Archive for the ‘The McDonald Commission’ Category

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.

sources

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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.

Sources

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Commission_of_Inquiry_into_Certain_Activities_of_the_RCMP

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacDonald_Commission

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004009

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.

References

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: http://www.cpc-cpp.gc.ca/nrm/nr/2011/20110624-eng.aspx September 20, 2011.

Cook, Karen.  (2011) Abbott Commits to Increasing Police Accountability and Oversight.  Scribd.  Reterived from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/46628506/RCMP-Accountability-jan10-11 September 24, 2011.

Larsen, Mike.  (2010) New RCMP Public Complaints Commission Legislation Tabled.  Prism.  Retervied from: http://prism-magazine.com/2010/06/new-rcmp-public-complaints-commission-legislation-tabled/ September 27, 2011.

Policing and Community Safety Branch.  Civilian Oversight of Policing.  Retervied from: http://www.solgps.alberta.ca/programs_and_services/public_security/law_enforcement_oversight/policing_oversight_complaints/civilian_oversight/Pages/default.aspx September 25, 2011.

Raaflaub, Tim Riordan. (2006)  Civilian Oversight of the RCMP’s National Securtiy Functions.  Parliament of Canada. Retreived from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/LOP/ResearchPublications/prb0409-e.htm#fn14 September 27, 2011.