Defeating justice with power

Do cop lobbyists account for
the BC Liberal/NDP coalition
against police accountability?

Sept. 6, 2011


B.C. Premier Christy Clark with Tom Stamatakis,
police lobbyist and president of the Vancouver
Police Union, the B.C. Police Association
and the Canadian Police Association.


BC Liberals and NDP both support a corrupt cop status quo

NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan (left) and BC Liberal Justice Minister Shirley Bond (right)…
No wait, that’s Bond on the left and Corrigan on the… or is it?
Aw hell, what’s the difference?


Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin has written about the power of police lobbies in Ontario and Manitoba, a subject he’s more than familiar with. From 1996 to 1998 Marin was director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, widely considered to be Canada’s strongest police watchdog. After he became ombudsman, Marin received increasing numbers of complaints about the SIU, prompting him to investigate the agency. Spending over a year on the study, he and his staff conducted around 100 interviews with current and former SIU staff, Attorney General’s officials, complainants, experts, consultants, community groups and police.

All that resulted in the September 2008 report Oversight Unseen, which is credited with reforming the SIU.

Later, Marin was contracted to make recommendations for a new police oversight system in Manitoba (although the province didn’t act on his recommendations).

His frustration with police lobbyists came through in a Winnipeg Free Press op-ed, in which he wrote:

“Police special interest groups, including powerful unions, have succeeded in keeping themselves immune from independent oversight. The lessons learned from Taman, Harper and Dziekanski are ignored as police management and unions, normally at loggerheads, come together to fight the common enemy of effective civilian oversight, stampeding politicians in the process. The police lobby at times borders on the hysterical. It’s all about the police maintaining control. Time after time, incident after incident, public outcry after public outcry, they wheel out the same tired old red herrings in an attempt to convince the public that the sky will fall if civilians are allowed to investigate police.”

SFU criminologist David MacAlister has attributed B.C.’s police oversight system to a “very powerful police lobby.” The lobby might be even more powerful here than in Manitoba or Ontario.

In B.C., unlike Ontario, both major political parties agree wholeheartedly on one issue and one issue only: the need to keep up appearances while thwarting police accountability.

The normally arch-rival BC Liberals and NDP united to appoint Stan Lowe police complaint commissioner, to pass minor Police Act amendments that changed nothing important and to create a new Independent Investigations Office that falls very far short of Ontario’s SIU.

Superficially, the IIO seems to address public concern about accountability. But it keeps cops and people very close to the cops in charge of a system that’s designed to fail.

The IIO is everything the police lobby could have asked for. In fact, the IIO is probably everything the police lobby did ask for. It has the support of every BC Liberal and NDP MLA without exception.


Update: Lobbyist registrar investigates B.C. police chiefs.
Secretive, unregistered police lobbyists use tax-funded resources
to push their cop agenda. More here and here.
Why do B.C.’s Ministry of Justice and Coroners Service
take part in a police lobby group? More…
When it comes to police matters, neither BC Liberal premier Christy Clark nor
NDP leader Adrian Dix has “the political courage to defy entrenched interests
and do what’s right.” More...
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Read more about B.C.’s inadequate Independent Investigations Office