Saturday, November 1, 2008

 

SPEAK SOFTLY...CARRY A BIG STICK

Paul Palango and I are contemporaries. He may not remember me. I remember him a reporter at the Hamilton "Spectator". We covered City Hall in the mid-seventies when I operated the CBC's one-man bilingual News Bureau in the city.

Following a distinguished journalistic career, including national editor of The Globe and Mail, Canada's newspaper of record, Mr. Palango, now based in Nova Scotia, is on his third book exposing and debunking the country's love affair with the myth of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP.

Proud though we all are of our national police force created in 1874, Mr.Palango has argued for several years that our elite guardian of the peace, the RCMP, have for years been mired in an unending litany of organizational, legal and political controversies that would have pretty much ruined any other organization.

I envy his courage in an unrelenting effort to shine light on the poor health and integrity of what appears to be a dysfunctional organization that administers a system where some have argued, sometimes with success, that not every citizen is treated equally.

This weekend, Paul Palango has published: "Dispersing The Fog" - "Inside the Secret World of Ottawa and the RCMP". It chronicles the RCMP involvement in the case of Maher Arar, wrongly arrested and tortured at the request of American Homeland Security. The Income Trust scandal in the midst of the 2006 Federal Election that some argue handed victory to Stephen Harper; and the ongoing fifteen year old Brian Mulroney-Karl Heiz-Schreiber Airbus affair.

Maybe it's a generational thing for me, but Mr. Palango's personal life must surely be "squeaky clean". Otherwise, I sure would not want to piss-off the RCMP, not even "tweak" their ego. In this case Paul Palango is on his third tome, a "hat-trick". "Dispersing The Fog", follows two other books about the national police force: "Above The Law", and "The Last Guardians". In each he's championed what he describes as the very real and articulate concerns of Canadians who have questioned for some time the ability or willingness of the RCMP to carry-out its duties.

"Dispersing The Fog" comes to the sad conclusion that in Canada we presently have a two-tiered system of justice. If one believes in the principles of our democracy, the book is a "must read".

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