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Thursday, April 02, 2009

EDITORIAL: How low can the RCMP go?

April 2, 2009
The Gazette (Montreal)

Everyone knows that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have had their problems in recent years. But what's happening in Vancouver, at the inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, makes us wonder just how low our national police force can sink.

The Mounties' hopes of defending their reputation in this case vanished with the publication on that cellphone video showing the airport confrontation. But the RCMP's tactics at the inquiry are making things worse.

It is conceivable that Dziekanski's drinking habits had some medical bearing on his death by Taser. But what on Earth was the point of the RCMP lawyer's rooting around in his criminal record back in Poland? Dziekanski's mother's lawyer called that an attempt to demonize the victim, and we can only agree.

Within days of Dziekanski's death the Mounties had sent investigators to Poland with, apparently, roughly the same motive: to find anything that might partly justify the treatment he received. But what evidence could do that? Even if he had been Osama bin Laden and Bernie Madofff combined, he didn't deserve death by Taser.

Dziekanski died in October 2007, three months after the government named a new RCMP commissioner, William Elliott, mandated to fix the force. Why is he allowing this kind of defence? How long until we can again begin to be proud of our national police force?

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