Archive for the ‘Commissions and Inquiries’ Category

In the wake of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which was tasked with evaluating and formulating recommendations surrounding the police protection of vulnerable women in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (formerly GVRD), a dialogue pertaining to the development of a regional police force resurfaced. The discussion surrounding the creation of a regional police force for the Greater Vancouver region and Capital region has been ongoing for almost three decades as debate continues over the extent to which police collaboration would improve with the amalgamation of existing municipal forces. Eleven municipal police agencies presently operate in British Columbia in addition to the numerous RCMP detachments contracted to provide policing services in the province. While it is recognised that informal cooperation between these agencies currently exists, it was Commissioner Oppal’s recommendation that a Greater Vancouver regional force be implemented to enhance coordination of investigative bodies.

Resistance over the formation of a regional force appears in part to stem from concern over how such an agency would be kept accountable. In establishing an accountability framework to oversee a regional police body in British Columbia it may be beneficial to turn to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario which has been in operation for over twenty years and is revered by many as an archetype in police oversight. However, the SIU continues to have a number of downfalls which can also be beneficial to take into consideration when constructing a new oversight body.

The Police Act (1996) in British Columbia would require amendment to reflect the presence of a new oversight body responsible for a regional force, or a reworking of the powers of existing provincial oversight agencies – such as the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). Legislation is necessary to ensure the cooperation of police agencies with external review bodies during the course of investigations into allegations of police misconduct. Similar provisions are apparent in the Ontario Police Services Act (1990); however, there appears to be a lack of sanctioning when officers being investigated do not fully cooperate – an aspect of the SIU’s accountability mechanism which is wanting. In light of this difficulty faced by the SIU, prescribed legal sanctioning ought to be developed and included in BC’s legislation.

Ideally these two agencies would be integrated into a single independent civilian oversight board tasked with handling complains against police made directly from the public as well as investigating all incidents involving police which result in serious injury, death, or contain allegations of sexual assault. (For a talk outlining the present and future goals of the IIO see this video) It is important to have civilian oversight which is completely divorced from policing agencies as allowing police to investigate themselves gives the public the impression that internal reviews are not impartial or fair. Not only do the investigations into alleged misconduct need to be free from partisan bias, they must also be transparent, appearing to the public to be free of bias. The public must be able to discern that the investigative process is structured to protect against review findings which are favourable to the police department involved. If the public questions the arm-length of investigations the validity of reviews will be undermined as will be the legitimacy of the police in general.

With the consolidation of the province’s existing oversight agencies into a single review board a widening of powers should also occur. Presently neither the OPCC nor the IIO possess any definitive power in sanctioning those found guilty of wrongdoing. Recommendations may be made for organisational disciplinary action, policy reform, and even to Crown counsel in terms of criminal charges, yet there is no requirement that any of these recommendations be adhered to. In an attempt to allow for means of true and effective accountability the organisation should be a criminal law enforcement agency which has the ability to lay criminal charges against officers who are found to have engaged in misconduct.

While oversight bodies are an important aspect in an effective accountability mechanism, it is imperative to recognise that they operate largely on a reactive basis. Therefore, it is integral when considering the efficacy of a review body to consider the pro-active measures of accountability in place. The development of an early intervention system, similar to that which is seen under the Australian Federal Police Act, may be a beneficial practice. Such strategy highlights trends and patterns of individuals and work areas which are vulnerable to conduct and corruption issues. The policing organisation as a whole, as well as each work area, is responsible for assessing risks of deviance related to policing in general as well as those risks which are specific to certain policing tasks. This allows for multi-level responsibility and accountability as well as the development of risk-management strategies which are tailored to each area’s specific set of risks. To read more on these procedural controls and risk management practices in Australia see this book.

The link between these events and the Cold War events (spying on ‘subversives’, PROFUNC) is the RCMP Security Service. It had a history of bending and breaking the law, violating rights, and essentially waging clandestine wars against ‘enemies’ the October Crisis refers to the FLQ kidnappings and Trudeau’s response to them (the War Measures Act). The RCMP Security Service carried out a lengthy campaign against separatist groups. This campaign involved routine acts of noble cause corruption, which came to be known as dirty tricks. It was this activity – and the scandals that resulted from its revelation – that resulted in the calling of the McDonald Commission. The Commission found that the RCMP should not be responsible for security intelligence and policing, and recommended the creation of civilian intelligence service. The government created the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

When we think about an example police deviance and accountability, there is nothing like the RCMP and Security and McDonald Commission example. During that time the intelligence branch of the RCMP, known for the time as the security service, had a history of covert operations of political nature and questionable legality. What happened in 1970? The October crisis happened. The October crisis was a campaign of ‘dirty tricks’ targeting Quebec Sovereignstist groups. Many allegations for crimes committed by the RCMP security service included electronic surveillance, unauthorized mail opening, and breaking and entering. But before all that had begun The Cold War was a long period of conflict between rival superpowers – the US and the USSR – and their allies and proxies. Canada was a key ally to the US in this conflict. The ideological and political Cold War between the capitalist west and communist Soviet Union played out globally. On the Canadian front, the federal government had been actively investigating and seeking to disrupt suspected communist and socialist activity since around the time of the Winnipeg General Strike. The Cold War just intensified things and put them in the context of a global conflict. Internally, this was not a battle between rival factions of equal strength. The RCMP had the resources and backing of a state. The targets of the RCMP, on the other hand, were rarely linked to anything resembling an ‘international communist conspiracy’. While there were definitely spies, many of the targets of the RCMP were merely ideological opponents, sympathizer etc.  Even though there were enough grounds for the RCMP to commit deviant acts towards suspected communist, it wasn’t as bad after Igor Gouzenko revealed confidential information to the Canadian government. He told this information so he could be protected and become a Canadian citizen himself.

Communists were first seen as traitors and less likely as spies. The Kellock–Taschereau Commission or the Gouzenko Affair inspected the findings related to the circumstances surrounding the communication by public officials and other people in positions of trust of secret and confidential information to agents of a Foreign Power, more popularly known as the Kellock–Taschereau Commissioner of the Gouzenko Affair. The Royal Commission appointed by Rt.Hon. Mackenzie King on February 5, 1946 to investigate the allegations set forward by Igor Gouzenko that a spy ring of Canadian Communist was handing over secret and top secret information to the Soviet Union (Link). The security measures that were taken after the Gouzenko affair of 1945-6 for the approval for national insecurity was to put widespread surveillance and penetration of the Communists by police, including security screening of public employees, immigrants, and applicants for citizenship.

According to the article ‘The Antagonists: Cops versus Commies’ “Gouzenko affair firmly fixed the image of Communism as an arm of Moscow in the Canadian mind”, the loyalty to Moscow meant that the Communists would do whatever to achieve their dreams of a better world, more cooperative, and more egalitarian. “The state maintained that the Communists were mere tools of Moscow, and the implication, by extension, was that all forms of the left-wing ideology were tainted with disloyalty.”  The numbers of members estimated by the RCMP was 18,000 to 21,000 and were viewed as ‘larger than life supermen who could wreak untold havoc if unchecked’. Before the electronic era data processing, there were 21,000 individuals on file and 2,300 organization (mostly trade unions) recorded by the RCMP. In 1954, 17000 files on individuals were dropped and in 1958 several thousands were considered useless. Those meant that the RCMP Security Service knowingly or unknowingly invaded people’s privacy and harass them for mere suspicion all in the name for ‘national security’.

With the Gouzenko affair occurring and the threat of the Korean War becoming a precursor for the ‘third World War’ the government of Canada decided they needed to take action and create a black list or known as PROFUNC, which stands for PROminent FUNCtionaries of the communist party. This was a top secret plan to identify and intern Canadian communists and crypto-communists during the peak of the Cold War. In the 1950’s RCMP Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood had a PROFUNC list of approximately 16,000 suspected communists and 50,000 communists’ sympathizers to be observed and possibly be interned, in a national security state of emergency such as The third World crisis with the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR) and Red China. The RCMP where given direct order to spy on these individuals that seemed a threat to the nation, people such as Tommy Douglas. Douglas was a Prairie preacher who served as premier of Saskatchewan and was the first federal leader of the NDP. The government actively maintained that full disclosure could give away secrets of the spy trade and jeopardize the country’s ability to detect, prevent or suppress “subversive or hostile activities” — even though the intelligence on Douglas was gathered as long as 70 years ago.

There was also a separate document related to the PROFUNC, known as the C-215. This document contained personal information such as age, descriptions, and photographs etc. This list basically gave the police the power to harass individuals that were suspected to be communists or sympathizers. The behaviour that the RCMP projected to these individual was nothing more than deviant because of the use of inappropriate actions used against them. (Link)  The C-215 was also an arrest order to be made out on a specific day. It is suspected that the PROFUNC blacklist was used to increase the number of people detained as Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) suspects during the 1970 October Crisis, in contravention of the presumption of innocence, many of whom had no affiliation with the FLQ.

As these events in history lead up to the McDonald Commission, it was found that the RCMP was not set out to face national security, therefore appointing it to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).  As time went on the RCMP resumed their duties as a national police force, inquiring about cases that pose national threats alongside CSIS. The McDonald Commission revealed that the FLQ was completely infiltrated by police agents.  The Commission’s report, released in 1981 with the exception of one volume which has never been released for “national security” reasons, found police agents were responsible for planning and sometimes carrying out terrorist activities within the FLQ. This is a sheer example of police corruption and police deviance that was going on by the police members. Even though RCMP Commissioner William Higgitt and former Security Service Director General John Starnes testified that they knew members occasionally broke laws in performance of duties. RCMP officers also claimed that they had told their ministers of various activities, but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and other ministers testified that they hadn’t received any information on any activities. (thecanadianencyclopedia, Link) Even though the RCMP has a history of deviant behaviour which they are accountable for, it seems as if the mistakes they made fade away as time goes on.

This poses the question, what should be done with the past issues of the RCMP that keep getting dissolved over time? Even though there are inquires held, such as the McDonald Commission, they never seem to have a permanent affect on the RCMP’s behavior. As of today we still see cases where the police investigate the police, and goes unresolved or faded over time. What can be dealt with this situation? well for one thing, there is the CSIS, where people can come to report there problems if they don’t trust the police or the police are the ones causing the problem. Even though when someone reports something to CSIS, most likely they will redirect it to the RCMP. So this is just a back and forth cycle, where the middle man is stuck in the middle. To change this ‘we’ must change the system of how things work itself. Deviant behavior, misconduct and corruption don’t happen because the police officer picks it up from outside the system, but rather in. The bad apple theory explains that there is one bad apple that rote the others, but from that orchard the apple got rotten and fell of from. This means that the orchard it self is need of changing its way of producing these apples. The system that puts these officers in training and protocols they follow, need to be looked over and re-examined.


Police organization both on the Canadian and United States end faced plenty of public shame because of the deportation and torture of Maher Arar. Maher Arar was deported to Syria to be tortured in which United States officials tried receive answer to his allege ties to al-Qaeda. What these officials concluded was Maher had no ties to the terrorist group and he received a large compensation for the time he was tortured. But to this day he is still under the United States watch list (Lobel, 2008). This situation have made people in Canada worried in which it may happen to them (rapley, 2007). It has led many to judge the authorities because of this devious act. Faith in the way the  police carry themselves is diminishing, because police deviance and corruption has been a growing concern with much more videos and pictures of police brutality (Click on this link to see a list of videos of police brutality) being showed through the media and social networks.

This topic is related to police deviance and accountability through what Maurice Punch (2009) stated called noble cause corruption. Noble Cause corruption is defined as concept of officers’ acting illegally, not for personal gain, but to fulfill moral obligations, stands as a testimony to the difficulties encountered by those entrusted with the public’s safety (Harrison, 1999). Canadian authorities and United States authorities acted on false information that stated Maher Arar was a suspected terrorist (Lobel, 2008), and these authorities were protecting their citizens from a possible threat. Aside from taking care of the well being of their countries, these authorities have come under fire as to why the Maher Arar situation was handled the way it did. Authorities cut corners in the investigation which led them to be able to detain a Canadian citizen in Maher Arar. The United States authorities did not deport Arar back to Canada, instead deport him to Syria where they practice torture. Also United States and the Syrian authorities worked together to allow Maher Arar to be tortured for one year (Lobel, 2008). Maher Arar was denied access to speak to a lawyer. And he was not allowed to be seen by a lawyer for the time he was in Syria. While in the United States Arar was denied the right speak to a lawyer as well.

Process corruption also would be regarded to the Arar case about police deviance. Process corruption and noble cause corruption can linked together in police deviance (Punch, 2009). In article Witch Hunts: From Salem To Guantanamo Bay process of  investigation, detention, and incarceration of Maher Arar was corrupt. It was reported that Maher Arar was constantly denied to speak to anyone from Canada. Many time he ask to speak to his family member and lawyers but was not allowed to at the expense of the United States authorities. Same thing happened to him while incarcerated in Syria. Upon his release Maher Arar was denied a public inquiry from the Canadian Government. The process of this case was also corrupt because under international agreement, it was stated that the Canadian authorities should have been informed of Maher Arar being detained because he is Canadian citizen (Rapley, 2007). United states failed to inform the Canadian authorities of Maher arar being detained. The United States officials did not have sufficient evidence to go and detain and deport Maher Arar (Lobel, 2009).

With the added attention to national security and war on terror, around the same time Maher Arar was first pulled aside have the officials on both side acting base d on a term noted in Police corruption: Deviance, Accountability, and reform in policing by Maurice Punch (2009) as being seen as “high policing”. The term high policing are noted in this text as absorbent policing it controlled by intelligence gathering. Intelligence gathering is one of the principles of high policing. With the information that was shared among both US and Canadian officials, it was poorly reviewed and therefore  erroneous as they decided on deporting Maher Arar to Syria (Larsen, 2006).

There are a stack of books that invesigated The Arar Affair, and these books are The O’Conner Commission. The inquiry that Maher Arar reluctantly wanted; it showcased many problems of high policing and police deviance in this case and cleared Maher Arar from any wrong doings that occured. The highlights of this inquiry noted that Maher Arar was in no way connected to any terrorist groups which he was first accused of. In Addition to this inquiry Arar and his attorney were both mislead and mistreated because they were mislead and lied to during the detainment and deportation.  A complaint to the former US Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that Arar due process rights  was violated under the fifth amendment due to him being deported, imprisoned, and tortured (Lobel, 2008) and that both the US Government and Syrian work together as a team during their investigations.

Since Arar was never charged with his allege ties to terrorism, he demanded answer as to why he was detain and deported. After being released on October 5 2003 Maher Arar demanded that a public inquiry be issued. Public inquiry in Canada is formal process to be instituted by the government, it requires one or more commissioner and it entails the right to subpoenas witnesses (Rapley, 2007). But the Canadian government denied his request for one. After going back and forth with the government Arar was able to obtain an inquiry, but only on the RCMP, and it was stated that the inquiry was not public (Rapley, 2007). His persistence to prove his innocence, he eventually received a inquiry (O’Conner Commission) only into the RCMP in what led people to believe the government had to much to hide in this case.

The Maher Arar case showcase a transformation of the all ready existent policy called rendition, which was a criminal law technique now transformed into a preventative tactic after 9/11 (Lobel, 2008). During the Bush administration, kidnapping was a method used to extradite fugitives that were accused of a crime. Rendition was illegal under the international law but it was used to being terrorist or suspects of terrorism to the United States or other countries. The bush administration remade rendition so that an individual can be brought to trail to gather information about future terrorist plan, through a means of coercive interrogation. Maher Arar was an example of this exact tactic.


Rapley, R. (2007). Witch Hunts: From Salem to Guantanamo Bay. Montreal: Mcgill-Queen’s University Press

Lobel, Jules. Review of Litiation, Symposium2008, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p479-500, 22p

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin; Aug99, Vol. 68 Issue 8, p1, 7p, 2 Black and White Photographs, 1 Diagram

Punch, Maurice. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

There are several variables that influence how the police – and specifically the RCMP – view complaints.  The major contributors are the dichotomy followed by police culture, the origins of the RCMP, their reputation and how the police deal with ‘rats’ internally.  The changes in a post-9/11 environment indicate a high-policing atmosphere.  In a perfect imagining the oversight and the compliant mechanisms are meant to be staffed by external police bodies.  Staffed by civilians who make recommendations to better policing practices and accountability for the agency.  But due to constraints of power and the fact that many such bodies are staffed by retired police officers this ideal is slow to realize.

There is distinct dichotomy between the public and the police.  The Us vs. Them argument has been used to explain the isolation and the divide felt between the public and the police.  The argument states that those outside of your social group are unable to relate to what your social group faces and/or experiences.  Some factors that may help with this are irregular hours, sometimes impossible demands, high stress and extremely dangerous situation.  This is reflective of Barker and Carter’s definition of police corruption, which is the “latent result of society’s attempt to execute unenforceable ‘victimless’ crime laws”  (46).  This has helped the police to foster negative mind set towards the oversight commissions and are intentionally subverted by the police; through intimidation, non-compliance, bias and questioning their message.  When a complaint is issued, the investigation that follows puts undue pressure towards the complainant by placing them on trial and “reprehensible tactics to discourage citizens from filing complaints against.” [Barker and Carter 378].  The complaints form of the RCMP is more interested in the complainant then the event.  This is reflective of the dichotomy argument.  Non-compliance is shown as an unwillingness to comply with summons from these committees and by not heeding or implementing their recommendations.  One consequence of the committees is their lack of power [Goldsmith and Lewis], although a few can make recommendations but the police agencies do not have to heed their advice.  Bias was evident in how the police did not give these committees credence because they were not on ‘the job’.  Also they have been frequently criticized for disregarding the interests of the complaints.  The police often question the message of the committees.  They claim that the community want someone to blame, scape-goats and fulfills the communities need for vengeance.  It is important to mention the Nolan principals which emphasizes trustworthiness and accountability but this example is applied across the pond in the UK [Punch 2009].

Critics have many theories as to the cause of police deviance.  One cause may be because of police [sub]culture, especially when use in concert with the dichotomy.  Police [sub]culture is known to be stable over geography and time.  Meaning that it is found elsewhere in the world at varying periods in time.  As a result of the dichotomy the police fully socialize only within their group.  Leaving them unable to socialize with those outside their group or even to be able to empathize with them.  As a result, when socializing with outsiders causes suspicion, by the nature of the this provides positive feedback on said suspicions.  This also feeds into the blue wall of silence that further helps to isolate peace officers from society, in that when they feel that society or others from outside their societal group have have unfairly judged them they effectively close ranks.  Presenting an unformed front both externally and internally.  Other peace officers sympathize and empathize with those involved.  Through this isolation many officers begin to feel and treat the non-police identity [encapsulating those who are not part of the police force].  This is shown in how they refer to using a highly masculine and sometimes racist vernacular that permeate and is pertuated by the police culture.  The police canteen culture also feeds into this.  John Van Maanen describes how those who do not yield the instructions from the police are viewed with hostility and labeled as an Asshole.

It appears that the commissions, inquires and other complaint mechanisms are like the police, reactive to crime.  As Punch states, the deviance is built into the system.  Even with complete clean out of deviant characters the deviance will still be learned by other recruit.  This means that there is some mechanism within the organization of policing that allows for this to grow.  The oversight and inquires are rendered null by their lack of power and by the police under the blue wall of silence protecting their officers from prosecutions.  This may be to protect their reputation or public image.  But as Barker and Carter quote from the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice: these oversight committees are symptomatic of a larger problem of the lack of public confidence.  Punch states that police are presented “with an inherent dilemma in relation to performing their task and enforcing the law in a context of rules, resources and laws that restrict them in some way” [2].

Sperico came forward to address the issue of his compatriots in “grass-eating” and  “meat-eating”.  This type of terminology came up at the Knapp Commission.  Grass-eating refers to a sporadic deviance, that does not actively engage in deviant behavior.  These opportunities can be receiving free or oppertunties  discounted food stuffs based on their occupation of an officer.  Where as meat-eaters were constantly involved within the criminal elements.  The types of deviance elaborated on in this commission where, the padding of evidence to either convict a desired suspect and/or to increase their sentence.  Because he went outside his ‘brothers in blue’ he was viewed as a traitor, one that could expose the deviant structure and place them all in jail.  This was particularly worrisome because police officers do not survive long in jail.  This is because of retaliation for other inmates and dominance/territorial disputes.  Also like any social code, there are rules to follow.  He broke the rules, an example had to be made to be shown to others who wanted to tell.  Sperico was left with no back-up when raiding a drug-dealer which resulted in a gun-shot wound to the face.  This incident is relevant because without confidence in the police who will follow their orders?  Who will come to them with problems or sensitive information?  As explored in the paragraph before, reputation is everything.  Without it the police are powerless.  With no merit in their symbols of their authority [squad car, uniform, issued commands, etc.] no one would heed their commands.

There seems to be a troubling occurrence that has been since the 9/11 occurrences.  Information sharing, joint operations across the nation, the Anti-Terrorism Act and high policing are just a few significant occurrences.  Information sharing although not outright adverse, in some practices it becomes draconian.  Maher Arar, for example, spent almost a year being tortured in Syria because of information provided to the US from the RCMP.  This type of sharing is manipulation of the system.  Project A-O is where Canada kept a list of names of whom they viewed where a security risk.  Surveillance was intensified around them.  For joint operations, there is the G20 which was the largest collaboration of security personnel.  It is difficult to ensure accountability because of so many participants.  Was it the RCMP, who were managing the security, when the Ontario Provincial Police actually did the commission of the crime?  After the US enacted the Patriate Act post-9/11 Canada mirrored it with the Anti-Terrorism Act with made terrorism criminal and within the realm of the police.  This act was mainly to placate the US and grant the RCMP more security powers, which where lost when CSIS was created.  The US is a major trading partner of Canada [Diab 2008].  High-policing is a form of policing [though not necessarily conducted by the police] in which the agenda of the government is carried out and the letter of the law is blurred.  For instance, Security Certificate.  This certificate allows the government to detain a ‘suspect’ without arrest or trial and ultimately deport them.  If the ‘suspect’ held refugee status, they could be deported back to their fled country where their lives would cease [Larsen, October 27, 2011, personal communication].

Essentially the accountability structure did not expand as the police powers did.  And any outside views is seen with distain and hostility with movements made hid evidence and particpation of other agencies or people within their own forces.  The RCMP has essentially operated as it has been since 1919.  Recovering their security responsibilities through the Anti-Terrorism Act.


Barker, Thomas and David Carter. (1996).  Police Deviance (3rd Ed.).  Anderson Publishing Co.: Cincinnati, Ohio.

Diab, Robert. (2008).  Guantanamo North: Terrorism and the Administration of Justice in Canada.  Fernwood Publishing: Black Point, Nova Scotia.

Goldsmith, Andrew and Colleen Lewis (Eds.)  (2000).  Civilian Oversight of Policing: Governance, Demovracy and Human Rights.  Hart Publishing: Oxford and Portland, Oregon.

Kappeler, Victor, Sluder, Richard and Geoffrey Alpert.  (1998).  Forces of Deviance: Understanding the Dark Side of Policing  (2nd Ed.).  Waveland Press, Inc.: Long Grove, Illinois.

Maanen, John Van.  (1978).  The Asshole.  Retrieved from (Oct. 29, 2011).

Murphy, C. and McKenna, P.  (2007).  Rethinking police goverance, culture and management.  Ottawa: Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP, Public Safety Canada.

Payton, Laura and Alison Crawfor. (2011).  7 Issues facing the next RCMP Commissioner.  CBC news.  Retrevied from (Oct 27, 2011).

Perrott, Stephen and E. Kelloway. (2011). Scandals, sagging morale and role ambiguity in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: the end of a Canadian institution as we know it?.  Police Practice and Research, 12:2, 120-135.

Punch, Maurice. (2009).  Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing.  Willan Publishing: Portland, Oregon.

In Canada we are fortunate to have a stable criminal justice system. When people are accused of a crime they are presumed innocent, and it is incumbent upon the state to demonstrate their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law governed by rules of due process. Despite this, there are some instances where our criminal justice system may make mistakes that is detrimental to the reputation of policing and law organizations. Some that are less fortunate have to suffer under brutal and unfair situations which would seem unappealing to the westernized world that we reside in. Some countries in the world use cruel and unusual punishments as methods of interrogation and execution of alleged criminals. In these same countries they are no stranger to police deviance and corruption.

The web audit on Maher Arar showed many reliable sources such as, CBC, Vancouver Sun, and the Globe and Mail. These sites helped me produce my overview of this topic. Also article by Jules Lobel Review of Litigation gave some really good insight into the Arar case. But these website often reiterated the information that I already had for the blog topic. Also I came across one website with the caption “Maher Arar is a liar”, in which this blogger bashes Maher Arar about the ordeal he was in. It is kind to take this source seriously due to the fact they do not have any real sources about the Arar case.

Maher Arar came to Canada in 1987 and is a full citizen of Canada. He attended McGill University where he obtained his bachelors degree in computer engineering. He and his family moved from Montreal to Ottawa where in 2001 he opened his own consulting company, Simmscoms inc.; Arar was detained for 12 days in the US and deported to Syria and spent another year in jail. How this case became such big deal to the media in regards to police deviance was Maher Arar was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC) during a layover where he was coming back from a family vacation in Tunisia. The officials in New York because he was “subject to lookout for” as being apart of a terrorist organization (Lobel, 2008) After his detention in the US he got deported to Syria. Syria is known to practice torture and it is apart of Syrian police culture to get information from their suspects (Lobel, 2008). What Arars’ lawyers argued was the US officials sent him to Syria because the US official’s knew that they practice torture and they wanted answer’s from Maher Arar about his allege ties to a terrorist group by the name of Al-Queda. During the one year he was imprisoned in Syria, he was kept in inhumane conditions and was beaten daily with cables by the Syrian officials (Lobel, 2008). At one point during incarceration he lied about being involved with Al-Queda to ease the torture that was placed on him. Also since he wasn’t an American citizen his request for legal aid in Syria was denied. Maher Arar was released in October. 5, 2003 and the media quickly got a hold of Arar’s story. There were many inquiries and investigation that were issued in this case. Most of the investigation was about looking into the involvement of Canadian and US officials sending an individual under extraordinary rendition, which means the illegal transportation of a person from one nation to another. After all the legal proceeding, what was ultimately concluded was that Maher Arar had no involvement in terrorism. He was cleared of all charges, received compensation of around $11.5 million from the Canadian government, and he received an apology from Canadian government. This topic is significant to the issue of police deviance because the US law enforcement illegally deported a Canadian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured for a year.

The people involved attempted to perform a noble cause for the greater good of the society by protecting their citizen’s from a suspected terrorist (Punch, 2009), but they did it illegally and inappropriate manner. Improper investigation and practice were involved in this case. Due to lack of information they had also contributed to the deportation of Maher Arar. Clearly They broke an International law by deporting Maher Arar to Syria knowingly that they do torture people to retrieve information (Lobel, 2008), especially information in regards to terrorism. During a time when 9/11 and terrorism is still fresh in the minds of the Government and the law enforcement officers, these agencies would do anything to get their hands on this type or lead and information to protect their country.


Lobel, Jules. Review of Litigation, Symposium2008, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p479-500, 22p

Punch, Maurice. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

When we think about an example police deviance and accountability, there is nothing like the RCMP and Security and McDonald Commission example. During that time the intelligence branch of the RCMP, known for the time as the security service, had a history of covert operations of political nature and questionable legality. What happened in 1970? The October crisis happened. The October crisis was a campaign of ‘dirty tricks’ targeting Quebec Sovereignstist groups. Many allegations for crimes committed by the RCMP security service included electronic surveillance, unauthorized mail opening, and breaking and entering.

Before all this began there was a reason why this was all taking place. The Quebec nationalist group  Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)  were responsible for the kidnapping of James Cross, the British trade commissioner in Montréal. They demanded the release of convicted and detained fellow FLQ members. Things were out of hand with many bombings all over Quebec and many other places.  The FLQ were responsible for multiple kidnappings of important people from different countries. Things were our of control so Prime Minister Trudeau introduced the Wars Measures Act to control the situation but gave the police the power to arrest anyone without a warrant. This is where many police officers took advantage of civilians going through there mails, entering houses without any consent. Many laws were broken during the October Crisis due to the fact the War Measurements Act had taken place.

The RCMP allegedly had 400 break-ins without warrants,  497 persons had been arrested under the War Measures Act, of whom 435 had already been released. “The other 62 were charged of which 32 were accused of crimes of such seriousness that a Quebec Superior Court judge refused them bail”(Wikipedia, Link). This is where many might consider the abuse of power from the police was best shown. Many officers felt invincible seeing any members of the society under suspicious activity and put them in jail. After the crisis was over the federal Cabinet gave unclear instructions to the RCMP Security Service, permitting suspicious  acts which were later judged as illegal by the federal Inquiry into certain activities of the RCMP.

Exposures of wrongdoing by members led to the McDonald Commission, and to the transfer of security intelligence responsibilities to a new civilian organization called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The McDonald Commission revealed that the FLQ was completely infiltrated by police agents.  The Commission’s report, released in 1981 with the exception of one volume which has never been released for “national security” reasons, found police agents were responsible for planning and sometimes carrying out terrorist activities within the FLQ. This is a sheer example of police corruption and police deviance that was going on by the police members. Even though  RCMP Commissioner William Higgitt and former Security Service Director General John Starnes testified that they knew member’s occasionally broke laws in performance of duties. RCMP officers also claimed that they had told their ministers of various activities, but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and other ministers testified that they hadn’t received any information on any activities.(thecanadianencyclopedia, Link)

Even though after all the allegations made to the RCMP and many conspiracies, allegedly Flaked by members were forgotten as time passed on. They say you are doomed to repeat history if  you are not familiar with it.  As time progressed the RCMP resumed its intelligence role along side with CSIS, both now take part in high policing matters.

When I was searching for my topic, I typed in ‘October crisis’ in the Google search engine. The first results that came up were from Wikipedia, this source had a good and broad information about the October crisis. Other results that showed up on Google on the October crisis were mainly Quebec time lines, according to the Quebec government. They had listed different numbers of arrest made then the other sites; probably because there is an discretionary feeling that Quebec government had about the events that took place in 1970. Another key term I typed in was the ‘McDonald Commission’ and again the first search results were from Wikipedia. But this time it did not give sufficient amount of information on this key search. How ever the following results such as the Canadian encyclopedia, had good amount of information on the search.


The role of the RCMP accountability, oversight and complaints mechanisms and complaint mechanisms is defined mostly through different commissions, legislation and the public arena.  Another important aspect could be how information about them is distributed, in particular, in generic web-site searches.

In the beginning of the RCMP, they were responsible for most policing matters.  Over the decades its involvement in security and other powers escalated onto the national level.  The Mcdonald Comission reported their findings about their hearings on police deviance in 1979 and 1981.  Its last recommendation was particular poignant because it was actually enact with the creation of Canadian Security Intelligence Service three years later.  In 1985, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was enacted it held that CSIS would be held accountable.  “To maintain an appropriate degree of ministerial responsibility” (Policing and Communities Safety Branch).  But the Inspector General, who the reports are forwarded to, does not deal with public complaints.  And, like the vast majority of commissions can not convene public hearings or make binding recommendations.  The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (Commission) was created in 1988, and they are an independent civilian agency.  They can investigate public complaints but again have limited authority to investigate and they cannot conduct a public interest hearing.  Previous chairs harken for better system of balance.  The Office of the Communication Security Establishment commissioner, established in June of 1996, had the authority to investigate complaints but like the commission have extremely limited authority.  This office cannot make binding recommendations.  The Anti-Terrorism Act effectively reversed the some of the legislation put forth by the Mcdonald commission by allowing the RCMP to become more involved in security measures by defining the act of terrorism as criminal.  And thus with in the realm of the police because CSIS cannot purse criminal cases, they may only gather information (Raaflaub, Tim).

In regards to the public arena, a fairly recent case stands at the forefront.  The Arar Affair follows a Syrian born but Canadian citizen, who though information leaked by the RCMP to the American government was detained then transported to Syria where he was tortured for information about his alleged terrorist activities for over ten months.  Mr. Arar, was never found to be associated with terrorism in any respect and was released back to Canada.  The O’Connor Comission, convened two years after the incident, found that the RCMP was indeed guilty of causing the above incident (Larsen, Mike).  And recommended an independent inquiries.  In association, Juliet O’Neil, a journalist, was said to have allegations about the Arar incident.  Search warrants were served and her place of residence was search along with various pieces of property.  When she went to court, the presiding judge ordered the immediate release of Miss. O’Neil’s property and dismissed the charges.  The crown has yet to refile. 

A simple web search shows unpromising results.  The results are filled with buzz words such as Right to Know and Civilian.  But the web pages display how they came to be, not what they are involved in now.  Government posts declare new commission or inquiry staffed by the public but hesitate to add its limitations of power, in that anything it suggests can be easily discarded.  As the search progresses, the results are flooded with why the public thinks that these commissions are necessary; excessive force, tasers, anger at unheard accusations, news casts filled with sensationalism of out of control policing agencies, assaults on the public by inebriate off-duty officers and general discordance.  perusing the Commission complaint form what is evident is that most of the form is taken up by information about the complainant, only a few boxes to describe the confrontation, resulting injuries and witnesses.  

In conclusion, the RCMP has several public inquiries and commissions but they lack to the power to make a difference with the RCMP lobbying for their previous power before the Mcdonald Commission.  Until more power is given to these popularly created commissions the entire process of complaints will not effect the RCMP in any significant way.  With the RCMP still only beginning judged by its peers of the occupation, who are more then willing to plead down their misconduct/deviance to policy infractions and not criminal charges.


Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.  (2010)  Significant Progress Made on the Complaint Commission’s Public Interest Investigation itno the RCMP into the RCMP’s Involvement in the G8/G20 Summits.  Retreived from: September 20, 2011.

Cook, Karen.  (2011) Abbott Commits to Increasing Police Accountability and Oversight.  Scribd.  Reterived from: September 24, 2011.

Larsen, Mike.  (2010) New RCMP Public Complaints Commission Legislation Tabled.  Prism.  Retervied from: September 27, 2011.

Policing and Community Safety Branch.  Civilian Oversight of Policing.  Retervied from: September 25, 2011.

Raaflaub, Tim Riordan. (2006)  Civilian Oversight of the RCMP’s National Securtiy Functions.  Parliament of Canada. Retreived from: September 27, 2011.