Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Action on RCMP is overdue

RCMP S/Sgt. Bob Meredith, announcing his retirement, said:
"I’m going away with a feeling of great pride having served for thirty years in what is truly a great and iconic organization. The RCMP is a wonderful organization because of . . . exceptional individuals doing amazing work in a myriad of fields."
The Vancouver Sun's Ian Mulgrew has a quite different view of the force:
"We have heard nothing but criticism of the RCMP from inquiry after inquiry -- Air India, Maher Arar, Robert Dziekanski -- not to mention the apology that might not have been an apology, the internal pension scandal and related financial shenanigans.

"Every report on the force comes to the same conclusion: Overwhelming problems need to be addressed, the Mounties are the "poster boys of dysfunction."

"This is an anachronistic organization using outdated training methods and a paramilitary structure out of step with today's need for civilian oversight and accountability."
These irreconcilable views neatly describe typical internal and external appraisals of Canada's once iconic police service. The retiring officer dedicated his adult life to the organization and denial of dysfunction is an understandable defense mechanism. Admitting truth of the unpleasant characterization offered by Mulgrew would degrade Meredith's lifelong employer and, by logical extension, his own career.

Denial of inherent deficiency is pervasive among police insiders. The attitude guarantees continuation of difficulty and explains why little has changed despite intense scrutiny of RCMP governance and resultant prescriptions by organizational experts. Command staff think with one mind. People who don't accept the required conventions are simply not promoted to senior ranks. The RCMP hierarchy is entrenched and its collective code is entrenched. Only radical change will enable essential improvements yet the Harper Government lacks nerve to force a meaningful reorganization.

While the present civilian commissioner wages lonely wars with his command, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' orders another report. We don't need more reports; these have already been done. Today's problems are little different than what they've been for years. The Official Opposition is no help. Ignoring history, Liberal MP Scott Brison claims that appointment of a civilian "started this mess" and never-elected-to-anything Sen. Colin Kenny says, "It would be a mistake to appoint another civilian."

As Ian Mulgrew writes, "We need the force to be reimagined, restructured and its culture reborn." Stephen Harper appointed the civilian commissioner but William Elliott has played the game according to RCMP rules. He joined the effort to undermine CPC Commissioner Paul Kennedy and he's delayed and obfuscated important issues, initiated changes but allowed them to be sidetracked. Harper and Elliott need to show the public and the entire RCMP membership that things are changing. Start first by reforming the command after removing those sensitive souls who believed themselves treated impolitely.

Also read Neverending stories neverend, chapter n+1
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2 comments:

  1. Ain't ever going to happen! In Canada, mediocrity is the order of business (keeps those otherwise unemployable bureaucrats employed); always has been, always will be!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Norman,

    Once again, you write a good and informative post on a significant topic.

    Your readers should be aware of the books on Canadian political corruption, and on the RCMP, by Paul Palango, former News Editor and writer at the Globe and Mail. He has written extensively on the RCMP and their problems.

    See http://www.straight.com/article-336102/vancouver/author-paul-palango-calls-rcmp-ungovernable for a recent article in the Georgia Strait.

    Palango's most recent book is discussed at his site: http://www.dispersingthefog.com/ .

    Mulgrew did a hatchet job on Palango in one of his columns. If memory serves me, they both worked together at the Globe and Mail - it is possible that Mulgrew reported to Palango, since he had a mid-management position. I tend to believe Palango is the better journalist - one of the few real investigative journalists in Canada - and the book "dispersing the Fog" stands as the best work so far on the Canadian RCMP.

    Palango goes into some further discussion of the Maher Arar affair, that may be wrong, but it should be looked at with an open mind. He did some leg-work, and uncovered some anomalous information. Perhaps he put the puzzle pieces together incorrectly, but he found the pieces that others overlooked.

    He also discusses the power structure in Quebec and Ottawa, Desmarais and Power Corp., and the implications of this.

    Palango set up an award winning news team at the Globe and Mail. See http://www.michenerawards.ca/english/winaward1988.htm

    "The Globe and Mail wins 1988 Michener Award
    1988 Michener Award Winner


    Ottawa, Thursday, November 16, 1989. The Globe and Mail was the winner of the 1988 Michener Award for excellence in Canadian journalism. The award was presented at a ceremony, Rideau Hall, hosted by the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé. News editor Paul Palango accepted the award on behalf of The Globe and Mail. There were seven finalists selected from the 32 entries representing news media across the country including CJOH-TV in Ottawa which was runner-up and received honourable mention. ..."

    Regards,

    ReplyDelete

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