B.C. Police Act reform:
What MLAs don’t want to know

Another legislative committee will likely evade
the problem of OPCC secrecy and immunity


Of four OPCC cover-ups that have come to light despite the agency’s
secrecy, the case of VPD officer Taylor Robinson stands out for its
contempt to the poor, natives and the disabled by both Vancouver
police and B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. By
shielding the OPCC from transparency and accountability,
B.C. MLAs allow similar cover-ups to continue.


An April 30 submission to B.C.’s Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act follows this May 3 media release.


Police reform:
What B.C. MLAs don’t want to know

Media release | May 3, 2021

Attached is a submission [appended below this post] that will likely be rejected or ignored by the current legislative committee into Police Act reform. The submission outlines the need for transparency and accountability at B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

B.C. legislators have brushed off these concerns for years, despite evidence that the OPCC has been covering up serious incidents of police misconduct. The attached submission outlines four such cases, although the document avoids the word “cover-up.”

Except for the Georgia Straight and some blue-moon anomalies elsewhere, B.C.’s media have also given this info the establishment brush-off. Very rarely does the OPCC get critical media coverage. Downright sycophantic reporting has been an ongoing problem at the Victoria Times Colonist.

Nor will the salaried activists of the Pivot Legal Society and B.C. Civil Liberties Association take up this issue. Pivot is complicit in one Vancouver police/OPCC cover-up, involving a gratuitous assault on a disabled native woman. Supposedly representing the victim, Pivot’s Scott Bernstein stayed silent during the cover-up. Pivot’s Doug King, although well aware of the cover-up, later praised police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe’s handling of the case.

Both Pivot and the BCCLA have recently adopted UNDRIP jargon, woke rhetoric and American slogans that say nothing precise. But thanks to media, those two groups largely determine public discourse on police accountability.

The all-party committee changed its membership before and after the current legislature convened, and has increased from five to 10 MLAs. Their report isn’t due until April 2022, but will likely recommend special consideration and possibly separate procedures for natives and blacks, while maintaining much of the current cop status quo.

Reading Hansard transcripts can raise the question of whether these MLAs are capable of writing a lengthy report that, for all its predictable shortcomings, will likely be well-organized and coherent. Quite possibly the report will be ghostwritten by a hack working in consultation with the ex-cops in the Solicitor General’s department, with only minor input from the committee.

The attached document also briefly notes other necessary reforms, especially in view of the Independent Investigations Office’s Myles Gray decision, and additional allegations of sexual misconduct towards vulnerable girls and women by former Vancouver police officer Jim Fisher.

My efforts over a decade demonstrate the futility of trying to reform ethical corruption in B.C. But this project has cast an interesting light on B.C.’s SJW industry, mainstream media, and legal and political establishment.

Greg Klein

[Phone number supplied to media]


Police transparency and accountability
will require OPCC transparency and accountability

[April 30, 2021]

To the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act:

Your group has heard numerous calls to impose greater transparency and accountability on police. That can’t be achieved, however, when a police oversight agency itself lacks those two attributes. That’s certainly the case with B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

The OPCC works in near secrecy and, in practice, answers to no one. This problem has consistently been brushed off by B.C. legislators.

Very little of the OPCC’s work comes to public attention. The commissioner or his deputy will disclose selected aspects of selected cases, but what’s selected for public knowledge—and especially what’s kept secret—is an OPCC decision that can reflect police interest more than public interest. The agency also publishes quarterly reports. But they provide only very brief, vague accounts (with names omitted) of cases that are, again, selected by the OPCC. The only meaningful exception to the OPCC’s secrecy involves cases that go to a Public Hearing. But that’s a relatively rare occurrence that is, once again, up to OPCC discretion.

As for accountability, in practice B.C.’s police complaint commissioner answers to no one. As an independent officer of the legislature he (the job has always gone to a male) answers only to the legislature. But the legislature has called a police complaint commissioner to answer for his conduct only once in the OPCC’s 23-year history.

That was back in 2002 when Don Morrison headed the agency. Morrison’s deputy commissioner Matt Adie and OPCC senior counsel Dana Urban both criticized Morrison for a pro-police bias, especially in his refusal to order a Public Inquiry into the death of Frank Paul. In 1998 a junior Vancouver police officer acting on orders from VPD sergeant and later PrimeCorp general manager Russell Sanderson dragged the unconscious native out of a police cell and into a paddy wagon before literally dumping him (still unconscious or possibly already dead) in a back alley. That’s where Paul’s body was later found.

At the 2008 Davies Commission of Inquiry (separate from the 2002 legislative inquiry and not specifically focused on the OPCC), Adie stated that Morrison would never order a public hearing into police unless pressured by media.

Despite the concerns expressed by Adie and Urban to the 2002 legislative committee, media reports suggest that committee paid less attention to allegations of pro-police bias than to statements that Morrison had been bullying his staff.

Morrison was allowed to resign with a nearly $100,000 payoff.

Having dealt with Morrison’s successor, Dirk Ryneveld, and his deputy, former RCMP officer Bruce M. Brown, I got the impression the OPCC had restricted its hiring process to exclude people like Adie and Urban. That impression was strengthened by Ryneveld’s successor Stan Lowe, and his deputy, former Vancouver police officer Rollie Woods.

As you’re aware, none of the other police-related legislative committees, including your own, were called to inquire into the OPCC’s conduct. So apart from that one example 19 years ago, the police complaint commissioner has always enjoyed immunity. In practice that immunity applies to his staff.

The OPCC’s lack of transparency and accountability presents obvious problems for police accountability. Despite the OPCC’s near-secrecy, four cases have accidentally come to light that demonstrate the problem starkly. Three involve female victims, one of them a physically disabled native woman.

Given my treatment by cabinet members, MLAs and two other committees, I have to anticipate excuses your committee might use to reject this submission.

Your committee’s website says you “cannot comment on the merits of specific complaints.” I’m not asking you to do so. This submission outlines the way certain police incidents have been dealt with—or not dealt with—by the OPCC. I’m not asking you to comment; I’m hoping you’ll reflect on how these cases demonstrate that police transparency and accountability will require OPCC transparency and accountability. There’s a huge distinction between the purpose of this submission and any request to “comment on the merits of specific complaints.”

Please keep in mind that an establishment brush-off hardly discredits legitimate concerns. But either through arrogance or complacency, B.C. legislators have been snubbing this information for years. Solicitors-general in both B.C. Liberal and New Democrat governments have ignored my correspondence, as have opposition SG critics on both parties. So have individual MLAs on all three parties, including the Greens.

A 2012-2013 legislative committee rejected my written submission, and others too, with the novel rationale that we weren’t allowed to refer to actual cases. The committee didn’t inform us of that previously unstated rule until after the inquiry ended, making it impossible to offer revised submissions.

Members of the 2019 committee, which included three members of your committee, refused to let me address them in person, implying that I’m not a stakeholder. I’ve been through the police complaint process myself and followed related issues for well over a decade.

That same committee did allow me to make a written submission but warned me not to mention specific cases, otherwise it would face rejection. But responding to a more persistent citizen, Traysea Stelmack, the committee accepted her written submission referring to an actual case.

Your committee has already heard numerous references to specific cases, incidents and individuals.

Rejection of this submission would be contrary to the directives given your committee, to the treatment you’ve given others and to your purpose. Therefore I’ll refer to specific OPCC cases, outlining four that have accidentally come to light despite the OPCC’s near-secrecy. These cases demonstrate that police transparency and accountability will require OPCC transparency and accountability. Your committee has no legitimate excuse to brush off this info. I suggest that if you do so, it’s because you don’t want to know.

Furthermore, rejecting this submission would clash with your committee’s focus on native issues. One of the cases outlined below strongly suggests contempt for natives, from both the police and the police complaint commissioner. As long as the OPCC continues to enjoy secrecy and immunity, there’s absolutely nothing to stop similar events from recurring.

The four cases involve Vancouver police officer Taylor Robinson, District of Saanich officer Brent Wray, former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner and New Westminster officer Sukhwinder “Vinnie” Dosanjh. 


The Robinson case:

On June 9, 2010, while accompanied by two other VPD officers, Taylor Robinson shoved Sandy Davidsen to the sidewalk for no apparent reason. Davidsen is a native woman who was walking with an obvious physical disability. Robinson later claimed that he thought she was trying to grab his gun. Yet he pushed her from behind.

A Notice of Public Hearing from then-police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe (November 12, 2013) states that VPD Professional Standards officers learned of the incident by June 11, 2010, when they interviewed the victim. 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 but were downplayed or ignored by Lowe.

Perhaps unwittingly, Lowe stated 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 withheld Robinson’s actions from the OPCC.

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.

Lowe’s Notice mentioned no Police Act investigation beginning 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, but just days after media found out. Lowe didn’t mention the heavy publicity that began July 22.

Only after the extensive publicity beginning on July 22 did the OPCC decide to have Robinson investigated. VPD constable and spokesperson Jana McGuinness acknowledged that Robinson remained working in the same neighbourhood up to July 22. (See July 22 media accounts, for example the Vancouver Sun, which also stated, “No one at the OPCC returned calls Thursday [July 22].”) Had Robinson been under investigation, he surely would have been transferred to other duties or another neighbourhood where he wouldn’t likely encounter his victim.

Evidence strongly suggests the investigation into Robinson was prompted by media coverage, even though both VPD Professional Standards and the OPCC knew about his actions much earlier. Although Robinson very belatedly was penalized for his actions, no investigation has ever been ordered into the VPD Professional Standards officers who unlawfully withheld the incident from the OPCC.

Lowe’s deputy commissioner Rollie Woods, a former head of VPD Professional Standards, later made very seriously inaccurate statements about this matter to the Georgia Straight and the Victoria Times Colonist. Woods made those statements on behalf of Lowe.

Short of a committee of inquiry struck by the legislature, Lowe and Woods don’t have to answer for their conduct. And, as mentioned, such an inquiry has happened just once, back in 2002.

That being the case, there’s nothing to stop similar police incidents from being handled the same way. The OPCC’s lack of transparency and accountability perpetuates that danger.


The Wray case:

This incident happened in 2010, prior to the creation of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office. At the time, the OPCC still held oversight responsibilities for investigations into serious injuries caused by police.

As reported by the Sooke News Mirror (January 28, 2019), Don Lapshinoff suffered very serious injuries at the hands of District of Saanich officer Brent Wray during a 2010 traffic stop. Video evidence showed Lapshinoff repeatedly mentioning his shoulder injury at the police station. The Police Act required Saanich police to inform the OPCC about the incident and either launch its own investigation into Wray’s actions or request an investigation by another police force. Saanich police did none of those things, and didn’t even note Lapshinoff’s serious injury in the arrest documentation.

It wasn’t until Lapshinoff filed a lawsuit against Saanich police in 2012 that the department finally informed the OPCC. At that point, police complaint commissioner Lowe had the Police Act responsibility to order two investigations: one into Wray’s actions and another into the Saanich officers who withheld the incident from the OPCC. Lowe did none of those things.

Again this case came to light only accidentally, despite the OPCC’s secrecy. And again, the police complaint commissioner and his deputy faced no questions, let alone repercussions, for failing to carry out their Police Act responsibilities. That failure undermines police accountability.


The Elsner case:

In late August 2015 police complaint commissioner Lowe learned about allegations of sexual misconduct by then-Victoria police chief Frank Elsner against female police officers. But Lowe didn’t order a Police Act investigation, as duty required. Instead he referred the matter to the Police Board co-chairs, Victoria mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins, for an internal discipline process. Only on December 18, after the Victoria City Police Union called for Elsner’s dismissal and media reported Elsner’s behaviour, did Lowe order an investigation. That was about four months after Lowe learned about Elsner’s actions.

Lowe’s excuses were rejected by Justice Christopher Hinkson, who stated that Lowe should have ordered a Police Act investigation much earlier. In November 2016 Hinkson asked Lowe’s lawyer, “What do you need to conclude public confidence might be shaken?”

Nevertheless, in September 2018 Lowe issued a 59-page rationale that tried to divert blame to Helps and Desjardins. Lowe ignored the fact that, unlike the two mayors, he had the specific experience, much more narrowly focused duties and Police Act responsibility to order an investigation.

Once again, however, the OPCC’s secrecy allowed Lowe to avoid calling a Police Act investigation until media publicized the case. And the OPCC’s lack of accountability shields him from the hard questions his tax-funded 59-page pre-retirement document failed to answer. Again, these OPCC deficiencies undermine police accountability.


The Dosanjh case:

The OPCC managed to keep the Sukhwinder “Vinnie” Dosanjh case secret for more than three months after New Westminster police suspended him in July 2008. The suspension resulted from charges that he had, while off duty, entered a woman’s house illegally and assaulted her. Media learned about the matter in November, despite the OPCC’s secrecy.

Notwithstanding the OPCC’s lack of disclosure, the New Westminster Record revealed more information on February 10, 2012. The newspaper stated that Dosanjh had returned to work after a three-year, seven-month paid suspension.

Crown attorneys had dropped all charges, but a judge took the unusual step of imposing a peace bond ordering Dosanjh to report to a probation officer, have no contact with the woman he assaulted 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, Dosanjh was allowed to return to the force. His only penalty was a temporary reduction in rank to second-class constable. He was also ordered to undergo psychological treatment. He received full pay during the nearly four-year suspension.

The OPCC did not inform the public that Dosanjh was under investigation for serious offences, object to the extremely slow conduct of the Police Act investigation, object to Dosanjh’s nearly four-year paid vacation, or inform the public that Dosanjh had returned to work under such unusual conditions.

Moreover, the extraordinary leniency in the face of very serious charges called out for a Public Inquiry under the Police Act. The inquiry would have brought Dosanjh’s actions to light, scrutinized the Police Act investigation and questioned his return to work under such indulgent conditions.

Instead, police complaint commissioner Lowe and his staff approved of the proceedings and tried to keep the matter secret. The Record learned some of the details despite the OPCC’s secrecy. The rest will remain secret, just as Lowe and his staff will never have to answer for their handling of this case.

In August 2017 media reported that Dosanjh had been suspended again due to an unrelated charge of sexual assault. Nothing more has been reported about this.


These four cases have come to light accidentally, so we have no way of knowing how many other examples of questionable OPCC conduct are being kept secret. And there’s absolutely nothing to stop the OPCC from handling future incidents the same way.

Since your committee is particularly concerned with native issues, it’s worth emphasizing that the Robinson incident suggests contempt for natives—from the VPD officer’s gratuitous actions and the inadequate response of VPD Professional Standards, to the OPCC’s conduct. Similar incidents could be recurring without public knowledge, let alone repercussions.

The OPCC’s secrecy and immunity contrast with the openness and accountability required of public institutions in a functioning democracy. Moreover, the OPCC’s conduct over the years clearly undermines police transparency and accountability.


Very briefly, here are some other necessary reforms:

A number of cases have shown that B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office needs the legal and practical resources to complete investigations within reasonable time limits. In the case of Myles Gray, for example, the IIO’s decision came in December 2020, more than five years after Gray’s death at the hands of seven Vancouver police officers.

The Myles Gray case also demonstrates the need for police body cameras. The seven VPD officers gave the IIO such wildly contradictory statements that Crown attorneys stated they couldn’t determine “a coherent narrative of events.” Therefore all seven cops evaded charges for a lethal beating in which they used fists, knees, boots, truncheons, a chokehold and mace. Body cameras would alleviate the glaring problem of police credibility and might also provide a deterrent to gratuitous violence.

Police should not investigate other police on allegations of sexual assault. B.C. and Quebec remain the only two provinces that allow this. Among several reasons for concern are allegations in filed lawsuits and in court proceedings that claim Vancouver police knew or should have known about VPD detective Jim Fisher’s sexual misconduct towards vulnerable women and girls. These new allegations follow Fisher’s 2018 criminal convictions for related offences.

The RCMP needs to be brought into the province’s system of police accountability. The federal force conducts most of B.C.’s policing. Investigations into RCMP officers are conducted by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. But, despite that name, the CRCC is nothing more than an RCMP in-house agency for self-investigation. Cases of serious injury are investigated by the IIO but all investigations into B.C. Mounties should be conducted provincially.

Police should not investigate other police at all. B.C. needs an all-civilian agency, with staff free of former police connections, to conduct investigations. The challenges of creating such an agency are by no means insurmountable and could greatly boost confidence in the police.

As demonstrated by the OPCC’s handling of four cases that have accidentally come to light, the present system only undermines confidence.

If you’ve read this, thank you. I’m willing to answer any questions.

Greg Klein

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