Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The Duffy Trial: Why the RCMP Still Doesn't Get It
Almost two years ago Gilles Michaud, the RCMP's Assistant Commissioner, held a splashy news conference to announce that the force had laid no less than 31 charges against Mike Duffy.
And despite the way the trial went, a few hours before the verdict came down, he sent out a memo to staff members.
Which in retrospect couldn't be more absurd.
Praising his investigators for a job well done.
"As always, we will respect the decision of the court. Regardless of the outcome, I want to take the opportunity to thank those of you who have worked on this very significant file. It is one that generated high public interest and scrutiny. The case is reflective of the types of investigations that we are responsible for here, at National Division," Michaud wrote in an internal message for staff obtained by CBC News.
"I am proud of the tireless work you have done and the professionalism you have demonstrated throughout. I encourage you to maintain this high level of performance."
Only to have the judge throw out every one of those 31 charges, and question the way the RCMP and the crown handled the case.
For instance, Vaillancourt questioned how it was possible to charge only Duffy with bribery after he accepted a $90,000 cheque from Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
"In fact, the RCMP commissioner publicly has stated that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Wright, that the facts uncovered by investigators simply did not lead to the conclusion of criminal wrongdoing," Vaillancourt wrote in his judgment.
And of course now the RCMP isn't saying anything.
Last week, when asked for Michaud's thoughts on the Duffy ruling, a spokesperson responded that "the RCMP respects the decision of the court. It would be inappropriate to comment further."
And there will be no splashy news conference to explain what went wrong. Or the force's 100% rate of failure.
Which I suppose is understandable because that would be embarrassing. And the RCMP would have to replace their stetsons with dunce caps to do the event justice.
But that still doesn't change the fact that they still owe Canadians an explanation for the way their case collapsed. As I wrote here.
And the RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson still has to explain why the force decided to charge Duffy but not Nigel Wright.
Which Paulson promised to do ages ago, but still has not done.
As well as answer the many questions Michael Harris asked, and I included in this post.
Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff have any communications from the PMO regarding the Duffy case, and if so, will he make them public?
Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff communicate with the Minister of Public Safety or his staff about the Duffy case? If so, did he offer or receive any advice and will he release those communications?
Because until those questions are answered, Canadians cannot be sure that Stephen Harper and his PMO did not exert pressure on the RCMP to try to influence the investigation.
Which as I have pointed out before would have taken us into the anteroom of a police state.
And that would not be good for the RCMP's already tattered reputation, or for the public's faith in the justice system.
And if the RCMP can't do that, then as Harris suggests, there should be a full investigation and an exhaustive public inquiry.
That shabby case may be over, but the stench lingers heavily in the air.
It strikes at the heart of our democracy.
And only the truth can set us free...
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