Just another political party

Green MLA Adam Olsen joins
the B.C. establishment on police accountability

December 19, 2018

BC Green MLA Adam Olsen appears to be just another establishment suck

B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen: Pushing aside
principles for pay, perks and pension?


Because his appointment as B.C.’s next police complaint commissioner is a done deal, Clayton Pecknold has to be given a chance. But did Green MLA Adam Olsen and the others on the legislative committee that selected him really have to choose—unanimously—an ex-Mountie, ex-Saanich cop (a fact omitted from his official bio, maybe because Saanich has a municipal force that will come under his authority), a director of the cops’ defamation database and a top bureaucrat in the Solicitor General’s extremely cop-friendly ministry?

It’s very hard to believe legislative committees come up with such decisions, unanimous decisions at that, on their own. Whether in committee or in legislature, the normally polarized NDP and BC Liberals have consistently put their differences aside to thwart police accountability. Although there’s no smoking gun evidence, one can’t help wonder about a powerful cop lobby.

Now, through Olsen, the Greens join the two cynical establishment parties and their committee representatives: ex-cop Mike Morris, ex-cop Garry Begg, ex-cop Rich Coleman and what? neither cop nor ex-cop Rachna Singh.

In agreeing to the pro-cop consensus, Olsen did have info to consider besides what was fed to the committee. Back in August I forwarded to him and his Green colleagues Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau an e-mail to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. It outlined some of the problems concerning B.C.’s cop-friendly Police Act and corrupt Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

It’s copied below, but here’s an except from my preamble to the Greens that shows my laughable naivete about them:

In the past, both the NDP and BC Liberals have brushed off these concerns with a breathtaking combination of arrogance and complacency. I realize the difficulties of a three-MLA party showing detailed insight into all aspects of B.C. public affairs. But it’s because of your party that I’m making one more tilt at the police accountability windmill.

In true NDP/BC Liberal style, no Green responded.

It takes no more than five or six minutes to go over the e-mail. Verifying the statements would of course take longer, but by no means unreasonably so for someone tasked with (and highly paid for) a related responsibility.

So what did Olsen do? Ignore it, apparently, and go along with the cop status quo. He even joined the other committee members in this nauseating tribute to a manifestly corrupt character:

On behalf of all Members of the Legislative Assembly, the Special Committee expresses their gratitude to Mr. Lowe for his dedicated service to the province as Police Complaint Commissioner over the last ten years.

Among Lowe’s “dedicated service” was his collusion in a Vancouver police cover-up
of VPD constable Taylor Robinson pushing a disabled native woman to the sidewalk
for no reason
. Olsen’s official bio emphasizes his native status.
(Click the photo to see Robinson’s actions.)


Here’s the e-mail sent to Olsen and the other two Green MLAs last August:

To andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca;

From Greg Klein
August 9, 2017
[full contact info was provided in the e-mail]

To Andrew Weaver, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen:

B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner faces a conflict of interest while overseeing a sexual assault investigation into a New Westminster constable. This letter (copied below) to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth notes that police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe didn’t call a public hearing into highly disturbing allegations that were previously made against the same officer, despite Lowe’s duty to do so. Lowe’s interests would be jeopardized should the current investigation look to the previous investigation for additional info. Lowe would benefit from avoiding any such inquiries.

I’ve also given Farnworth details of two other cases that strongly suggest Lowe conducted cover-ups.

My letter suggests B.C.’s system of police accountability needs an overhaul to bring the OPCC ethical staff and practices, as well as transparency and accountability. Additionally, the enormous delays in cases handled by the Independent Investigations Office need to be addressed. Finally, allegations of police sexual misconduct should be investigated independently, not by police, as is the case in every other province but Quebec.

In the past, both the NDP and BC Liberals have brushed off these concerns with a breathtaking combination of arrogance and complacency. I realize the difficulties of a three-MLA party showing detailed insight into all aspects of B.C. public affairs. But it’s because of your party that I’m making one more tilt at the police accountability windmill.


From Greg Klein
August 9, 2017  

To Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General:

I’m writing to bring three concerns to your attention. I believe the first calls for a timely response because it concerns an investigation now underway. The two other concerns are long overdue for attention.

1. B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner faces a conflict of interest in its oversight of the sexual assault investigation of constable Sukhwinder “Vinnie” Singh Dosanjh.

2. The OPCC’s handling of the cases involving Dosanjh, Vancouver police constable Taylor Robinson and former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner call for an inquiry into the agency.

3. B.C.’s system of police accountability needs an overhaul to introduce ethical practices, transparency and accountability to the OPCC, and to address very lengthy delays in cases handled by the Independent Investigations Office.

Here are further details.

1. The OPCC faces a conflict of interest in the Dosanjh case. Therefore oversight of this police investigation should be transferred to the Independent Investigations Office, an out-of-province agency or a specially appointed individual or entity.

The OPCC’s conflict results from its handling of previously investigated charges against this same New Westminster police officer. Contrary to the Police Act, police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe didn’t order a public hearing into Dosanjh, despite highly disturbing charges against him and enormous leniency granted to him by other police officers. Should the current investigation have to examine any aspect of the previously investigated charges, Lowe’s oversight would be compromised. It would be in his personal interest to avoid scrutiny of any aspect of the previous investigation, in which he failed to do his duty.

New Westminster Police suspended Dosanjh in July 2008 pending an investigation into charges that while off-duty he illegally entered a Port Moody woman’s house and assaulted her. According to the New Westminster Record (http://www.newwestrecord.ca/news/suspended-with-pay-for-three-years-1.552257), the Crown eventually dropped charges. Even so, a judge was so concerned that he took the unusual step of imposing a peace bond ordering Dosanjh to report to a probation officer, have no contact with the woman he was accused of assaulting and possess no weapons outside his police work. The Record also stated that Dosanjh faced additional allegations, including an off-duty firearms offence, which were investigated under the Police Act but not under the Criminal Code.

Despite admitting to very serious charges, police allowed Dosanjh to return to the force. His only penalty was a 15-month demotion, a minor inconvenience considering his three-year, seven-month paid suspension, from which he might have profited.

Dosanjh was also ordered to undergo psychological treatment.

If the face of so many disturbing charges, some of which prompted a judge to impose a peace bond, and in the face of such enormous leniency, Lowe was required by the Police Act to call a public hearing. Instead, he “signed off” on the police investigation, thereby keeping the matter secret. Media learned about it through one or more other sources.

Lowe and his office would not want any more attention paid to this matter, even if it were relevant to the current sexual assault allegations. The OPCC monitors investigations while they are taking place and can provide direction to the investigating officers. Therefore Lowe and his staff have a conflict of interest.


2. The OPCC’s handling of the cases involving Dosanjh, Vancouver police constable Taylor Robinson and former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner call for an inquiry into the agency. In the latter two cases the OPCC knew about allegations against the officers but didn’t act on them until long afterwards, when the media found out.

On June 9, 2010, VPD constable Robinson shoved a disabled woman to the sidewalk for no apparent reason. In a Notice of Public Hearing dated November 12, 2013, Lowe states VPD Professional Standards officers learned of the incident by June 11, 2010. But they didn’t order a Criminal Code investigation, order a Police Act investigation, or inform the OPCC, all actions that are required by law. Lowe’s Notice doesn’t acknowledge this, but the VPD’s response has to be considered a cover-up.

Perhaps unwittingly, Lowe states in his Notice that the OPCC learned about Robinson’s actions on June 28, 2010, but from the victim, not the police. At that point Lowe and his staff were legally required to order a Police Act investigation into Robinson’s actions and another Police Act investigation into the VPD Professional Standards officers who covered up Robinson’s actions.

Additionally the Police Act required Lowe and his staff to monitor the investigations while they were taking place and provide instructions if the OPCC believed the investigations were conducted inadequately. Lowe and his staff did none of those things. In all appearances, they colluded in the Vancouver police cover-up.

Lowe’s Notice mentions no Police Act investigation until July 27. That was more than six weeks after Robinson shoved his victim, nearly six weeks after VPD Professional Standards found out and nearly four weeks after the OPCC found out. Lowe doesn’t mention the publicity that began July 22, just days before he finally ordered the investigation.

Additionally on July 22, the VPD acknowledged that Robinson was still walking a beat in the same neighbourhood up to that date. Had Robinson been under investigation, he would have been transferred to other duties or another neighbourhood where he wouldn’t likely encounter his victim.

The OPCC’s credibility on this matter hasn’t been helped by egregiously false statements to the media from deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods, a former head of VPD Professional Standards. In a letter posted on the Georgia Straight website on December 5, 2013 (http://www.straight.com/news/544251/letter-police-act-circumscribes-what-police-complaint-commissioner-can-say), Woods claimed that Lowe ordered a hearing “in particular to look into why the police did not notify this office of the pushing incident and instead undertook some type of informal resolution process that is outside of the Police Act.” That statement was completely false. Lowe didn’t order his very belated public hearing into anything but Robinson’s actions.

Woods made another egregiously false statement in a letter published in the Times Colonist on November 25, 2016 (http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/letters/criticism-of-complaint-commissioner-misleading-1.3178889). Along with obfuscation and misleading statements, he falsely claimed my “comments regarding delay in a previous Vancouver Police Department investigation into the conduct of Const. Taylor Robinson are equally inaccurate and were debunked at the public hearing into the matter.” The hearing didn’t address my concerns at all, let alone “debunk” them.

Woods speaks on behalf of Lowe. Woods’ egregiously false statements provide further evidence that Lowe and the OPCC colluded in a VPD cover-up of Robinson’s actions.

Allegations of sexual impropriety against Victoria police chief Frank Elsner came to Lowe’s attention in September 2015, but he didn’t order a Police Act investigation until the following December. As in the Robinson case, Lowe failed to do his duty until after media found out. Unlike the Robinson case, Lowe this time tried to explain his delay. His excuses didn’t impress Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson. According to the Times Colonist (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/elsner-probe-could-have-been-launched-sooner-chief-justice-suggests-1.2845654), Hinkson said Lowe should have ordered the investigation immediately.


3. B.C.’s system of police accountability needs to be overhauled. The OPCC needs ethical staff and ethical practices, along with transparency and accountability. As it is now, the police-friendly agency acts in near secrecy and answers to no one.

The IIO needs legislated changes and increased resources to overcome the extraordinary delays in its investigations. Some of them have been bogged down for well over a year.

Additionally, allegations of sexual assault committed by police should be investigated by the IIO. Every other province but Quebec has independent investigators, not police, handling such cases.

Greg Klein

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