Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The New Mounties and Reefer Madness

Maintiens Le Droit... "Uphold the law". It's the official motto of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and, until recently, the reliable code of constable conduct. They're stern words from a sterner era. Most military and police units in our nation's history preferred to use Latin phrases on their badges but when John A. Macdonald deployed N.W.M.P. troopers to quell the Louis Riel's rebellious Metis, the Mountie motto was French. So it remains, as does the "iconic" red serge tunic.

Here in B.C., with a boring provincial election underway, at least one party is advocating something novel - the cancellation of long standing Federal policing contracts and the reinstatement of the old B.C. Provincial Police. Jane Sterk, leader of the B.C. Green Party added that little gem to the Green plartform, along with a banning of Tasers. The predictable response of Gordon Campbell, Liberal party boss was "The fact of the matter is the RCMP is the provincial police force and it does an extremely good job across the province." Gordo will never discuss any idea which his own policy wonks did not originate. A pity that, because if the gold plated security component of the 2010 Olympics Budget shows us anything, it is that the real cost of federal troopers is unsustainable in the 21st Century.
You'll find a taste of the bitter truth reported in todays SUN: "Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit has announced it will pay $79.8 million for three cruise ships to house about 5,000 security personnel in Vancouver during the 2010 Games."
This doctored image, created by Taylor Rivard for his "Proud Smoke" cannabis webpage , depicts the RCMP insignia modified to reflect the current hiring policy of Canada's national police force.

One of the most popular Vancouver news stories last week was a piece written by Chad Skelton for the SUN [April 13]. It described Mr. Amyn Dharamshi, the inept ex-Mountie who lost his fat wallet back in 2005, which contained his RCMP ID, a baggie of marijuana, a package of Zig Zag cigarette papers and his "RCMP student-loan documents". (Who even knew there was such a thing an RCMP student loan!) The tattling tale, sans photo of course, was the delight of the Internet. Dharamshi was "suspended with pay"and used the appeals process for four years (on salary) before finally resigning. What I found astounding was not that he smoked dope or lied about it, but that he tried to implicate his brother, whom he claimed had "borrowed his wallet for a few days". There was an avalanche of opinion-posting when the story appeared, but the Net-signature is fast evaporating, and soon you will need the Wayback Machine to excavate the bones.

The wretched Dharamshi story must be assessed in combination with a CBC report which was published two weeks earlier, because the two are directly related. I say "published," but hasten to add that it was completely ignored by other media. An internal memo acquired by the CBC has revealed that RCMP recruiters will now "permit consideration of mitigating factors in all cases of criminal activity, which may include drug trafficking, etc." In other words we are living in a country where the heavily armed illegal drug industry has the upper hand, but also where the national police cannot manage to find recruits who have lived a life without illegal substances.

Screen shot of the March 27th CBC story revealing that RCMP recruiters no longer plans to exclude all drug users from serving on the force.

I have a big problem with the current decline in RCMP culture. Watering the vintage to serve a self absorbed population is unacceptable. I for one have never used any illegal drug, including marijuana, and I am proud of having lived my life with no more serious encounter with the police than a few speeding tickets. Quite frankly, we should be able to expect that an officer who approaches the car window has a character equal to, if not exceeding our own. That is not too much to ask. The RCMP and the poll-addicted politicians have to understand that if they lose the trust and cooperation of my generation, it matters not if they regain physical control of the streets. We have a thousand subtle or subversive ways of expressing our dissatisfaction with public employees who have lost their way. All of them legal.

A crowd of 5000 (VPD estimate) gathered in solidarity for National Pot Smoking Day, the "420" protest in Vancouver, held on Monday afternoon. The banner reads "HELP MAKE CANNABIS THE LOWEST POLICE PRIORITY". Clearly that was the case, as uniformed VPD officers politely observed the happy assembly.

TV Video of yesterday's "420 protest" was broadcast at noon today and it was obvious that the happy crowd was dragging extra hard on their cannabis in order to produce an impressive cloud of smoke. Bravo! Perhaps they could be persuaded to re-assemble and perform the feat at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics. Now that is a stunt which would garner their cause some "World Class" media coverage, and for only a half hour of effort. They already know the VPD and RCMP will not intervene. Legal precedent is truly a modern marvel.

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