Saturday, February 28, 2009

Losing face

It has been a very hard month for our national police force, the RCMP. They have been making more gaffes than the Keystone Cops, which unfortunately have not been very funny since they have cost two people their lives.
At the moment there is a Cororner's inquest into the death of a Polish man who was killed at Vancouver airport. On October 14th 2007 the Vancouver RCMP were called in when a man in the airport was acting strangely. Robert Dziekanski had arrived on a flight from Poland at about 4 pm and at midnight had not yet been able to clear the customs secure area. During this time no employee of the airport had asked him if he needed help. Speaking only Polish, Robert Dziekanski became frustrated at not being able to leave and soon became agitated. Instead of finding someone who could communicate with him, airport security simply called the RCMP. The airport security were even offered help from an airport employee who spoke Polish an hour before the incident and they turned him down.
When the police arrived they saw immediately that he was a terrible danger, after all he was threatening them with a stapler, so they tasered him within 25 seconds of getting there. Not once, not twice as they later said but at least five times according to witnesses...a little bit of an overkill. They said that after the first shock, he was still moving and screaming. Of course he was moving and screaming... he was writhing on the ground and screaming from the pain of receiving 50000 volts. So what do they do but zap him again, and again until they had subdued him.
To make matters worse instead of calling the emergency response team from the airport (a couple of minutes away from the incident) the supervisor makes the decision to not call them and call the Vancouver emergency response team who make it to the scene many minutes later and were not able to revive Dziekanski.
Now that the coroner's inquest is finally getting to the truth after the authorities tried to make it go away by dragging their feet, we are finally finding out what really happened that night. It took a year and a half before the inquest even started and I'm sure it is only because of the video that was captured by the witnesses that the authorities even consented to the inquest. I just wonder if the the four officers will ever face criminal charges of manslaughter for their role in Dziekanski's death.
Here is the video as captured by Paul Pritchard. Be warned it is brutal viewing.

Here are other links to more information: CBC News, National Post (generally right wing so it's not just us lefties who are shocked)

Now on to the next gaffe, on February 15th Marie-Josée Fortin and her husband, Gilles Blackburn got lost while skiing out of bounds at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The couple were not found for ten days despite the fact that their tracks and SOS's in the snow had been reported at least three times. On February 17th the first SOS was reported and the authorities checked the hotels and the ski rentals and found nothing, so no search was started. On the 21st, two more SOS's, were reported and again nothing was done. The RCMP simply checked with Search and Rescue to see if they had checked the hotels. Finally on the 23rd they were reported missing by the Montreal authorities and the next day an SOS was again spotted by pilot of a heli-ski helicopter. As the pilot was noting down the GPS co-ordinates he saw a man waving his arms. Not being able to land, he contacted the Golden RCMP who finally sent out the Search and Rescue and saved the man. Unfortunately they were too late to save his wife who died of exposure.
Now the Search and Rescue team and the RCMP are tossing the blame back and forth for the debacle... unfortunately Marie-Josée Fortin died while the both of them were trying to get their acts together. It seems to me that usually when someone in the back country scrawls SOS's in the snow it is because there is something wrong and that maybe a search might be in order. I will concede that skiing out of bounds in the Rockies is not the smartest thing to do, but still it does not take away from the responsibility of the authorities to verify that everything is OK. Here are some links for more information: CBC News

So there you are, our beloved national police force has egg all over their faces. Now the question is, what will they do about it? Will they try to shove it under the carpet or will they finally stand up and say "Yes we f**ked up big time, and we'll do everything we can to see that it doesn't happen again." and then take concrete action, including job loss for negligence and dereliction of duty or even criminal proceedings for manslaughter in the case of Dziekanski.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Brrrrritain in snow.

Usually the UK is pretty much wet and damp but not chilly and snowy, but this year they are getting snowed under. They are expecting another 20 cm (8 inches) of snow and high winds on Monday. Not being used to the rugged conditions of our Canuck winters they were pretty much paralysed last week and they are getting hit again.
Since there is a global recession and our Canadian economy is starting to suffer maybe we should export our expertise in road salt, winter tires, slush, how to dress for the snow, snowman and snow fort building, snowball fighting and general winter knowhow. Here is what it looked like in the UK.

Snowstorm Causes Chaos in London