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Monday, August 30, 2010

Cops 4 Control

The long-form vampire will not die!

The Canadian Association of Police Boards (CAPB) approved eight resolutions when its members met in New Brunswick last week, including one that calls on the government to restore the mandatory long-form census.

The association recognizes “that police agencies throughout Canada depend on reliable, comprehensive demographic statistical information provided by Statistics Canada to establish policing priorities and to determine policing services for their communities,” the CAPB said in a statement released Monday.

In other words, support the long-form, so we can control you more efficiently. Wouldn't it be possible - to say nothing of desirable - for the police to establish priorities based on citizen complaints and routine patrols? Why does the police department need to know:  My marital status? Where I was born? My native tongue? My race? Whether I'm a status Indian? My religion? My parents' birthplace? Whether I finished High School? My income from employment? Method of commute? Whether my dwelling is in need of repairs? These are all questions on the new, and now, voluntary 2011 long-form Census.

Even at an aggregate level, why does the police department need to know that a particular area has a certain race or ethnicity? And if it does, couldn't this be established with tolerable accuracy by, you know, walking around and asking a few polite questions of the locals? Getting out of the patrol cars, putting away the radar guns and actually establishing relationships with members of the community. Just a thought. The Canadian Association of Police Boards call to keep the long-form comes, strange coincidence, at the same time the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police launches a campaign to keep the long-gun registry:

The head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says members have endorsed a national firearms strategy that includes the long-gun registry — a program the Conservative government is trying to scrap — at its annual meeting in Edmonton on Monday.

"A resolution for its adoption as the official policy of the CACP was put before the members and that resolution was passed without a single dissenting voice," Toronto police chief and CACP president Bill Blair told CBC's Power and Politics with Evan Solomon.

"I think it's a very strong statement of the commitment of our members to safe communities and for retaining the tools for our police officers that help them do their jobs."

Shelly Glover, Tory MP and former police officer for nineteen years, disagrees, questioning its basic effectiveness. After conducting a survey of front line officers, Edmonton Constable Randy Kuntz noted:

You can’t tell from this registry if someone is going to do anything criminal with a firearm anymore than you could tell if you looked at the registry to see if someone is going to drink and drive.

Even OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, hardly anyone's idea of a civil libertarian, doubts its effectiveness as well. The historical origins of the registry are well enough known. In panicked reaction to the Montreal Massacre much of the Canadian liberal elite pushed for a long gun registry, handgun registration having been mandatory since 1934. The Chretien government picked up the issue and introduced the registry in 1995. The party has held on dearly to the registry, costing it what remained of its rural support. Calls for maintaining both the long-form Census, and the long-gun registry, have less to do with public safety than a desire for bureaucratic control. Even when the information, obtained at the price of basic civil liberties, is useless the government still wants it. Why? Because information is power. The more they know, they more they can try to control and mould.

Posted by Richard Anderson on August 30, 2010 | Permalink


Both incursions of liberty, particularly the Registry, are now critical symbolic gestures of control of the unwashed by the ruling class elite. Utilitarian arguments are useless to these folks because to them, state power used to protect and justify ruling class authority always trumps individual rights and is always rationalized for the benefit of "safety" or the "children". On the Registry, the elite can easily fall back on tyranny of the majority. On the long form they might find that more problematic as it is a burden to the entire electorate. Harper will tease his core supporters with vain attempts at abolishing the Registry but will give up again in the end rather than go to the poles over symbolics.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-08-30 10:06:54 AM

Why does a Police department need them?

Why does the Executive Director of the Canadian Human Rights Commission need them such that she wrote to the PM asking him to reconsider?

The Head of the Gun Registry and the Veteran's Affair Ombudsman was fired (err moved laterally) for a lot less.

Insubordination in the ranks I fear!

Posted by: The LS from SK | 2010-08-30 10:43:39 AM

These are politicians or political hacks rather than cops. They behave as faithful Liberal Party members and in no way represent the opinions or views of the rank and file. Please do not confuse the two.

The actual cops I know do not support the long gun registry and agree that it does nothing when it comes to crime. This does not change the Liberal Party working overtime to ensure that this useless but extremely expensive registry remains in place. As for the mandatory long form census one wonders just who will be trotted out next to claim it must not be changed to voluntary.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-08-30 11:54:11 AM

Cops don't need statistics. Their number-one problem is underfunding. A local detachment should be searching closer to home for numbers meaningful to its mandate anyway. Cops usually have a pretty good feel for what would benefit their community, and that knowledge doesn't come from Ottawa.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-08-30 12:54:38 PM

I doubt there'll be much backlash if the registry is abolished, John. The only places likely to squawk don't vote Tory anyway. In fact, these places would probably vote Liberal even if Ignatieff were replaced with Osama bin Laden. After all, his anti-American credentials are unimpeachable, and Lord knows that's been a plank in the Liberal platform since, oh, forever.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-08-30 1:00:44 PM

Shane, I disagree that the number-one problem for cops is underfunding. I constantly observe wrong priorities resulting in a misuse of existing resources. How many times have I observed up to three RCMP constables tied up doing seat-belt checks, checks for "impaired" drivers or speed traps while actual crimes are not being addressed. I am referring to break-and-entries, vehicle theft and home invasions or attempted home invasions. Just an example being neighbours who had their homes broken into and the cops only appear anywhere between 24 to 48 hours after it was called in. Of course real crime does not provide any revenue such as fines, which probably explains the existing priorities.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-08-30 1:31:58 PM

Alain is right. Police officers have become tax collectors. They're dispatched to catch the driver doing a rolling-stop instead of trying to catch actual criminals.

For example, in Quebec they recently passed a law which gives the police the authority to give you a huge ticket (over $800 min.) and impound your car if you are late renewing your driver's license. They can also do the same if you are late paying tickets. So ever since Jan. of this year, they have been parked all over MTL checking license plates. Meanwhile, actual crimes are occurring all over the city.

Posted by: Charles | 2010-08-30 1:49:11 PM

Police Chiefs and Liberty dont get along, any talk of doing away with laws they will naturally disagree.
From the gun registry and licensing, to the never ending war on drugs, the police see it as a threat to there careers and they wont hesitate to let us know.

Posted by: don b | 2010-08-30 4:51:19 PM

when Keith Martin is voting for keeping the Registry (rumour), you know that the Libs have been adequately whipped by the leadership.

Posted by: Shel | 2010-08-30 6:15:04 PM

Keith Martin was on a local radio station a few months back and he expressed that he was in favour of the registry, whether that was him talking or he was just doing what he was told i dont know.

Posted by: don b | 2010-08-30 6:58:39 PM

Police have responsibilities other than catching "real" criminals.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2010-08-31 4:11:29 PM

Don b,
Consider Keith Martin as towing the party line. In the past (before he became a liberal), he voted twice AGAINST the registry. He has now stated publicly that he will vote FOR the registry, because apparently the police (CHIEFS) say it makes them safer. This is NOT the will of the constituents in his riding (which I am in). I hope he pays dearly for this betrayal in the next election.
> What will be very interesting is how Keith Martin votes on this one. In
> 1993 he had the various gun clubs in the Victoria come to him in mass. He
> went to their range on the Malahat; where he gave a speech
> supporting the abolishment of the gun control. The whole nine yards; take
> the focus off the farmers and hunters and go after the real criminals. He continued to
> oppose the gun control legislation right up until the time he became a Lib.
> We could have a field day with him on this issue if he votes against abolishment.

Posted by: Jan Webb | 2010-08-31 9:46:03 PM

We could have a field day with him on this issue if he votes against abolishment.

Posted by: Jan Webb | 2010-08-31 9:46:03 PM

He is simply doing as he is told to do. Beholden to his master, not the people who elected him. In a true democracy you would not have party whips and you would not be told you could have a free vote or to toe the party line. They all seem to forget that they are supposed to represent the wishes of the electorate. No wonder most Canadians peg politicians just below used car salesmen and lawyers.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-08-31 11:53:21 PM

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