Saturday, April 23, 2016
The Duffy Trial: Why the RCMP Owes Canadians an Explanation
When Justice Charles Vaillancourt acquitted Mike Duffy, he brought down his gavel on the head of quite a few others.
He savaged Stephen Harper's PMO for the way it had tried to cover-up a scandal.
He heaped scorn on the Senators who had treated Duffy so badly, and on the crown for the way it prosecuted the case.
And as Neil Macdonald points out, without singling them out for special treatment, he also raised some disturbing questions about the conduct of the RCMP.
As a result of the Duffy case, the force's motto, "Maintiens le Droit," is that much more meaningless.
It did not defend the law. It defended the status quo, and genuflected to authority, using police discretion to toss a single newsworthy individual into the nightmare of the criminal system, essentially stealing two years of his life, while ignoring other senators who were doing just about exactly the same thing as Duffy.
And how in heaven's name can you charge a person with accepting a bribe without charging the political enforcer in the Prime Minister's Office who offered it?
And the force should not be allowed to get away with pretending that nothing happened, and that it's just business as usual.
The force today is behaving as though it is an impassive, disinterested public agency answerable to the law, and only to the law. It always does. But when every single charge is thrown out by a judge who, from the bench, tears into the investigation the way Vaillancourt did, it takes considerable institutional arrogance to shrug and carry on as though nothing just happened.
That was a judge talking. Judges judge, and the Mounties have now been judged wanting, if not negligent.
Not after the way the Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud hyped the case.
Asked on Friday what Michaud has to say after the censure by Vaillancourt, a junior officer said: "The RCMP respects the decision of the court. It would be inappropriate to comment further."
Asked why it would be inappropriate to comment now when it was deemed appropriate to advertise and flaunt the charges in 2014, she replied it would be inappropriate to comment. Of course it would. The power of authority, and the refuge of the badge.
In what can, and has been seen by many, as an attempt to please the RCMP's political masters...
And because that is such a serious matter, the force should not be allowed to hide behind its badge.
The RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson must explain why the force went after Duffy but not Nigel Wright. Something Paulson promised to do about a year ago, but has still not done.
The force must also explain why the case of Pamela Wallin has been in legal limbo for so long...
There is also the little matter of Senator Pamela Wallin, who has been "under investigation" for three years without any charge. Three years? What's the saying about justice delayed?
When it too had the potential to embarrass Stephen Harper, who personally reviewed her expenses and found them to be satisfactory.
And because all of the above strikes at the heart of our democracy, until the RCMP does provide a suitable explanation.
This troubling case cannot be closed...
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