Stockwell Day — a rather unusual Canadian political figure for his persistence — has responded to the complaints of citizens about the death of Robert Dziekanski after the fury of British Columbia and broader Canadian citizens:
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in a statement last night that he has asked Paul Kennedy, the Commissioner for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, to review the police force’s policies for using the devices – and assess whether its members live up to those standards.
The independent review is yet another added to a growing list of inquiries and reviews sparked by the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish man who spent 10 hours at the Vancouver airport before being tasered by police. There is already an internal RCMP review under way.
With the public outcry growing, rather than abating, the provincial government in British Columbia announced its own inquiry this week and accused federal agencies including the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency of failing to provide answers. In the Commons, Mr. Day has faced repeated demands for the federal government to provide answers.
Mr. Day’s decision to ask Mr. Kennedy to review the RCMP’s taser use will effectively expand a probe that the arm’s-length ombudsman launched Nov. 8 into the RCMP’s actions in the Dziekanski case.
Mr. Kennedy had already said that he would assess the force’s policies for using tasers, or conducted energy devices, and whether the four officers involved in the incident with Mr. Dziekanski complied with those protocols. But Mr. Day’s request means he has now been asked to add an RCMP-wide assessment of whether the force is complying with its protocols.
Though it’s good to see the Public Safety Minister responding to the issue, it’s kind of a pity that it has to first come to a situation where the government has no choice but to respond. This kind of incident clearly isn’t good for the public… waiting for them to respond with rage is a weak way of putting off the issue, and — if successful — would obviously cause more harm than good.
It’ll be a fine day when we see our governments jumping to confront internal issues as quickly as they confront external risks.