Friday, February 20, 2009


This is not good news.

The federal government and Vancouver have turned to the province to co-ordinate government services for drug addicts, the mentally ill, the homeless and the poor in the city's Downtown Eastside, Canada's most notorious slum.

If anyone at any level has shown the greatest resistance to doing anything meaningful or substantive about these plagues it has been the provincial government.

The Vancouver Mayor is looking to Rich Coleman or some other wise man in Victoria to lead the charge.

This could not be described as clear thinking based on past evidence.

At what point has the Campbell government shown an interest in these issues?

Was I out of town that nano-second?

Oh, I know.

During my surgery on Jan. 23d, I was in an anesthetic-induced white-out for 105 minutes. That must have been the time when Victoria took charge of Our Shame and invested million in treatment and so on.


I am surprised at and disappointed by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who convened a meeting of Metro mayors the other day to discuss a regional police force.

"What we have right now is a good policing model," she said. "We will be working with what we have because it does work."


What has made Watts such a rare and valuable politician in the past few years is that she has not been hide-bound to the status quo. She has shown repeatedly a willingness to move on to new approaches when the old clearly wasn't working.

How in any conscience can she claim in the face of the last two weeks of gang shoot-ups on our public streets that the current system of a dozen separate police forces is working?

Now read in its entirety Retired Justice Wallace Craig on the same subject.


February 18, 2009

ON Oct.17, 2007, British Columbia’s inter-gang feuding went far beyond the pale of human decency.

Two innocent men, Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan, chanced upon an execution-in-progress and were immediately shot to death alongside four gangsters.

Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney General Wally Oppal stood on the sidelines while the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Team began a massive and glacially slow investigation that has yet to result in the arrest of any suspects.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Schellenberg and Mohan, the premier and his attorney should have acted swiftly to deal with this absolute circumstance: that gangsters in British Columbia are contemptuous of police and the judiciary; that they go about their dirty business with impunity with only the slimmest chance of being apprehended, convicted and ending up with a long and hard jail sentence.

Since October 2007, it has been business as usual for the street gangs with their feuding kept on simmer. But the heat was turned up between Feb. 2 and Feb.12 with a spate of shootings and shootouts, some of them involving the use of automatic weapons.

On Feb. 6, in Langley Township, a gangland shooting in a mall aroused the ire of Mayor Rick Green. “In some respects, you feel helpless, but Lower Mainland mayors have got to try and raise the level of our voices. We’ve got to absolutely stand up and say enough is enough,” said Green, who believes that federal legislators must write tougher laws.

In the same report in the Vancouver Sun of Feb. 9, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said that the violence throughout the Lower Mainland “shows how brazen these individuals are.”

After nine shootings in the first two weeks of February, Premier Gordon Campbell finally woke up to reality and talked tough. Flanked by two top cops, Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, boss of B.C.’s massive E Division, Campbell promised 168 more police officers and a handful of prosecutors.

This magnum-force, Dirty-Harry impersonation by Campbell, coming just three months before an election in May, should be compared with his inactivity before and after the murder of Schellenberg and Mohan in October 2007.

The way I see it, Premier Campbell has ignored the solemn commitment in section 2 of the Police Act of British Columbia “to ensure that an adequate and effective level of policing and law enforcement is maintained throughout British Columbia.”

Campbell seems oblivious to the dysfunctional coupling of two distinct police models in the patchwork of municipal parochialism in the Lower Mainland – a coupling incapable of dealing with free-ranging street gangs.

And Campbell seems oblivious to the precarious state of the RCMP, so badly managed by an inept command structure that it must now endure the ultimate ignominy of working under the direction of a civilian commissioner.

Viewed through the lens of gang activity and rampant drug activity, we are revealed to be a metropolitan community that is far short of adequate and effective policing and law enforcement.

Compare the way policing is carried out in the cities of Vancouver and Surrey using two different models, and make your own assessment.

Surrey, policed under contract by the RCMP:

· no control over hiring, firing and disciplining of officers;

· a detachment commander who does not have the independence and authority of a chief constable;

· all members subject to the authority of the Deputy Commissioner in charge of E Division and the ultimate authority of the Commissioner of the RCMP in Ottawa.

The Surrey detachment is not bound to comply with the provincial Police Act and its complaint process; nor can the municipality govern it with an independent police board; and it is not responsible to the provincial minister in charge of policing in British Columbia.

Vancouver, policed by the Vancouver Police Department under independent command of Chief Const. Jim Chu:

· all constables in the VPD including its chief constable are hired, promoted and may even be dismissed by the Vancouver Police Board;

· the command structure is in constant change with promotions from the lower ranks;

· the force is firmly rooted in Vancouver and is capable of generating short and long term analysis of criminal activity in Vancouver, and the manner in which the justice system deals with offenders.

In keeping with an essential and traditional aspect of his responsibility and duty as chief constable, Chu is proactively engaged in public comment and debate on anything that interposes between his force and their goal of maintaining adequate and effective policing in the City of Vancouver.

My prediction is that mayors and councillors of Lower Mainland municipalities, policed by RCMP detachments, will continue to whine and complain about murderous gangsters while they cling to the status quo. The alternative is too tough for them to manage: to venture where they have never been before and work together to institute a metropolitan police force.

One thing they should do is to constantly remind themselves of the horrific murders of Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan by placing a small sign on their desks: The Buck Stops Here.


The budget for security for the Games has been a secret.

Now, the federal government has announced that the figure is five times what it was originally declared to be. The number quoted is $900 Million.

Of course, none of that is to be believed.

When all is done and if the accounts are ever shown, the final tab will be well in excess of One Billion Dollars.

Whatever the numbers, this is clearly the largest amount of money ever spent in Canadian history on a peacetime security measure of any kind.

Now there is a photo on page 3 of today's Globe that I cannot find on the net to reproduce for you.

It shows elated and cheering Musqueam Chief Ernie Campbell (Don't get m started!), Gregor Robertson and Gordon Campbell are going mad-happy on the ice at the new Olympic curling rink near Q.E. Park.

My first reaction to the picture was I wanted to throw up.

Now that I marry that picture to the news that the tab for security will be in excess of a Billion Tax Dollars...well, now I really want to throw up.

Party on, Sheep.


Many of us will find ourselves watching the demise and self-destruct of Canwest Global with decidedly mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it is sad to see a large and once-healthy Canadian business go to the dogs. It is especially sad to see so many good journalists looking for other kinds of work.

On the other hand (as Tevye would say), it is hard to summons much sympathy for the Asper heirs who have been arrogant and unapproachable to say the least.