And it couldn't happen to a nicer pro cop law and order government. Now of course they point the finger across the chamber and blame the Liberals. And for good reason. But let's first look at he who waves the fickle finger of blame.
The PM met with the Chief of Defense and the Commissioner of the RCMP as his first act. The government has been on a law and order kick since the election.
When the O'Connor Commission report was issued in the fall it was followed by questions raised by the Auditor General about the RCMP pension and health benefits privatization.
Then Commissioner Zaccardelli told the Public Security Minister, Stockwell Day, all was well with the RCMP.
Except it wasn't and Zaccardelli had to step down, falling on his sword for the RCMP and in effect the government of the day. The question is not what Zacredelli did or did not tell the Minister. The question is why the Minister accepted anything Zacradelli said at face value. Why did he not dig deeper.
And here is the flaw in the Harper government, it has made such a fetish of law and order and defending the police it aided and abetted the RCMP cover ups. That in itself is a serious enough charge that cannot be conveniently white washed with a Government appointed Investigator. A full public inquiry is required. Nothing less will do.
It is not just a case of a single cover up around pension and benefits and the privatization of those services. It is the rest of the O'Connor recommendations on the RCMP, it is the blunders that are being covered up by all levels of the bureaucracy around the public inquiry into the Air India disaster.
The current cover up is part of the culture of corruption that is the RCMP hierarchy. Which I have documented here before.
The parliamentarians in the NDP all parties praise the rank and file but the problem is the RCMP itself, as an institution and as a para-military force of the State.
What the Conservatives have inherited is the old Liberal government culture of we are entitled to our entitlements and don't ask don't tell.
How can we fault that small coitire at the top of the RCMP and their private sector pals who are accused of looting the rank and file pension funds and health benefits for retirees, because the company hired overcharged for work not done.
Among the report's findings:
- The NCPC (National Compensation Policy Centre) Director established consulting contracts valued at over $20 million, overriding controls to avoid competitions for the contracts. These contracts resulted in some work of questionable value being performed, and excessive fees for administrative services of little or no value being charged to the pension plan.
- About $3.4 million in improper expenses were charged to the plan
- "An estimated $1.3 million was charged to the pension and insurance plans to pay for commissions or products that provided little or no value, and for excessive payments to employees' friends and family members hired as temporary staff." About $270,000 of that had been repaid.
- The RCMP persuaded the insurance carrier to subcontract work to a second firm to administer insurance plans on behalf of the RCMP. As a result, there was no competition for a $4.6 million contract.
Where have we heard of this before? Does the Gomery Commission ring a bell? Word for word we have charges that brought down the Liberal government of Paul Martin being echoed about the RCMP. And the RCMP were engaging in these activities for the past four years, during the public airing of the Ad Scam affair.
Taking a cue from their political masters, they too engaged in scams and demanding their entitlements for their efforts. And then they did what they always do, using the ideology of closing ranks to protect their venerable institution they covered up.
And the Martin Government probably had an inkling of what was going on, but the" don't ask don't tell" ideology meant two paranoid institutions had suspicions about each other but didn't dare confront it.
So paranoid were the upper echelon of the RCMP they pulled dirty tricks during the last election to lead the Liberals off the scent, and ensure their pals in the law and order Conservatives got elected. Teaching the Liberals a lesson about the power of the RCMP. It is a stunt they pulled before, and like then it's timing was perfect to through a spanner in the works of the last election.
Having a new government especially one that kowtows to cops, the RCMP establishment must have felt secure that their skeletons would remain hidden. After all every action by the Gnu Conservative Government has followed the old dictum don't tell even if we ask.
Unfortunately even with a pro-cop government the O'Connor report on the Arar case proved the RCMP's undoing. There we learned that once again just like in the bad old days of the Seventies, the RCMP had become a paranoid institution spying on Canadians, and then covering it up. Worse yet the culture of corruption at the RCMP was such that in order to cover up they close ranks and promote wrong doers.
So Stockwell Day and Harper stood in the house in the fall declaring for all to hear how much they supported the RCMP and its Commissioner. Three days later he resigned. Today they claim they fired him, according to a blustering Geoff Norquay on Mike Duffy Live on CTV yesterday.
Once again we hear Stockwell Day tell the house that when the auditor general revealed last November high crimes and misdemeanors in the RCMP right up to its Commissioner over the pension issue, Day asked the RCMP if they had fixed the problem, and was assured they had. And all was right with the world. This is of course like the famous question; when did you stop beating your wife.
Of course the RCMP fixed the problem, they buried it, covered it up, hid it under a bushel. The Minister of Public Safety didn't ask the right question, what reforms were put in place. But satisfied with being misled by the RCMP, Day and the rest of the Conservatives could happily chant at the opposition; "We Support the Police you don't." It should be a bumper sticker.
And while the Conservatives like to claim they have accepted all of O'Connors recommendations, like the Gomery Commission, they have accepted only the first report. They have left the second report recommendations in abeyance.
These are far more critical towards a full revamping of the RCMP.
And that is what is needed, not another single investigation into a single matter of wrong doing. Rather the RCMP needs to be overhauled.
It has been caught with not just once, nor twice, nor three times, but four times in as many years. And as years go nothing has really changed in the RCMP since the seventies and the MacDonald Commission, whose recommendations were not followed up on except to separate CSIS from the RCMP.
It's rank and file needs the right to unionize, something that has arisen because of the military hierarchy and its culture of corruption exposed this week when they were caught plundering the rank and files pension fund.
Worse yet the RCMP has failed to conduct full and fair investigations into internal charges of sexual and racial discrimination and harassment.
More than 100 RCMP officers across Canada were found guilty of misconduct during the last two years for offences ranging from having sex in a cop car and surfing Internet porn on the job to drunk driving, sexual assault and abusing prisoners.
They have failed to conduct proper investigation into pubic complaints, missing all important time lines that allowed criminal activities to be dismissed on a technicality. RCMP scandals and setbacks since 2006
The RCMP have broken the law and used the ambiguity of that law to cover up its illegal actions as in the Arar and other anti-terrorism cases and when it attempted to misdirect the public that Arar was a terrorist according to its own self perpetuated leaks. Leaks which when were exposed for what they were led to a reporter being arrested and jailed for leaking the leaks.
A complete house cleaning is needed in the RCMP. A non RCMP commissioner needs to be appointed, the rank and rile should have the right to unionize, the definition of their purpose and structure should be changed from one of being a para-military force to being a federal police force with civilian oversight.
The reality is that this of course is the furthest thing from the Conservatives plan. They need police support for their law and order policies. They need to show they unreservedly support the police. Period.
This then is their weakness. Progressives and the left need to emphasize that the culture of corruption is inherent in the capitalist state in the 21 st Century, and that spreads its web of deceit through out all institutions including the police. That it is not simply a Liberal Party phenomena but is the actual systemic dysfunction of the state, then the Conservatives can be hoisted on their own petard for failing to do a wholesale house cleaning of the RCMP. Because they are not prepared to do that.
Not while chanting "We Support The Police", "You Are Soft On Terror/Law and Order." Their actions in appointing a limited non-public independent inquiry is simply an attempt to cover up for the RCMP. By failing to provide a full public hearing or Royal Commission on RCMP restructuring, they are in effect saying the problem is NOT systemic but a matter of a single issue; the pension fund controversy.
The Conservative government assurance that this limited government sponsored investigation will be made public is less than reassuring. We remember the last promise of government about making a report public, that was over the Lebanon War last summer. And we are all still waiting to see that report.
THE RCMP SHAMEFUL PAST
This is not some mythological NWMP under Sam Steele who dealt fairly with Sitting Bull and the native peoples of the North West, forgotten in this glorious mythos is the fact that it was a question of maintaining Canadian control of the West against American incursions. This is a paramilitary police force modeled on the British Imperial Army. Who had all the authoritarian and imperial biases of the British in Canada.
On January 1900, Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal) offered to raise and equip a mounted regiment at his own expense to serve in the South African or "Boer" War. His Regiment was recruited largely from cowboys and frontiersmen of Western Canada and members of the North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.). Command of "Strathcona's Horse" was given to the now famous Superintendent of the N.W.M.P., Sir Sam B. Steele. Lord Strathcona's Horse arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on April 10, 1900 and quickly became essential to the British Army.
The idea of the NWMP/RCMP was given birth during the Riel Rebellion in North West Canada as a force the Canadian State wanted to create to deal with Canada's original Separatists in Western Canada. Their purpose like their British Imperial Army counterparts was to pacify the Wests indigenous population and to open the way for colonialism and the railway.
In the same year that Canada acquired control of the Territories, a British army officer, Lieutenant William Butler, was commissioned by the government to survey the conditions prevailing on the new frontier. In his report, submitted in 1871, Butler stated: "The institutions of Law and Order, as understood in civilized communities, are wholly unknown." To establish order, he recommended the formation of a well-equipped military force of from 100 to 150 men, with one-third to be mounted. In 1872, a second Western reconnaissance was made by Colonel P. Robertson-Ross, the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Militia. His report confirmed Butler's assessment of the situation, concluding that "a large military force was not required, but that the presence of a certain force would be found to be indispensable for the security of the country, to prevent bloodshed and preserve order." He recommended the establishment of a regiment of 500 mounted rifles, and suggested that their uniforms include red coats.
Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, had intended to organize a mounted police force in 1869, the year that the North-West Territories were originally scheduled to be transferred to Canadian sovereignty. At that time, he conceived of a force of mounted riflemen which "should not be expressly Military but should be styled Police, and have the military bearing of the Irish Constabulary." In addition, the force was to be a "mixed one of pure white and British and French half-breeds," after the British model of counteracting religious and racial strife in colonial India. However, the Red River Rebellion forced the postponement of Macdonald's plans and the transfer of the North-West to Canadian control
It is the RCMP who during the 1919 General Strike shot unarmed workers. Who did it again in 1931 this time shooting workers and their families on strike in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
Who spied on the labour movement in Canada, and on the radical left, who burnt barns and sabotaged the nationalist movement in Quebec.
While doing nothing about organized crime instead allowing gangsters to become corporate bigwigs like Sam Bronfman. Nor did they ever investigate or disrupt the fascist movement in Canada or the radical right which the Reform Party and Harpers Conservatives have ties too.
After all that would conflict with their motto; Maintiens le droit.
The RCMP are a stale dated para-military force that should have been discarded back at the turn of last century. Without a frontier to patrol they became Canada's Stazi, Stat-Poliz by any other name. Their purpose was not crime fighting, but like the FBI in the U.S. they became a security force to deal with perceived enemies of the State.
This unorthodox but creative plan suited all parties until the First World War disrupted it. The war brought new duties for the Mounted Police in the form of security and intelligence operations directed at enemy aliens, radical labour unions, and, particularly after the Bolshevik takeover in Russia, left-wing political groups. By the end of the war the RNWMP were a major component in Canada's rather ramshackle intelligence organisation with responsibility for all of the country west of Ontario.
Meanwhile the atmosphere of moral fervour generated by the war helped prohibitionists convince all the provinces except Quebec to ban the sale of liquor. Between 1873 and 1891 prohibition had existed in the North West Territories and the experience of attempting to enforce abstinence had been difficult for the police. By the time the experiment ended, most senior officers were convinced that it had been both futile and destructive of trust between the force and the public. The announcement that the two provinces would outlaw the sale of liquor led the RNWMP to exercise the option both parties had to cancel contracts for provincial policing in Alberta and Saskatchewan on a year's notice. The official reason given was manpower shortages. This abandonment of their criminal policing roots left the future of the Mounted Police very much in question. The Federal cabinet debated integrating the police into the army, maintaining it as a small frontier force in the far north or disbanding it. In the end it was the great wave of labour unrest that swept the country in 1919, with strikes in most cities, that saved the Mounties. The most serious of the strikes took place in Winnipeg, where the city police themselves joined the strikers. The RNWMP were called in, and, after a major riot in which several people were killed by police bullets, order was restored.The perceived necessity to have a national police force that could be called upon to back up local authority when order was threatened brought about a new government plan for the police. In 1919 the RNWMP merged with another, much smaller, force, the Dominion Police, to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The primary mandate of the new organisation was to keep watch on potentially subversive labour and political organisations and to act as a mobile reserve in case local police forces could not cope. As it happened the Winnipeg general strike was the high point of radical protest. By the early 1920s the conservative craft unions affiliated to the American Federation of Labor had regained their dominance and had decisively defeated the militants of the One Big Union. Through the 1920s the RCMP dutifully kept track of unions, the Communist Party of Canada and a large number of ephemeral socialist parties. The only political resistance to the new national police force came, not surprisingly, from the tiny Labour contingent in Canada's House of Commons, led by J.S. Woodsworth.
The discovery of a large spy ring operating out of the Soviet embassy in Ottawa after the defection of a Russian code clerk named Igor Gouzenko in 1945 ensured that providing security checks for government employees would be the biggest growth area for the RCMP in the decades after the Second WorldWar. In 1945 the Intelligence Section was a small adjunct of the Criminal Investigation Branch, consisting of two inspectors and a handful of men. In 1947 it separated from the CIB and was reorganised as Special Branch. Continued growth led to its renaming as the Directorate of Security and Intelligence in 1956. By the 1970s the once again renamed Security Service employed well over a thousand policemen. The combination of rapid growth, Cold War tensions and increased Quebec separatism created unprecedented difficulties for the RGMP. There were a number of embarrassing and highly publicised incidents in which it was clear that the Security Service lacked the sophistication to distinguish between subversion and legitimate dissent.
After the murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte and the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Gross by Quebec separatists in 1970, the Security Service stepped up its efforts in that province. The most damaging Mountie blunder came in 1972 when several Mounties broke into the offices of a separatist news agency and made off with the organisation's files. No search warrants had been obtained and the operation was apparently not authorised by senior police officials. The Security Service, which had historically maintained close ties with the FBI, seems to have taken its cue from current practices in the United States. This was the era of Watergate: the golden age of `dirty tricks' and `deniability'. The Quebec misadventures in the 1970s led to a major investigation, the McDonald Commission, which demanded a civilian agency to handle such sensitive security work. In 1984 the RGMP finally relinquished its operations in this area to the new Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
Fascists were CSIS Front
CSIS vs. CUPW
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