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. 

Winnipeg Crime Statistics (2015) by Electoral Ward

The statistics presented in this post are for the 8 crime types tracked by Winnipeg Police Crimestat for the dates  January 1st. 2015 and December 31 2015.

 

The numbers in parenthesis are the number of crimes reported to police  (2015/2014)

 

Old Kildonan  -7%   (384/414)

Point Douglas  -5%  (1009/1059)

St. Charles  -3%    (199/205)

Mynarski   0%   (1056/1061)

Transcona  +2%   (305/298)

St. Boniface  +11%  490/440)

Fort Rouge/East Fort Garry  +8%  (661/611)

Charleswood/Tuxedo  +12%  (217/194)

St. Vital  +20%  (437/364)

St. James/Brooklands/Weston    +21%  (663/548)

Elmwood/East Kildonan  +22%  (610/500)

River Heights/Fort Garry  +23%  (513/418)

Daniel McIntyre  +23%   (1060/862)

North Kildonan  +24%   (299/242)

South Winnipeg/St. Norbert  +31%  (403/307)

 

Observations

Except for the St. Charles ward, which has very little crime to begin with, the three wards that saw decreases or remained the same are all in the north end of the city (District 3).

The Daniel McIntyre ward edged out Mynarski as the ward with the most reported crimes.

The south-west, and south-east portions of the city showed major increases in property related crime.

Welcome to Golf In My Kingdom

I’ve been writing the Policing Politics and Public Policy blog since 2009.  This fall I decided to start-up a new blog that deals with a totally different subject mater, golf.

I will be adding a number of posts throughout the winter that cover with a variety of golf related topics that I hope will be of interest to golfers in Winnipeg and elsewhere.

If you have an interest in golf, have a look.  The new blog is titled Golf in My Kingdom

 

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.

Winnipeg Police Response to the Laszlo Piszker Case

Winnipeg Police recently issued a News Release after they got some push back from Laszlo Piszker.   Piszker was issued with a traffic offence notice alleging distracted driving (talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle).

In this particular case the issue made its way into the media and quickly became not only a local but also a national story.

This is the News Release issued by Winnipeg Police:

  Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In response to media inquiries regarding a distracted driving provincial offence notice that was recently issued, the Winnipeg Police Service has the following response:
Distracted driving is a serious safety issue similar to impaired driving or speeding and numerous studies have concluded that it increases the likelihood of collisions.
The Winnipeg Police Service has conducted a review of this incident and has information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media.
It is alleged that on March 2nd, 2012 officers were in a police cruiser car that was travelling on Portage Avenue when they observed a male driver of a vehicle with a cell phone held to his ear. Officers were 7 to 8 feet away from the driver when this was observed.  Emergency lighting equipment was activated and it took several blocks before the vehicle pulled over.  A provincial offence notice was issued to the male driver of the vehicle.
The Winnipeg Police Service will not be discussing this specific incident any further as the proper forum to contest an offence notice is in a Provincial Court.  A Judge or Judicial Justice of the Peace will hear the evidence and render a decision.
Winnipeg Police Service will continue to enforce the sections in the Highway Traffic Act related to Distracted Driving to ensure our roadways are safe.

For further information contact either: 
Constable Natalie Aitken, Public Information Officer
Constable Jason Michalyshen, Public Information Officer

Office: (204)986-3061
Fax: (204) 986-3267
Email: WPS-PIO@Winnipeg.ca 
Web: 
www.winnipeg.ca/Police

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the merits of the case against Mr. Piszker.  That case is before the courts and will and should be decided in the courts, not in the media, and not in the court of public opinion.  The purpose is rather to respond to how the police service has reacted to the media.

Police departments are well aware that comments to the media about pending court cases, especially the discussion of the evidence in a particular case, can prejudice the case and the ability of the accused to  get a fair trial.

That is why most police departments including the Winnipeg Police Service have policies that restrict and, in many  cases prohibit, police from commenting on cases before the courts. The Winnipeg Police Service Media Policy and the media policies of most police departments have a line that says: “Do not prejudice trials” and the first point listed usually references”discussing evidence”.  That is why so often you will hear police respond with “we cannot comment further as the matter is before the courts”.  That is a reasoned and appropriate response.

So what was it that prompted Winnipeg Police to violate that policy and issue this press release which discusses the evidence?

Several things come into play: police officers and police unions put significant pressure on police executives to respond to the media in situations such as this to defend the actions of the officers involved. Secondly, as a police executive, it is only natural to want to defend the organization when its actions or the actions of its members come under attack.   Some police executives wisely take the heat in the short-term and do the right thing which is to advise the media that the matter is before the courts, the evidence will be revealed at trial and the decision will be made by the courts and decline further comment. Not so the Winnipeg Police Service.

The Actions of the Winnipeg Police

Let’s start by examining the content of the News Release.  It starts by comparing distracted driving with impaired driving and speeding.  The purpose here would be to villianize the accused in this case (who has dared to speak publicly about this issue) and place him in the same category of offender as impaired drivers, a category of offenders who have little public sympathy.  Are impaired driving and speeding actually similar to using a cell phone while driving?  I think that an argument can be made that distracted driving, although a serious offence in its own right, is still just a violation of the Highway traffic Act, A Provincial Statute, and subject to a fine.  That’s a poor comparison to impaired driving which is a criminal offence which can result in license suspension and in extreme cases, jail time.  In terms of speeding, drivers exceeding the limit by say 10 or 15 KPH are much less likely to cause or become involved in an accident than a distracted driver.  Neither offence is a good comparator.

The News Release then goes on to discuss the evidence in terms of what the issuing officer(s) saw.  This is out of line.  Evidence should be presented to the court not the media.

The case reminds me of the reaction of Winnipeg Police in the Evan Maud case, a case that involved an allegation that members of the Winnipeg Police Service had taken a young male on a “Starlight Tour”.  The case eventually resulted in a charge of public mischief being laid against Maud but again the police released a lot of the evidence in the case to the media in an attempt to sway public opinion in favour of the Police Service.

It is not appropriate for police to pick and choose when they will comply with their policy to not discuss cases and release evidence relating to matters before the courts..

Expedience should not replace adherence to  basic policies, values and principles in police decision making in matters such as these.