Friday, March 30, 2007

Flux in the RCMP and Stockwell Day

Questions of serious abuse of power have been swirling around the leadership of the RCMP during the last year. The direction of the federal election last winter was decisively affected by the unorthodox intrusion of the RCMP into the campaign. The RCMP announced by way of a fax to a member of the NDP that there was an investigation into potential misconduct on the part of then Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. The investigation later cleared him of any wrong doing, but only well after the campaign had delivered a Conservative victory. The relation between the announcement and the change in favour toward the Conservatives in the polls was clear. Later this past year, the head of the RCMP was forced to resign in light of misrepresentation he had made to the House of Commons with regard to the disgraceful Maher Arar case. The misrepresentation left the definite impression that the RCMP was trying to cover-up the mishandling of information that led to the deportation of Maher Arar to Syria where he was tortured. And this week shocking allegations were made in front of a House of Commons committee that nepotism and fraud may have been comitted in the administration of the RCMP retirement plan. Those who spoke out against the abuse of power were silenced and punished by the RCMP leadership in a further story of institutional corruption and cover-up.

Clearly, the perception of the RCMP needs to be redeemed in the eyes of the public as well as the rank and file members of this organization which is intimately tied to Canadian history and identity. An investigation must be launched to root out the wrong-doers and more importantly re-examine the structure of our national police force. Good things may come from this investigation.

BUT the minister charged with overseeing the RCMP, Stockwell Day, is currently under the cloud of his own scandal. New evidence has surfaced that he may have criminally misused public funds. The RCMP are currently deliberating whether to proceed with an criminal investigation (see the documents)

I previously suggested that the only honourable thing to do on Stockwell Day's part would be to step aside so that there would not be the perception that he somehow influenced the course of this examination of his potiential misconduct. I even suggested that he resign last Monday which with the media attention focused on the Quebec provincial election would have allowed him to make this move quietly. He did not do the honourable thing.

As the situation now stands, the RCMP is looking at investigating him while he is determining how to investigate the RCMP. The conflict of interest is patent and reflects poorly on both parties. Stockwell Day must resign his minsterial position overseeing the RCMP for his own reputation and for the reputation of the RCMP.

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