Culture of dishonesty
must end at RCMP

An editorial in the Vancouver Province, June 20, 2010


It’s been a tough few days for the RCMP. First, former Supreme Court justice John Major released a report into the Air India bombing that concluded the Mounties botched the investigation of the worst mass murder in our history. Then retired appeal court judge Thomas Braidwood described as “shameful conduct” the “not justified” actions of four officers who Tasered Robert Dziekanski to death at Vancouver airport.

If that wasn’t bad enough, and more worrying for Canadians who deserve to have confidence in our national police force, Braidwood rejected the central sworn testimony of the officers before his inquiry as “untrue . . . deliberate misrepresentations, made for the purposes of justifying their actions.” He also pointed out that RCMP brass chose not to correct inaccuracies in initial public statements the Mounties made after Dziekanski’s death, including untruths that he was drunk and that officers monitored his pulse and breathing as he lay dying.

Immediately after Braidwood’s report was released, B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong announced he would appoint a special prosecutor to review the findings, particularly why the officers’ testimony at the inquiry differed from their earlier statements that prosecutors relied on in deciding not to lay charges in his death. Now charges directly related to Dziekanski’s death and perjury charges linked to the inquiry should be considered.

While the RCMP has many honourable, hard-working members who must be appalled by these reports, the RCMP has shown itself to have a troubling culture of dishonesty. It raises doubts about the veracity of RCMP testimony in thousands of court cases heard across this country every year. It also suggests a dreadful lack of leadership throughout the organization.

Canadians deserve better.

It’s time for the RCMP to finally put more focus on cleaning up its ranks and less on yet more ineffective public-relations spin to convince us — and itself — that everything is OK.

Back to News and Comment page