PMO and the Mounties

I grew up with tales of the Mounties, of their bravery and determination in facing criminals in the early years of Canada’s expansion into the West. Now, in several provinces, they are the community police as they were then.

Maintiens le droit. Defend the law.

In High River, Alberta, homes lay unlocked and unguarded; weapons, mostly, I presume, the long guns that people in farming communities keep for ridding themselves of groundhogs and coyotes. What did the people of Alberta want the Mounties to do? Leave the guns there for anyone to take and perhaps use?

Not according to Premier Alison Redford, quoted in the Globe and Mail: RCMP officers who removed guns from evacuated homes in High River were doing necessary work to secure the flood-ravaged town in a crisis, Premier Alison Redford said in response to criticism.

But the PMO(Harper) knows better. The same article: “We expect that any firearms taken will be returned to their owners as soon as possible,” PMO spokesperson Carl Vallée said in a statement on Friday. “We believe the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”

In my view that is what the Mounties were doing when they removed the guns, protecting lives.

Apparently, playing to the hard-core Conservative voter trumps common sense in the PMO.

That same article in the Globe talks about the increasing tendency of the Harper government to interfere in policing decisions.

University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé, who is an expert on defence and security matters, quoted in the above article:

However, Mr. Lagassé said the PMO was walking a fine line by criticizing the RCMP’s activities, even though it clearly avoided giving a specific directive to the Mounties.

“This is not the norm,” he said. “We can say that we are starting to get into a zone where it is less legitimate for the government to tell the RCMP to follow other priorities,” said Mr. Lagassé.

Does anyone believe the PMO makes its pronouncements without Harper’s hand all over the script. Not our micro-manageing Prime Minister. Where will this need to control end?

Pardoned sex offenders evade record checks due to tighter privacy – The Globe and Mail

Pardoned sex offenders evade record checks due to tighter privacy – The Globe and Mail.

This article suggests that the government has tightened the privacy act to such an extent that only the person involved can give permission for the record to be released. So it should work like this: Mr. X wants to work as a hockey coach in September. He applies for his police check in August, giving permission to release the contents of any record found. But when the records are searched, he has no record, because that 2 years for child sexual abuse has been pardoned and that record is not released, at least not without his permission. So it would seem that there is no protection. Clearly if the RCMP are just following the directives, then the legislation has to be looked at again.

Deep in this article is a reference to a Real Time Identification Program of automated finger-printing that would decrease the current 120-day  waiting period. According to the article the RCMP is working on a Real Time Identification Program.

The website for the RCMP is clear that this system all ready exists and is in use daily by police services for their routine work. The system requires that the fingerprints being checked are in electronic format.

In order to get a police background check,for a civilian, a full set of fingerprints must be provided. If these can be done electronically at the local police station, the checking time is dramatically reduced. Reduced, that is,  until there is a hit on a criminal record. If a criminal record is found, checking can extend over 120 days.

It seems to me, that if an individual wishes to have a police background check done, the first step should be to review the steps of the process on the RCMP website. The directions are clear. Making sure that the fingerprints are sent electronically should reduce the wait time.