June 19, 2009
By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
The Braidwood Inquiry into the Taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski has been blown up and left in ruins by the revelation a key RCMP e-mail was withheld from the commission.
After months of outrage about the conduct of the four Mounties who responded to Vancouver Airport Oct. 14, 2007, who can believe that at the last minute, a federal lawyer would produce what many would consider a smoking gun — an e-mail saying the officers decided to use the Taser before confronting the Polish immigrant?
If true, the Nov. 5, 2007, e-mail titled Media strategy — release of the YVR video, from RCMP Chief Supt. Dick Bent to assistant commissioner Al McIntyre, establishes the four have been lying through their teeth.
This critical document suggests the four officers committed perjury and that senior officers sat silent while they did so.
Worse, it seems there are many other documents that have not been turned over that may be relevant.
This e-mail was one of 260 documents on a CD sent by the RCMP to the justice department last April, yet the federal lawyers didn’t open the CD until last week.
Last week? Evidence delivered in April didn’t get opened until last week?
Helen Roberts had every reason to be in tears Friday as she apologized to the public inquiry into Dziekanski’s death for failing to disclose what appears to be not just germane but also startlingly important evidence.
If Roberts had cried over Dziekanski mother’s pain, I would be moved — but a veteran lawyer wet-eyed over another screw-up in this case? I think they were crocodile tears.
Commissioner William Elliott’s carefully parsed press release was equally unbelievable: “This was simply an oversight. Unfortunately in an exercise of this magnitude, such an oversight can occur.”
Bollocks. No one but a moron overlooks the import of an e-mail like this.
The officers deny the explosive content is true and Roberts says Bent was wrong in what he said. But their protestations ring hollow after almost 18 months of bluster and denial. So does Elliott’s threadbare these-things-happen excuse.
The situation is as bad as the most virulent critics of the Mounties feared. This is no longer about four officers who made mistakes in judgment: It’s about an organization that thinks it is above the law.
“I find this delay in disclosing it to the commission appalling,” an upset Braidwood said. “The contents of this e-mail goes to the heart of this inquiry’s work.”
Braidwood says his inquiry will resume on Sept. 22 after commission lawyers have time to review the e-mail, conduct an investigation and perhaps call the senior Mounties to testify about the document.
I think not.
There was a time when I thought Oct. 14, 2007 was the day that would live in the annals of RCMP infamy, but June 19, 2009 has eclipsed the tragedy of Dziekanski’s death.
On Friday, a country’s faith in a once proud, once revered institution died.
We have left the realm of how to regulate Taser use and the circumstances of Dziekanski’s death and entered the world of criminal conduct — which is beyond Braidwood’s provincially rooted authority to investigate.
If we needed any prod to reopen the decision not to prosecute these officers, we now have been given it.
It is time to thank commissioner Braidwood for his excellent work in bringing these unsettling facts to light and it’s time to appoint a special prosecutor.
The B.C. Law Society should also begin an investigation into the conduct of Roberts and any other federal lawyer involved in this staggering lack of disclosure.
That was not an “oversight.” It was professional incompetence or a cover-up.
B.C. RCMP statement on the Braidwood inquiry
June 19, 2009
B.C. - RCMP Commissioner makes statement about Braidwood Inquiry
The Commissioner of the RCMP, William Elliott, wishes to make the following statement regarding today's events at the Braidwood Inquiry:
- From the outset, the RCMP has cooperated fully and participated fully in the Inquiry.
- We have produced thousands of documents to our legal counsel for their review and for them to transmit all relevant material to the Commission.
- Commissioner Braidwood was informed that a specific document was not provided and he himself accepted the Government of Canada's sincere apologies for this oversight.
- This was simply an oversight. Unfortunately in an exercise of this magnitude, such an oversight can occur.
- It was the RCMP, working with our legal counsel, who brought this oversight and this document to the attention of the Commission.
- The Commission indicates that it will thoroughly look into the matter, including into the relevance, if any, of the specific document, about which there are significant questions.
- The RCMP is as disappointed as all of the parties involved in this inquiry that there will be a delay in the completion of the Inquiry as a result of this unfortunate development.
- We will continue to cooperate fully with the Inquiry. The RCMP wants all of the facts surrounding this tragic event to be known so that we can learn as much as possible and make any further required changes to the RCMP's policies and practices.
The RCMP will not be making further comment on this issue.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, June 19, 2009
June 19, 2009