Announcement coming shortly on charges recommended against off-duty mountie in death of Orion Hutchinson

 A decision whether to approve  or decline the charges recommended against  RCMP Corporal Benjamin “Monty” Robinson,( in the death of  21-year-old Orion Hutchinson,) is expected shortly.

  ” Certainly, we are not talking about a matter of months, nor are we even talking about a matter of weeks at this point,” said Robin Baird, A/Communications Counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch, when I interviewed him by phone this afternoon in Victoria. ” The public can expect an announcement shortly.”

When asked why there has been such a delay in the decision, Baird went on to say that Crown received material disclosure  in the case as recently as this week, and added:  ” The time is ripe for a decision.”

” We are nearing completion, but we need to be deliberate and complete in considering the information.”

When asked if the public could expect an announcement before Christmas, he replied: ” I would say most certainly.”

 On october 25th,2008, Orion Hutchinson was riding his motorcycle  in Delta when he was struck by an off-duty RCMP officer – Corporal Benjamin ‘Monty’ Robinson.Hutchinson died at the scene, but  Delta police said the driver of the vehicle that struck him left the scene, and returned later where he failed a breathalyzer test.

 Following a lengthy, 7 month-long investigation, Delta police  finally announced in June, of this year, that they were recommending  charges of dangerous driving causing death, and impaired driving causing death.

Since then,Crown has been the subject of  public scrutiny for the length of time it has taken to make a decision to proceed on those charges or not, in light of the fact one year has passed since the death of Orion.

Baird said that Crown is always mindful of the family’s emotions – as well as the public’s – with regards to justice, but that it is important every bit of material is thoroughly examined before proceeding.

When asked if the delay had anything to do with the charges being recommended against a member of the RCMP, Baird said:

 ” Absolutely not. ”  Baird repeated that Crown is always mindful of the need for public confidence in the system.

Corporal Robinson was the senior officer among the four  RCMP members involved in the tasering of Robert Dziekanski at YVR .

Bits and Bites, Wednesday November 4th, 2009

You know what?

There is so much to talk about that is making my blood boil that I did not even need to turn the furnace on this morning. So, without the usual chatty preamble, I’m going to start with  the closure of 5 legal aid offices in B.C. 

That’s right, offices in Prince George, Surrey, Victoria, Kamloops and Kelowna are closing for good. The BC Legal services society says it is because of a shortage in funding- 54 people will be laid off as a result of the closures.

 What does Mike de Jong have to say about it all?Well, he blames it on the economic downturn…

What do the people who use these services have to say? Who knows, because  the Liberals don’t like to sully their kid shoes at street level talking to the average folk. Have you ever seen a Liberal out talking to real people when it doesn’t involve a photo-op? Nope, didn’t think so. But I’ll give you $50 if you can find one.

This is disgusting. Someone explain to me how it is that Gordon Campbell thinks it is totally fine to be paying for a bloody retractable roof on a facility that is likely going to be creating debt, rather than income,  and leave some of our most vulnerable people hanging without legal services?  And that roof isn’t even going to be keeping our taxpayers money in BC, because the major steel fabrication contract is going out of province.  Hey, to heck with keeping BC money in BC, let’s use all that property down there…. Always, always remember  Gordon Campbell’s roots as a real estate man and developer.

Speaking of the Liberals,where the heck is health minister,Kevin Falcon’s keeper?You know, those women with the black framed glasses the Liberals appear to buy in bulk,( glasses, not women!) who follow the ministers around and make sure they don’t say or do anything stupid? Seriously, this man needs to close his mouth. ” Close your mouth Kevin.”

 Just close it, and keep it closed, because every time you open it, you dig yourself, and the BC Liberals, an even bigger hole. First the Saskatchewan surgery ‘miscommunication’, now the back to work legislation you are trying to have passed to force the very hard-working BC Paramedics back into line with VANOC’s plan for the 2010 Olympics.

 It’s kind of laughable though- just read this excerpt from Hansard where the Falconator brings in this little bit of legislation:

Hon. K. Falcon: The Ambulance Services Collective Agreement Act is designed to bring an end to the current impasse between the Emergency and Health Services Commission and CUPE 873, the union representing ambulance paramedics and dispatchers in British Columbia.When B.C.’s paramedics began their job action on April 1, earlier this year, we sincerely hoped that a mutually agreeable settlement could be reached. Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts over the past seven months, the two sides have been unable to resolve their differences. The last offer made to the union was generous, given the difficult economic challenges we face as a province, and it is in keeping with what other public sector workers will receive in 2009-10. We value the work and services of B.C.’s 3,500 ambulance paramedics, and many of us have great relationships with individual paramedics across the province. However, we are concerned that the longer this dispute drags on, the higher the risk for patients, a risk we are no longer prepared to countenance. With the H1N1 pandemic impacting the acute care system and with the busy holiday season fast approaching, the public needs certainty that they’ll have the care they need in an emergency. It is time to move forward in the interests of all British Columbians. It is not a decision we have come to lightly.

Do you think anyone really believes this is about Swine flu?  Or the holiday season?

Does any one single British Columbian have a concern that the BC paramedics are going to leave them hanging when they call 911? Not a chance.

This is about the games, pure and simple. The pressure was on from VANOC, as evidenced by a letter released by the paramedics union Tuesday that says:

“If we are unable to obtain that guarantee (through either settlement of the strike or legislated ‘detente’ for the Games), then Vanoc will be required to initiate alternative contingency plans to avoid cancellation of the Games,”

We all know this is NOT about H1N1. This is not about tired management filling in, nor is it about damaged equipment. This is about forcing these men and women back to work to go along with the grand Olympic plan. Wouldn’t do to have all these paramedics walking around at the venues wearing the STRIKE signs, would it? Too inconvenient for you to answer all the questions from the international press about why this has been going on for so long. 

 There is no reason this should have happened, except the governments lack of concern for the fair treatment of these workers.  Carol James and the NDP will not be supporting this legislation and will vote no.

What it comes down to is this. Gordon Campbell and his team of fiberals have never been in touch with regular British Columbians. They have no clue what it means to choose between eating and paying your rent. They have no clue what it means to rely on resources in the community to make ends meet, or deal with issues affecting your life.  And they certainly have no clue as to what it means to be a paramedic, or to have to rely on one to save your life.

 Watch this video and find out why the paramedics are striking. We have to stand behind these men and women as British Columbians,  so head on over to to find out what you can do, and how you can help.

Also in that Hansard transcript, is the exchange between Carol James, Minister of Community and Rural Development,Bill Bennett and Forests Minister,  Pat Bill, in which Carol asks them what the Liberal government plans to do to help the people of Kitimat, where some 500+ workers will be left in the cold as Eurocan closes its mill.

 Here is a breakdown of the questions that were asked and the answers that were given:

  • Will the B.C. Liberal government give Kitimat $2 million dollars in transitional funding as was done before the election for Fort St. James and Mackenzie? No.
  • Will the B.C. Liberal government reopen the Community Development Trust in order to give workers access to early retirement options? No.
  • Why has the B.C. Liberal government refused to put together a provincial strategy to protect forest jobs in the wake of more than 50 mill closures and 25,000 jobs lost? No answer.

I’ll tell you why the liberals don’t want to help the people of Kitimat, and why they won’t. I supect it has a lot to do with their plans with Enbridge, and those bloody oil-tankers they plan to traipse up and down our coast, and to China:

Funny how despite ” Tough economic times”, the Liberals can come up with a half a BILLION dollars for a fancy new roof on BC Place in just a few weeks, yet they keep making cuts to everything else.. In the interest of saving the Libs some money, I thought I would come up with a new slogan for them.Here it is:

Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals.

We like to say ” Tough economic times” – a lot.

 Now, in a totally random addition to this post, last night I discovered a little piece of my personal history is up for sale on the internet.
Tucked away in an area south-west of Prince George,  Finger Lake resort has been in business since I was a kid,and although the site is more developed now, it appears to have still retained the majority of its rustic flavour strictly by its relatively remote location.
 Those were the days… Growing up in Prince George, we were ‘gone fishing’,or exploring the wilderness pretty much every single weekend, and on long weekends we would pack up the trailer and truck, load the boat, and often head out to Finger Lake.
Back then, getting into the resort was an adventure in itself, because there was no real road other than the one cut into the bush by the old owners. Basically we had to off-road the truck,trailer and boat through the bush,trying to avoid hanging up one of the three on a stump. Once we were in though, the rest was easy.
The only time we spent in the trailer at the campsite was spent sleeping. We cooked outside on a grate over the fire, we fished before dawn and ate pan-fried rainbow trout  and fried potatoes for breakfast, along with the obligatory slabs of bacon. I’ll never forget it. The fishing was always great, the scenery unbelievable and sometimes a little dangerous.
 I remember one year one of the local grizzlies investigated out campsite every night after we went to bed, leaving tracks in the dust around the fire… which made going to the outhouse a group activity! Remember too, that this was back in the days of catch and eat, not catch and release! Conservation wasn’t exactly the name of the game on our camping trips. We would eat as many as we could and take the rest of our limit home for freezing or smoking. ( mmmmm smoked rainbow trout!)
Ah well, it’s been years since I’ve been there, but I have several photo albums to remember all the fun times by. And I guess that it is places and experiences like this that make me love B.C. so much. There really is no place else like it. Pristine lakes, beautiful rivers and untouched wilderness. Which is why we must protect,at any cost, what is left.
 It is, all we have. 
 Anyways, if you are looking for a lake resort to buy, check out this place. If I had $525,ooo.oo I would buy it in a heartbeat, just for the memories- ok. for the trout too!!
Last but not least, scroll down and read the short posts from yesterday, concerning the RCMP member who is suing CBC for their coverage of the death of Robert Dziekanski. This is the fellow who actually deployed his taser, and who is now claiming extreme embarrassment and distress… uh huh…!

Just when you think you have heard it all…

You see something like this, courtesy of Neal Hall, the Vancouver Sun:

The Mountie who repeatedly Tasered Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport two years ago has filed a libel lawsuit against the CBC.

The legal action by Constable Kwesi Millington claims that CBC’s coverage of the incident since Nov. 4, 2007 has caused him to suffer “serious embarrassment and distress” and has caused him “public ridicule.”

Millington claims CBC’s coverage has “seriously injured” his reputation, causing him to seek punitive and aggravated damages against the CBC

Makes it seem like he’s the victim in all of this, no?

 I have no sympathy for the ” serious embarrassment and distress “, or the ” public ridicule” caused by the media coverage of the horrible and tragic death of Robert Dziekanski, Cst. Millington.


I guess you would have preferred that everyone shut up and pretend it never happened.


These are my questions:

How much money, exactly, will it take to ease Cst. Millingtons embarressment and distress, and restore his tarnished reputation?

    ~ and~

What legal recourse does the deceased, Robert Dziekanski have, to recover the remainder of his life ?



Bits and Bites – Thursday July 23nd, 2009

*** updated 11 am, July 23rd-

Colin Hansen just announced that on July 1st, 2010, the BC government will “harmonize” the PST we pay with the Federal GST– in other words, they are going to combine the two taxes into one charge on your purchases. Read the press release HERE.  What does this mean for you ?

Currently, these are the items exempt from PST in BC, among them are: food items, drugs and medicine. Under the new combined sales tax, it appears that you will likely be paying more tax at the grocery store and in other areas, while some exemptions will remain. Oddly enough, although  the presser accentuates the virtues of the combined tax and how it is going to help us all, it goes on to mention that a credit will be issued to low income families to offset any impact the new tax will have. Meaning, this new tax will only turn out to be a good thing for the government.

Long story short ? Campbell just raised the axe again  and slashed again — in your wallets.


You know what makes running every morning at 5 am fun? Getting to see the sunrise over the hill and  feeling that cool morning air wash over me as I run. Try it, you might like it. You don’t have to run, you can walk, but just once this week, get up at 4: 45 am, get your workout gear on and head out the door to catch that sunrise. I promise you won’t regret it.

Every once in a while you read something that just blows your mind, and the first item up this morning did just that. An Ontario woman is campaigning AGAINST universal health care in the United States!! Yes, she is warning everyone- on behalf of an American organization against universal health care –  that she would have died from a growth near her brain if she had waited to be treated here in Canada. Not happy with her wait time to see a specialist, she re-mortgaged her house and flew to the US for treatment. 

Now, Ujjal Dosanjh is running around doing damage control on American and Canadian stations, telling them that yes, sometimes we do have issues, but overall it is a far better system.  You know, I feel for this woman, I really do, but has she really thought about what she is doing? Is she aware what happens to far too many people in the US? Has she ever watched SICKO? We might have our issues, but the system here is still far better than down there.

“Not only has the criminal justice system failed my beautiful child; they have failed all of you, all Canadian citizens. There is nothing there to protect you.” These words from Sandra Martin-Toner, the mother of Matthew Martin who was killed at the age of 16, in cold blood, at Surrey Central skytrain station in 2005. She was referring to the decision to allow Katherine Quinn out on bail while she awaits a new trial after her second degree murder conviction was over turned because the judge had erred in his instructions to the previous jury.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – it is time to hold our judges accountable by electing them. No more appointments, elect them all so they have to answer to the public.  Quinn, a mother of three, must remain in her parents home and is not allowed to leave except for doctor visits and court appearances. Makes me wonder how they plan to make sure she actually does this – like, is this the honour system here?  My thoughts are with Matthews mom and family this morning – may you all find the strength to see this through again.

In another development, Justice Thomas Braidwood is going to announce some preliminary findings today from the inquiry into the use of tasers by RCMP in Robert Dziekanskis death in 2007. CBC is reportingthat ” the announcement will deal only with “the use of conducted energy weapons by law enforcement agencies in B.C.,” but …may also include recommendations for severe restrictions on the use of the devices. ” Yes, take away those tasers. Cops survived decades without them, and can continue on that way in my opinion. Solicitor General Kash Heed is expected to hold a press conference immediately after the announcement to respond to the contents of the report.

( speaking of Kash Heed, looks like he never heard of the phrase: ” Loose lips sink ships…” )  

Much like our dear premier though, he usually refuses to comment on anything. Is there some sort of Liberal boot camp where new politicians get schooled on the art of obfuscating and stone walling?

 The weather is hot, but things might get a lot hotter on River Road in Delta today, where protesters plan to block the demolition of houses to make way for South Fraser Perimeter Road construction. Contrary to the Liberals mantra to reduce greenhouse gases, a report by the Livable Region Coalition found that the Gateway project would  actually increase provincial emissions by 30%!  “The BC government’s freeway expansion schemes are completely at odds with their own provincial greenhouse gas reduction targets,” says Surrey resident Tom Jaugelis. “Our planet is facing a climate crisis and the wasteful Gateway project will only make it worse.”

The project will pave over 75 homes in Delta and  portions of Burns Bog, in addition to acres of some of the best farmland in BC. The protest will start at 6:30 am at 10253 River Road in Delta. Details at

Enbridge will be responding to the questions of Kitimat resident Murray Minchin, as I recently detailed in this post : Here is the rather anonymous response I received from someone at the Northern Gateway office:

Dear Laila,
Thank you for your email. We also received Murray’s letter as he forwarded
it to us last Friday. I have passed it on to Roger Harris as well as
Steven Greenaway, VP of Public and Government Affairs. They have
acknowledged receipt and will respond. I have also forwarded your email to
them today.

Thank you for your interest in the project Laila, we will be in touch soon.

Enbridge Northern Gateway

You see? They are actually thanking me for my interest in their project.( Which means I’m likely on a list on some PR guys desk in Texas with a big red bullseye on it.) Oddly enough though, National Public Relationshas been visiting the site again, which means either I’m somebodies work assignment or they just really like me…. hehe.

I’m thinking things must be getting a little hot for the Premier right now, and I’m not referring to the heat… no sirreee.  He’s slashed student aid, cut back on health and who knows what else is headed our way- but the biggest question everyone has for him is still: ” WHO ORDERED THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE EMAILS ?”  I’m guessing Gordon Campbell is  ” Under Pressure” like never before …

Keep it cool everyone !

Bits and Bites – Wednesday,June 10th 2009

Good morning people! I’m still not used to being back- something about all this noise is really hitting me hard! Damn, even the suburbs are ridiculously noisy all the time, which is why my 5 am run this morning was such a pleasure. Simply put, it was quiet. Which reminded me again why I must try to get away from it all more often than I do.

Delta police are finally recommending charges against the mountie involved in a fatal accident that took the life of  21 year old Orion hutchinson back in October 2008. Constable Benjamin Monty Robinson could be facing one charge of impaired driving causing death, and one count of dangerous driving causing death, as police have forwarded the charges to Crown for approval. Orion Hutchinson was struck by the mounties vehicle and died of his injuries. At the time, Robinson was driving with his two children in the car, and left the scene immediately. He was later arrested, given a breathalyzer which he failed. He claims he was not drunk while driving, but upon leaving the scene with his kids, had two shots of vodka  that put him over the limit. Yeah…… sure. You may recall Robinson is also one of the officers directly involved in the taser death of Robert Dziekanski ( warning: this link takes you to the video of the incident)at the Vancouver Airport in 2007, the investigation of is still ongoing in the Braidwood Inquiry. At this time, none of those officers are facing charges.

This is what I think about drunk driving related charges. In my opinion, any death as a result of someones choice to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an accidental death. I would compare it to a homicide. I don’t care what defense the sleazy lawyers come up with, if you know you are going to be drinking, make arrangements. No excuses. Robinson has set up the perfect defense so far, as I hear it. Left the scene, but allegedly left his identification and returned to the site of the accident, thereby he didn’t ” hit and run”.  By leaving the scene, he gives opportunity for the defense to show that the possibility was available that he could have consumed alcohol after the collision, although a judge has already denied that claim in the officers attempt to get his licence back earlier this year. This is one case that is sure to receive much media attention because of the notoriety of the officer involved.

Over the past few years, there have been a a number of missing persons cases that remain unresolved in the lower mainland, in particular, several surrounding the abrupt disappearances of young men between 18 and 35. Some of the victims families believe the cases may be related and some are said to have similarities, although RCMP have not made any connections.

 CBC has now compiled a list of the men, complete with photos, descriptions and the particulars of each case- all of which can be accessed HERE. In the interest of closure for the families, I’d urge you to look at the photos and if there is anything you know – no matter how insignificant it may seem – or anyone you recognise, get in touch with the RCMP or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 to remain anonymous.

Summer in near and that means that B.C.’s recreational areas are about to be flooded with people escaping the confines of the city. Although most people take precautions against mosquito and fly bites, surprisingly there are still many who are not aware of the potential danger of tick bites.Here in BC we have a majority of western black-legged ticks, otherwise known as deer ticks. The danger in a tick bite comes if the tick is carrying Lyme disease, something that is easy to handle if diagnosed early, but creates a multitude of health problems if not caught. The problem is that diagnosis here in BC is not often easy, and so often physicians will give antibiotics with a reported tick bite, regardless of whether the tick has Lyme or not.

This is something I dealt with last year after my 4 year old son received a tick bite in May while at our getaway place off the sunshine coast. It seems the tick hopped on his clothing while going up or down the beach cliff trail, and not knowing ticks were found on the island, I didn’t think to check his body after the beach excursion. it wasn’t until later that afternoon when I noticed a dark spot on the back of his head, among his hair under the little hollow at the base of his skull. Sure enough, the deer tick had embedded itself and was already feeding and starting to swell. Ick! Never having removed one, we called someone on island who was familiar with their removal, and she had it out in no time. We kept the tick in a small jar -as everyone should- for testing if need be at the CDC in Vancouver.  Unfortunately, in the week after our return, my son developed a fever and swollen glands, and it was decided that a full course of antibiotics would be the safest bet for a full recovery.  So, learn from this mistake, because ticks are found all over the lower mainland , the Fraser valley, the sunshine coast and the rest of BC.

And last, but not least, if you are a child of the eighties like I am, you’ll,like,totally get me,dude, when I tell you that this was one of the most totally bitchin’ music videos of my youth….. ( ohmygod,I’m like,totally, like, dating myself here..) But hey, it still makes me get up and dance!

How far have we come since November 2007?

November 16th, 2007.

That is the day I blogged about my feelings regarding the  RCMP’s response to Robert Dziekanski’s tasering death at Vancouver airport.  Here we are, a year and a half  after this post and we are only now getting some understanding into what happened that day. How interesting to note the events since 2007 leading us to Benjamin Monty Robinsons testimony yesterday.

Bits and Bites – Wednesday February 4th, 2009

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the man who was killed in the most recent Surrey targeted hit was 21 year old Ralph Baldini – the same person who rented the north Surrey Penthouse where 6 people were brutally murdered in October 2007.

Shot while sitting in his vehicle outside of the London Drugs store at Guildford mall – a very busy entrance to the mall – he is the most recent killing in a series of shootings that have occurred in Surrey over the last couple of weeks.  And, interesting enough, I found a small article in the Surrey Now last night  detailing  4 more reports of shots fired over the weekend, that didn’t end tragically.

-1:35 pm Friday- shots fired from a vehicle at heading east on 100th ave near 138 st, target/targets unknown

– 4 am Friday, shots fired at a house at 121st and 94th ave – resident called cops after finding bullets stuck in the walls of his home

-1:44 am Saturday, multiple shots fired  near a  Fleetwood pub, with multiple casings located and target unclear.

-ten minutes later , 1:55 am on Saturday,more shots rang out from a different vehicle near 81st ave and 150th st.- again, target unknown

Add these to the already long list of shootings detailed in this recent blog post: , and you have quite the scene in Surrey. Frankly, it’s a joke. Once again I’m embarrassed to tell people where I live, because the impression is ….( as one reader pointed out) Slurry. Scurvey. No wonder the mayor and  most of the council live out of the main parts of the city. . With everything that’s going on lately, the mayor better be praying that nothing goes down at the upcoming Winterfest,most of the activities are located in lovable, shootable Whalley.  Let me end this with an excerpt from an email that was sent to me last night about how one resident feels about Surrey.

” Well, yet another murder in Surrey… ummm two blocks from my children’s school…

Living in Surrey is so wonderful – the peaceful sounds of sirens and gun shots,(the sound of retaliation) the smell of pot coming from the neighbors house and the domestic dispute on the street….the soothing sounds and smells to help me rest at night…Well, the homicide investigation team will be working hard on this case just like all the other unsolved shootings in Surrey…”

I hear you, anonymous, I hear you.

To my American readers: there is a company in Florida using a link to a past blog post of mine on their business website, under the title ” Love Thy Teenager” , clearly trying to evoke an emotional reaction from potential customers that might engage them to purchase their services for parties and functions.  – I would like to say that while I do not condone drinking and driving, I also do not endorse this business or its services, or the fact that they are using one my blog posts for a commercial purpose . I have asked them to remove this link  immediately, however they have not acknowledged my contact in any manner.I generally don’t have an issue with other bloggers linking up to past blog posts, but this is clearly a profit driven venture.

The sadness that overwhelms me every time I see the Robert Dzeikanski  tasering video will never subside,and with every bit of testimony it gets worse. Clearly, this is a case where everything that could go wrong – did. And Robert was a victim of a system that broke down at every possible juncture. Although I am disheartened that nothing will likely happen to the RCMP officers who, in my opinion, carry some culpability in his death – one can hope that everyone involved will take away stern lessons from this, and allow changes to the system that can prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. CBC has carried ongoing coverage of the testimony occurring at the Braidwood  inquiry, and the following links will give you access to some of that information :


Mountie involved in Dziekanski taser incident to make first appearance January 15th in Surrey provincial court.

A local RCMP officer will make his first appearance in Surrey Provincial Court on January 15th, where it is expected formal charges will be laid in relation to his involvement in a collision dating back to October 2008 where a young man dies at the scene – and the officer  in question was allegedly impaired.

Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson  was released on a promise to appear, and is facing charges of impaired driving causing death following the accident  in Tsawassen that left 21 year old Orion Hutchison dead.

He is also one of the 4 officers involved in the tasering of polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, that did not result in criminal charges being laid.

All I can say, is that  sometimes justice works in funny ways.

Time for the RCMP to do the right thing: Pull tasers out of service pending further independent testing.

Forgive me, but I’m opening the door to ‘taser talk’ again. ( The last time I did this it initiated an ongoing debate in the comments section that lasted for several months.) Last night I watched an excellent documentary on The National, regarding tasers. More specifically, the older x26 model manufactured prior to 2005, of which thousands are in active service all over Canada. 

CBC News and Radio Canada commissioned an independent study of these tasers, testing them using scientific standards and protocols designed   by Pierre Savard, a biomedical engineer at the University of Montreal, using Taser International’s specifications. Of the 41 tasers tested, 4 delivered significantly more current than Taser International says is possible – in some cases, up to 50% more than stated. The findings are particularly significant in part because police officers are trained to aim the Taser at a suspects chest, increasing the chances of  cardiac arrest if a larger current is delivered.

RCMP have now pulled random sampling of tasers in the field and say preliminary reports indicate no problems. They will not say how many tasers have been tested or where/how  the testing was conducted, but in a surprising move, Quebec justice minister Jacques Dupuis announced Friday the province was pulling older weapons off the streets to test them. They are also pulling samples of newer models to check the current output as well.

Taser International has issued an official statement here:

Taser usage in Canada has been a contentious issue since its addition into the arsenal of weapons used by the RCMP. Clearly, the safety of officers who serve the public is important, but just as important is the certainly that this weapon performs in a consistent and reliable manner.

Currently, there are more international safety standards for cell phones than there are for tasers and there have been no independent or government initiated controls or standards by which the force can rely on – the only testing and standards have all been done by the manufacturer, Taser International. The CBC test clearly shows that their information cannot be relied upon as being  100% accurate in some cases. In addition, no method has been developed for RCMP divisions ( or other police forces) to test the ongoing performance of the Taser in the field,leaving them powerless to monitor reliability or find weapons that may not be performing to specifications.

I question why this weapon has been able to be used on an international basis without such safety standards in place ? It would seem almost negligent to me  that police forces have so hastily laid claim to a weapon whose  manufacturers claims  have not been ascertained by anyone other than themselves.

Yes, Tasers have assisted officers in subduing suspects. Yes, Tasers can and do prevent on the job injuries – in some cases. And while I do believe there is a place for a weapon such as this within policing, the number of deaths related to taser usage is significant enough that combined with the outcome of this test, the only option would seem to be to pull all weapons and call for immediate government regulation and testing. At least, that’s how I see it.

View the entire episode, read the reports and responses through this link:

Background stories on Robert Dziekanski and other taser related  stories can be viewed here:

Commentary- former Judge Wallace Gilby Craig sounds off on Shoestring Policing and Mousy Leadership

I’ve been an admirer of Wallace Craig and his writings for some time, and am very pleased to bring you a reprint of his latest column, with his permission. He tells it like it is.


August 6, 2008

IN his 1970 novel Mr. Sammler’s Planet, Saul Bellow foretold New York City slithering into criminal and social disorder.

Bellow recognized that under the madness and criminality of a dangerous minority of New York society “there persists, powerfully too, a thick sense of what is normal for human life. Duties are observed. Attachments are preserved. There is work. People show up for jobs. It is extraordinary. They come on the bus to the factory. They open the shop, they sweep, they wrap, they wash, they fix, they tend, they count, they mind computers. Each day, each night … (through) anguish, boredom; such discipline, such strength for regularity, such assumption of responsibility …”

Bellow’s portrayal of instinctive good behaviour by ordinary folk serves as a definition of the bedrock of public interest.

Whenever you are troubled by something done by our government or any politician just think about our constitutional right to “peace, order and good government” and decide whether the action or inaction is in the best interest of the general public.

Wrap them in a straightjacket of accountability and wring out of them every fact and circumstance.

By way of example, consider a recent exchange of e-mails between North Shore resident George Burns and Solicitor General John van Dongen.

On May 9, Burns e-mailed the minister stating his concern over a recent acquittal of a member of the Hells Angels and a Macleans magazine article entitled How B.C. Became A World Crime Superpower. Two months later Burns received a lengthy reply. It is bafflegab.

Van Dongen began by fobbing off the matter of drug trials as a federal responsibility without acknowledging that he is responsible for policing all criminal matters within our province.

In the liberal spirit of explaining and excusing criminals, the minister launched into fall-back rhetoric that crime is often linked to social problems and the need to continue searching for causes of crime (something above and beyond the fact that crime and drug addiction is a chosen pursuit of most criminals).

The issues raised by Burns were ignored as the reply became political double-talk: “Nonetheless, I must take exception to your contention that there is no political will to deal with crime in the province. Where this province has the legislative jurisdiction to act, we have.”

Thirteen “initiatives” were cited including including: 400 more police since 2003; traffic fine revenues returned to municipalities; creation of an integrated gang task force (without mentioning that there has been no consequent reduction in gang crime); and a Strategic Justice Partnerships Division to reduce crime by tackling the causes of crime.

In this rapid fox trot through a collection of boilerplate the minister (or an aide) touched lightly on the revolving door of sentencing, the menace of crystal-meth, civil forfeiture, safer streets, lauded the several-year-old Vancouver drug court (without saying how few addicts it deals with), lauded the still-to-be-born Vancouver community court, described the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit dealing with organized crime (without mentioning the fact that infighting between Mountie and Municipal police members caused federal prosecutors to abort a trial of a major case against the Hell’s Angels).

Van Dongen ended his letter with medicine-show exaggeration: “I firmly believe that our approaches to crime are not ‘band-aid solutions;’ rather they are some of the most innovative and leading means with which to combat crime in the country.”

That unfounded optimism requires government-issue rose-coloured glasses.

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B.C. has no jurisdiction over contracted RCMP

In British Columbia the solicitor general is charged with administering all matters under the Police Act. It is his pre-eminent duty to attack gang crime with a vengeance and be equally active in fighting street disorder, drug trafficking, violent crime and property crime. Anything less threatens our right to be reasonably safe in our homes and in public against violence and property crime.

Today, while there is growing public controversy concerning overdue changes to the Police Act, not a word is being spoken in outrage over the fact that the Act brings only municipal police under the jurisdiction of the solicitor general.

The majority of police officers in British Columbia are in E Division of the RCMP. They perform their duties under 20-year contracts as our British Columbia provincial police. They also do municipal policing under special contracts in many urban centres including our own city and district of North Vancouver.

Under contract but not under provincial jurisdiction, E Division does what it chooses to do with not even a by-your-leave to our solicitor general or mayors and councillors. Working under authority of the federal RCMP Act and an Ottawa command structure, they are virtual untouchables.

Indisputable proof of this is the disgrace of the Dziekanski death and its aftermath as the force blunders along with no intention of inhibiting the use of Tasers.

That disgrace deepened when Commissioner William Elliott submitted to being clinically tasered to demonstrate the weapon is harmless. He certainly didn’t wander around his office for eight hours before being jumped by four officers and driven to the floor for a bit of tasering.

I maintain that all police in British Columbia should be subject to the Police Act, employed by and accountable to elected civilian police boards and under the jurisdiction of a fully independent complaint process that carries with it the power to investigate and discipline.

We are in a time that cries out for leadership of the kind New York City was blessed with in the 1990’s. But all we have is fence-sitter Attorney General Wallace Oppal and bafflegabber Solicitor General John van Dongen.

Making matters worse is the silence of Premier Campbell concerning whether there is a handshake done deal to grant E Division another 20-year contract beyond 2012.

In 1994, Wallace Oppal, then a commissioner, authored Closing the Gap, a voluminous tome on our policing needs. It has much greater relevance today.

Throughout his work as commissioner, Oppal knew that he dealing with an abrogation of the province’s constitutional duty to administer civil and criminal justice; a first order principle from which all else flows.

As a matter of conscience and in the public interest it is the solemn duty of our attorney general to lead public discussion on this issue. If the premier won’t let him speak freely then Oppal should do the honourable thing and resign.

Dziekanski’s death is a wake-up call to get our policing house in order.

Anything less is contrary to the public interest.

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Published by the North Shore News on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.;