Home FAQ Search Memberlist User Groups Register Login   

BloggingTories.ca Forum IndexBloggingTories.ca Forum Index
    Index     FAQ     Search     Register     Login         JOIN THE DISCUSSION - CLICK HERE      


Post new topic   Reply to topic Page 1 of 1
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 16 Dec 2009
Posts: 6559
Reputation: 304.7Reputation: 304.7
votes: 8

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:56 am    Post subject: Michael Den Tandt: Police passivity offers natives a free pa Reply with quote

Michael Den Tandt: Police passivity offers natives a free pass for disruption

Democracy is not static. It evolves. We are not living in the era of Oka, nor of Ipperwash, nor of Caledonia. Expectations today about how police deal with extra-legal protests, including occupations or blockades, are an evolution from and a reflection on those earlier incidents, as well as other times of public upheaval, including the G-20, Vancouver hockey riots and Quebec student protests.

So: With each successive injury to the shared expectation of peace, order and good government, comes a corresponding rise in public resentment of the identified perpetrators, a loss of faith in police, as well as growing boldness among the minority that sees in law-breaking a kind of force multiplier, which no amount of lawful demonstration can ever match. It’s as Ontario Grand Chief Gordon Peters has said: You don’t need many people, nowadays, to “do things.”

There must be some middle ground between Ipperwash-style lethal aggression, at one extreme, and Caledonia-style helpless passivity at the other.

Here’s where that gets us: The federal government is engaged in apparently good-faith negotiations, led by the Prime Minister personally, concerning a new compact with aboriginal Canadians — even as chiefs such as Peters and Derek Nepinak of Manitoba, threaten to sabotage the national economy by crippling transportation and travel. Wednesday’s nationwide series of temporary obstructions and slowdowns, we are told, was just a taste of what’s in store.

Question: How does blackmail constitute a negotiation? And how, if one side has a gun to the other’s head, can the outcome be anything but a catastrophe? The founders of Idle No More have sought to distance themselves from the chiefs and the blockades. Sad to say, that won’t do them a lot of good. Just as the whole movement basked in the glow of public sympathy when Chief Theresa Spence was in the early, apparently more rational stages of her hunger strike, the whole movement will suffer now, if protests veer further into lawlessness.

And here’s the thing: Why wouldn’t they, when the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police himself, Chris Lewis, says they can? “First Nations have the ability to paralyze this country by shutting down travel and trade routes,” Lewis chirped recently. Well then: It’s now up to everyone else, we can only assume, to ensure this doesn’t occur. The OPP have given Peters and company a get-out-jail-free card — or a blank cheque.

Except that it’s not really a blank cheque, because of the cumulative social and political cost. For if police can’t be trusted to enforce the Criminal Code, the Highway Traffic Act and other laws where aboriginals are concerned, what’s to prevent any political group – say the Black Bloc, of G20 fame – from taking a leaf from the same book? And why should ordinary, law-abiding Canadians obey the law, as a matter of principle, if the highest authorities in the land don’t respect those principles and apply them in an impartial way?

In recent discussion of this issue, two aspects have drawn insufficient attention, it seems to me.

The first is that the blockades Wednesday, and other similar ones recently, are materially different from past eruptions such as those at Oka, Ipperwash and Caledonia. These new stoppages are not occupations; they do not take place on disputed land, contested burial grounds or the like. As Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown has noted, they are simply protests, like any other. The Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit is not contested property. Unless, that is, you assume all of North America is now the legitimate subject of an aboriginal land claim.

Second, there obviously must be some middle ground between Ipperwash-style lethal aggression, at one extreme, and Caledonia-style helpless passivity at the other. Are we to believe that it is impossible for the OPP or RCMP to move a small or medium-sized crowd off a highway or rail line without seriously injuring or killing anyone? If that’s true, how did police manage to “kettle” hundreds of protesters during the G-20 Toronto summit riots in 2010, with no loss of life?

Police have a tough job and get criticized from all sides. Their job requires the application of judgment and tact. That is understood. But the OPP in particular have, since Ipperwash, ventured beyond tact into abject spinelessness. Their “Framework for Police Preparedness For Aboriginal Critical Incidents” reads like a sophomore course in sensitivity training, spiced with Dalton McGuinty-esque mush. Nowhere, that I can see, does the document contain the words “enforce the law.”

Police may believe they are doing themselves, Idle No More and society at large a favour by sitting on their hands. Wrong, on all counts. If the blockades continue, the movement, such as it is, will be discredited. The Harper Conservatives will find themselves boxed in by an angry electorate. And hopes of achieving a new deal for aboriginal Canadians, already faint, will flicker and die.

He's a little late to the party, but it's too simple to just blame the police. The courts, aided no doubt by politicians, have created a confusing legal status for the native people. They have been all about institutionalizing race-based privileges, and recognizing a kind of sovereignty that isn't really sovereignty.

How does the columnist expect police to act when they aren't backed up? Dalton's original sin ... he acted in a way that de facto, recognized native sovereignty.

Someone is surely going to have to fumigate our courts, some day.


Joined: 16 Dec 2009
Posts: 6559
Reputation: 304.7Reputation: 304.7
votes: 8

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another column, on the same theme, at least in the sense that it calls to our attention that the police refuse to intervene to protect people at the Idle No More protests. (I was stopped on Hwy 2 near Thamesville, Ontario. The natives served Tim Horton's coffee and donuts at the blockade ... blueberry fritter, not bad.)

This time it's an editorial. It blames Dalton, who certainly has a role, but the fact is ... Dalton's policies have definitely created a mess that nobody wants to touch, but the OPP has become corrupted by the political interference they have de facto, surrendered to. Now they seek political 'advice' before deciding to enforce an injunction -- at least if the injunctions involve racially select groups!

Dalton’s double standard
In Ontario, there’s one law for aboriginal protesters, another for everyone else

One unfortunate legacy of Dalton McGuinty’s 10 years as Ontario premier is that neither his government nor the police appear to consider it their responsibility to end illegal aboriginal protests.

This problem reached farcical proportions recently when Ontario police chiefs wrote to the McGuinty government asking for guidance on how to enforce court injunctions aimed at ending illegal blockades during the ongoing Idle No More protests.

What they got back from Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur was a classic example of political buck-passing.

Without giving the chiefs any practical advice, Meilleur advised them to be “alert to the perception of political interference ... and take steps to avoid such interference.” McGuinty chimed in that, “In our democracy, we do not direct the police, that would be inappropriate. They make their own operational decisions on the ground. We’ll leave that in their capable hands.” So McGuinty refuses to give advice to the police, even when the police ask for it, because that would be political interference with the police. Welcome to Catch-22.

The reason for this bizarre state of affairs goes back to the fatal OPP shooting of aboriginal protester Dudley George at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995, which McGuinty blamed on then Conservative premier Mike Harris for politically interfering with the OPP.

Sidney Linden, head of the commission of inquiry that McGuinty appointed to investigate Ipperwash after he became premier in 2003, was highly critical of the Harris government and the OPP in his report.

He cited a lack of communication, accountability and transparency between the government and the OPP and also concluded racist attitudes held by both contributed to the tragedy.

But Linden also found “the evidence does not support the claim that he (Harris) interfered with the OPP’s operation,” and that “the provincial government had the authority to establish policing policy” at Ipperwash.

Despite this, ever since Ipperwash, McGuinty and the OPP have seemed paralyzed on the issue of dealing with aboriginal lawbreakers.

That led to the disgraceful breakdown of law and order in Caledonia, when the town was besieged by aboriginal demonstrators in 2006 protesting the failure to resolve a land claim. Repeated pleas by local residents to the OPP and the provincial and federal governments to enforce the law were ignored.

Caledonia appears to have been the birthplace of the attitude espoused by the OPP’s brass today that they may even decide not to enforce injunctions lawfully obtained from a judge to end illegal aboriginal protests.

Indeed, it was recent comments by OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis to this effect that sparked widespread criticism of the police.

Lewis was responding to Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown, who had criticized Sarnia police and the OPP for failing to enforce injunctions he had granted to CN to clear aboriginal blockades of major railway lines near Sarnia and Belleville.

What we’re left with is a perfect circle of buck-passing by the premier and the police.

In the real world, McGuinty has every right to make it clear to aboriginal protesters that he will not tolerate illegal blockades, just as he has been making it clear he will not tolerate illegal strikes by teachers protesting Bill 115.

What he has created is a blatant double standard in which his government tolerates law-breaking by aboriginal protesters, that it would not tolerate from anyone else.

Lewis declared he wouldn’t enforce court injunctions by ordering armed police officers to storm aboriginal protesters and remove them immediately, because of the risk to police and protesters, a straw man argument since no one was telling the police to do that.

In the real world, the police are legally entitled to use their good judgment and common sense when it comes to any operational issue they are responsible for, including how to enforce an injunction against aboriginal protesters.

The problem comes when they simply ignore injunctions and don’t explain their reasons before the judge who issued them, which, by the way, they have every right to do.

Finally, average citizens who would never think of breaking the law as a form of political protest, aren’t stupid.

They know a double standard when they see it.

And the danger with double standards when it comes to law enforcement, is that they undermine respect for the rule of law in general.
Post new topic   Reply to topic Page 1 of 1


Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

Michael Den Tandt: Police passivity offers natives a free pa

phpBBCopyright 2001, 2005 phpBB