Friday, June 1, 2012

Police Deserve Our Respect - When They Don't Abuse It

Contrary to what one might believe reading my various entries on the police, I recognize the difficult job that they have, and I realize that they are often capable of feats of great heroism when they put themselves at peril to protect the public. As a retired teacher, I also know how easy it is for people to make gross over generalizations about those who work as public servants, stereotyped slurs abounding about, for example, overpaid and lazy teachers, cops on the take, etc.

However, and I think I have been consistent in this, I draw the line at police who abuse their authority or act incompetently and then try to escape the consequences through lies, misdirection, or obfuscatory political language.

My reflections today are prompted by a story on the front page of today's Star detailing the failure of Julian Fantino to apologize to Cecil Bernard George, cousin of the late Dudley George, for a near-fatal beating he received at the hands of the OPP when Fantino headed that organization:

Five years ago, Justice Sidney Linden wrote that then-OPP commissioner Julian Fantino should apologize to Kettle and Stony Point band councillor Cecil Bernard “Slippery” George for near-fatal injuries he suffered during a clash with police.

Fantino, who seems to epitomize the American belief that it should never apologize for anything, has never acted upon that judicial request and appears not to be man enough to own up to his failure, one of many in his very checkered career in law enforcement, a career that included wiretap controversies, homophobia, and corruption scandals under his command.

According to the Star article, Fantino's first feeble explanation for not apologizing to Cecil George came three weeks ago when the now-Assistant Minister of Defence said he sincerely wanted to apologize to George face-to-face, but was told by Ontario Provincial Police staff that George was dead. “I believe he passed away”.

George, who has made no secret of his ongoing participation in this life, even has his picture on the band council's webpage. Mind you, the picture includes three people with the surname of George, so perhaps the kind of discernment required to identify the correct one would have required time that an assistant minister has little of, given his weighty duties in the service of Haper Inc.

Ever the resourceful politician, when informed by the Star that Mr. George is still with us, a spokesperson said in an email late Thursday afternoon that Fantino now recalls that he offered an apology and it was declined.

George said Thursday he’s still awaiting an apology from Fantino and would welcome one.

The Fantino spokesperson also said that two other former OPP commissioners have already apologized to the community.

George said Linden specifically called upon Fantino to apologize and that Fantino should respect the judge’s recommendation.

The Fantino spokesperson said that he no longer has authority to act of behalf of the OPP.

George said he feels Fantino should still make the apology and that he should make it to the entire community.

And so you can see the problem here. The breathtaking scope of dishonesty, rationalization, evasion and absence of honour epitomized in this situation once more suggests that Mr. Fantino is yet just another politician, cut from the same cloth as the majority of the Harper regime, intent on advancing his own career at the expense of the public good.

Yet one more reason I will be protesting at my local Conservative M.P.'s office tomorrow.

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