Month: March 2018

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Police Unions tactics of shaming Police Chiefs

There’s a disturbing re-emerging tactic deployed by the Toronto Police Association and the Durham Regional Police Association to use surveys from their membership to demonstrate displeasure with their Chief by shaming and embarrassing them and asking for their head on a platter.

Unions, by nature, serve many roles. One of them is to grow membership and the union dues that fill their coffers. This is at odds with police services who are trying to find efficiencies and modernize how they do business. And god knows, there’s a lot of gravy in police budgets.

Who hasn’t seen a Toronto police officer standing at the most minor of construction sites, such as fixing a pot hole? Do we really want highly trained, highly paid (often well into the six digits) cops used as posts “guarding” the scene? Couldn’t a private security firm do just as well a job at a much lower cost? Should the police really be attending scenes of break and enters after the fact simply to take a report? Can’t a civilian trained to do this task also not be allowed to fill out the form in a more cost-effective way?

TPA Board of Directors proclaimed that a “no confidence vote sends a message to the Chief, our elected City leaders, and the community that our members have lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to act in the best interests of the membership and the community.”

No so fast. Although the dissatisfaction with Toronto Chief Saunders is said to be as high as 86 per cent, less than half the union membership bothered to vote. Not to be outdone, the union is playing the safety card, putting up a big billboard downtown with the grinning faces of Mayor John Tory, Saunders and police services chair Andrew Pringle screaming “these guys are putting your safety on hold.”

Former Chief Julian Fantino also faced a similar non-confidence vote during his tenure. He said: “It’s an old hat kind of thing that’s used quite often in the United States. In fact, it was born there (and) sort of transported here in Canada.” A bad import, just like the militarization of our police.

Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle rightfully backed-up Saunders, so did Tory, noting that some people are naturally resistant to change. Saunders also noted that it was an election year for the police union.

An equally hysterical reaction came from the DRPS union. 52% of the membership want Chief Paul Martin immediately removed. Problem is only 36 per cent of the membership bothered to answer the online survey. The board there also backed their Chief.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next survey came from the Ottawa Police Association. The union has been feuding with Chief Bordeleau where union boss Matt Skof has made a point of boycotting events attended by Bordeleau. Seems childish to me.

I’ve had my disagreements with Chiefs of police in the past, most recently in this space on their position not to notify the Special Investigations Unit in case of unsuccessful Naxalone interventions leading to serious injury or death.

On the need to modernize and find efficiencies in how police operate, they’ve got my vote. Instead of bringing bad practices of police forces south of the border, unions should realize that their conduct brings into disrepute the enforcement of the law. They are only embarrassing themselves.

As Lord Robert Peel, the father of modern policing once said: “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” So, get to it.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Liberal throne speech a political ploy

Under our parliamentary system, proroguing government was traditionally used to mark the completion of the agenda laid out in the previous speech from the throne. A way of saying “mission accomplished,” now let’s press the restart button and let you know what’s coming down the pipeline. But in modern days, the concept has been reduced to rubble, manipulated as a political tool to serve the party in power.

For example, in 2003 former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien used prorogation to avoid the Auditor-General’s report into the Ad-scam scandal. Now it’s Premier Kathleen Wynne’s turn to play us for fools by proroguing parliament. All outstanding legislative bills will be reintroduced in Monday’s speech from the throne. So much for “mission accomplished.”

How does she justify this blatant political ploy? According to Wynne: “We know families are under a lot of pressure … This throne speech is about making it clear we recognize peoples’ stress and anxiety and that our government is making deliberate choices to invest in the care and the services that the people of this province rely on.”

So, it has nothing to do with the election? Who’s going to buy this whopper? It’s no wonder people are cynical and tired of establishment politicians. If proroguing parliament is due to “people’s stress and anxiety,” Wynne should look at herself in the mirror. She got us there in the first place after 15 years of Liberal rule.

The Liberals are in big trouble and Wynne knows it. Polling analyst Éric Grenier on Friday put the Progressive Conservatives support at 43.4%, the Liberals at 26.9% and the New Democratic Party at 24.3%. A scenario that could lead to 96 seats to the PCS and as low as 4 seats for the Liberals.

Starting with Madeleine Meilleur, to Brad Duguid, to Glen Murray, to Liz Sandals, to Deborah Matthews and to David Levac, all have deserted the Titanic. Even Eric Hoskins, the much -loathed Health Minister jumped ship after getting the nomination in his riding, leaving the Liberals high and dry and apparently feeling betrayed. All held high posts but are collectively responsible with Wynne for the economic mess we find ourselves into. But they are not stupid people. They know that the Liberals are done.

Wynne tried bribing us for votes with all types of discounts and freebies, from university to free meds for people under 25. Ultimately, she recently chose to break her promise to balance the budget in 2018 and is on a spending spree once again to bury us in an 8$ dollars deficit. It won’t work. Albert Einstein, according to some, has said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Expect that the speech from the throne to be filled with re-announcements of prior spending announcement and Wynne platitudes about making society “fairer.” Also expect the line that’s already getting old about how they are “deliberately” sending us in a spiraling deficit, i.e. they are deliberately breaking their promise of a balanced budget.

However the government tries to paint its concern for our suffering and its devotion to all kinds of social causes, voters won’t be fooled.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Liberals blow budget

For over a year, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has been at war with the Auditor General over whether we were out of a deficit situation or not. The attacks on an independent officer of parliament were relentless, vicious and personal.

For the first time in Ontario history, unaudited government financial statements were tabled in the legislature. Damn the auditor!

Now it seems the whole brouhaha was all for naught. The government just announced that next year it would be running an $8 billion deficit. Wynne seems to have adopted the mantra of that other guy, US President Donald Trump, always spoiling for a fight just for the fun of it. According to a Trump tweet last week, conflict is a good thing. It’s not chaos but “great energy.”

How dare would an independent overseer actually dare to disagree with the government, which has shown that it much prefers lapdogs like Ombudsman Paul Dubé or French Languages Commissioner François Boileau than a real watchdog?

How bad is our financial situation in Ontario? As former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney put it last week “Ontario has been reduced to accepting equalization payments from Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa wants to make it clear that the new deficit, which amounts to breaking its promise to maintain a balance budget, wasn’t just happenstance. He’s driving us into more debt “deliberately.” How is that supposed to make us feel better?

It’s like saying “I didn’t fall off that cliff, I jumped!”

Sousa says “we have to invest more and that doesn’t come cheap. So here is the choice: Ignore these costs of care to stay in balance or use our fiscal room to invest more in mental health, long-term care and child care.” Which all sounds great.

The problem is that for 15 years, these three areas have been neglected. The government’s priorities have been on shinny objects. Think free university, free drugs for people under 25 years old, increasing minimum wage by 30% and an extra week of vacation all announced in the months leading to the June election.

But none of it seems to have fooled the electorate and Wynne’s sinking ship seems to be a done deal. According to a poll early last week, “Anybody But Wynne” appears to be a real thing.
According to a poll released last week by DART, “eight in 10 (81%) Ontarians believe it’s time for another provincial party to take over and run the province compared to just two in 10 (19%) who say the Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne has done a good job and deserves to be re-elected.”

To make matters worse for Wynne, the poll was conducted in the middle of the Progressive Conservative’s chaotic leadership campaign at the time former leader Patrick Brown was unceremoniously dumped from the party. Yet voters still preferred the PCs at 44% to 19% for the Liberals, leaving the NDP in the middle at 24%. 13% said “other.”

An Angus Reid poll released last Thursday had even worse news for the Liberals pegging the PC support at a staggering 50%, the Liberals faring slightly better than the DART poll at 24% and the NDP at 22%.

What we are witnessing is the complete decimation of the Ontario Liberal party. History might well reveal it to rival the 1993 federal election when the Progressive Conservatives under Prime Minister Kim Campbell were left with 2 seats out of the 295. Maybe even besting it, with Ottawa-Vanier likely the only safe seat left in Ontario.

With its track record of mismanagement, wasteful spending and scandals, it’s one trophy the Ontario Liberals richly deserve.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

No end run needed

It was a sad sight to behold. In a tweet by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police there was a photo of Attorney General Yasir Naqvi grinning ear to ear surrounded by OACP officials lobbying hard against the Special Investigations Unit.

It’s almost as if Naqvi was getting a rush from rubbing shoulders with the mighty cop bosses.

The issue? It’s the one I covered a couple of weeks ago. The OACP wants the SIU to butt out of cases that police must advise the SIU whenever serious injury or a death occurs during a police interaction and, in particular, when the administration of Naloxone was attempted or given.

The SIU by law must been notified of cases of death or serious injury occurring during police interaction. It’s a legal obligation in Ontario and it makes sense. If a suspect has a heart attack and dies in the back seat of a cruiser, you’d expect an independent and impartial investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death. Police investigating the police just doesn’t work. That’s why the SIU was created.

Cops are trained to be in control. Crowd control, arrests and various police interactions require it. But when it comes to the SIU, they have yet to learn that they need to be hands-off. Since it was created 1990, there have been hundreds of cases where they failed to notify the SIU (or didn’t do it “immediately” as required by law), tampered with evidence and fought the SIU at all levels of courts – and lost.

The latest coup in police chiefs declaring that they will defy the law and not notify the SIU in death or serious injury involving the police seems to be triggered by the current opioids crisis. Police want to investigate themselves if, in administrating the anti-opioid drug Naloxone, they are unsuccessful at saving a person.

How is it different from someone who dies while the police are administrating CPR?

The difference is that the former is likely an addict while the latter may simply be suffering from heart disease. So, addicts don’t deserve an independent and impartial investigation while the patient with heart disease does. The Chiefs’ position amounts to class warfare and discrimination.

Bill 175 is legislation designed in part to bolster the powers of the SIU as a result of cops snubbing the SIU since its inception but doesn’t speak to this issue. It’s at committee for study and it should be amended to prevent the police from undermining civilian oversight.

Interestingly enough, the OACP tweet notes that they had “a fruitful & honest discussion about changes to #policing legislation #Bill 175 & Naloxone” with Naqvi, even though Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie France Lalonde is the one having carriage of the Bill. Why then give the gears to Naqvi and not go solely to the minister responsible? My guess is that the OACP knows where the weakest link lies and is quite cleverly prepared to exploit it.

Naqvi has never been the friend of the downtrodden and disadvantaged.

Remember when he was minister responsible for jails and let a prisoner, Adam Capay, spend 1,560 days in solitary confinement in Thunder Bay? Jail staff said Naqvi had met Capay and been briefed on his situation. But he did nothing about it. He later dubiously claimed that he “had no recollection” of the meeting.

And Naqvi’s been the weakest AG in recent memory. A recent independent report on the operations of his current ministry reveals that Naqvi and his most senior bureaucrats did nothing to fix the “festering sore” at the Ministry of the Attorney General, with reports of wide spread “belittling, gossip-mongering, bullying and a tendency to unduly punish employees.”

The OACP boasting about a “fruitful & honest discussion” with Naqvi should make anyone concerned with proper civilian oversight very nervous. Hopefully Lalonde will ignore Naqvi when he comes knocking on her door parroting the OACP’s position.