Nov 21, 2007

Canada's Heart Torn Out

The tragic and totally unnecessary death at Vancouver airport of a Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, at the hands of the RCMP is the final betrayal of Canada by its national police force. And a huge setback in the much-vaunted "law and order" and "good governance" claims or aspirations of the Harper administration.

Relatives of Mr. Dziekanski have their own personal tragedy to bear. Canadians, though, have a warranted anger and rage directed towards our government and it's bumbling, disintegrating RCMP organization. I, too, am enraged at the RCMP and our federal government, and I'm afraid that this anger continues to grow each day as the discernible ineptitude and lies of the RCMP, and laissez-faire attitude and response of the Harper administration, continues to accumulate. Yes, I'm really mad, outraged, finally, at this sorry mess called the RCMP.

I recommend your reading this piece which sets the backdrop for what I have to write on the matter. I have already written my MP and a separate letter to the Prime Minister. That's how mad I am. For, in my estimation, both the Harper administration and the RCMP have betrayed Canada and Canadians, totally and completely, in this Dziekanski tragedy.

The final betrayal of Canadians by the RCMP has been a long time coming. It did not happen overnight. From the explained-away 2005 death of Ian Bush, shot in the back of the head by a member of the force while the young man was in custody in BC, to the bungling and apparent lying in the Air India investigation, to the alleged lying of the RCMP in the Arar debacle, to Commissioner Zaccardelli's bald-faced lies to a Commons committee and the public, Canadians faith and pride in its national police force has been eroding at a furious and distasteful pace.

Finally, with the Dziekanski tragedy, the patience of Canadians has ended, totally and completely. And Canadians are emotional, angry, and outraged with the RCMP. The institution, that is, not 99% of its officers. Outraged with the bad apples, the cover-their-ass senior staff, and the attitude that the RCMP is above the law, and can lie and get away with anything, with impunity.

The following are the details of the Dziekanski tragedy, as I see them. They may be wrong, or biased because of my white-hot anger and outrage, but this is what I have to say:

First, Vancouver airport personnel reportedly confined Mr. Dziekanski for 10 hours, this coming on the heels of a 13 hour flight and, no doubt, many hours beforehand reading for the flight to his "great" new country and land of opportunity. In all this time, no one at the airport's staff saw fit to try to establish cogent conversation with this new immigrant? This is a federal facility, the Vancouver airport, so Mr. Harper has some questions to answer about the total breakdown of communication, let alone compassion and decency, by airport staff in the secured arrivals area.

Second, if airport security officers aren't trained and equipped to deal with a non life-threatening incident like this, over a 10 hour period, then they are incompetent and should be fired. And the Harper's minister responsible for airports should be fired. Better still, if Stockwell Day is responsibly involved as Public Safety Minister, he should be fired too. That idiot has proven that he can't even drive a jet ski, let alone be responsive to a clear-cut outrage like this Dziekanski tragedy!

Third, the responding RCMP officers used a wholly inappropriate (and deadly) response to dealing with Mr. Dziekanski's agitation and non life-threatening behaviour. Their "shoot first and ask questions later" attack on Mr. Dziekanski is odious and cause, by itself, to question why taser use is not more regulated. Either that, or sound guidelines for taser use were disregarded by the responding RCMP officers who apparently, after less than 25 seconds after their arrival, began the deadly take-down of Mr. Dziekanski. We will find out their thinking through one of the many inquiries announced recently, but did we need a totally unnecessary death to prompt a thorough review of the general use of tasering by police forces in Canada?

One of the allegations from review of the third-party video tape of the sordid tragedy is the inference that responding RCMP officers were urged by airport staff to take immediate action on Mr. Dziekanski because a large international flight was arriving and its passengers would be privy to this saga. I hope this allegation is not true because, if it is, it lends odious rationale as to why the RCMP offices took down Mr. Dziekanski within 25 seconds of their arrival, if the video tape is to be believed.

Fourth, having fatally subdued Mr. Dziekanski, by two tasers and brute physical force, all on hand apparently stood by and did absolutely nothing while Mr. Dziekanski's life ebbed away and he died in their possession. What compassion, what caring, what respect for a new Canadian! Or, reciprocally, what abandonment and callousness!

Fifth, the RCMP lied to Canadians, again. They had commandeered the video-tape, had obviously reviewed it, yet at the resulting press conference selected to explain away this unfortunate incident, they totally mislead Canadians as to the facts of the take down Totally. Lied. To. Canadians. Again. On. Purpose.

Lastly, the Harper administration appeared to try to let this firestorm pass by unnoticed, or at least hope that it would. There is no way a major incident like this would not result in the RCMP briefing its political masters. If the RCMP also lied to the government, then heads should roll, quickly and publicly. If not, then ministerial heads should roll with the same speed. And Harper, as a bystander but a human being trying to unsuccessfully wear the mantle of "good governance", should step up and apologize to all Canadians for shirking his moral obligation in favour of political expediency.

It may be "cute" and "neat" to score political gotcha points with the opposition, Prime Minister, but this is a human being, a new Canadian who was abused and killed unnecessarily by the RCMP. And let's not forget the Canadian public who was KNOWINGLY LIED TO AGAIN BY THE RCMP, and ill-served by its government until the political pressure forced action. So step up to the plate, Harper, and do the right thing. Let's see if you really have the "right stuff" to do the honourable thing!

Because, in this case and once and for all, we Canadians want to see the all ther bodies, Harper!

  • We want to see the responding officers dealt with, severely.
  • We want to see their supervising offices dealt with, severely.
  • We want everyone involved in the cover up, and in the blatant lies to Canadians in the press conference, dealt with severely.
  • We want to see the appropriate (incompetent) Vancouver airport staff dealt with severely.
  • We want to see political heads roll.
  • And we all want to see this done transparently, above board.

Because, Mr. Harper, we Canadians are sick and tired of RCMP and political dirt being shoved under the carpet, or wrists slapped lightly. We want to see real, meaningful penalties administered for this misconduct, ineptitude, incompetence and lying. And forget the golden parachutes. Not one cent of our money goes out the door, Mr. Harper.

Because ordinary Canadians are subject to severe penalties when they do these types of things.

And neither the RCMP, nor politicians and civil servants, should be above the law.

It's an important test --- no, it's THE critical test --- for your government, Harper, as well as for Canadians' diminishing hope that this Conservative government is our last chance for good governance, before we degenerate completely into a parallel morass to our southern neighbour. The Liberals have proven time and time again that they are corrupt, and who would trust the NDP?

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