Immediate problem is law enforcement

Letter - The Regional

January 21, 2009

I'll start with an assumption. I assume that most people are not please with the state of things. I won't even try to appeal to the people who are. They're the obstacle, indeed the enemy.

Since those people have a habit of making this as complicated as possible, I submit that the best approach is to simplify things. I'm not terribly interested in land claims. I have zero interest in land claim negotiations. It should be obvious to everyone by now that negotiations are a black hole for tax dollars. Unless the negotiators on both sides admit that they're just wasting time and money (they never will) we'll all be dead of old age before anything is accomplished. So let's forget about land claims for the time being.

The more immediate problem is law enforcement. We can make a difference here. Public officials work for us. Never forget that. It's possible to respect a position or title, and at the same time acknowledge that the person in that position is not making the grade. Because that person works for us we should, in theory be able to have that person removed. Simple eh?

While it may be simple, it isn't always easy. I'm of the opinion that it can be done, but it may take time, effort and money. Removing politicians is one thing. Go to the voting booth at election time and check the appropriate box. Bureaucrats require a little more elbow grease. We don't elect them so we can't simply vote them out. Until recently I figured that they were untouchable.

Undoubtedly there is corruption in every government department. We're oblivious to most of it. One position has drawn our attention because we see and feel the negative effects of its mismanagement every single day. I may respect the office of O.P.P. Commissioner, but I have some issues with the person currently occupying that office. The petition that is circulating will probably reveal that many people feel the same way. What will happen? Let's be optimistic: Julian Fantino is suspended without pay. An inquiry is launched. We win!

Do we? Remember how delighted we were when Gwen Boniface was sent packing? Remember the high expectations we had when Mr. Fantino arrived? (to say that he hasn't lived up to those expectations would be something of an understatement!)

Remember the Ipperwash inquiry? How that was going to lead to more effective policing? What went wrong?

I suspect that Mr. Fantino was given guidelines by the premier, and within those guidelines he was determined to do exactly as he pleased. It would never have occurred to him that the citizens would move to hold him accountable for questionable behaviour. After all he was appointed, therefore untouchable. The Ipperwash inquiry was seriously flawed. The worthwhile recommendations that it does contain have not been put into practice. While I support the petition I feel that more needs to be done.

Enter CANACE. A citizens' group that has secured the right to lay criminal charges against police officers for essentially following orders. Don't underestimate the importance of this! This could galvanize police officers across the province to stand together against corrupt leadership. This could serve notice to Mr. Fantino's replacement that the commissioner's authority does not include the right to issue orders that are illegal. This could lead to a restoration of law and order in areas affected by land claims. In short, this could be the biggest step forward in three years. The millions that have been squandered on land, policing and negotiations have changed nothing. Spending millions more the same way will change nothing.

I want to appeal to your sense of value. Bang for the buck. CANACE operates on a shoe-string budget. I'm of the opinion that they have accomplished more and will continue to accomplish more than the mega-dollar charades that we involuntarily finance with our tax dollars. I support them because I love this town. If I lived in another community that was affected by land claims I would support them. If I had the time and the expertise I'd be doing what they're doing. Since I have neither, I put a few bucks in their account every month. I don't even miss the money, but I sure notice the results. Sign the petition. Contribute to CANACE. Your children will thank you. Scotia Bank: 30882 00192 16.

Doug Fleming