Thursday, May 23, 2019

Court ruling defies democracy

In August of 1982, Ronald Smith, a drifter from Alberta, murdered two men in cold blood for the thrill of it.  That event took place, in Glacier National Park in Montana, not in Canada.Smith, in a plea arrangement asked for the death penalty, which I might add, was deservedly granted.  He also reiterated that request in March of 1983.  In the intervening years Smith has been on death row in a State that is relatively slow to carry out capital case executions.For years the Liberal governments of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin had their diplomats play the game with Montana authorities seeking, at least on the surface, some form of clemency for Smith, from the hangman's noose.  Metaphorically speaking of course.  I am not sure how Montana gets rid of its Death Row inmates.  Although what is ironic in all of this is that the State of Montana seems poised to get rid of the death penalty.  Their House of Representatives is to hold a vote later this spring on the matter.Smith also seems to have had a change of heart in that he has availed himself of every legal avenue to try and delay or commute his richly deserved death sentence.  With the election of a Conservative government, a different view was taken on the Canadian tradition of diplomatic intervention in death penalty cases.  The Tories said, and rightly so in my view, that they would not intervene with democratic countries with the death penalty in cases of...

Connections show no apology deserved

I wonder when the media is going to get off the back of the RCMP in the Mahar Arar affair? Now it is clear from documents tabled in court (Globe & Mail, Nov.03, 2006) that Arar had a connection to the cadre of Khadrs, our very own Canadian jihadists. We already knew he was connected to Abdullah Almalki, himself trying to gain sympathy as a “torture victim” of Syria.What is clear to me is that the RCMP had every right – no – every duty to consider Arar a terror suspect and include him in their investigation.. Almalki, according to Khadr the Younger, was connected to Khadr the Elder, also known as “al Kanadi” (The Canadian) to his al Qaeda pals. At the very least, the Mounties had every reason to believe that Arar was a suspect and needed to be investigated. In the days post-9/11, they also had every reason to share information with the US authorities. I believe that neither the RCMP nor Canada owe Arar an apology for anything. If in fact, he is totally innocent, then perhaps he should be more careful who he associates with. If he is that desperate for an apology, perhaps he should ask the people who actually imprisoned him and allegedly conducted the torture, the country of his birth, Syria.Leo Knightleo@primetimecrime.com

Plus ca change…

News items ran this week trumpeting that Canada was the methamphetimine production capital of the world and honorable mention was given to our position as the Ecstasy capital as well.  Many media outlets clucked their Holier-Than-Thou tongues about this as though it was something new.  Well, it isn't and not by a long shot. Warnings have been going out for at least 15 years that the media has written about or been otherwise informed about.  Yet, higher purpose papers like the Globe & Mail seem to have just discovered this nugget of information as evidenced by their main editorial on Friday. There is nothing  new or magical about this.  In the past 15-20 years Canada has become a major drug producing country on a parallel with Columbia.  We just don't have the sweaty jungles. But we certainly do have the violence that goes with that territory.  And we have seen the intimidation attempts on law enforcement and participants in the justice system.    How did we get here?   Well now, there's a question.  And the short answer is the lurch to the political left this country has taken in the past forty years.   In the '70s the rule of law was that evidence, no matter how gained, was admissible.  Now, a bloody murder weapon found in the hands of an accused can be excluded as evidence for a myriad of procedural issues that have nothing to do with justice and everything...

A systemic murder

Another senseless murder of an innocent person committed by someone who should not have been on the streets but for a weak, broken justice system. Yesterday, police in Calgary charged Christopher James Watcheston, 21, with the murder of Arcelie Laoagan, a 41 year old mother of five whose battered body was found a week ago near a public transit station. He was on bail at the time of the murder.Lawyer and justice commentator Scott Newark had this to say in an email about this case. It's worth sharing:************************************************************So let's see.....guy gets charged with three assaults and doesn't make bail for a couple of weeks. That suggests maybe a history not revealed in story. Shortly after release he commits more crimes...while on bail which is literally a promise he wouldn't commit more crimes if court released him from charges of first set of crimes...but again he is released on bail and now charged in this murder.A) We should be keeping track of this "profile" because quite literally the state had the capacity to have prevented this crime by taking notice of his continuing criminality but chose....consciously...to let him go...again....and take a chance...again....B) There is a need for a review of the circumstances of the release of this person independent of the criminal trial. Did the Crown seek revocation of the original bail and oppose his release. If not, why not? Did the JP or provincial court judge reject such requests and order the release? Did someone say they would serve...

Hypocrites need to move on

The very-public saga of West Vancouver PD Constable Lisa Alford has taken on a life of its own. The smug self-rightousness of the media in the way they have pursued this officer and the Police Department has been filled with their own unique brand of hypocrisy. Alford was involved in an motor vehicle accident a year ago after consuming alcohol at a social event in the West Vancouver police station. Following the MVA, she was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. She accepted her responsibility at every step of the way. She pleaded guilty, ready to take whatever punishment was her due. She never sought, nor did the system offer, any slack or preferential treatment. She didn't seek any "alternative measures," adult diversion, a healing circle or claim it wasn't her fault because, Boo-hoo-hoo, she wasn't breast-fed as a child. No, she made a bad error, admitted it and took her punishment like a man . . .well, so to speak.Now the Chief Constable is being made to do a Mexican Hat Dance simply because the optics are bad. And, some smug, self-righteous commentators are actually calling for a "full independent inquiry. "Damn the expense, Man! The cops were drinking!Now, it needs to be said that the event was a social function and didn't involve on-duty officers. But please, to suggest that we should have a "full independent public inquiry" because there was drinking going within the confines of a police station where many people have their...

IIO complaint nothing but sour grapes

The news release issued by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) on Wednesday is instructive and unique. Not in the fact they announced that the VPD officer involved in a fatal shooting in April, 2015 would not face any criminal charges, but for the way the report ended. The incident itself took more than 14 months for the IIO to determine the officer did nothing wrong. Albeit, that’s a few months quicker than their average and frankly, given the circumstances, about a year longer than it should have taken any competent investigator. I don’t say that lightly. Let’s look at the circumstances. VPD received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a man with a knife who had stabbed two people in the 400 block of Gore on the Downtown Eastside. Three officers responded from close by, one equipped with a shotgun and beanbag rounds, a non-lethal use of force option. The first officer, armed with his duty pistol and the officer with the shotgun immediately located the suspect armed with a bloody knife. The VPD members challenged the man pointing their weapons and yelling, “drop the knife, drop the knife.” Three beanbag rounds were fired which struck the suspect and had no effect. The suspect then charged at the officer with what one civilian witness later described as a “bull charge.” The beanbag weapon was fired again and again with no apparent effect. That officer later said, “I thought he was going to stab me.” Several shots were then fired by the other officer which momentarily doubled...

The RCMP must investigate Trudeau

It’s been a stunning 24 hours in Canadian politics since I wrote about former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould taking a wrecking ball to the Parliament of Canada. (True North)

Justice delayed is justice denied

There’s an old legal maxim which says “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The phrase has been attributed to William E. Gladstone who was Prime Minister of the UK for 12 years spread over four terms in the mid to late 19th century. But the concept goes back to the Magna Carta of 1215, clause 40 which reads, "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.” Yesterday the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) issued a media release saying there would be no charges against a member of the RCMP resulting from an in-custody death that resulted from an incident on February 14th, 2015. The man died in hospital on February 21st, 2015. I shook my head and read it again. Could it really have taken nearly three years to reach a conclusion in the case? What could possibly be so complicated that it would take that long for a process to determine what happened? The circumstances seem fairly straight forward. Jacobus Jonker, 53, was arrested by Smithers RCMP resulting from a domestic dispute. His daughter called 9-1-1 saying her father was drunk, holding a knife and was “really aggressive.” She remained on the line with the dispatcher reporting that he had gone to his gun safe and taken out a shotgun, that he may be suicidal and was concerned he would shoot her. When the responding officer arrived, later to be the so-called subject officer, Jonker was standing in the door. The officer called for him to walk...

Holidaaaaaaaze . . . .

Well, the weather outside was indeed frightful, no matter in which part of the Deranged Dominion you reside.  I had the distinct pleasure of spending an unscheduled three days in Edmonton in a particularly sub-arctic chill after our plane wasn't allowed to land at a snow-bound Vancouver airport, uncharacteristically up to its knees in the white stuff.And, I must admit, I certainly did not understand the efforts of the Vancouver media to pillory Air Canada because of the weather.  The talk shows and the newspapers were filled to excess with examples of how people couldn't get home or wherever, and somehow it was Air Canada's fault and Westjet, which handles a fraction of traffic that Air Canada does, was somehow beyond reproach.  In the space of four days, major airports Pearson, Halifax Stanfield, YVR then Pearson again then YVR again, got blasted with snowstorms so severe that Environment Canada called the phenomena "Storm-a-geddon." And somehow that was Air Canada's fault?  Flights were delayed all over North America over the Christmas period.  But the media seemed to focus on Air Canada.  One has to wonder at the critical thinking abilities of the mainstream media.  Are they so focused on whatever their political agenda is that they are unable to ask critical questions?Unfortunately, the answer is yes.Despite the several days warning preceding the extreme weather, officials at YVR didn't see the necessity to bring in extra de-icing fluid.  No, really, I'm not kidding.  Flights were delayed at YVR because the airport...

Unrevising History

A reader, a retired Calgary police officer, wrote to correct something I had said about outgoing Calgary Chief Jack Beaton. Somehow the word had gotten out in the flurry of news pieces about Beaton announcing his decision not to seek a contract extension, that he had been Calgary's longest serving Chief Constable. I got the information from a column written by the always entertaining Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun. The information, wherever it came from initially, is inaccurate. Chief Brian Sawyer, who served from 1973 to 1984 and by all accounts was a good one, served much longer. He came from the Mounties in Victoria to take the top job. It was he who brought in such crime prevention initatives such as Crime Stoppers and Blockwatch. Sawyer retired from the police in 1984 and went on to become the provincial Ombudsman.But there are a few others who held the office longer than Beaton too. Chief Samual Patterson served for nine years from 1941 - 1950 and Chief Lawrence Partridge served from 1952 to 1964 and probably brought about the most change to the Service than any other before or since. And those are the modern day chiefs who served in the office longer than Beaton.Thomas English served from 1891 to 1909 as Chief Constable of the fledgling police service. But the longest serving Chief was David Ritchie who held the office from 1919 to 1941. Ritchie was a decorated war hero when he took the top...

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