Good riddance to Paul Kennedy

Supposedly the RCMP watchdog,
Kennedy cleared the cops by creating scenarios
that didn’t match the evidence


As head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, Paul Kennedy’s job ends on Dec. 31. The federal government announced on Nov. 27 that it won’t renew his appointment. While initial coverage in the Toronto Star and CBC portrays Kennedy as a crusader for justice, an Oct. 31 CTV W5 documentary found the opposite.

Kennedy “is supposed to be Canada’s watchdog when it comes to our federal police,” said W5 journalist Victor Malarek. But in order to defend police, Kennedy “creates scenarios” that don’t nearly match the evidence.

While discussing the fatal RCMP shootings of Ian Bush and Kevin St. Arnaud, Malarek’s interview shows Kennedy alternating between smugness and stubbornness. In the Bush case, Kennedy manufactures an explanation that’s entirely at odds with a forensic expert and DNA reports.

Blood splatter expert Joe Slemko tells Malarek he couldn’t believe Kennedy’s report, calling it “a laughable explanation for why evidence isn’t there.”

Kennedy sides with the RCMP on their refusal to conduct a re-enactment of Constable Paul Koester’s implausible account of the events leading up to Bush’s death.

To defend Ryan Sheremetta, the RCMP officer who shot St. Arnaud, Kennedy “creates his own scenario, a scenario that not a single witness corroborates” — not even the officer involved, according to Malarek. Lawyer Cameron Ward says Kennedy’s explanation contradicts the facts.

Kennedy’s smugness shows again, as he rejects Malarek’s criticism that the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is actually “an apologist for the RCMP.”

“There’s just a cluster of people,” Kennedy responds, “and that’s the same song they sing. It’s like having a bird that only goes ‘tweet tweet’.”

As for Kennedy’s proposed changes to the system of investigating RCMP, they’d actually block reform. A Vancouver Sun editorial notes that Kennedy’s plan could allow the RCMP “to investigate itself in the most serious cases, except those involving death. And cases that do involve death could be investigated by another police force, which means some apprehension of, and potential for, bias would still exist.”

The editorial concludes that police should be investigated by civilians, not other police.

Kennedy brings to mind another faux watchdog, Dirk Ryneveld. When he was B.C.’s police complaint commissioner for municipal officers, Ryneveld allowed deputy police complaint commissioner Bruce M. Brown to rubber-stamp biased police self-investigations. (Unlike Kennedy, however, Ryneveld was canny enough to pursue cases that received advance publicity or support from influential groups.)

Ryneveld was replaced by Stan Lowe, who’s best known for exonerating the four Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death. Like Ryneveld, Lowe heads a staff comprised almost entirely of ex-cops.

Kennedy’s successor hasn’t been named yet.

Ryneveld and Kennedy were faux watchdogs and bogus crusaders. But will their replacements be any better?

Watch the W5 report online
To go straight to the Paul Kennedy segment,
click on Beyond Justice? Part 4
at the right side of the W5 Web page.
More on Paul Kennedy:
RCMP’s watchdog displays arrogance and bias
Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, Nov. 30, 2007
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