by Tim McNamara
On 20 June 2013 the town of High River, Alberta, was inundated by one of the worst floods in a hundred years - homes were destroyed, bridges washed out, and the town was completely evacuated.
Unfortunately for High River, the weather was not the only enemy the residents had to face.
As the floodwaters began to recede, members of the RCMP, the Armed Forces, and other Peace Officers forcibly entered approximately 1900 homes in the evacuated town.
This was four days after the residents had being prevented from surveying the damage to their property by the RCMP who had blocked all access into the town.
Shortly after laying spike belts across roadways, the RCMP started breaking into homes. They operated "In the Interest of Public Safety" under the pretense of “looking for survivors” even though the town had been completely evacuated days earlier.
The RCMP smashed down doors, tramped through private homes, looked under beds, in closets and stood with filthy boots on beds in order to look on top of cabinets. They even looked behind water heaters and washing machines for survivors.
Not only were flooded homes entered but, homes that were not in the flood zone were broken into, particularly homes whose owners had firearms licenses.
Alas, neither needy damsels nor kittens were found, but several hundred helpless guns were rescued and ever so gently, thrown into the bottoms of their rubber boats.
Several hundred firearms were seized and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The RCMP obviously accessed the long arm registry to facilitate the seizures even after the database was allegedly purged by order of Parliament.
At no time did the RCMP or Alberta Premier Redford's Government directly inform the citizens of High River of their activities.
This egregious behavior was discovered and reported on by the local media. The residents were furious, and Ms. Redford and her ministers quickly denied any involvement in the operation. The sergeant-in-charge of the local RCMP detachment was hurled under Ms. Redford's bus and immediately transferred to a remote detachment. He could not be reached for comment.
At the end of the day, the vaunted “Public Complaints Commission” was given several cans of white paint and a copy of Huckleberry Finn in order to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. That fence is still unpainted, boys and girls but, stay tuned as the intrepid PPC is on the case. But, absurdity of absurdities, this investigation is being conducted by Superintendent Tim Cogan, one time director of strategic communications for the RCMP. Talk about conflict of interest - this is the fox guarding the henhouse!
Regardless of what the commission finds or chooses to ignore, we are left with one simple fact, not one member of the Alberta government or anyone from K Division headquarters has taken responsibility for this breach of ethics. Not one.
Whether or not the RCMP breached the Charter or broke criminal law, from an ethical viewpoint this is an outrageous breach of trust perpetrated upon the people of High River by the Alberta Government and the RCMP.
Ethical behavior is briefly described as:
“ pertaining to or dealing with the principles of morality, being in accordance with the rules or standards of right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession."
So, what makes the incident in High River so profoundly disturbing?
It is the abuse of the term "In the Interest of Public Safety".
If the RCMP can break into the private residences of an entire town and take their possessions without fear of the law or other consequences, then what will stop them from similar transgressions against anyone?
The RCMP could not have done this without approval from senior Government.
Someone must be held accountable!
To be continued …
14 January 2014