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Ep 193 – Defund the BCPP
[00:01:19] Ian Bushfield: Let’s talk about BC’s PP, past and present. I’m of course, talking about the provincial police that we used to have. Before we get into a real deep dive, into the history of policing in British Columbia and Canada, and really how policing works today.
[00:01:40] Uh, let’s talk about some of the latest stories that are. Not positive.
[00:01:44] Scott de Lange Boom: No, there hasn’t been much positive news on this front, uh, over the last couple of weeks, but yeah, let’s jump into it. So first as a followup to, uh, what we mentioned last week around the don’t think there was an arrest, but the police alternation and tackling of, uh, chief Allen, Adam, uh, journey.
[00:02:05] Stop for, I believe it was an inspired license plate he was pulled over for. Anyway, today the video came out, showing that the use of force was not necessarily reasonable and showing the RCMP, tackling him pretty hard to the ground and then punching him.
[00:02:22] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, I haven’t watched the footage yet. Um, The it’s not the write up enough is yeah.
[00:02:30] It has a graphic warning in front of it. The text includes there’s a lot of scaling back and forth for sure.
[00:02:37] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So in the mid process of being restrained by one officer, when another runs off and basically knots, the three of them down to the ground, it’s not good.
[00:02:46] Ian Bushfield: And in terms of like individuals, like.
[00:02:49] Chief Adam is not, not that this shouldn’t should make any difference, but he’s not just some random person. He, you know, he’s a fairly high, highly respected prominent person within the Chippewan first nation within I believe indigenous communities within Alberta. So yeah, this is pretty. Grotesque abuse of authority and kind of just highlights what this whole moment is really about.
[00:03:15] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It’s also concerning because the initial response from the police who had allegedly viewed the video at that time was that it, the actions were appropriate and didn’t meet the threshold for an external investigation.
[00:03:28] Ian Bushfield: Hmm. Yeah. I mean, the other thing coming out this week is Yvette brand in CBC had a.
[00:03:36] A breakdown, a count accounting up all of the different police fatalities across the country, over the past decade, roughly, uh, or two, and trying to look across the country at, you know, how many, bringing all the statistics together and showing that BC has the highest per capita police fatality rate in the country, which.
[00:03:59] You know, I mentioned last week. Surprised me a bit. Yeah. Well, I’ve mentioned last week, you know, looking at the stats that we’ve seen almost every year, someone is shot to death by police in this province, except the one year where there was no one, but then there was like a big spike the following year.
[00:04:16] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I still would’ve just, if you’d asked me before looking at this, I probably would have said Ontario, but that’s probably just because. More stories come out of there just there’s more people and therefore more police.
[00:04:28] Ian Bushfield: I think there might also just be a difference in the way the RCMP versus another force.
[00:04:34] Like the opp, even not to say the LPP is unblemished by any standard, but the RCMP seems to have a. Particular deep systemic issue as highlighted by the previous story. It all goes to show there is a problem though, and there’s a lot to be dug into. And so I want to tell, almost start this conversation a bit more with history.
[00:04:57] Cause one of the things I’ve been thinking about is how there weren’t always police. So when people talk about defunding police, abolishing police forces, It’s really tough to imagine right now, because everyone’s grown up and their parents and their parents grew up with some kind of police force and it’s just a constant presence.
[00:05:18] But, you know, even just a cursory dig into the history, shows that what we know today as metropolitan, you know, municipal police forces didn’t really exist prior to the 17th or 18th century and Britain and France. Uh, There were you, you know, some examples prior to that, but most of the time security would be on a private basis, generally contracted by the wealthier people to protect their private property.
[00:05:48] And sometimes there would be a government efforts to quell specific issues, but there weren’t just kind of continuous established, commissioned officers. Uh, until kind of the pre and during the revolutionary period in France, when they were commissioned and tasked with ensuring the peace and quiet of the public and private individuals purging the city of what may cause disturbances procuring abundance and having each and everyone live according to their station and their duties.
[00:06:17] Which sounds nice, but it’s also another way of saying, you know, kind of keep order and maintain the status quo.
[00:06:22] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It starts a revolutionary, France. They were not shy about guillotine and people.
[00:06:27] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. On either side.
[00:06:28] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It’s yeah. Having to start in the terrorists. Maybe isn’t the best way to get things rolling.
[00:06:34] Ian Bushfield: And it’s actually really interesting. Cause when you. Read about the introduction of police into Britain. It was largely opposed in many towns, there’s a poster on the Wikipedia page about police from this Welsh town. That’s talking about how they don’t need police. They don’t want to have to pay 200 pounds a year and.
[00:06:52] That era, uh, for a police force and they had their own little trial where they found that, you know, if they, if everyone just behaved themselves like a good Brit, there would be no police. And it’s only criminals who actually want to bring police in.
[00:07:06] Scott de Lange Boom: That’s a hot take,
[00:07:08] Ian Bushfield: or I guess the point is there was like not a big initial swell for it, except from a business class merchants.
[00:07:18] People, particularly who have large stocks of inventory that were relative being rated quite regularly, uh, who had to largely run their own secure Oreo high that run their own security or higher security. And so it was a massive cost. So in a way you could almost look at it as saying, well, how can we make the public pay for the protection of our.
[00:07:42] Private property, you know, sort of nationalize the expense.
[00:07:46] Scott de Lange Boom: I suppose that’s a way to look at it, but like public safety really is a public goat in the true sense of the word. So that if anything more seems to be the impetus for expanding state capacity in that role, more than anything
[00:08:00] Ian Bushfield: else. And then when we look over at the founding of Canada, the dominion police and eventually Northwest mounted police were established in particular to.
[00:08:10] Pretty much, you know, create and maintain order over Rupert’s land and the newly acquired or claimed territories, you know, clear and ensure security of the protection of the CP railway, relocating indigenous communities, uh, and this defense against us invasion, which is kind of more of a military purpose, but the RCMP has always had this weird two to three extra roles that, uh, you know, municipal force doesn’t have.
[00:08:38] Cause they’re also are like, There are CIA or no, sorry. There are CSUs is our CIA. Yeah, but they perform multiple roles.
[00:08:46] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. They, this stuff the FBI does in the States, they do that here as well as local policing
[00:08:51] Ian Bushfield: here in British Columbia, the British Columbia pro provincial police were established even before, uh, the province joined called a Confederation in 1858.
[00:09:01] This guy. Charter is brew was appointed gold commissioner and essentially became the defacto chief Constable and was eventually named the head of police of the colony. Uh, the gold commissioner. I had to figure out what this was. He was responsible for issuing mining licenses and making sure that the resources got allocated in some way.
[00:09:23] Scott de Lange Boom: I mean, when I hear that, I immediately think of the gold rush. So that makes a lot of sense. Yeah.
[00:09:29] Ian Bushfield: And so he was responsible for maintaining security, preventing potential rebellions, uh, again, defending against possible American incursions. You know, there’s kind of the two points of view on the founding of police in Canada.
[00:09:42] One is kind of, I think the story most are familiar with this establish order develop relations, and there are plenty of actual good examples of positive relations between Northwest mounted police and, uh, Plains indigenous communities in particular. Um, but there’s also a really dark side to it as well that, you know, once, especially once the Indian act is passed the police and the RCMP eventually, or the Northwest mounted police are responsible for enforcing it and, you know, making sure the indigenous people aren’t drinking.
[00:10:16] Rounding them up really subjugating them, you know, the famous Kent Clarkman, I believe it is a painting of dragging indigenous children off to residential schools. All of that is deeply tied into the history of the mounted police. And so eventually we get to 1950 and we still have the British Columbia provincial police.
[00:10:38] And it’s not clear exactly what happened because Hansard didn’t exist at the time. So we don’t know why a bill was passed to disestablish the BCPP and replace it with the RCMP. What we do know from reporting of the time is that it was unpopular. Apparently Burnaby counsel stated that they’re not going to have mounted police in this town.
[00:10:59] And they confronted the RCMP when they came to occupy or I guess, work out of the old stations. The suggested motivations for the move are possibly just financial. A lot of provinces thought they could save money by going to the RCMP. Uh, there’s a suggestion that maybe the federal government wanted all the provinces to have RCMP so that they could unify an anticommunist strategy.
[00:11:22] This is height of cold war and maybe the so creds at the time just wanted to prevent unionization of the BC provincial police. In any case, we got RCMP and we’ve had them since. At least on the provincial level, there are still a few municipal police forces that we’ll get to that are different.
[00:11:42] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. But let’s move on to kind of present day police in Canada.
[00:11:46] So looking at Canada as a whole, we have about 185, uh, police officers, per hundred thousand residents in Canada. It’s 182 in BC. And we actually looked at where that stats up internationally. It’s. Fairly low down on the list. We have fewer police per capita than the us, Australia, Japan, a lot of our peer countries that have more police, uh, than we do on a per capita basis as well.
[00:12:15] And we’re kind of around, you know, Denmark, Norway, uh, levels of policing. And then just some quick demographics, 8% of police in Canada, identify as visible minority. Uh, 5% are indigenous and 22% are women.
[00:12:31] Ian Bushfield: And just for reference 27% of the British Columbia population is a visible minority minority, and about 5% are indigenous.
[00:12:39] And I’m just going to go out without looking at it. But I think 49 to 51% of the provinces women,
[00:12:45] Scott de Lange Boom: that’s probably a pretty good estimate.
[00:12:47] Ian Bushfield: Like guessing that one, um, on the numbers of police officers, I’ve heard from a number of police forces and it comes up. Regularly around budget time that many of them have been fairly stagnant in terms of the size of their force for awhile, uh, or at least.
[00:13:06] Stagnant in terms of per capita. And I looked up some of the federal stats and that seems to hold nationwide.
[00:13:12] Scott de Lange Boom: Yes. If you look at the federal stats, I mean, police force has really peaked in the early seventies. And then there’s another small peat around 2010 before dipping down below the 200 per a hundred thousand line.
[00:13:26] Ian Bushfield: Nevertheless, in every municipality just about, uh, the cost of policing has. Outpaced inflation quite regularly. I think in Vancouver, they’re regularly asking for somewhat like double inflation in terms of budgetary expenses. And part of that is growing salaries, but also the increased costs of the gadgets equipment.
[00:13:52] And in particular, the civilian staff I think, has really grown as well. The police bureaucrats, I guess the people who work behind the desks as noncommissioned officers,
[00:14:03] Scott de Lange Boom: I’m not sure the non commissioned officers, the technical term, but basically civilian staff.
[00:14:06] Ian Bushfield: And so police in British Columbia are governed by the police act.
[00:14:12] Uh, this is a bill that’s been around for quite a while. It stipulates that every municipality with at least 5,000 people must have law enforcement. Uh, those communities under must have their own law enforcement communities under 5,000, uh, just our police by the RCMP, through the provinces. A contract. So any municipality has the choice of forming their own police department.
[00:14:36] Like the Vancouver police department. There’s about 12, I believe serving 13 municipalities. They can contract an existing police department. So I believe Santa chooses the Victoria police department. Or they can contract the RCMP from the province. And that’s what most do, because it’s fairly simple. But notably, for example, Surrey is wanting to move from RCMP to a Surrey police department.
[00:15:00] So you can change it just. Is a bit of work and as series finding out, it’s a lot of, bit of work.
[00:15:08] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, they’d be doing it. I thought for a couple of years now, and it’s been a slow going.
[00:15:12] Ian Bushfield: So if you have a municipal police department, you have to have a municipal police board. This is the body that oversees the police in that community.
[00:15:21] So the Vancouver one is what I’ll speak to, but the same would apply to new West West van Delta, Victoria, et cetera. In this case, the police board is. Made up of appointed civilians. It’s, uh, chaired by the mayor of the community. It has another person appointed by the municipal council and then there’s up to another seven people appointed by the province.
[00:15:45] So it’s not democratically elected, but you can say it’s kind of indirectly in the way that the leadership of any. Government agency that’s appointed is democratically indirectly appointed. The board members are generally pulled from a variety of backgrounds. They are volunteers, but they get their training and travel expenses covered.
[00:16:08] So they’re not paid. They are required to determine priorities, goals, objectives, and the budget for the police department. And they do all this in consultation with the. Chief Constable at that police department.
[00:16:20] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. The budgets are particularly interesting in that. They’re one thing. The city councils actually don’t have that much direct control over.
[00:16:28] So the budget gets set by the police board and then get submitted to the councils for approval. But if the councils say no, that doesn’t the end of it, it goes up to the provincial government and the solicitor general then gets to make the decision on. What happens with the budget. And you’ve had cases where police departments have submitted a budget.
[00:16:51] City councils have said no. And the provincial governments overruled the
[00:16:54] Ian Bushfield: councils. Yeah. The police board does have to kind of request that review. So, you know, November 30th, the police board sends it. The Vancouver police board sends its budget to council council then has. Each council has to finish its budget by, I believe it’s the end of April.
[00:17:12] It was a little bit different this year because of all of the COVID-19 issues. And that just blew up everyone’s budget. Anyway, council can decide line by line. If there’s anything they think should be struck. But like you said, the board can insist on a review, which goes up the ladder. So this is where.
[00:17:32] There’s kind of this debate right now in Vancouver, where council wanted to see a 1% cut to the police budget, but that wasn’t actually, as far as I can tell a formal demand so much as a, Hey, we were in the middle of a pandemic and everyone needs to tighten their belts. Could you find some savings? And the police board said no.
[00:17:52] In this case, Vancouver council, as far as I could tell, could insist on a special amendment to the budget. More likely it would have to come. On their review of the police budget at the end of this year, sash started next year for next year’s budget. But again, it could be that the minister just overrules them.
[00:18:11] So you get this weird municipalities. Don’t actually have a lot of strength, but I would argue in this specific situation we’re in right now with a lot of public attention on this, a municipality taking a very strong stand would actually have to do more than say asking the province to do a review, but we’ll get into that debate in a minute.
[00:18:31] Civilians can complain about police in BC in a number of ways. If you have a complaint about one of these municipal police forces, like the Vancouver police, you go to the office of police complaints, commissioner opcc.gc.ca, and they can do, or a view of actions by those enforcement officers and decide if you know their behavior was.
[00:18:54] Reasonable or not. If you have complaints about the RCMP, you can still go to the OPCC, but you can also go to the RCMP, civilian review and complaints, commissioner. The other situation that will come up as the independent investigations office, the IO, who does criminal investigations into any incident involving death or serious harm of someone in police custody, they can recommend charges to the prosecutor should service under the attorney general for.
[00:19:21] Uh, criminal charges who can then decide whether to pursue them or not. I think both of these bodies or all of these bodies have, have been subjective. The number of complaints around transparency. There’s two are, you know, there’s two sides to the argument here that, you know, they should say a lot more beyond just an investigation has been opened into an incident in Williams Lake.
[00:19:46] And sometimes they may say who the victim was, you know, who the person in police custody was often. They won’t say the names of the police officers, which can be a sort of way to help protect the presumption of innocence if they are cleared. But often there’s not much said about it, even until the investigation is wrapped up.
[00:20:06] And even then. The public may not get the sense that they actually know what happened. What’s changing, you know, what was even found. So there can be frustration there. And I think that’s an area people have, you know, it’s good, these exist, but making sure that they are, you know, have the trust of the public is key.
[00:20:23] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And they don’t always have the power to enforce, uh, the findings or the recommendations or the IO has to refer charges to the normal trial prosecutors. So. You can have issues with that necessarily being brought to trial and charges being formerly laid. It’s been a general issue in a lot of places.
[00:20:43] You see that in the States too. A lot of times it’s somewhat understandable. The prosecutors worked with the police day in and day out, but it does mean they can sometimes be resistant to, uh, necessarily pursuing charges when
[00:20:57] Ian Bushfield: they should be. Yeah. I mean, the idea of prosecutorial independence does even also extend to the people who do the investigations.
[00:21:06] So in our ideal world are. Prosecutors who are in the attorney General’s office are not making decisions based on what the, either police under the solicitor general or the IO, uh, are saying other than the weight of the evidence and what’s in the public interest. But it’s clear, I think from, you know, the weight of the protests and just what we’re hearing, that there’s a sense, the status quo hasn’t been effective enough in ensuring public safety from our public safety.
[00:21:38] Scott de Lange Boom: Well let’s then jump into the various tools for change that have been put out there. Just for context today, Vancouver mayor Kennedy stirred asked the province for a comprehensive review of policing, but didn’t really push the issue any further than that. It was quite
[00:21:57] Ian Bushfield: the press conference. He, he teased it, I think two or three days ago, he said, He’s going to be talking about the path forward for policing and BC.
[00:22:07] He started off by, you know, acknowledging Vancouver’s on stolen land. In his words, he checked his privilege and then kind of just went, you know, felt sort of tried to empathize with the protest, but then just said, and my hands are really tied. As we kind of talked about a head above municipalities do have their hands tied quite a bit.
[00:22:30] And so he’s going to punt the issue to the province. Now his hands are tied in some ways, but if you’ll recall, the mayor is the chair of the police board. So this is not a direct conflict of interest, but on the one hand, he’s setting the budget. And then when it comes to council, he’s voting on that budget.
[00:22:51] I think I remember when the 1% cut was proposed for the police board, Kennedy Stewart announced that he was taken aback by that. And I just thought it was done in secret behind his back or something.
[00:23:07] Scott de Lange Boom: I think that was actually when they, the police board said no to that.
[00:23:11] Ian Bushfield: Well, he
[00:23:12] Scott de Lange Boom: just didn’t there’s 1% we’re trust come from the council to the police board.
[00:23:16] Ian Bushfield: Yeah.
[00:23:18] Scott de Lange Boom: Following the procedural shenanigans of Vancouver council can be tiring and confusing at times. I mean, my point
[00:23:24] Ian Bushfield: being that he’s got more cards than say the average city counselor to play on this. And has more involvement in how policing in Vancouver does and, or, you know, plays out and, you know, he’s one vote on the police board, but he is the chair of it, which carries some weight.
[00:23:43] Scott de Lange Boom: And actually, I think he does the way it’s set up. He doesn’t get to vote it tough to break ties.
[00:23:47] Ian Bushfield: Right. Nevertheless, despite his. Call for a review today. It was also announced just shortly after that. Premier John Horgan and public safety minister, Mike Farnworth had actually been in conversations for at least, you know, 24 hours or slightly more to announce that they are going to actually launch an all-party committee.
[00:24:11] Assuming the other parties are on board. When, when the legislature presumes to study. And review the police act. They’re going to try and speak with experts in communities to determine how the act can be modernized. And they’re going to put a particular focus on addressing systemic racism. So in a way it sounds like Kennedy Stewart got exactly what he wanted.
[00:24:31] Only it was going to happen regardless of his strongly worded letter that may or may not have been already sent on the one hand, a review. I think it’s pretty positive. I think these are very, you know, policing is not a simple issue and calls to defend the police, even though, even when I’m supportive of it, it’s going to turn out differently in every jurisdiction, what that means.
[00:24:59] Um, it’s one thing for American cities where they have very direct control over their local police to blow up, you know, Massively dysfunctional police department, like the Minneapolis PD and say, they’re going to rebuild from the ground up, but BC, we do need to do this on a province wide basis. And you know, this review I think is probably the best place to go.
[00:25:26] How, you know, how long this takes and how thorough they can do this remains to be seen, particularly when there’s going to be an election next year. And. You know, there’s a number of other major reviews underway, like the reforms of ICBC, the money laundering, inquiries, and so on and so forth. So a lot of, you know, once the review is completed, some legislation will then have to be crafted, debated and passed to enact these reforms.
[00:25:56] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It’s not going to be a quick process that’s for sure. But let’s actually dive into what some of the calls for the reforms are. And. You know what various groups are calling for and whether or not that’s going to be a particularly feasible. You’re kind of painted off at the start there about, um, the calls to defund the police.
[00:26:15] And that’s, uh, a slogan that’s been out there quite a bit, but not one that I think is either practical or necessarily good politics either. Cause yeah, when, when people hear the words defund, the police, the plain language reading of that is cease all funding to the police, which. You’ll be quickly told us not what’s actually being proposed, but it’s not great as a communications method.
[00:26:42] That’s for sure.
[00:26:43] Ian Bushfield: Most people I’ve heard who say it and say it seriously do mean that they actually do mean let’s get it. Down to zero in the direction of going down to zero. So Sandy Hudson has said that very clearly a number of other, you know, black lives matter. Activists are on the,
[00:27:00] Scott de Lange Boom: sorry. I also, well, I have some quite a bit of pushback when the concerns are necessarily raised about, well, what do you do about violent crime?
[00:27:07] Are you basically giving up the state’s monopoly on violence? All of these things, the immediate response has been from what I’ve seen is no, we’re not actually getting rid of those. We’re just wanting to reduce funding.
[00:27:20] Ian Bushfield: I think part of the challenge comes is that, you know, there’s a lot of different people taking up the flag right now.
[00:27:26] And just in terms of political effectiveness, when you have people rallying to a cause, even if they have slightly different visions of what that cause might ultimately end up as it does show there’s an effective argument at the core, I think, you know, even though so. Police police abolitionists, uh, are, you know, one end of the spectrum who say defund equals, you know, a hundred percent down to zero and redirect that money into other systems.
[00:27:56] There’s a lot more, I’ll say centrist or liberal rather than left visions that are less radical, uh, who might go. You know, a 10% cut, a 40% cut. Let’s re you know, move this or move that we all agree on where to start. And so I think that’s where the political, you know, the political success
[00:28:18] Scott de Lange Boom: is the, the language and framing around this.
[00:28:20] I think it’s been not great. And it seems to have more or less emerged as a result of kind of the intro left fights between the moderates and the radicals about whether to defund or reform. And the various connotations of that. But I think once it spilled out from that into the general discourse, it’s been less than helpful, but let’s actually dive into the various things.
[00:28:45] And I kind of want to, before we get into the individual calls, can take a moment to think about the various things that are being discussed here, because a lot of it’s all been kind of lumped together and defined abolish reform. And there’s a lot of separate individual. Problems and sets of solutions that don’t necessarily address the same things.
[00:29:09] So you have like reducing the unnecessary use of force, and that can be everything from better training, having rules around deescalation and explicit use of force guidelines and continuum, you have issues around accountability and transparency, and that involves. Accountability too, for our police officers to their supervisors reporting, uh, misconduct among the police officers, uh, transparent reporting.
[00:29:43] Like we talked about earlier with the, uh, various investigation services that do investigate in a tip camp to hold the police accountable. And then there’s also problems around trying to reduce the potentially, uh, Hostile or conflict, heavy interactions between police and members of the public. And then there’s also in addition to all of that, trying to reduce the disproportionate both force, as well as unnecessary interruptions that specifically target racialized communities.
[00:30:22] Each of those is kind of a separate problem area with separate solutions and it isn’t. All that helpful to kind of lump it in together because how you tackle one isn’t necessarily gonna be the same as the other.
[00:30:32] Ian Bushfield: Well, there is, and there’s also an element of each municipality or each jurisdiction has slightly different, uh, issues with policing.
[00:30:41] Nevertheless, I think the unifying feature of the mall is a disproportionate impact on, in particular racialized, indigenous people generally, you know, like. We were discussing with Stephanie Allen last week, an over expenditure without the necessary evidence that it’s accomplishing, what we think it’s accomplishing.
[00:31:05] So right now, I don’t even think we have a good sense of what the police are actually doing versus what people think they’re doing. So the issue of violent crime comes up a lot, right? But we don’t have a lot of violent crime in Canada, in BC. It does happen, but most calls the police get are not for violent crime.
[00:31:25] They’re related to drug use that are related to people with mental health issues. They’re related to minor property incidents. So the only times I’ve called the police have been when. You know, my building has been broken up or broken into and they respond, you know, a couple of hours later to take some statements, write some things down, and then there’s no followup.
[00:31:48] In some cases there is, but you know, most of the time we had this discussion, our Slack, a few people were talking about their interactions with the police, even as white men and found that there were largely. Disappointing at best or useless in which case we’re going, what are we actually getting our money for?
[00:32:05] So I starting to take a critical look. I think at policing as an institution on the whole is valuable. And then we can start to break down what are the specific solutions we need, particularly if we start to rethink that institution and what could be handled in other ways.
[00:32:25] Scott de Lange Boom: So I work kind of in a situation that I don’t think anybody really set out for us to be in where a lot of people’s first mental health interactions end up being with police officers.
[00:32:38] And that’s far from ideal, the police don’t have the training for it. I think that’s, it shouldn’t be the ones doing it, but that’s just kind of how things have developed. And so it makes a lot of sense to try and remove the police from that situation and put in social workers and mental health workers as the first point of contact.
[00:32:59] And then there’s also been things I’ve seen raised in the last couple of days about. Maybe we don’t need, maybe traffic enforcement should be taken away from the police and moved into its own dedicated service. And maybe there should be more automated enforcement and less in-person, uh, enforcement.
[00:33:16] Ian Bushfield: I mean, even in terms of violent crime, We’re not, it’s not clear how effective the police have even been at reducing or preventing or responding to that, um, serial killers when they target.
[00:33:30] And they generally do target marginalized people, whether it’s sex workers in the downtown East side, in the case of Robert Pickton or, uh, people in nursing homes as was the case in Ontario, in one case or. People in our racialized people in Toronto’s gay district and the Bruce McArthur killings in each of those, the police were slow or in the case of the nursing home murderer, didn’t know about it until the murderer confessed.
[00:33:58] So, you know, it’s, I get the idea that we can break each of the issues down, but at some point you go. You know, how many holes are we patching on the boat versus replacing the boat? And, you know, do we even need this particular kind of boat or should we have different kinds of seafaring vessels to get us to where we think we’re going?
[00:34:23] One of the biggest things that I would argue has reduced crime rates overall across much of the world has been the significant reduction in underlying poverty around the world as. People get wealthier,
[00:34:38] Scott de Lange Boom: also taking the lead out of the gasoline.
[00:34:40] Ian Bushfield: Yes. And that as well, that had a surprisingly good effect or big effect.
[00:34:44] But you know, those two big issues have nothing to do with throwing more money at cops or reforming that in any way.
[00:34:52] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I mean, there, there is. Uh, evidence that more police officers in holding all else equal do decrease prime rates. But yeah, it’s not necessarily the only way to get there or the most cost effective.
[00:35:04] Ian Bushfield: And we can also talk about doing other things, like just stop making some things criminal, like drugs, like sex work, like vagrancy as used to be there’s many ways that being poor or homeless is still indirectly illegal.
[00:35:19] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, and those episodes are just a lot of old laws on the books that aren’t enforced consistently or commonly.
[00:35:27] And that does generate a lot of discretion that can often manifest by targeting, um, disadvantage groups. Uh, like Stephanie was talking about, um, last week on the podcast, she doesn’t. Frank alcohol in public, where I would have no problem doing that. And like, I’m not likely to get a ticket for that at all.
[00:35:50] And because, and it is just not consistently enforced. So removing a lot of those sorts of things that are generally illegal, but not actually either socially frowned upon or consistently enforced would be a huge step in that direction. And that does involve lot of decriminalizing things.
[00:36:08] Ian Bushfield: And then there’s very simple, you know, things that can be done that would probably save police forces a million dollars in some of these or more in some of these larger districts, which is simply just taking ending police liaison officers or school resource officers as they’re called another provinces.
[00:36:28] Scott de Lange Boom: That one I’m not necessarily. Sold on as like a big thing that would make a huge difference here. Like there is definitely value to having liaisons between two major community institutions, as well as you don’t necessarily want someone’s first interaction with the police to be when they’re either a victim of a crime or being arrested or stopped for something.
[00:36:55] And having that interaction before in a school setting. Where it’s not necessarily a law enforcement conflict situation happening does have a value in and of its own, right?
[00:37:08] Ian Bushfield: That’s a claim. But on the other hand, a lot of those interactions in schools, too many as in any still are situations where it is in conflict, where it is someone being accused by the liaison officer of dealing drugs or some other minor petty crime that.
[00:37:26] Could be handled from a number of other different approaches. You know, if we’re going to talk about merging our institutions, let’s do better. Making sure that our students have mental health supports, like in terms of what our priorities in our school should be. I don’t see why if we were redesigning it, if we, if cops weren’t in schools, I don’t know who would, um, suggest it as the first thing, you know, the priority we should take on.
[00:37:51] Especially when each officer in a school who is assigned their full time is well over a hundred thousand dollars in expense. Like if we’re throwing a hundred K at a school, I think we can get better value for our dollar at a minimum than that.
[00:38:05] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I’m not necessarily sure. It should be a full time position, but like, and this has merely come from my own perspective, which is not going to be representative, but like I’ve fairly fond memories of the Constable Ravi, who was assigned to my school in North Saanich and.
[00:38:21] Like, I, I do think that was actually generally a pretty valuable thing to have him there. And a lot of the, like, there weren’t many negative interactions with the student body there. So, I mean, this is like I said, my own personal experience, but like, I don’t think it has to necessarily be a bad thing to have some liaison there.
[00:38:45] But how it’s done and like, not necessarily every school does it well, and that definitely needs changing.
[00:38:51] Ian Bushfield: Maybe it’s just a meta cop day where they could also have a firefighter and someone else, a nurse or a doctor. There’s conversation is definitely going to continue. There’s a lot of resources out there to read.
[00:39:05] We’ll put a few links in the show notes, but I encourage everyone to just keep reading, keep listening and keep thinking about these issues and send us your feedback. And what else you think we should talk about or discuss one of the interesting things that I don’t think. We really have the time to get into, but a labor economist, Rob, had an interesting thread about some of the work he’s doing on police unionization, which is its own giant complex issue.
[00:39:31] But what he’s found is that as police forces, I believe this is particularly in the U S unionized. Uh, the amount of police killings went up, particularly for non white, um, victims. So more police unions equals more cops killing black people.
[00:39:47] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And I though the mechanism that’s, uh, it’s better to be working there is that unions as part of what they do is they fought to protect the jobs of their members.
[00:39:59] And that’s a pretty standard thing for all unions. But. How that manifests in the case of the police is that it generally means the unions negotiate, um, a disciplinary system that makes it hard to fire and discipline police officers. And that obviously isn’t pretty native repercussions, especially in a situation where like police officers are entrusted with.
[00:40:27] The responsibility of carrying a lethal weapon and using that only responsibly and never unnecessarily. And if there isn’t the accountability mechanisms that actually have teeth that can end quite badly for quite a few people. Well, the other thing I want to touch on here is we talked a lot about defunding the police, but I’m not necessarily sure that’s how we should be approaching this from the first as a first step.
[00:40:52] Like I kind of touched off earlier. There’s a bunch of different problems and the solution to each of them going to be a bit different and not all of them can necessarily be addressed by. We’re reducing funding. And some of them may actually require an increase in funding like police and candidates somewhere between I think, 20 to 30 weeks of police training.
[00:41:14] I think the RCMP is higher and around 29, but overall that’s not a huge amount of training and you know, more time can be spent on deescalation, dealing with various circumstances, um, improving use of force training. And there’s just a lot of things like that. That would be really good to have, I think, but it, that is going to cost more money as well as, uh, perhaps strengthening the various oversight bodies, giving them more teeth, more resources.
[00:41:46] That’s also potentially done a cost more money, as well as, I mean, we talked a bit earlier about how people don’t necessarily feel that police are always helpful and that crimes don’t solve. That one may be more of a case of reallocation, but putting more resources into the investigative aspect of police officers and policing may be more beneficial.
[00:42:09] And depending on how the details of that shaped out that may actually cost more money than it does to just have police officers out on patrol doing traffic stops. So we all, all of these things together. May require more resources may allow us to reallocate may allow us to just cut altogether. And it’s not necessarily clear that it’s Joe, that’s a start in place, the latch onto defunding or reduce funding or whatever the slogan ends up being.
[00:42:40] It would, I think be better to start with the kind of solution you’re trying to get, or probably trying to solve and then work towards the solution. And. It’s far from clear that a lot of how this has been discussed is going about that approach in that way.
[00:42:54] Ian Bushfield: I mean, the problem is police killing black people and the hashtag defund, the police has largely started a conversation which raises a number of these issues.
[00:43:05] So, you know, on those counts, it’s at least. Working and effective politically, whether that ends up being the ultimate solution, that doesn’t matter to the fact that slogan got people talking, how they weren’t talking before.
[00:43:22] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. People are talking about it, but a lot of that is going and actually having to explain what the slogan means.
[00:43:27] And we haven’t really dived into politics too much of this. We’re trying to be more talking about the policy angle, but. There are going to be political aspects to it. People are going to have to run on campaigns around this and down in the States, I’ve seen Joe Biden take the Democrat States and flat for not jumping on this and adopting it, but like, it’s going to be real tough if you’re running on a defund, the police slogan outside of a few.
[00:43:50] Uh, pretty liberal cities too.
[00:43:53] Ian Bushfield: Like 60% of Americans supported burning a cop station down, like politics has changed pretty radically pretty quick.
[00:44:00] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. But that’s also like at the very height of this, and that’s not necessarily going to hold out too long. So I looked at what the actual, uh, levels of support for police arts in Canada.
[00:44:11] It’s two thirds have a trust, the police and have a positive view. Visible minorities have a lower percent, but it’s still. Net positive. The U S is a little lower, but like in general, the police have generally been a well respected institution. And that’s obviously not the, uh, that’s obviously changed recently, but it started from a very high bar and we do have to move on, but there, there’s going to be real questions about if you actually take away these.
[00:44:42] The roles of some of the police, what fills them, especially when it comes to issues around violent crime and whatnot,
[00:44:52] moving into quick tapes. There’s been an update on the two health crises in BC, as numbers came out today around the overdose deaths in BC, in for may. And unfortunately, uh, there’s been a record 170 deaths within the past month, uh, which it sees the previous height, uh, at, uh, December of 2016
[00:45:18] Ian Bushfield: prior to COVID-19 and it looked like we are starting to bring the number of deaths.
[00:45:22] Down from each month after month, but for the past three months, we’ve had over a hundred people die from illicit drug toxicity each month. There’s been. Yeah, too many deaths this year, too many deaths in total, the chief coroner Lisa law appointed said today as part of their statement where it not for the dedicated efforts taken to date, the death toll will be higher.
[00:45:47] If we continue to build further on access to safe supply in BC for regulatory. Evidence based supportive treatment and recovery system as important pillars from preventing future deaths. Basically trying to highlight that, you know, the province has taken a number of steps recently around expanding access to safe supply people who help coauthor those guidelines, including Garth Mullins and a number of activists, uh, described them as a clusterfuck.
[00:46:11] The idea, as we talked about a few weeks ago with Sasha Malecki is a positive one. It is about harm reduction. But I think the ultimate rollout hasn’t been as effective as I think advocates were hoping. I think only, you know, a hundred or a few hundred people have really benefited from this. I mean the big, positive takeaway here is there still have not been any reported deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
[00:46:35] So these harm reduction techniques do work. Yeah. As far as we can tell, we’re just not, we’re still having a lot of reluctance across sectors to really implement them, you know, and speaking to today’s daily update. On just COVID-19 doctor, Bonnie Henry got emotional over this cause she was working on this overdose issue long before COVID-19 broke out.
[00:46:57] And the fact that it looks like we’re backsliding on it is frustrating. As people don’t have access to the same drugs because the borders are closed and are generally taking more at home alone where it’s way more dangerous. So, you know, she reiterated her call for the province to effectively decriminalized possession by just stop policing these people and make it safer to consume in the safety of other people’s presence.
[00:47:25] But, you know, we managed to mobilize for COVID-19 as a province, but we’re still struggling to really manage to deal with this overdose crisis or take it as seriously. As it deserves because a lot of people are dying from this. Like people die from COVID-19 and we’re lucky that we managed to slow it down.
[00:47:44] But big policy failure here.
[00:47:46] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, moving on from a big policy failure to a. Mixed policy outcomes is the Serb. So this has generally been a successful program, but now that people are starting to return to work, Trudeau is what are the idea of bringing in penalties and really going after a fraud in the program?
[00:48:11] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. Earlier this week, a bill was leaked to the media that Trudeau had planned to table and. Did table, but didn’t get the consent necessary to move it forward. That would do a number of things to reform how serve is rolling out specifically. It would create fines and criminalize. Those who fraudulently applied for it.
[00:48:31] It would make people ineligible. If you refuse to go back. To work when it is reasonable to do so. And your employer asked, or if you’re self employed and refuse to work, or if you decline a reasonable job offer, this is something I think the conservatives have been pushing on more and more this disincentive to work that these types of programs.
[00:48:50] Our claim to create. Uh, but on the other side of the coin, the bill would have also created a $600 one time tax repayment to top up people who claim the federal disability tax credit. So people who definitely need the money the most would have gotten more. There just was kind of a lot more. A stick than carrot in this.
[00:49:10] So naturally it pissed off everyone.
[00:49:12] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So it’s not going to be doing it because pretty much every other party said Nope to it. Um, it costs the government a way to bad press, which isn’t great for them. I mean, a couple of things to note here. So it does make sense to start to scale it back and start to.
[00:49:32] Move people offer the serve that are able to work and there should be provisions to make sure that’s only a pleasurable when there’s no safe or conditions and nobody’s putting themselves at risk to do so, which is going to depend a lot on the province and the industry. So that made sense seems pretty reasonable depending on where various places are.
[00:49:54] Ian Bushfield: I think the problem there is that creates a huge amount of bureaucratic difficulty. So from a, you know, first level, it’s easy to imagine. Well, you should take this, but then when you start to think about vetting, what is it? 9 million people claimed Serb. That’s where. The simplicity of the initial program had a huge advantage.
[00:50:16] And the CRA who doesn’t generally roll this out versus service Canada doesn’t have the expertise necessarily in reviewing what is reasonable or not for an employer. Now there’s arguments about whether service Canada is good at it either, but that’s kind of separate.
[00:50:30] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So there’s going to be some issues there.
[00:50:31] And then the other thing, the, um, fraud park, cause early on there. Position at the government was just, if you think you might be eligible, just apply. Anyway, it’s important that we get people who might potentially need it as much help as they can. You know, if this is a crisis, let’s just go for it quickly.
[00:50:53] And it’s absolutely reasonable to go after people who were absolutely fraudulent and it did not meet the criteria at all. And we’re here to prove that there was actually maliciousness. Go for that. My concern is that there’s going to be a lot of edge cases that get caught up in this, where people are working off incomplete information shot, sometimes shoddy government messaging, and whether the CRA is going to be going after them or not.
[00:51:27] I really would make a big difference.
[00:51:30] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. The CRA reported this week in a separate story that there’d been 190,000 repayments made for Serbs so far from people who got it and then realized either personally or that the CRA more likely informed them that they shouldn’t have got it. No repayments, which account which I did a calculation is about 2%.
[00:51:51] The government was claiming that one to 2% of the 9 million claims are fraud. Now those are separate because most of those repayments were likely accidental. Like you said, confusion over the messaging thought they’re qualified, but then they were actually on EDI or something. So disambiguating all of those.
[00:52:11] This is going to be hard and will inevitably, you know, it’s another thing that’s going to cost money and prosecuting fraud is, you know, worth doing, but you know, you have to draw
[00:52:22] Scott de Lange Boom: used to be well-targeted.
[00:52:23] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. And it can, and you can end up spending a lot more money than you’ll recoup. And at one point, at some point you can probably just say, cut your losses.
[00:52:30] Because people claiming getting a couple thousand from the government is on unjust possibly when they don’t deserve it. But in the grand scheme of things, Maybe you just write it off. Nevertheless, the, my favorite of the opposition parties opposing this was the bloc Quebecois, who I can’t tell if they actually disagreed with anything in the bill.
[00:52:49] They’re just upset that the federal government hasn’t tabled a fiscal update,
[00:52:53] Scott de Lange Boom: which is kind of reasonable. Like they get a fair bit of leeway because of everything going on, but it’s been a couple months now, at least something being put to parliament would be done.
[00:53:05] Ian Bushfield: Yeah, the government says a numbers are being updated to the finance committee regularly, but that’s not a full picture or budget of what the health of this country is.
[00:53:17] Scott de Lange Boom: And now that we’re not in the part where, or rolling out a new program, every three days, there’s time to actually do the accounting audit and get a fiscal update out.
[00:53:28] Ian Bushfield: But this bill is dead because it re you know, Significantly failed to meet the unanimous consent by quite a bit. Uh, but one thing the federal government was able to roll out.
[00:53:40] And this happened right after we complained about them not giving much money to cities or provinces last week was that $14 billion announced on Friday is going to provinces to help them safely restart economies,
[00:53:54] Scott de Lange Boom: as well as in theory to support local governments. But it’s going through the provinces.
[00:53:59] So who knows how effective that’s going to be?
[00:54:02] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. There weren’t many details on this money and. Doug Ford was pretty critical because he pointed that their province is looking at a $23 billion shortfall. So it’s clearly insignificant if it’s meant to fill all of the provinces fiscal holes, which I, you know, I couldn’t sympathize that the federal government isn’t responsible for a hundred percent of the provinces problems, particularly Doug Ford’s, but this isn’t a ton of money.
[00:54:29] And particularly when you look at the challenges cities are facing.
[00:54:32] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, that’s a real thing. Like this was partly pitched as a way to help cities, but no, by the time it makes it through the government, through the provincial governments that with the possible exception of Newfoundland’s, which is teetering on the edge of insolvency, have the ability to just borrow their own money, to help cover off some of these cities don’t.
[00:54:55] And if the province has scoop up a good chunk of that 14 billion. It could believe cities that are short changed, but still very short changed. So, I mean, it’s something, but there’s still a lot of work to do on it. And finally, uh, this story broke, uh, yesterday from Robert Fife at the globe and mail that foreign affairs minister Phillips champagne has two mortgages valued at a combined total of.
[00:55:24] One point $2 million with the state owned bank of China. These are two properties in London, UK that were taken out in 2009 and 2013. Uh, when mr. Champlain was, uh, working in London before entered politics as an elected MP. And these were disclosed when he was elected to the ethics commissioner. And I guess nobody looked in the five years since 2015 before now.
[00:55:55] And the stated reason of why the loans were from the bank of China rather than. A nother band was that it was hard for him as a Canadian, on a temporary work visa to the UK to get a loan from a UK bank.
[00:56:12] Ian Bushfield: I can believe that I lived in the UK for a couple of years and even with a British passport and citizenship, I had to like prove I had a job before and money coming in before a banquet open an account for me.
[00:56:26] And I was like, But I want to put my money somewhere in this country. So I get, they have pretty stringent requirements around, uh, working on the British bank side. Uh, I don’t know that Canadian banks would have backed him as well for a foreign property. And that leaves the question of yellow. And where do you go and report to the, I guess bank of China probably had some good rates and it just seemed like the simplest thing.
[00:56:51] Now, the question arises. Why is he still holding onto these properties? Today. Oh, it’s actually not clear. Does he still have the properties today? He had them when he disclosed to the ethics commissioner in 2015,
[00:57:02] Scott de Lange Boom: as far as I can tell, he still has the mortgages with the bank of China. So presumably still owns the properties as well.
[00:57:11] And technically this is all being above board in the sense that it was disclosed the ethics commissioner. There’s no actual rule against a minister of the crown. Ongoing money to a non-Canadian bank. But when it’s a state owned bank, I mean, this is effectively the foreign affairs minister in debt to the Chinese state, which as we’ve talked about before, it’s not necessarily a country that is friendly or has Canada’s interests at heart.
[00:57:48] And even if it’s not technically against the rules, it’s. At the very least seems to be improper and not something that should be happening.
[00:58:00] Ian Bushfield: I struggle to care about this story along those lines. Like I get the argument. At the same time, the fact it’s coming out now just seems like a kind of new rush of not quite sign up.
[00:58:15] Scott de Lange Boom: Politics is back on after.
[00:58:17] Ian Bushfield: Well, no, it’s, it’s in light of discussions around Walway and mango, honcho, and recent. Articles around saber rattling, back and forth between Canada and China. And so it’s within a realm of a media atmosphere. That’s a bit more, not quite signup phobic, but critic, you know, openly critical of China than it was several years ago.
[00:58:40] Scott de Lange Boom: Right. Although I think there’s a. Decent argument to be made that may be before it didn’t have necessarily the correct level of criticism
[00:58:47] Ian Bushfield: to China. I think, you know, my biggest issue with this is my kind of issue with most, uh, politics, especially. And I think it’s particularly relevant in the liberal party is just why do we have ministers who own multiple properties worth millions of dollars around the world?
[00:59:08] Like the classism that I have more. Unease with, and just like, you know, the fact he owns two properties in London, even he’s a foreign minister. Does that not bias him in his dealings with Britain as well? Like people focused on China here, but he owns two properties in London. So he’s got a clear interest in British politics.
[00:59:29] There’s a lot of issues all around. Yeah.
[00:59:31] Scott de Lange Boom: I mean it’s, yeah. I don’t think it raises quite to the level because the UK is one of our closest allies. But yeah, I mean, I think the proper thing that should have happened was that he either sell off the properties or refinance them with a Canadian or hell even a UK institution that isn’t state-owned would have been, I think the right thing to do in this case.
[00:59:57] And the prime minister shouldn’t have appointed someone foreign affairs minister who owed money to a foreign state. And that’s the other thing it’s like, I think it does raise some. Questions about, uh, the prime minister judgment. If this was known back in 2015,
[01:00:13] Ian Bushfield: I mean, there are much bigger things that I raise questions about the prime minister’s judgment for them this, but yeah, fine.
[01:00:21] I’m, you know, I’m not calling for his resignation. He can sell the places he can not. I just, the whole thing’s kind of gross.
[01:00:29] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I don’t think this is necessarily a fireable level of. Problematic, but it’s definitely a needs to change the situation level of problematic.