ISIS Fighters Returning to Canada

Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree

 

I recall vividly driving down Kenaston Boulevard and seeing yellow ribbons tied around the trees welcoming our troops home from over seas.  I remember thinking at the time that it was a great gesture to demonstrate support for Canadian foreign policy and a way to thank our soldiers who were the ‘tip of the spear’ of that foreign policy.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where we have another wave of ‘soldiers’ returning home to Canada.

There is a big difference though.  These soldiers are ISIS foreign fighters, terrorists.   These returnees are for the most part Canadian citizens who not only reject our Canadian values but took it several steps further and went overseas and joined the other side, actively fighting against the West in support of ISIS.

Now that the battle is turning these Canadian ISIS fighters are returning to their safe haven in Canada.

And what is the response by the Federal government in Canada?  While other countries like the United States, Britain and France are making concerted efforts to ensure that citizens from their countries that left and went to Syria to join ISIS do not return, Canada is essentially rolling out the welcome mat.

Ralph Goodale, speaking with his holier-than-thou attitude, tells us that  Canada does not engage in “death squads” implying that Canada is in some way morally superior to other countries.  The concern of course is that these ISIS foreign fighters, having been indoctrinated and trained by ISIS in Syria, and having ‘tasted blood’ so to speak will return to their countries of origin and continue to wage their war.

Not to worry, says our defense minister.  The foreign fighters returning to Canada will be monitored for any terrorist activities.

Our Liberal Government seems to think that Canada can reintegrate jihadists.  Our track record of rehabilitation and reintegration of ordinary criminals is dubious at best, and now we are going to apply that same philosophy to individuals who believe in a higher cause, who live by Sharia Law which in their minds supersedes Canadian Law.  Good luck with that.

Where does that leave Canada?  The Canadian  government claims that our vetting measures are adequate to root out potential immigrants and refugees with terrorist leanings.  The fact that so many Canadian citizens became ISIS fighter effectively shoots down that myth.

However, now that we have fighters returning from Syria who are self-declared terrorists who may have committed unthinkable atrocities we are simply going to allow them to return to Canada to live among us like nothing happened.

Well, no, they are going to be carefully monitored by the RCMP and CSIS.  That should giver us comfort right?   Wrong, for the most part Islamic terrorists who committed attacks in Canada were known to police and CSIS prior to the attack but they had neither the resources or the inclination to deal with them effectively.  We keep hearing that under Canadian law it was not possible to arrest and charge them.  What does that tell us about Canadian law?  If the law does not allow those charged to protect Canadian citizens to protect us the law needs to be changed.

In a long-term sense what needs to happen is a change in government.  The Liberals sunny ways are not helpful in dealing with the cloudy days we are experiencing.  The election is still a long way off but there are things that Canadian citizens can do in the interim.

Here are a few suggestions:

1 Make yourself familiar with the Terrorism and Violent Extremism Awareness Guide.

2 If you see anything that you feel may be terrorism-related contact the RCMP National Security Information Line  or CSIS by phone at 613-993-9620 or by email.

3 Contact your MP directly.  Depending on the nature of your contact you might wish to copy the Minister in charge of the portfolio your issue relates to and or the Prime Minister.    The following links provide you with the mailing address, phone number and email address for all MP’s.   phone and address      email.

 

On the bright side (not), remember that as ISIS fighters are streaming back into Canada you do not need to go out and tie any yellow ribbons to trees to welcome them back, the Canadian government is doing that on your behalf.

 

 

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Should Portage and Main be reopened to pedestrian traffic

 

Portage and main in the winter time is a cold, windy not to mention slippery place to try and walk.

 

Songs have been written about it.

It has been the venue for public rallies.

Originally an ox cart crossing in the late 1800’s  Portage and Main has evolved into Winnipeg’s most iconic intersection.

My first memories of Portage and Main date back to the early 1970’s  when I was a new recruit with the Winnipeg Police Force (as it was then called) .

Police recruits attended classes in the morning.  The classroom was located on the 5th floor of the Public Safety Building.  Then in the afternoon recruits were assigned to walk beats in the downtown area and of course do traffic duty.

Some of the most dreaded traffic points were Portage and Donald, Mayfair and Main and of course the biggy:  Portage and Main.

Portage and Donald was not all that problematic except for the fact that is was the route used by the then Deputy Chief J. C. Webster to make his way home and the poor Constable doing traffic duty there needed not only to try and keep traffic flowing smoothly but also had to keep a sharp eye out for the Deputy’s car.  The Deputy liked to be saluted and in that era hell had no fury like a Deputy not saluted.

Then of course there was Mayfair and Main.  That intersection was a two-person job.  One recruit would be out in the middle of the street actually directing traffic, and the second would manually operate the traffic signal box changing the traffic control signals from green to amber to red based on traffic flow.  What made this intersection dicey was that the Superintendent in charge of Training and Personnel (Charles S Tully) and the Sergeant Instructor (Thomas Arfield) both rode the bus home along Main Street and woe be to the Constables who failed to facilitate an orderly flow of traffic especially the traffic that was south bound on Main street.

Then there was Portage and Main.  The intersection from hell in terms of traffic and traffic duty.  The constable assigned the task had to juggle three lanes of traffic approaching Main street from Portage Avenue east bound, and Main Street both north and south bound as well as a lesser flow of traffic from East Portage Avenue heading west.   Controlling those wanting to turn left, right or proceed straight through was bad enough but then add pedestrians to the mix and it was a nightmare.  Due to the cold conditions in the winter, pedestrians invariably kept crossing the street well after the don’t walk signal came on and because of the congestion in the area, drivers kept entering the intersection when the traffic light turned amber and well beyond.  The result was gridlock and of course many close calls including the occasional accident involving cars and pedestrians.  With all the honking of horns,  and pedestrians shouting at drivers it was like being in New York.

The closing of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic in 1978 was a major step forward in terms of pedestrian safety and traffic flow in downtown Winnipeg.

Now our Mayor who was knee high to a grasshopper when the change was made wants to stage a nostalgic ‘back to the future’ and reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians.  Using the words of an actor from a movie some years back: ‘big mistake, huge’.

The City has grown substantially since 1978 (by approximately 150,000) and traffic flow which was a problem then is an even greater issue now.   The re-opening or Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic would be a great plan if your end objective was to bog down the center of Winnipeg into a total rush hour gridlock and at the same time endanger the lives of pedestrians.

So if that is your objective, Mayor Bowman, the re-opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic will be a booming success.  Have at it.

Oh, and by the way, how about a few hitching posts – they used to have those along Main Street as well. 

The Whistle Blew, Was Anyone Listening

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We know from the Quebec experience that even in a sophisticated developed country like Canada, some politicians at the municipal level engage in fraudulent activities for personal gain.

Over the years some Winnipeg contractors have bemoaned the fact that some company owners and contractors have had a too close and cosy relationship with civic politicians and senior civil servants in the area of property development.

A parcel of land may have a very low value based on how it is zoned.  If a zoning change or variance can be obtained the price of a given parcel of land can greatly increase in value overnight.

Zoning changes and variances are obtained through civic standing committees usually based on the advice of senior officials in the administration.

Then there is the whole issue of awarding city contracts which greatly broadens the field of play into areas such as  water and waste, road and building construction, snow clearing, garbage and recycling pickup and a host of other soft services such as consulting contracts which the city regularly enters into.

The problem has been that business owners and contractors have been  loath to come forward and file formal complaints because many rely heavily on city business for their livelihood.  They have not been confident that a complaint would result in the required changes, and they cannot afford to be black-balled.

Based on media reports it would appear that we are now in a position where a number of people with apparent knowledge of alleged wrong doing have come forward to police.  Naturally police need to establish the credibility of the individuals coming forward and  assess the validity and reliability of the information they are providing.  If the individuals are credible and the information passes the initial test, there would appear to be a basis to initiate an investigation.

Lets hope that the appropriate approaches were used to ensure this matter was dealt with properly and that an opportunity was not lost.

Corruption at any level of government undermines both democratic principles and the workings of a  free market economy.  All available steps must be taken to investigate and prosecute corruption.

Municipal Corruption

With everything that is going on in this city some may be too busy to do research so I have reproduced here for easy reference Section 123 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

123. Municipal corruption

123. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to a municipal official or to anyone for the benefit of a municipal official — or, being a municipal official, directly or indirectly demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from any person for themselves or another person — a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for the official

(a) to abstain from voting at a meeting of the municipal council or a committee of the council;

(b) to vote in favour of or against a measure, motion or resolution;

(c) to aid in procuring or preventing the adoption of a measure, motion or resolution; or

(d) to perform or fail to perform an official act.

Influencing municipal official

(2) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who influences or attempts to influence a municipal official to do anything mentioned in paragraphs (1)(a) to (d) by

(a) suppression of the truth, in the case of a person who is under a duty to disclose the truth;

(b) threats or deceit; or

(c) any unlawful means.

Definition of “municipal official”

(3) In this section, “municipal official” means a member of a municipal council or a person who holds an office under a municipal government.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 123; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 16; 2007, c. 13, s. 6.

The Search for Tanya Nepinak’s Body: An Exercise in “Relationship Building” Gone Awry

Searching garbage dumps or remote wooded areas is not a new exercise for police when they are looking for the remains of a murder victim.  It has been done before both here in Winnipeg and in other jurisdictions. The reasons for mounting such searches are simple.  In homicide cases it is more likely that a conviction can be obtained if the victim’s remains are located.  The Christine Jack case is proof of that.  Secondly, a failure to locate a homicide victim’s remains is hard on the victim’s family. Without a body there can never be a true sense of closure.

For those reasons police should make every reasonable attempt to locate victim’s remains in homicide cases.

The Tanya Nepinak case serves to illustrate what happens when police allow non-operational considerations to cloud their judgment.  What is at issue in the Tanya Nepinak case is how police went about determining if a search should be conducted, and if so, the area in which where the search should be concentrated.

Normally when police consider conducting a search for a body in a garbage dump such as the Brady Road Landfill site, it is because they have information either from an accused or witnesses that a body was placed in a dumpster and dumped at a specific location.  As a rule if the decision is made to conduct such a search, police have some idea of time frame as well as the location within the landfill where disposal of the body took place.

Without such points of reference a search becomes not only meaningless in terms of the probability of success but also prohibitively expensive.

It would appear that at a certain point during the investigation the police service had such points of reference in terms of time frame and location and announced that a search would be conducted. Then apparently new information came to light which muddied the waters.

It’s then that the Winnipeg Police Service took leave of its senses and abandoned all rational thought and adherence to scientific and investigative principles.  Instead of explaining to the victim’s family and the public what they were faced with and calling off the search, they attempted a face-saving exercise based on their “relationship building” credo.  Not being prepared to deal with the victim’s family and tell them that a search was useless they attempted a compromise:  having an aboriginal elder visit the site, conduct a ceremony, and identify an area to be searched.

The subsequent search of a very small area was not a sound operational decision.  The actual search was a token search, an act of going through the motions in the hope that the victim’s family and aboriginal leaders would be mollified.

How insulting.

In the end police searched a very small area, without success.   Upon the conclusion of the token search the victim’s family was not satisfied citing concerns that the elder who identified the search area did not represent the family and that the area identified by the family had not been searched.

We are now left to wonder if the direction of  future homicide investigations conducted by the Winnipeg Police Service will be based on the dictates  of aboriginal elders,  the musings of soothsayers and  fortune tellers or will police be guided by the results of their investigation.

What do police tell the next victim’s family that asks police to undertake a search of a particular area identified by their chosen elder or religious advisor?

Building relationships with the aboriginal and other minority communities is a laudable goal but not one that should be allowed to supersede operational realities and the facts as they present themselves in a homicide case.

My advice to the police service is this: cut your losses, and come clean.  Admit a flawed decision was made.  Avoid creating a precedent that could haunt the Police Service for years to come.

Defending a flawed decision reflects poorly on the organization and damages its credibility.

Graham James Gets Two Years, Could Walk by September

Societies are not  judged  by how they treat the powerful but rather how they treat the most vulnerable, and the manner in which those who abuse and victimize the most vulnerable are dealt with when they are charged and convicted.

Graham James is the poster boy for what is wrong with our criminal justice system.

James was sentenced to two years in custody for repeated sexual assaults committed against Theo Fleury and Todd Holt.   The sentences are concurrent, not consecutive.

What does that mean in terms of when James is eligible to apply for parole and be back out on the street again?

James can apply for day parole in 6 months.  If granted he could hit the streets in  September of 2012.

He is eligible for full parole after serving one-third  of his sentence – if granted that would be in  November 2012.

If James is denied parole he will be eligible for statutory release after having served two-thirds of his sentence – July of 2013.

So that is how we treat those who abuse the vulnerable.

“That’ll teach ’em”.   Or not.  Perhaps more victims will come forward and we can make this an annual event.

On a last note, before the politicians start wringing their hands and bemoaning what happened here they should have a look in the mirror.  They are the only ones with the power to make change.  If they are not prepared to do so,  they should step aside and make room for someone who can, and will,  do the right thing.

 

UPDATE   February 15 2013

The Manitoba Court of Appeal increased James’ sentence from 2 years to 5 years.

Provincial Fines and How Fine Revenue is Distributed

Have you ever wondered what the fine amounts are for breaches of Provincial Statutes and how the fines are set?

They are set by the province and published in the form of regulations.

The Regulations create ‘fine categories’ and each category has a money amount attached to it.  This simplifies things for Judges when they assess fines.  For example: there are offences under different Provincial Statutes such as the Highway Traffic Act and the Liquor Control Act that fall under the same category for fine purposes. Generally speaking Categories A to F deal with offences committed by individuals while Categories G to J deal with offences committed by business owners or corporations.

Examples of offences in each category

Category A – fail to produce a driver’s licence

Category B – Drive left of dividing line

Category C – Fail to yield right of way

Category D – Disobey a traffic control device

Category E – Have or keep liquor in a vehicle other than authorized

Category F  Drive an unregistered vehicle

Category G – Sell liquor other than authorized (boot legging)

Category H – Transport hazardous waste without a licence

Category I – Fail to report an environmental accident

Category J – Sell, buy, trade or barter the meat of a wild animal

The Province of Manitoba recently published the amended Summary Conviction Act Regulation that lays out fines for offences against Provincial Statutes.  Table 1 (below) shows the 10 offence categories with category A offences being the least serious and Category J offences being the most serious.

The table shows that the actual base fines range between $37.00 for Category A offences all the way up to $1467.00  for Category J offences. That is just the basic fine though.  To that you must add the various surcharges like court costs (45% of the base fine), the Victim Service Surcharge (20% of the base fine), and the Justice Services Surcharge (a flat rate of $50.00 per offence).  Once all the surcharges are added the fines persons convicted must pay are $110.00 for Category A offences and $2470.00 for Category J offences.  The table also shows how the fine revenue is broken down between the Province and the City.  As indicated for the offences with lower fines, the Province takes a bigger cut and as the fines increase the City’s cut increases.

Table 1  Offence Category Table

Offence Category Base Fine Court Costs Victim Services Surcharge Justice Services Surcharge Total City Portion % Provincial Portion %
A 37.00 16.00 8.00 50.00 111.00 35 65
B 55.00 25.00 11.00 50.00 141.00 41 59
C 73.00 33.00 15.00 50.00 171.00 45 55
D 90.00 41.00 19.00 50.00 200.00 48 52
E 110.00 50.00 22.00 50.00 221.00 50 50
F 147.00 66.00 30.00 50.00 293.00 53 47
G 257.00 115.00 52.00 50.00 474.00 57 43
H 367.00 165.00 74.00 50.00 656.00 59 41
I 733.00 330 147.00 50.00 1260.00 62 38
J 1467.00 660.00 294.00 50.00 2470.00

Source:  Table 1 was constructed with information obtained from the Province of Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Police Service.

For clarity and ease of reference the fine amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar and the split between the Province and the City to the nearest %.


Speeding Offences

Unlike other offences the fines for speeding offences are dynamic, i.e. they increase as the speed goes up.  The basic fine for speeding is $7.70 per kilometre over the posted speed limit.  Tickets are not normally issued  until the threshold of 10 KPH over the speed limit is reached.  Speeding offences that are committed in construction zones (when workers are present) are subject to a further $5.00 per kilometre surcharge for a total of $12.70  for each kilometre per hour over the posted speed limit.  Table 2 shows the fine breakdown based on 5 specific speeds.

Table 2  Speeding Offences Table

KPH over limit Base Fine Court Costs Victim Services Surcharge Justice Services Surcharge Total City Portion Provincial Portion %
10 77.00 35.00 16.00 50.00 178.00 43 57
20 154.00 69.00 31.00 50.00 304.00 51 49
40 308.00 139.00 62.00 50.00 559.00 55 45
80 616.00 277.00 124.00 50.00 1067.00 58 42
99 762.00 343.00 153.00 50.00 1308.00 58 42

Source:  information compiled based on information contained in the Manitoba Summary Convictions Act (Regulations)

Note:  All numbers rounded up to nearest dollar/per centage.

Now you know.