts doesn't fit with the blood splatter evidence at the scene of the crime. The trial is ongoing, however at the very least, it is deeply embarrassing for any police force to have a civilian killed in their custory for a minor violation.

There's no getting around it, the RCMP has its problems. That's not to say it is a lost cause organisation. The RCMP has over 24000 members. Some of those members made a serious mistake with Arar. The head honcho resigned over it. You have to assume others involved were reprimanded and punished accordingly.
While I agree, there needs to be something done, some major ass kicking overhauls, I would stand up and be the first to say I believe the overall ethics and morals of the RCMP is the best in the world. I also believe they work hard trying to serve and protect Canada every day.

Canadian Prime minister Stephen Harper has broken with 135 years of tradition and replaced the disgaced Zacchiareli with a political ally, William Elliot, a bureaucrat with questionable credentials. Even more startling, is that Stephen Harper's friend is an outsider to the force, something that hasn't occurred in the last 135 years of their history. This seems scarily reminiscent of George Bush's attempt to impose his totally unqualified close friend, Harriet Miers, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Should one of the RCMP's responsibilities not be to act as a check on our government's corruption? The nation's highest police force put under the control of the PMs political buddy - what's next? Will the terrorists become so dangerous Canada needs to be declared a police state so Harper can further grab power?

If I were an RCMP officer, I'd be pissed. On the whole, the RCMP is a great organisation that has historically done Canada proud. Tradition is an important part of their history, and Canada's history. Some of the hard working RCMP officers envision themselves one day leading the entire organization. To take that dream away from them, and to impose someone who isn't wanted, is an insult to the 24000 members who, in fact, are responsible for the Prime Minister's life and safety.

If I was Stephen Harper, those would be the last people I wanted to piss off.

Is he crazy?

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