10.28.2014 05:30 AM

In Tuesday’s Sun: enough of the wannabe police, already

Keeping church and state separate is important. Keeping the state and the police separate is equally important.

We all got to see why, last week, when Stephen Harper – and one of his senior ministers – summarily changed their job descriptions. Last Monday, the Prime Minister assigned himself the role of federal Chief of Police. Then, last Wednesday, Employment Minister Jason Kenney did likewise.

On Monday, as every Canadian will recall, Armed Forces warrant officer Patrice Vincent was assassinated in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu by an avowed ISIS sympathizer, a pathetic loser who does not deserve to be named.

Vincent’s murder became political fodder, and within minutes.

The parking lot where Vincent was killed was still a crime scene when the Prime Minister’s Office instructed a Conservative backbench MP to ask a puffball question about a “possible terror attack.” He did so, and used those words.

The Prime Minister of Canada stood up and told the Commons: “We are aware of these reports and they are obviously extremely troubling. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” He then sat down.

All of this would be fine – it would almost be routine – were it not for one thing: Harper spoke about the killing before many hours before the police would do so.

An RCMP release would only come much, much later. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office deputized itself as the Mounties’ PR department, and issued a release that grandly elaborated on Harper’s statement in the Commons.

Two days later, yet more horror, and yet another Conservative politician elbowing aside the police. On that sad day, as all recall, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot while he stood guard at the National War Memorial by another extremist.

The shooting took place before 10 a.m. Thereafter, an entire nation wondered for more than two agonizing hours about Cirillo’s status. Until just before 1 p.m., that is, when Jason Kenney – not police, not a hospital, not Cirillo’s family – announced that the soldier was dead.

“Condolences to family of the soldier killed, & prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded,” Kenney’s tweet read. “Canada will not be terrorized or intimidated.”

All of which was true. Every word.

But this is true, too: politicians aren’t the police. They should always leave the investigation of crimes to the police. They should always adhere to their clearly-defined constitutional role, and keep their lips zipped about what the police do (and vice-versa).

Canadians should be profoundly uncomfortable, therefore, that any politician would be speaking about these tragedies – or assigning motive, or telling us a soldier has been murdered – long before the police. That is not the way our system works.

As every school kid knows, our Constitution stipulates that the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches must operate separately. It’s all right there, in black and white, in parts three, four and five.

Messrs. Harper and Kenney’s insistence on breaking the news about the deaths of Vincent and Cirillo was unconstitutional, full stop. It also raises the unattractive possibility that, one, Harper and Kenney were willing to reduce two soldier’s tragic deaths to political talking points. And, two, that the Conservatives are willing to usurp the role of the police, if they see any political advantage in doing so.

If that’s the case, then we are piloting through some very dangerous waters, indeed.

The constitutional obligation of any Minister, any Prime Minister, is to (a) let the police do what they do, without interference (b) ensure that we have peace, order and good government – by ensuring that public opinion isn’t needlessly inflamed (c) resist the temptation to politicize something that should never be political.

By all accounts, Vincent and Cirillo were good men, and good soldiers. They bravely did their jobs.

Harper and Kenney should do theirs, and leave police work to the police.


  1. Arnold Murphy says:

    I tried to write something here, of my own, I am lost for words, so I took solace in another’s.
    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.”

    Mahatma Gandhi

    I just hope, we don’t pay too high of a price in the meantime.

  2. Michael Bussiere says:

    My father, who was both a veteran of the RCN, and a deputy police chief, was adamant about two things. The police, especially the RCMP, and the military should never be used as backdrops for politicized patriotism. And secondly, that police, servicemen and women are not heroes, they are servicemen. A hero is a private citizen who risks life to save another.

    The whole switch to military personnel as heroes, with highways etc. named as such, is a post 9-11 Bush-ism. And like so much else from the Bush-Cheney lexicon, Harper is following the textbook letter for letter. We don’t ever question the state if a hero died in its service. The two soldiers who were murdered last week were victims, murder victims, those who died in the WTC attacks were victims. Casting 9-11 victims as heroes as Bush did diminishes their personal loss and that of their loved ones in favour of the glory of the state, and the regime that governs. It is grossly shameful.

    • davie says:

      Glad someone finally mentioned this, although, you put it is much more intelligent context for me than I had thought about it.

      A part of making heroes and heroism of larger than life stature, is to oppose them to villains and villainy of larger than life stature. I do not know where the RCMP found the video supposedly made by one of these perpetrators, but, if it is as RCMP Commissioner describes it, it adds to the attempts to link the murderers to a world wide threat of some kind that threatens the Canadian state.

    • Brad says:

      i agree with you 100%.

  3. GPAlta says:

    The RCMP has not been allowed to release anything to the public without sending it to the minister first since 2011:

    “Signed Sept. 20 and effective immediately, the policy says the Mounties must consult and get approval from Public Safety for communications regarding non-operational matters “PRIOR (emphasis in original) to public use” for almost everything.On “major operational events,” all communications need to be shared with Public Safety Canada officials “for information only” prior to public use.”


    I think it is worth re-reading the whole article in light of what the government did with police information in these two cases.

    I think it is also worth considering how the government recently ordered the RCMP to reverse a purchasing decision about hats in order to benefit a particular supplier – both micromanaging where they have no role and interfering in the market at the same time.

  4. smelter rat says:

    Right on Warren. I saw a few tweets about this abuse last week, but the MSM has been silent on it. Shame on them.

  5. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Sorry, but these incidents are not typical crimes. Indeed, the latter was extremely unnerving for a great many Canadians.

    The PM’s and government’s first responsibility is to citizens, and sometimes that involves being ahead of the curve, so to speak.

    All due respect, the vast majority of Canadians would see it this way, and implying ulterior (sinister) motives of itself smacks a tad of political opportunism.

    Also, the PM is privy to receiving extraordinary intelligence. It is not, IMHO, beyond his role to act according to his discretion in such a crisis.

    Lastly, in his speech to parliament the next day he said something that apparently many missed. He alluded to the security services interventions with the Toronto 18, the Via Rail conspiracy…and many others nobody will ever hear about. Precisely! 99.9% of the public don’t have the slightest idea of the security intelligence that comes across his desk almost daily, and, frankly, most don’t want to know, either.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:


      Just watching you on Sun News. Great multitasking!


    • davie says:

      …don’t forget the radicalized couple here in BC who our secret police cleverly nailed for plotting to blow up our legislative building in Victoria…I guess their trial will com eup soon…it would be nice if they simply confessed, or if there were a plea bargain, so that the RCMP and associates did not have to reveal their evidence and methods in public trial.

  6. e.a.f. says:

    What happened to the two soldiers was terrible. What harper and his cons did afterwards was disgusting.

    Up until the two soldiers were killed harper and his cons didn’t know either of these men, and based on the cons track record regarding the Armed Forces, wouldn’t have given either of them the time of day. Then they were killed. Now they had value to the con agenda. We still have Veterans who are unable to get the help they need from the government who sent them to war. They most likely never will. Now we have harper all dewy eyed about two killings. He has his election/erection issue. He gets to try to pass his repressive legislation. He gets to try to undo our democracy.

    I do wonder who will be helping the families of the deceased in 10 yrs. YOu can bet it won’t be harper and his cons. No, it will be their friends and family. Harper and his cons will have forgotten these two men, just as they have forgotten all the other soldiers who were killed and/or wounded who came before them.

    The line about him missing the china meeting to stay home for Rememberance Day and how that was such a big deal. Ya, well he probably phoned China and told him he had a great photo-op that he needed to be here for. If he didn’t capitalize on it all, he might not get re-elected and they might be in some trouble regarding that not so free trade deal, if he is un-elected.

  7. Joe says:

    If I may say so I don’t think what the PM did was so bad. I think that the actions of the Islamic Jihadis were acts of war and as such needed to be brought up in the House of Commons and not by the police. Police implies simple criminal behaviour which this was not.

    • smelter rat says:

      So sayeth another graduate from the U of Cranbrook.

      • Joe says:

        Well smelter rat I have several advanced degrees from world recognized universities while you lack the intellectual power to stay on point through junior high. IF you have a valid point get back to me so we can have a reasoned discussion. Until then your Mommy’s calling I think she wants her ‘puter back.

        • smelter rat says:

          Ouch. Your intellectual prowess has overwhelmed me. I am in awe. Perhaps you could enlighten us mere (and obviously inferior) mortals as to why you think our Constitution should be ignored? Did they teach you that at the Manning School?

          • Joe says:

            So you are trying to say that its unconstitutional for an MP cannot ask a question in the House of Commons? What next you are going to tell me its unconstitutional for the PM to answer the question asked in the House of Commons. Yer intellectual prowess is showing again there smelter rat. Maybe you should go tuck yourself in for the night and Mommy will explain it to you in the morning.

          • smelter rat says:

            There you go hurting my feelings again.

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          “I have several advanced degrees from world recognized universities”


          I have several mail order degrees from diploma mills on 60 minutes”

      • doconnor says:

        Comments like this don’t further our cause.

  8. Just Askin' says:

    I think this is pretty typical behavior of politicians in crisis situations. At times like these, politicians tend not to defer to public servants because they want to be perceived as authoritative. Nonetheless, this does speak to there being a distant, non-collaborative relationship between the government and the RCMP.

  9. TrueNorthist says:

    I’m going to break from my self-imposed moratorium on political comment to say that I find it disgusting that the CPC is already fund-raising off the most recent nut-in-the-house incident. How it can be considered noble and brave to cower behind a barricaded door while others take direct fire is unknown to me, but my Conservative MP seems to think it was some kind of heroic act to hide while others got shot at. Damned Disgusting.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    • Just Askin' says:

      Maybe you should ask the teachers and children who survived Columbine and Newtown how they feel about themselves.

  10. Brad says:

    There is no mention that I have seen is how the shooter got his hands on a rifle.

    I would imagine they must be trying to determine that.

  11. e.a.f. says:

    The P.M. is a politician. He thinks he can do anything and knows everything, he is the Prime Minister. The problem is the guy ain’t that Prime.

    The P.M. saw a political opportunity and seized it. The first order of business for any politician is to stay in power. To do that he needs to appeal to his base. He did. All of this “national” emergency stuff was ridiculous. It simply was an opportunity the cons had been waiting for. Now they have their election issue. They have what they believe is the reason to introduce legislation which will strip us of our Constitutional Rights and Freedoms. (hello that nice lawyer in Toronto who takes the cons to court and wins)

    Harper and his cons didn’t give a shit about these two men seconds before they were murdered so you really have to wonder why they are suddenly “national heroes”. Harper and his cons don’t seem to care much about all the Veterans from previous wars and their high suicide rate or their inadequate medical care, but two men are murdered on the job, and holy hell we have a national emergency. What happened to these two men was awful, but the cons have turned it into something it is not.

    Harper considers the murder of 1,200 First Nations women to be a criminal matter, and not a sociological matter. In my opinion, the murder of these two soldiers are a criminal matter, not an invasion of terrorists or home grown terrorists who are going to kill a lot of us. More will die in this country from poverty, disease, the flu, etc. than from terrorists. Here in B.C. 81 people died last year because of distract drivers. About an equal amount from drunk driving. Did we see any such reaction from any politician about that? No didn’t think so. All those murdered First Nation’s women and not even a few million for “cold case” squads. Two military men shot at work, on Canadian soil, well the terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming. And yes, the P.M. hid in a closet like a coward and he dares to send Canadians into yet another war and won’t provide adequate medical care for soldiers with PTSD. I wonder If harper gave any thought to Veterans suffering from that while he was in the closet, hiding. oh great warrior leader.

  12. linda says:

    “But this is true, too: politicians aren’t the police. They should always leave the investigation of crimes to the police. They should always adhere to their clearly-defined constitutional role, and keep their lips zipped about what the police do (and vice-versa).

    Canadians should be profoundly uncomfortable, therefore, that any politician would be speaking about these tragedies – or assigning motive, or telling us a soldier has been murdered – long before the police. That is not the way our system works.”

    What is your opinion on a Federal inquiry about missing and murdered aboriginal women? Is it a national concern or is it just a local policing issue?

  13. terence quinn says:

    This piece might be relevant to the discussion at hand:http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41123.htm

    Marketing fear is a sure-fire political ploy, as the Bush administration showed. But if you think promotion of “terrorism” hysteria in order to curtail democratic freedoms is something new, have a look at Germany, 1933.”

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