Dear Jennifer…

Ms. Strachan, let me be one of the first to welcome you back to beautiful British Columbia — the land of the highest gas prices, mountains, water, big trees, horrendous traffic, and where the Green Party has a pulse.

Being a born and raised Okanagan girl, no doubt you are feeling the geographic magnet that is B.C., and like Dorothy in Oz, you probably wanted to return– as there is no place like home. So with a click of those RCMP high-browns and the nod from Wizard Lucki you are now on your way.

It’s been awhile, over 16 years since you were in the policing world here in Lotus land and a lot of things have changed, so I feel bound by some inexplicable duty to give you at least a heads up on what to expect.

Let us first deal with the politicians in this land who you may end up spending some time with considering your new role. The Green party has locked arms with the NDP to see who can be more righteous; who can spend the most money, and clearly would have a love for any future unionized RCMP. It is a mixed political blessing though, as they are not pro-police necessarily, more in favour of groups like the Pivot Legal society, or the Elizabeth Fry Society.

The Federal world of Justin Trudeau and their policies still have an audience out here, even though they seem to be in a political free fall in the other parts of the country.

So don’t be fooled by the blooming Conservatism of the west throughout the Prairies. The right leanings of political philosophy has not seeped over the mountains, conservatism is merely a mirage in this marihuana infused land. There is more chance of Jody Emery being elected out here than a Jason Kenney.

President Bush was chasing Saddam Hussein when you left B.C.and the Americans were about to invade Iraq.

Paul Martin was the Liberal Prime Minister (probably one of the last times the budget was balanced).

Giuliano Zaccardelli was the Commissioner of the RCMP (who was impugned for irregularities in the management of the Pension and Insurance fund).

The RCMP was heralding the first female officer to be placed on an Emergency Response Team and the wave of female empowerment was in its infancy.

This unparalleled growth in female advancement is being mentioned because Commissioner Lucki decided that in announcing your move to head up E Division, she felt that she needed to underline your gender and not your curriculum vitae. It is a bit of the elephant in the room when it comes to the succession plan for E Division.

Ms. Lucki seems pretty one dimensional so far, aiming to fulfill her proscribed and dictated agenda, but in including you she makes you appear as a pawn in her Liberal sanctioned corporate strategy. It clearly drew attention to the possibility that your gender was a central characteristic that was needed for one to get this job. In the end it detracts from your resume, taints the appointment, and tends to confirm thoughts of the older guard.

For the record, I don’t believe the average RCMP officer gives a whit as to whether you are a woman, a man, or a variation of the two. Whether you are green, brown, wearing a turban, or wearing a Scottish tam means nothing in the current real world of policing. Gender does not imbue anyone with intelligence or leadership skills although it is quite clear that the two are equated in government corridors of power.

Putting all that aside, you are here to replace Butterworth-Carr, who heralded not only her femaleness, but her indigenous background, and she had zero impact. She didn’t stay long, enticed by an offer to join the politicos in Victoria. She used a quick stay on the job to springboard into the double-dipping pool, no doubt financially setting herself up for a lucrative run towards pension. It is hoped that you may still a little longer, as the wheels of government turn very slowly, the ability to have any impact takes years not weeks, so some time on the job is needed.

You will be hampered upon your arrival as senior members of the RCMP demographic bubble are leaving, the experienced baby-boomers are reaching their logistical end. Some, like Butterworth-Carr, have discovered a tunnel under the Georgia Strait which leads directly to the Provincial government coffers. The sands of time are changing, whether that is good or bad we will see, but there is little doubt it is creating a vacuum in terms of experience.

Since your departure from the West, almost the entire latter half of your career seems to have been focused on O Division and HQ.

You were the District Commander for N.E. Ontario from 2009-2012; then the Officer in Charge of Criminal Operations in Ontario (interesting in that in Ontario the RCMP is not responsible for most criminal investigations) from 2012-2016; then up the ladder once again to being the Commanding Officer of O Division from 2016-2018.

And of course what resume would be complete in this day and age without being the Officer in Charge of Operations Policy and Programs in Contract and Indigenous Policing in Ottawa. You then followed that by becoming Deputy Commissioner for “Specialized Policing Services”. A steady rise for sure but I will admit to being a little concerned about this rather central Canada version of the RCMP being the substantive part of your resume.

You probably don’t need to be reminded that there is a big gap between O and E, not just a couple of vowel spaces. The fact that you survived and thrived in this non-contract world can be either seen as a plus or a minus. You may be commended or condemned for being able to breath deeply in this rarefied air, as it is a milieu where most of us in the contracts would often feel out of place.

O Division has often been accused of riding and hiding behind the curtain of Federal statutes, where a lack of enforcement and investigational strength is a theme common to those that have worked in both areas. Enforcing such Federal statutes as the Migratory bird Act; or watching the Indigenous hustling cigarettes back and forth from the U.S; or helping illegal immigrants with their luggage; has never been considered the leading edge of police investigation know-how.

This lack of operational acuity has been the standard slam against this Province for years, whether management admits to this operational schizophrenia or not. Another example showed up in the last few days, in the Mark Norman case, serious questions are now being raised about this two year investigation in Ontario which resulted in a single charge. It has been stayed as the defence counsel seems to have been a little more thorough in their inquiries than the police officers that conducted the investigation and there are implications of political interference in the process. Further Mountie embarrassment is on the horizon.

The Force in general has not had such a smooth ride for the last couple of decades and there has been a number of serious setbacks during the time that you were part of the RCMP management power group. A growing legacy of mismanagement whether looking at the carbine issue, internal sexual harassment, and a large number of failed investigations.

Mountie salaries in relation to other agencies have tanked. Recruitment is down. Staffing levels have dwindled to lows never seen before. The Mounties are being questioned over their actions at every turn, whether it be the shooting on Parliament Hill, or the latest, the Mark Norman investigation.

I am not sure of what role you may or may not have played during this last number of years but there is no doubt you have been either a witness or a participant in some of the inane programs and policies which have left this agency in a state of major disrepair. It would be interesting to hear your take and historical role in this troubled time. Actually, it would be nice to finally hear from someone, anyone, of this management era who would admit to the errors, the wrongdoing, and try to set the record straight. Not crocodile tear apologies for things like harassment, but clear, concise explanations as to things like $100 million settlements. Maybe I am asking for too much.

The RCMP in its official bio of you points to your “passion for supporting others”. In 2014 you were given the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement award for the “Mentor of the Year Award”, and then in front of the International Association of Women Police you were also given a “Mentor of the Year Award”. Clearly a 21st century new policing virtue but who knew there was such a thing. Hard to argue with someone who wants to support you though.

You have been away from the dirt and grime of contract policing, living and breathing the filtered world of a Mountie in Ontario. Previously, you were in the corridors of subject matter experts, puffed up self-important people wandering in that dazed mind numbing bureaucracy all spouting pithy truisms at any opportunity.

You have now been freed and at a time in your career where you are un-flammable.

You are back to the heart of the RCMP Criminal operations block, where your Masters degree in “conflict analysis and management” will no doubt come in handy. You are being thrown into a logjam of a multitude of unaddressed and unattended issues, compounded by lacklustre stints of some of your predecessors.

You are about to be thrown into the wolfs lair. E Division with its constant stream of issues can eat and will eat managers up so you need to be careful.

I am hoping that this will be seen by you as a chance to speak out.

My primary recommendation is to be honest and straightforward and speak to the issues. Let’s hear what the RCMP stance will be if the Surrey RCMP get ousted; let’s hear what you are going to do about the vast understaffing that is in all corners of the Force; lets hear about gender and diversity promotions and your view of this dictated policy; lets hear about the politicization of the police force mandated role, which clearly is in full swing in Ottawa; and lets hear about upcoming unionization of the RCMP.

Even if one is able to be exposed to a truly honest appraisal of the issues and opens up the debate to real dialogue, you will have accomplished something not seen in many years in this Province.

The issues surrounding the RCMP will seem endless and at times look very bleak. The constant pablum being fed to the officers of just “you’re doing a great job” is both insulting and demeaning to their intelligence. Talking openly and honestly would be a breath of fresh air.

I am not optimistic, but I stand to be corrected, and will gladly sing the laurels of someone who walks the walk, speaks to the issues and puts on display possible solutions. It seems counter-intuitive that one needs to seek an open and honest management group from a police institution, but sadly this is now the case. It has been missing and it has caused irreparable harm.

Once that is all done, then you can go and enjoy your retirement….

I do wish you the best….

Signed:

A once faithful servant

Photo courtesy of CTV News via Google Images- Some Rights Reserved

New Commissioner a symbol of Identity politics…

When I sit around with current and former RCMP officers there is a lot of shaking of heads in terms of where the RCMP finds itself now; buried in sexual harassment cases, about to face unionization, and about to have to deal with a possible civilian oversight group.

Operational problems are around every corner, whether it be the lack of policing in rural communities, a completely failed promotion system, mounting PTSD complaints, mounting use of force issues, and the likely partitioning of the RCMP.  All major issues, all daunting to say the least.

So it was baited breath that the members of the RCMP waited an eight month screening process taken on by ten committee members. Thats right. Ten.  These ten were to oversee a selection process, all living on expenses, and I am guessing pretty substantial hourly rates to complete what must have been a more complex task than I imagined.

The Committee was headed by former Liberal Premier and Ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna. The rest of the committee was comprised of six women and three men, and a job description mandate which included ” having to demonstrate their knowledge of Canada’s indigenous culture and a sensitivity to the issues relevant to the diversity of the Canadian population”.

You will notice a bit of a theme with the Committee members.

Devon Clunis, former Winnipeg Police Chief and the first black police chief in Canada. He was known for dealing with the race issues in Winnipeg, but retired somewhat suddenly just before a police budget came down which included tripling of the promised police budget, and an RCMP investigation into a companies billings for the building of the new police office.

Malcolm Brown , the Deputy of Public Safety who would report to Ralph Goodale.

Daniel Jean, the National Security Advisor to Justin Trudeau, who has now gained notoriety as the fellow who came up with the Indian government conspiracy theory to cover Justin Trudeau’s dinner guest Mr. Atwal. It was a ridiculous slander on the Indian government which they had to apologize for and likely the end of his high flying career. He had no previous experience in Security and Intelligence before taking this job.

Barbara Byers, with the Canadian Labour Congress who specialized in issues such as the LGBT community.

Manuelle Oudar, the CEO of Canada Workplace Standards and Health and Safety.

Marianne Ryan, former Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP in Alberta, and now the Alberta Ombudsman.

Bev Busson, former interim Commissioner of the RCMP, and the first female Commissioner of the Force

Tammy Cook-Searson the elected Chief of the Lac La Ronge First Nation.

It is not difficult to guess, once you see this list as to what the tone and tenor of the selection process would be; clearly a woman, and clearly someone with an understanding or connection to Indigenous issues, or sympathetic to the causes of diversity and inclusion.

So after nine months, lo and behold there were four in the running; three women and one man (the male no doubt thrown in there to avoid any charges of being slanted in their decisions.) Statistically women represent 21.6 of the RCMP, but in this final selected group, they made up 75% of the candidates.

The other candidates were: A/Commissioner Joanne Crampton, A/Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, and Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brouseau.

And the winner and the “absolute best” person according to Justin Trudeau was Assistant Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

Now if they knew they were going to select a female from the RCMP, then I could have saved this committee a lot of work. Just open the internal phone list and look for any female officer above the rank of Superintendent. There aren’t many. I could have come up with this list in a couple of minutes. Now, if you tell me that they must have some sort of Indigenous acceptability, a second screening would have also quickly found Ms. Lucki who received recognition for her work on aboriginal rights. In other words I could have saved them a lot of meetings and expense.

Ms. Lucki, who joined the RCMP in 1986 has had a varied 31 year career, serving in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and then with the U.N in Yugoslavia. She is most recently in charge of Depot Division, the training facility, a former posting of Bev Busson as well, before she became Commissioner.

At first glance it seems impressive but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. Every promotion for the most part in the RCMP means that you change jobs, you have to move, regardless. So someone like Ms. Lucki, was promoted seven times in 31 years, serving in a lot of different Provinces, did not land in a place for any length of time. Take off a couple of years while with the U.N. and it measures out to a move every 3-4 years. During that time, she may have had oversight on a couple of hundred officers at any one time. She is now being asked to oversee a vast bureaucracy, over 28,000 personnel, with a budget of over $2.7 billion.

So what put Ms Lucki ahead of every once else? Her resume is almost bland and typical of all white-shirted officers within the RCMP. Constant movement in the promotion process also means that she was not in any one place for any significant period of time, therefore with little time to have any substantial impact. (Bev Busson also suffered from this dilemma leading up to her being made interim Commissioner.)

There is little which points to accomplishments within the RCMP with the exception of the Jubilee award which were given out like candy, and were internally generated.  There is repeated mention of the Governor Generals Order of Merit of the Police Forces and her role with the Indigenous. This too is an internally generated nomination, about fifteen a year get nominated by the Chiefs of Police and almost all nominees are officers as well. There is no evidence or hard factual detail as to what this entailed or what she did to deserve this recognition. These nominations are often part of the upper management Ottawa game in the RCMP of self – promotion.

There are reports that the committee approached Deputy Commissioner Butterworth-Carr who it is said turned the job down more than once.  Butterworth-Carr is a rank above Ms. Lucki and is First Nation from the Tr’ondek Huech’in Han Nation of the Yukon.  She also had the Queen and Golden Jubilee Medals, and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces for her proactive work. There are a lot of similarities with Ms. Lucki, such as her short length of service in a number of locations in the West.

The RCMP is in serious jeopardy as an organization. The problems seem stifling and the threads of the organization are being pulled and torn in every direction. This has been the result of mis-management at the upper levels over the last fifteen to twenty years. There can be no doubt about that. The question in the interview should not have been what can you do for this organization in the future, the question should have been what have you done in the past?

Upper management in the RCMP is known as the “go along to get along crowd” with never a dissenting opinion or a willingness to take a principled stand. Should they be held accountable for this mess, of course. Are they being held accountable, of course not; it is after all government. The upper management of the RCMP are for the most part a self-perpetuating incestuous group, and they should all be given pink slips along with a “thank you for your service” as they are escorted out the door. The roots of this organization are rotting, and the various limbs need pruning so they can grow again. This is not going to be easy.

Ms. Lucki as nice, as personal, and smart as she may be; she was and is part of the problem, not a part of the solution. Shockingly, the Liberals after all this went with someone inside this  same dysfunctional and management challenged organization.  Being female does not exonerate her from management actions of the past. She was part of that management.

Do we really care whether the selected candidate was male or female? Whether your skin is black, white, green, or orange is not a factor. Facing a complicated issue with civilian oversight on the horizon and the disappearance of the administrative side of the Force, one would have thought they would have been looking for someone with a strong administrative or legal background, or a hands on operational background, or at least a familiarity of unionization and all that it entails. Mr. Trudeau assured us that there were “many extraordinary candidates”.  Maybe a Masters in Business Administration, or a speciality in Labour Economics? Were there none out there? Did none apply? Was a candidate with a Bachelor of Arts the height of the academic qualifications? Even the male on the selected group of candidates has a Master of Laws from Harvard, is  Metis, but he did not have a chance.  “He” being the operative pronoun. Clearly indigenous and being a woman were the heavily weighted determinants of their choice, and merit was a very distant third or fourth.

Trudeau’s classified questionnaire must have been multiple choice, no right answer, as decisiveness is not a pre-requisite;  It must have read, Are you:

a) Female?

b) Female?

c) Indigenous? Or do you at least have friends that are Indigenous?

d) Female?

e) Do you like me and agree with everything I say?

Self-declared feminist Trudeau was using his usual clipboard check list selection process, just like his selections to Cabinet.

This country is becoming dangerously polarized, and now the politicalization of the RCMP has reached a precipitous level as well. Trudeau from the left is very similar to Trump on the right, he does not seem to recognize the problems of political interference, the danger of slanting the law and investigations to favour a special interest group.

When you Google check Ms. Lucki, you find video of her participating in the Depot “dunk tank”. Well, new Commissioner Lucki you are about to be thrown in the deep-end once again.

This time the results could have dire consequences for those on the front lines of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and maybe the very survival of this historic institution.  In her speech she said that she is going to ask “all the right questions”. Doesn’t she know what the problems are at this stage?

What is really needed is someone with answers, someone with a vision and someone with the audacity and authority to do what is right. Rome is burning, we do not need another fiddler.

But good luck to you Ms. Lucki, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that you prove me completely wrong.

I will go back now, to my coffee klatch of the disenchanted, and we will see what they think of Mr.Trudeaus choice, whether they think she will be the next saviour of this once proud organization, and whether positive change is around the corner.

I will withhold my prediction for now, but all should be prepared to hear “diversity” and “inclusion”, as much as we hear Trudeau say “going forward” “working with our partners” and “women”. Hopefully, the two officers that awkwardly fainted during your speech did not have a premonition as to what is to come.

And to this “select committee” of advantaged bureaucrats. Please call me next time, I could have saved you a lot of time and the taxpayer a lot of money.

After all we will be meeting again in four years.

Photo Courtesy of the CBC and may be subject to copyright

 

An apology to my faithful but few readers

In the last few weeks there has been a lack of output from your faithful scribe, for two reasons.  The first is the inability to force myself to sit in front of a computer, which is  a human fraility, the failure to be disciplined. Instead, I have been enjoying the comforts of a warm summer; bbq’s, still and sultry nights, family members coming together, shorts and flip flops. But in my defence, I did feel a twinge of guilt.

The second reason is that about mid-August, just as I was being pulled back to the laptop, unannounced,  I was forced to undertake an investigation into the Canadian medical health care system; having being literally forced to my knees by sudden acute sciatica. A few weeks of intense pain has a way of taking away your ability to concentrate, and did not even allow me to sit in front of the afore mentioned computer. I am not looking for sympathy, just trying to justify my lack of written output.

My medical investigation so far by the way, has revealed that although better than the third world without a doubt, I have some serious questions on the costs of our system, and the eventual medical outcomes. I have concluded that you are your own best diagnostician, and the enormous monies being spent are feeding some segments but not others.  After two emergency room visits surrounded by crying babies, alcoholics, and drug addicts with their often ill-defined problems, and an ambulance ride where we discussed poor pay and our mutual dislike of firemen, I was left wondering where all the money that goes into health care. Is it really finding its way to where it is needed? But that is for another time and blog.

So now, still on crutches, and probably destined for a life style change which incorporates physiotherapy for the duration of it, I have been re-defined, and find myself in need of the succour of writing. When I first started this sometimes moving target blog I wondered if I would find enough issues which would inspire me to undertake and dedicate myself to a daily writing process.

Rest assured. That has not been the case. Quite the opposite actually as I, like you, are continuously being bombarded by “breaking news”.

There is the continual distraction of the bombastic, idiotic, and war mongering U.S. President, who can not put a grammatical sentence together. But that aside here are the few things that are of interest to me.

Hurricane Harvey in Houston happened a few weeks after BC was declaring the whole province a state of Emergency due to wildfires. Stunning photographs from Houston, while here, thousands of people evacuated under growing frustration with the process itself. Emergency planning as exercised in this Province, I think needs to be placed under a microscope. Hidden behind the “rescues” and the “hero” stories there is a need for an audit, a need for some non-emotional analysis.

In Ottawa, the Indigenous inquiry is proving to be a political disaster and at the very least, as predicted, will be an ineffectual exercise. But the Liberals push on, now making two departments in the Federal government to deal with indigenous affairs, rather than INAC.  Billions of dollars in expenditures seem to be on the horizon, apparently without a smidgen of opposition.

Also in Ottawa, Senator Mike Duffy, guilty of gouging the system legally and lacking any ethical and moral compass, he is now suing the RCMP and the Federal Government for $8 million. I suspect he is going to get a payout, due to an inferior RCMP investigation of which I have some personal knowledge, and an investigation which was wrapped in political interference.

Locally, Surrey and the surrounding areas seem to have a new drug war developing. So what else is new you ask?  Meanwhile, IHIT (Integrated Homicide and Investigation Team) at last count solving only 6 out of 36 murders this year.  I am hearing rumblings that the officers in the Unit itself, are now questioning the effectiveness of their own organization.

The daily Fentanyl news coverage has now dwindled from public view, the news agencies finally running out of variations on the theme of reporting the “crisis”.  A sense of acceptance seems to have taken hold in the general public.

The Mounties still have no Commissioner, still awaiting for a large committee of eight politicos led by ex-Premier Frank McKenna to render their decision. I wonder what that will all cost, and what direction will the new Commissioner take this organization.

And in a more comic and reflective vein, the CBC, could not make a decision on who to replace the venerable Peter Mansbridge. Instead, and I can just picture the boardroom meeting, they have chosen to not pick a singular person, but to pick four possible persons.  Why use one, when you can use four for the same job? And the genius of course, is that the four will represent the gender and ethnic groups that are now championed throughout the Federal government.

So there are just a few of the things that interest me and my wandering mind (and it may be the medication) …. I will keep you posted.

Photo courtesy of Enric Fradera via Flickr at Creative Commons