RCMP officers win right to form union

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robbie_dee
RCMP officers win right to form union

Quote:
TORONTO - An Ontario Superior Court judge yesterday awarded the Mounties the right to unionize in a landmark decision that may have huge implications for the RCMP, its culture, and government budgets across the country.

Mr. Justice Ian MacDonnell struck down a section of the RCMP Act that precludes unionization, finding the law unconstitutional. He gave the federal government 18 months to prepare for the decision to take effect, given that it could fundamentally alter the power structure of one or Canada's most important institutions.

The RCMP, whose 22,000 officers work as municipal, provincial and federal police, is often described as the only force in the country that doesn't have a union. For more than a century, senior police commanders have resisted unionization movements, often arguing that it is imperative that the loyalties of the rank and file not be split.

But "why does the wider jurisdiction of the RCMP, or its status as a unique Canadian institution make the labour relations modes in place for other police forces inappropriate," Judge MacDonnell asked in his 35-page ruling ([url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/v5/content/pdf/rcmpunionruling.pdf]pdf[/url]).

The Mounted Police Association of Ontario launched the lawsuit.

Under the current labour-relations model for the RCMP, police brass impose a "staff relations" program to give a voice to the rank and file.But Judge MacDonnell characterized this as unconstitutional as it was "an entity created by management to avoid unionization."

 

Read the rest: [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090407.wrcmp07/BNSt... & Mail[/url]

Tommy_Paine

 

I wonder if the RCMP pension shenanigans was the driving force behind the drive to finally unionize?

 

Unionist

I could have sworn the Supreme Court said no to RCMP unionization years ago.

Caissa

Did that case pre-date the Charter, Unionist?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The pension shenanigans, as Tommy Paine points out, along with demotions and such for exposing wrongdoing, reduced training for new recruits, which, in my view, has led to the death of some Mounties and the unnecessary tasering of too many Mountie victims, a stupid and archaic recruiting procedure which still involves the use of a polygraph, a top heavy structure, rock bottom morale covered up by primitive cheerleading and reference to a long-dead tradition, open contempt and outrage towards the force in general from wide sections of the public following atrocities like those against Robert Dziekanski and many others, etc., etc., etc., all contributed towards this. Every working person, without exception, needs to be able to protect themselves collectively ... given the current system we have. Perhaps that abc of social life has finally penetrated the thick skulls of the Horsemen?

Tommy_Paine

I think there's been a serious split between the rank and file and the leadership of the RCMP for some time.  You get snippets of it in different or unrelated cases.   I tend to rail against the excesses of the RCMP, which these cases highlight, but at the same time they do point out that there are officers who have a more professional vision for the force.  Hopefully one that is in better keeping with the ideals of liberty than the past administrations have had.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

A great improvement which is long overdue and extremely obvious is for complaints and investigations OF the police, the Mounties included, to be run by civilians. Public input. After all, it's "taxpayer" money that funds these taser-happy forces. Public control is the key.

Of course, the police form part of the state and it is their duty to protect PRIVATE property in our system. Such property trumps human rights and sometimes human lives. That won't change no matter how good a publicly-run complaint commission we have.

It should be added that, in times of social strife, the citizenry is quite capable of policing itself. The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 being an excellent case in point; those events of 90 years ago showed clearly that striking Winnipegers could keep civil order easily. It's actually very instructive to read about this as it is an antidote to right-wing clap-trap about "anarchy" and so on.  It was this "ease" of keeping order than terrified the "authorities" since the latter wanted no examples of their own superfluousness. Incidently, the police in Winnipeg in 1919 joined the strike, that then grew into a more General Strike, and were replaced by scabs, soldiers returned from WW1, etc..

Tommy_Paine

A great improvement which is long overdue and extremely obvious is for complaints and investigations OF the police, the Mounties included, to be run by civilians. Public input. After all, it's "taxpayer" money that funds these taser-happy forces. Public control is the key.

 

Well, in Ontario we have that with the SIU, in which enough distrust resided that the Ombudsman investigated the investigators who investigate the investigators.  And the Ombudsman came up with recomendations currently being joyously ignored by everyone.

Clearly, the problem resides with Crowns Attourney and others in what might loosely be described as our "justice" system.  They are selectively not prosecuting police.  We can have all the oversight we want, but if the Crown refuses to do their jobs, then it doesn't matter.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Of course, the police form part of the state and it is their duty to protect PRIVATE property in our system.

 

I've seen this assertion before, and while it looks like an assertion that "the police serve only the rich", it does get me wondering:

 

1. if not the police, who should protect our property? Would an armed populace be a better choice? If nothing else, having property protected by the law of the land ensures that we have a hand in making those laws. That sounds better than yahoos on their porches with shotguns.

 

2. who protects public property? If I get a quad bike and start ripping up the local playground and running over the geese, who stops me? I would have thought it would be the police, but as they say, "the exception proves the rule", and if police protect private property, as opposed to just "property", then you seem to be saying it's not the police. Then who?

Laura Colella

There was a decision rendered by the Supreme Court in this matter and it did not predate the Charter, it was in 1999,
http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1999/1999rcs2-989/1999rcs2-989.html
It would surprise me if the Ontario Court decision is not appealed.
And N. Beltov, there is such an agency for the RCMP : its called the Commission for public complaints against the RCMP. Most provincial police forces also have them.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Laura Colella wrote:
And N. Beltov, there is such an agency for the RCMP : its called the Commission for public complaints against the RCMP.

 

That agency is less than worthless. I mean an INDEPENDENT agency, which CPC is not. Note the following:

Vive Le Canada wrote:
I regret to say Paul Kennedy's Report reads like "The Giant Whitewash", and it does so - even in my own limited experience - as one more of the Giant Whitewashes of RCMP wrong-doing which take up much of the time and energy of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. I wrote above that Paul Kennedy falsifies the position and status of the CPC. That is a serious statement. Kennedy writes in his latest Report: "It is important to note that the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is an agency of the federal government, distinct and independent of the RCMP". That statement, I insist, is false and it is used to mask a sick and ugly relation between the RCMP and its, supposedly, "oversight" organization. Gary Mason hints at the same thing. The CPC rarely conducts a truly "independent" investigation of RCMP alleged wrong-doing (I will explain why further on.) The RCMP investigates the RCMP at the bidding of the CPC. The CPC has no power whatever to discipline RCMP officers or to compel the RCMP to discipline them, no matter how heinous have been acts of wrong-doing. The CPC presents every report as "Interim" until the Commissioner of the RCMP passes on it. He usually agrees with recommendations of no importance and usually rejects any intimation of wrong-doing. When the Commissioner of the RCMP dismisses serious allegations, the CPC can do nothing. Even Paul Kennedy admits the only power of the CPC is to "make recommendations...to improve or correct conduct of RCMP members". That is why Report after Report suggests "refresher" courses (as with Paul Koester) or some way of better training. The RCMP Commissioner always agrees those are dandy suggestions.

highlights were mine - N.B

This lousy job did not prevent the RCMP from "investigating" former BC Premier Glen Clark and destroying his political career. The terrible mis-handling and whitewash of the police atrocities at the 1997 APEC Summit at UBC is noteworthy.

 

Here is a link.

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Snert wrote:
1. if not the police, who should protect our property? Would an armed populace be a better choice? If nothing else, having property protected by the law of the land ensures that we have a hand in making those laws. That sounds better than yahoos on their porches with shotguns.

You're conflating personal property with private property. It's a common mistake. We're all brainwashed to believe these are the same thing.

Quote:
2. who protects public property? If I get a quad bike and start ripping up the local playground and running over the geese, who stops me? I would have thought it would be the police, but as they say, "the exception proves the rule", and if police protect private property, as opposed to just "property", then you seem to be saying it's not the police. Then who?

My claim was NOT that the police ONLY protect what I am calling private property, but that it is part of their duties along with other duties.

Unionist

Laura Colella wrote:
There was a decision rendered by the Supreme Court in this matter and it did not predate the Charter, it was in 1999,

Thanks much, Laura. While I forget things, at least I'm glad I'm not making things up yet!

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

My claim was NOT that the police ONLY protect what I am calling private property, but that it is part of their duties along with other duties.

 

Very well. In that case it appears that they protect all property: private, public, and whatever my house and the land it's on is called. At the hardware store I can buy a black and yellow sign to put on my fence that says "Private Property - No Trespassing", but evidently that's not for us common folk. If Canadian Tire has any questions about "Private" property and its real, un-brainwashed meaning, can I refer them to you? Or will this be better handled by, say, Karl Marx?

Anyway, if not the police protecting all property, who then should protect "private" property?

fogbrella

Great! now they're an organized group of liars and killers!

I hope that all helps, somewhat - somehow - with their pathetic image...

robbie_dee

Laura Colella wrote:
There was a decision rendered by the Supreme Court in this matter and it did not predate the Charter, it was in 1999,

http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1999/1999rcs2-989/1999rcs2-989.html
It would surprise me if the Ontario Court decision is not appealed.


I imagine there will be an appeal.
However, while the RCMP decision post-dated the Charter, it pre-dated the Supreme Court's recent reexamination of constitutional labour rights in [url=http://csc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2001/2001scc94/2001scc94.html]Dunmore v. Ontario[/url] and [url=http://csc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2007/2007scc27/2007scc27.html]Health Services v British Columbia[/url].
It will be very interesting to see how the courts handle this.

Unionist

Has anyone noticed a problem with the font sizes?

fogbrella

Unionist wrote:

Has anyone noticed a problem with the font sizes?

Oh gawd yeah! especially in the "rich text - comment" space.  it's very small... and runs on and on and on, marginless, making it difficult to re-read or edit...

Snert Snert's picture

What I'm not thrilled with is the way you quote someone in full-sized text, then your response looks like you're softly whispering it.

fogbrella

Snert wrote:

"What I'm not thrilled with is the way (I) quote someone in full-sized text, then (MY)  response looks like (I'M) softly whispering it.

(corrected for proper diction)

yeah, that could pose perceptual problems, alright...

Aristotleded24

Tommy_Paine wrote:
Clearly, the problem resides with Crowns Attourney and others in what might loosely be described as our "justice" system.  They are selectively not prosecuting police.  We can have all the oversight we want, but if the Crown refuses to do their jobs, then it doesn't matter.

Which is why in addition to civilian oversight there should also be a branch of the Crown Attorney's office that deals explicitly with prosecuting alleged police wrongdoing.

Laura Colella

I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at. The CPC is indeed an independant agency.

 

N. Beltov., you quote Vive le Canada, but I'm not sure why. I had read that post previously, and he never does go on to explain what the relationship between the RCMP and the CPC is that makes it "ugly and sick". In fact, the CPC acts independtly from the RCMP. The powers of the CPC are in the law, the RCMP Act, and no, it does not have any power to discpline RCMP members, but it makes recommendations, and frankly, most of the time the RCMP follows through.

 

He also suggests that every report is Interim, which is absolutly not the case. While the chair can issue an interim report, he can also issue a final report. This said, following an interim report, there is always a final report. I wonder what the basis is for saying the RCMP usually rejects any intimation of wrong-doing. It is actually innacurate.

 

While one might suggest that the CPC needs extended powers, it is up to the legislature to do so. The CPC acts within its mandate, within the limits set up by Parliament. It cannot do more, because it is prevented from doing so legislatively.

 

I'm also going to suggest that while I tentatively agree that the fact that the CPC only has the possibility of making recommendations may be perceived as insufficient or inneffective, the reality is different. The CPC has an oversight role to play, and the RCMP needs public confidence in order to do their jobs properly. It would not be to their advantage to reject recommendations from an independant oversight body. And that is why they rarely do. The RCMP, like it or not, has to ultimately answer to the public so I'm going to suggest that maintaining an image of professionnalism is not something they will just reject. And I know, there are incidents in recent history that make us question the role of the RCMP and its oversight, and those problems need to be addressed. But I don't believe that the whole system is flawed.

 

So, no, the agency is not "less than worthless". On the contrary.

 

This said, if you know something I don't know on the independancy of the CPC, don't hesitate to share.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The RCMP Public Complaints Commission is so useless that it found tasering an 82 year old man in hospital was just dandy. The Commission has no authority to direct the pace of an RCMP investigation, as a result of which complaints can go on for years and years and years unresolved. The Commission has no subpoena powers.

Quote:
The RCMP, the federal police force of Canada, is the only major Canadian police force without a truly effective and independent oversight body.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC), also known as the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, does not have any legislative powers over the RCMP. While the CPC can and does make findings and recommendation to the RCMP, the Commissioner is not obliged to accept the recommendations.

And while the CPC's Vision Statement is "Excellence in policing through accountability," the RCMP often refuses to cooperating with CPC inquiries and more often than not, refuses to comply with it's directions.

http://www.rcmpwatch.com/about/

 

The Federal Conservatives look like they may reduce the funding to the Commission in any case. The Chairman has warned that "may hamper the agency's ability to properly police the Mounties."

Laura Colella

Yes, but that doesn't change the fact that the CPC is an independant organisation - independant from the RCMP.  I already agreed that the powers of the Commission may not be sufficient to create the perception that they have real oversight powers, but it does not mean that in reality, they don't.
If you would stop quoting from random sites, and actually look into how the RCMP actually responds to the Commissions recommendations, it might make the argument more solid. 
Here ya go : http://www.cpc-cpp.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx
 
As for the funding issue, the Commission's basic funding is not threathened. Last year, Day agreed to give an additional funding to the Commission and it is only this additional funding that is now in jeopardy according to the new Minister. And of course the Chair is worried about its impact on its role. Wouldn't you be? Don't you prefer that additional funding is provided to the Commission to insure that it can actually do its work properly?
 
Finally, on Lasser, I admit that when I first heard the story, I was horrified. How could the RCMP taser an 82 year old in a hospital? Are they out of control?? And then the Commission investigated. And I read the full report. Its important to read the full report. The RCMP actually really tried to stop the man using different means. People have said that he was a frail 82 year lacking oxygen - how could he be dangerous? Well, read the report. Read what the nurses say. Read what the RCMP members say. And read what Mr. Lasser himself did in that event. The reality is the RCMP did everything they could to evaluate different ways of dealing with the situation, and at at a certain point, when he lunged at them with a knife, what were they supposed to do? Mr. Lasser was extremely aggressive - not because it's in his character, but because of the unfortunate effects of the medication. There was an innocent patient in the same room as him. There were nurses. In this case, the RCMP really did what they could to prevent the situation from escalating.
 
Seriously, just read the report. Maybe it may change your mind. It certainly did mine. http://www.cpc-cpp.gc.ca/prr/rep/rev/chair-pre/Frank-finR-09-eng.aspx
The CPC chair iniated himself a complaint of the whole Taser incident in Vancouver. Its not like he doesn't take the issue seriously. Its an issue he takes to heart, but in the Lasser case, it was just a really unfortunate incident, but the RCMP acted appropriatly.