Why B.C. Civil Liberties Association falls short with IIO

A letter published in the Vancouver Sun, August 23, 2012


Re: B.C. Civil Liberties Association marks 50 years of fighting for rights, Column, Aug. 18

As the BCCLA looks back on its half-century, the organization might reconsider one of its purported accomplishments: the Independent Investigations Office.

The IIO doesn't come anywhere near its supposed model, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which is considered Canada's best agency for investigating police.

The IIO falls short for a number of reasons.

Among them, it's immune from the provincial Ombudsperson, it answers to the justice minister/attorney-general, which leaves it open to political interference, and it comes under the investigative authority of the old-school ex-cops at B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

More than anyone else outside the legislature, the BCCLA was in a position to address these deficiencies while the legislation was being drafted. Instead, the BCCLA repeatedly bestowed its congratulations.

Certainly the BCCLA has brought to light many examples of police misconduct. But cops make relatively easy targets. The most serious problem lies not in individual officers but in our system of police accountability and the powerful people who run it.

Could it be that today's BCCLA activists won't take on bigshots for fear of jeopardizing their own establishment ambitions?

Greg Klein

Read more about the BCCLA’s campaign against police accountability
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