Public Safety Minister Bill Blair was a career politician long before he ran for public office in the 2015 federal election. It was as a member of the Toronto Police Service, and eventually as its chief, where Bill Blair mastered the art of deception as a means of pushing forward his personal ideology.
After five years in government, one question about Bill Blair desperately requires an answer.
Through his repeated failures in every aspect of the Public Safety portfolio, was Minister Bill Blair promoted past his level of incompetence a long time ago?
Paul Wells, senior writer for MacLean’s, put it this way in his column, “Another farce on Bill Blair’s Watch”.
“I’ve got my journalistic obsessions, Lord knows. But the notion that Bill Blair, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, is in way over his head was not something I brought to this game.
It’s a learned response.
Lately it’s kind of getting locked in.”
Failure #1: Eliminate “Systemic Racism” from the RCMP
Early this year, Minister Blair was ordered to eliminate RCMP abuse of Black and Indigenous people – all minorities, really.
“Far too many Black Canadians and Indigenous people do not feel safe around police. It’s unacceptable. And as governments, we have to change that,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters after the violent arrest of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam in Fort McMurray became public.
“This is something I’ve already discussed with RCMP Commissioner Lucki. But reforms are needed at all levels of policing, and these reforms need to happen quickly,” Trudeau said.
Since then, what’s happened on the RCMP reform front?
Both Bill Blair and the RCMP seem far more focused on hiding evidence that the Nova Scotia mass murderer was an RCMP agent or informant.
Bill Blair’s complete and utter failure to eliminate “systemic racism” from the RCMP comes with real consequences.
One of those consequences is that Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice (ICCJ) cut all ties with police and prison institutions because “these institutions have demonstrated their imperviousness to reform.”
The ICCJ’s formal statement goes on to say:
Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, we will be ending all student placement opportunities with policing and prison authorities.
Recent comments from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are illustrative — her initial denial regarding the existence of systemic racism in Canadian policing, and then, after revising her position following public and political outcry, her inability to articulate a basic definition of systemic racism in what became an awkward and illustrative display of the practice itself.
Commissioner Lucki is not an outlier. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki echoed the same sentiments in early June when he told CBC: “I don’t believe that racism is systemic through Canadian policing. I don’t believe it’s systemic through policing in Alberta.”
Even in the context of widespread public scrutiny and claims to be reforming, Canadian police are on pace to kill a record number of people in 2020, many of whom are racialized, Indigenous, and/or suffering mental health challenges.
Despite the climbing death toll, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair still hasn’t lifted a finger to do anything about it.
Failure #2: End Solitary Confinement in Prisons
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government introduced and passed Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.
Bill C-83 amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to, among other things, eliminate the use of administrative segregation and disciplinary segregation, better known as solitary confinement, because of the damage it does to already-vulnerable individuals.
- In 2010, 24-year-old Edward Snowshoe committed suicide after spending 162 days in solitary confinement.
- In 2007, 19-year-old Ashley Smith proved women are tougher than men. She survived over 1,000 days (three years) in solitary confinement before she finally lost all hope and strangled herself.
One of the key recommendations in Bill C-83 was the creation of the Structured Intervention Unit Implementation Advisory Panel. This panel was supposed to “monitor and assess the progress of SIU implementation, ensure greater transparency, and identify and report on any challenges.”
In 2019, Ralph Goodale, arguably one of only three adults to ever sit at Justin Trudeau’s cabinet table (Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott being the other two), created the Advisory Panel and appointed Dr. Anthony Doob as its chair.
Dr. Anthony Doob’s credentials are unassailable but even the best people cannot pry information from a bureaucracy that isn’t interested in playing ball.
On August 19, 2020, Dr. Doob announced the Structured Intervention Unit Implementation Advisory Panel no longer exists because:
- Appointments were for a 1-year term, which had now expired, and
- the lack of cooperation by both Correctional Services Canada (CSC) and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office made it impossible for them start their work, let alone finish it.
The Advisory Panel’s final report, if you can even call it that, ended with this statement, unanimously agreed to by all active members of the panel until the panel was disbanded:
In conclusion, then, this panel is powerless to accomplish the job that it was set up to do without cooperation from CSC. Furthermore, the issues raised by CSC’s apparent inability to monitor and evaluate its own operation are not issues solely about its cooperation and support for this panel of unpaid volunteers.
Much more important is the fact that CSC is telling us that it does not have systematic information on the operation of its Structured Intervention Units and apparently never made the gathering of this information a priority.
As we pointed out in the first paragraph, our panel no longer exists. That is the result of decisions made by Public Safety Canada. We sincerely hope that the Ministry and CSC will allow some external body access to information about the operation of the SIUs.
We were willing to be that external body and regret that we were not given the opportunity to do the work we agreed to do.
The Correctional Service of Canada ultimately blamed their refusal to comply with the panel’s request and the Minister’s order on computer software.
“We cannot equate the fact that CSC cannot give the data with that there was no compliance or, or there was ill motive on the part of the service to provide the data,” said Correctional Investigator of Canada Ivan Zinger.
Once again, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair knew Corrections Canada failed to provide the data early on yet, as appears to be his modus operandi, refused to lift a finger to do anything about it – not even after the existing panel gave up in frustration.
Failure #3: Botched Inquiry into Nova Scotia Mass Murderer
In the wake of the Nova Scotia mass murderer’s killing spree, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair stalled for three entire months before he finally announced an “independent review” would look into “the tragedy.”
As the Canadian Shooting Sports Association correctly stated:
When Minister Blair finally did announce his colossally stupid ‘Independent Review Panel’ – something nobody in Canada ever asked for – the Liberal government claimed it was to “protect the families” of the 22 murder victims.
Only one problem with that statement.
It’s a bald-faced lie.
Family members of all 22 murder victims have, since Day One, called for a full and open public inquiry.
They insisted upon it.
They don’t want protection. They want answers.
A week after after his “colossally stupid” announcement, Minister Blair promptly reversed his decision and announced a full public inquiry.
Minister Blair then had the audacity to claim a full public inquiry was his intention all along.
“This was entirely about the families and their advocacy. We listened to them and that’s why we’ve made the decision to hold an inquiry.”
“We’ve listened to Nova Scotians,” Minister Blair proclaimed on Twitter – his favourite place to conduct government business.
The Globe and Mail‘s Robyn Urback wrote what the rest of us thought.
“Good. But, man, the gall of writing “we’ve listened to Nova Scotians” after decidedly ignoring them a week ago.”
Was Bill Blair Promoted to His Level of Incompetence?
The short answer is “Yes.”
The longer answer requires asking another question.
Why do Canadians in general, and Liberal Party supporters in specific, have no issue with this?
Can they seriously be satisfied with being told what they want to hear at every opportunity, despite the fact no action ever follows those grandiose virtue-signalling pronouncements?
Unfortunately, as far as I can see, the answer to that question is also a resounding, “YES!”