Signs of a police state under development

Some things are developing that cause me to be concerned about where our democracy may be going. I’m concerned about things that are inconsistent with public accountability. Things like:

 November 2, 2010 article – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – The Star

“About 90 Toronto police officers are facing disciplinary action for removing the name badges from their uniforms during the G20 summit, Chief Bill Blair said Wednesday.”

Another article in the Star from Toronto Ontario, dated January 24, 2017

“A Toronto man who lawfully recorded police arresting and Tasering a man near Ryerson University on Tuesday was repeatedly told by officers to stop filming the interaction, then threatened by two cops who claimed they would seize the phone he was using to record it.”

Equally troubling are the kind of directions given to police officers by those higher up, when addressing gatherings of people in protest.   By way of example, check out what’s referred to in the May 16, 2012 report from CBC news cited here

“Deputy Chief Tony Warr issued such a directive late on June 26 following a day in which police lost control and saw windows smashed and a police car set ablaze.

ii-gerry-mcneilly-300-cbc

Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, speaks to reporters about G20 protests in June 2010. (Dave Seglins/CBC)

“The night shift incident commander said Deputy police Chief Warr told him that he wanted him to take back the streets,” writes McNeilly in the report. McNeilly said the commander told him, “‘I understood his [Warr’s] instructions to mean that he wanted me to make the streets of Toronto safe again. He wanted the streets that had been made unsafe by the terrorists that were attacking our city to be made safe again by restoring order.'”

Referring to protesters in such a way left the impression that they were criminals, the report says, and that attitude resulted in the decision to contain and arrest approximately 1,100 people during the weekend summit.”

and a little later in the above article:

“McNeilly says Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair intervened to end one kettling incident in which hundreds of protesters as well as residents and passersby were held for hours at the intersection of Queen and Spadina late on June 27 as the summit was winding down.

“About 400 people were detained in pouring rain for four hours while the arrests were being processed,” McNeilly states. “In the end, Chief Blair himself went to the [Major Incident Command Centre]. He called the incident commander and the public information officer out of a meeting and ordered that the people at Queen and Spadina be released unconditionally and immediately.”

By then, more than 300 people had been arrested or detained, mostly for breach of peace. The reports says it was “unreasonable and unnecessary” to arrest people one by one during a severe rainstorm.”

I observe that protest is not at all restricted in Canadian society.  Not one bit.  A protest against the Prime Minister, or against chafing nylons, are both perfectly legal, and not subject in law to one shred of restriction.   If there are protests going on, and unlawful activity occurring in the course of that protest, it is the unlawful activity that is illegal, not the protest.  The unlawful activity should be stopped, but that does not equate to the protest being stopped.

Another aspect of my concern in this area is the increasing militarization amongst the police forces.  Here’s a police vehicle purchased by the Vancouver British Columbia Canada police department.  It cost them 350,000$.  Kim Bolan, a reporter with “The Province” reported on it in September of 2010  here.

The Ottawa police Service unveiled its new Lenco Bearcat armoured vehicle in 2010.

The one above is owned by the Ottawa police, reported in 2014 by the National Post.

As I understand it the police say that with criminals increasingly having high powered rifles, they need an armoured vehicle.   To this I would like to inquire, which criminals in the last 10 years in the entire greater Vancouver area or the Ottawa area have engaged, actually shot at, police, with a high powered rifle?  How many specific times?  How many police or members of the public died in those events?   And of those times, how often was there any warning whatsoever such that police would have been able to bring this military monstrosity into a place where human beings live (ie.  not a war zone)  and save the people that died.  Of those occasions, if there really are any, any at all, how many times have police driven such a vehicle into the actual fire zone, where the assailant had fire control with a heavy rifle over the area?  If  there are any such occasions, I ask why.  Why the heck did you do that, and to what gain?   I say that this sort of police acquisition is more of the removing of badges, covering of faces, and increasingly trying to appear as a military force.  I understand that we have a need for a military force.  Sometimes there are war environments, and that kind of environment is one that is completely foreign to a functioning civilized society.   That environment requires an military force.   We, in Canada, in absolutely no city anywhere in Canada, are anywhere near a war environment.   We might use phrases like war for the environment, war on drugs, there’s all kinds of commentary, but it’s not war, it’s not a war environment.  But…. by trying to appear as a military force, our own police forces are adopting the aura of a war environment.  A state of war is about everything not freedom, cancelling freedom.   The very concept of “cancelling freedom” is counter to freedom itself.   The very action of appearing as a military force in the midst of an operating democracy is about an attempt to walk over freedom, essentially to cancel it.

On the same theme, there’s increasing militarization of police forces in Canada in terms of the gear they carry and their presence at public functions.  Here’s an officer at a Canada Day Celebration in Kelowna British Columbia.  I note that Kelowna is a town of around 50 or 60 thousand people, it’s not a capital city, and it’s never, to my knowledge, had any sort of “terrorist” attack.  What I ask would he possibly do with a firearm of this sort in a crowded environment associated with a Canada Day celebration? 

This post is a bit of a work in progress.  I’ll be cleaning it up over time and adding to it.  But the substance stands as it is.  I’m concerned about this sort of thing.  We all should be.  Militarization, a police force hiding its members, these are very concerning matters, they’re not right in a democracy.

 

 

Please, really slow down for Kiera

I’m driving on highway 97 coming into Vernon, British Columbia a few months ago, roughly October 2016. A car comes up behind me, and passes me. That’s okay. I’m doing about 93 or 95 in a 90 zone. Cars pass me all the time. What was interesting is that this car passed me pretty vigorously.  I was near the dump, it’s a highway area, but this car stood out passing me, perhaps doing 105 to 115?  I’m just guessing, I appreciate.  Being that it was going quickly, I noticed two things.  The first were ads for Bev Carlson, a realtor, and the mother I believe of Kiera Leigh Carlson, that were fastened to the side of the car.  The second was a bumper sticker, “Slow down for Kiera”.   Kiera Leigh Carlson was a lovely young woman, just getting started in life, who was run over by a young man driving like a jackass here in Vernon, BC.   He was going way too fast, and went around a corner, and killed her while she was walking to work along the side of a highway.  Horrible, just plain awful.  Why I write this article is to address the matter of entitlement on behalf of the motoring public.  I’ve been a jackass on the roads.  I’ve been a jackass a thousand times over.  I was the guy that would swerve left at you if I felt that you were too close to the centre line coming the opposite direction.  I was also the guy who would tailgate you within a 1/2 car length at 80 to 100 kilometers an hour.  “Get the hell out of the way!!” was the thought in my mind.   “Holy shit, you’ve got to occupy the passing lane????” was another common mantra in my thoughts.

I had a chance to go away from the world for a while.  It was quite a long while, and it was prison.  I was there for nothing driving related.  Prison is a place where things move very slowly.  It gave me a place to think a hell of a lot.  I had occasions before I went away where my present mate said to me “William, please slow down”  and “William, please stop”.   She was near crying at the time.  That’s not cool, that’s really fucked up. If you’re driving, and your passengers are afraid, actually scared..   what the hell is going on?  STOP.  STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING.  Bev Carlson is I’m sure a fine parent,  who has had to deal with a hell of a lot more pain than most of us about driving.    We all need to slow down.  Speed kills.    It’s easy to get the idea of I’m just tying to move promptly, I have to get somewhere, … but …. it kills.  Speed really kills.  Following the speed limit will leave you with a lot more time to respond to problems, including deer leaping out, cars pulling out from lanes with no warning, and pedestrians and bicycles riding down the road with no lights at night in the rain (these are all things I’ve encountered recently).   I hate to end on a slow down type comment.  It seems like such a weak comment.  In fact, it’s an empowerment comment.  If you slow down, you really take control of what’s around you.  You’re able to exercise a lot more control when that deer jumps over the highway barrier in front of you, or the dumb guy on the bike is riding down the highway when it’s raining at 4:30 a.m.   in pitch dark with no lights.   It gives you that chance, and  it’s a really big chance.   We’ve all as motorists had something go wrong on the roadway.  I’ve never heard anyone telling their “wow, this crazy thing happened while I was driving” story end it by saying they wish they’d been going faster when it happened.   This goes to all of us, please, STOP.  Take control.   The speed limit brings a measure of  safety.  Lets follow it.

Kevin O’Leary and the notwithstanding clause in the Charter

I’m a guy that is inclined to vote Liberal when a federal election comes around. Not invariably, but it’s where I’m most likely to end up. Recently however, I had been interested in a candidate that is running for leadership of the federal Conservative party.  Kevin O’Leary is a well known canadian character, doing a lot of public interviews, appearing on Dragon’s Den (a great TV show), and apparently being very successful in business.   Most of my exposure to Kevin has been through Dragon’s Den.  He’s a sharp tongued guy who often rides the applicants a bit hard, but there’s some real good sense in what he says, and he’s clearly got the business skills to back up his commentary.   For that reason, I had been pretty impressed with him.   However, just a few days ago I heard Kevin on CBC radio.  He was commenting on an issue that is frequently in the news recently, about refugee claimants seemingly jumping the queue by crossing the Canadian border illegally.   I allow that this may be a problem,  but compared to a lot of other issues, it’s a pretty small problem.   When I think about things like the fentanyl crisis, refugees crossing the boarder seems pretty tiny indeed.   As I understand matters, refugees crossing the border illegally are usually arrested pretty promptly, and hence it’s difficult to see how these refugees really have any significant impact on the lives of your average canadian at all.  Given that Canada is a nation having one of the highest standards of living in the world, I think there’s fair argument that we have a duty to help up those that ask, which would include refugees.   However, what Kevin O’Leary suggested was a change to legislation to prevent the queue jumping, and said:

Mr. Trudeau has the ability to do this by using something called the notwithstanding clause,” O’Leary said in the video. “His dad [former Liberal prime minister] Pierre Elliott Trudeau put this in the Constitution in 1982 to give Canadian governments the authority to respond to extraordinary situations like this one and put in place policies that are reasonable for a fair and democratic society like Canada.  (this quote drawn from a Huffington Post article to be found at Huffington Post

There has been discussion as to whether in fact this clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms could be applied to what Kevin refers to.  Some say he misunderstands the application of the charter, and this particular provision, to the issue.   That however is not the concern that I was left with.  I will not be voting for Mr. O’Leary if he should become the candidate for the Conservative Party because I believe his misunderstanding is not of the application of a section, but rather an entire tenant of the Charter.

Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides:

Exception where express declaration

  •  (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

  • Operation of exception

    (2) An Act or a provision of an Act in respect of which a declaration made under this section is in effect shall have such operation as it would have but for the provision of this Charter referred to in the declaration.

  • Five year limitation

    (3) A declaration made under subsection (1) shall cease to have effect five years after it comes into force or on such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration.

  • Re-enactment

    (4) Parliament or the legislature of a province may re-enact a declaration made under subsection (1).

  • Five year limitation

    (5) Subsection (3) applies in respect of a re-enactment made under subsection (4).

As should be obvious, this section is a pretty significant one, and a potentially dangerous one as well.   The Charter sets out those values that are thought to be absolute foundations of Canadian Society.   The protections set out there are fundamental to what we term a Free and Democratic Society.   They are described as the fundamental rights and freedoms.  This is the stuff that forms the cornerstone of our society.     Kevin appears to be suggesting that we should invoke a clause that has the effect of negating those very rights and freedoms, and that we should invoke that clause so that legislation may be aimed at people who arrive in our nation with the intention of claiming refugee status.  Respectfully, this is the very situation where the notwithstanding clause should not be applied.   The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is at its most powerful in the protection of those who are marginalized in our society, being those who are not very popular, perhaps criminal, those who have different beliefs or values, or simply are not part of the “mainstream”.   That Kevin would suggest it be applied to the present situation says to me that he regards the values contained in the Charter to be preferential ones, rather than fundamental, and this is surely not the intent of our Charter.