In the past year, official complaints of obstruction of justice have been laid by two RCMP members – one retired and one still serving – against the Commissioner of the RCMP, the former Commanding Officer of “E” Division (BC) and various other senior officers who were involved in the decision making process following the death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR in October of 2007.
The two RCMP members started their quest for justice in 2013 after one of them, former Cpl. Monty Robinson, served 8 months in prison on a perjury conviction.
Since then, they have been filing Access to Information requests and showing dogged determination to get at the truth.
The officers know they acted appropriately in their dealings with Polish traveller Dziekanski. They know they followed all proper procedures and yet, after a public inquiry, the Braidwood Commission and the assignment of a Special Prosecutor, the four officers who attended the YVR incident found themselves charged with perjury.
The allegations resulted from an assumption made by Braidwood that he had no business or justification to make.
It was perpetrated by the Special Prosecutor and two of the four trial judges resulting in jail sentences against two of the four officers. The other two officers were acquitted. None of the circumstances changed. The two judges who convicted the officers “inferred” something not in evidence to convict the two officers. It was a travesty of justice.
But internally, the RCMP leadership of “E” Division knew the members acted appropriately but neglected to speak out publicly allowing the members to be scapegoated. The two members believe that constitutes an obstruction of justice. Had that information been provided to Braidwood and then the courts, all four members would have been exonerated.
In the intervening 7 years, Cpl. Monty Robinson and Cst. Gerry Rundel have received thousands of pages of emails and reports and associated other documents. But it was also clear to them that some documents were being withheld despite the duty of the RCMP to comply under the Access to Information legislation. They fought back and complained multiple times to the ATIP Commissioner who investigated and thus far, has made seven findings against the RCMP for breaching the act.
The national police force in charge of enforcing the law was found to be in breach of the law, not once, but seven times.
As they have fought for the truth, retired member Cpl. Robinson and Cst. Rundel have upset more than a few apple carts along the way. They forced the issue internally within the RCMP. A Professional Standards investigation was conducted out of Alberta’s “K” Division. The two officers pushed back hard when they didn’t get the answers they wanted and now the whole matter has been assigned to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to investigate a criminal complaint against the Commissioner of the RCMP and several other senior officers.
The matter was reviewed by Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs and he found there was enough information to warrant a third party investigation of the allegations.
OPP Inspector Dan Nadeau has been assigned to conduct the investigation and it now looks as though matters are moving ahead.
It’s been a long, arduous process for the members who were just doing their job when they found themselves in a political sausage grinder – as described by Curt Petrovich in his book Blamed and Broken.
The former Chair of the RCMP’s Civilian Review Board Shirley Heafey, who has fought her own battles with the senior leadership of the RCMP, had this to say about the news that the OPP had been appointed to investigate the allegations:
“A/Comm Stubbs appears to have, so far, accomplished something unheard of insofar as attempting to make the top leaders of the RCMP, past and present, accountable for their neglect and failure to meet the lawful responsibilities they were sworn to carry out for the membership and the Canadian public. The scapegoating of the four members involved in the YVR tragedy where Mr. Robert Dziekanski died is unconscionable. The leadership must be made to face the consequences of their serious failures and, ultimately, their criminal conduct. This would be an historical first and long overdue.”
This is all stunning and ground-breaking stuff.