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How influential should politicians be on the police?

This week, allegations that the liberal government may have attempted to interfere with the Royal Canadian Mount Police (RCMP) investigation into Novascosia's mass shootings in 2020 have been revealed. The controversy broke out when I went out. I was killed.

 RCMP According to Supt. Darren Campbell's Note, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki promised to release information about the weapons used by the shooters to the Prime Minister's residence and then-Public Security Minister Bill Blair by calling . Said. Lucky was reportedly angry when RCMP didn't.

The Free Government allegedly wanted to release information to advance the gun regulation agenda. Critics and opposition politicians have accused the government of trying to use the tragedy for political gain. Lucky, Blair and Prime Minister Justinto Ludodenied that there was an interferencein the investigation.

But when and how — if any — those who enact the law should be able to have as their boss around those who enforce it. When did police intervention occur and what was the consequence?

CBC News spoke to several experts in an attempt to explain the tense, legally vague and often controversial relationship between Canadian police and policy makers.

Why is policing supposed to be separate from politics?

The Canadian Supreme Court cites the rules of law as the founding principle of Canadian democracy . considered important to our constitutional order Everyone even the most powerful politicians in the country consider themselves beyond the law You can not.

But there is another reason for police independence — In our democracy, the government is responsible for people. This means that people are not afraid that the police will chase them. At the order of the government.

"I think what we want to do is avoid the'police nation'," said Kent Roach, a professor of law at the University of Toronto. "That is, we don't want politicians to tell the police who to investigate and who not to investigate."

Specializes in states where the government can instruct police what to do. The house says that the pattern of government critics and opponents being put in prison will soon appear.

For these reasons, police autonomy, which enforces the law and protects the people, is an important element of the most well-functioning free democracy.

"Political leaders are not supposed to have fine-grained control over police services, which is the exact opposite of democratic thinking," said Temitope Oriola, a professor of criminal and sociological studies at Alberta University. Said.

What does the law say?

These principles look like part of 's basic civil lessons, but Roach is a lot of people, including police officers and politicians. Says he doesn't understand well.

However, may have a reasonable excuse — the law itself is not clear.

"I think part of the problem here is that the line between legal and illegal government directives to the police is very vague." He said. Said.

Police independence from the government is important in our democracy, but Roach says it is always reflected in our law Say it's not a principle.

"For example, police cannot file a crime of hatred without the prior approval of the lawyer's president," he said.

"So there is nothing absolute."

Kentroach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, said Canada. Said that the law was very vague about the direction of improper enforcement by the government. (Oliver Salathiel)

In the case of Lucki, the RCMP Act states that Commissioner "manages and controls the unit and everything related to the unit." However, "under the direction of the minister."

Roach, the law , , to the minister the type of appropriate direction, etc. He said it would be confusing because he didn't elaborate on the meaning of the direction. RCMP Give it to the commissioner. Nor does state whether the instructions need to be given in writing or can be given verbally.

"That's completely ambiguous, isn't it?" Roach said. 

Roach hopes that the RCMP Act will be amended to clarify the types of orders in which the government can legally exercise RCMP leadership. 

He is clear between the instructions to set general police rules accepted in democracy and the instructions that police act in a particular way in a particular case. He said there was a gap. Or take action against a specific person who is not.

He a legitimate government directive to the police orders the police to stop using guidelines for information that the police can disclose, or certain technologies It states that it may be a guideline. training.

However, an unacceptable directive would instruct the police to accuse someone of the crime.

At the 1997 APEC Summit in Vancouver, thegovernment dictated how Mounties protected then Indonesian President Suharto. By doing so, it was found thatinterfered with the operation of RCMP. In a public investigation report on the summit, Judge Ted Hughes said the government tried to disrupt police activities twice by trying to entice protesters away from Schhardt. I concluded.

Hughes recommended that the government amend the RCMP Act to legally clarify the police's independence from the government. To date, no government has adopted this recommendation.

Roach says there may be a reason for lack of action and clarity.

 "In a sense, I think both police and politicians prefer to maintain a fairly vague and vague status quo," he said. "I think it's a shame."

What happens when a politician tries to become a police officer?

Politicians are not supposed to tell the police what to do, but sometimes they can't resist. Some politicians have a history of law enforcement, but most are not . And you can show it when you try to interfere with the work of the police.

"They don't have the skills, knowledge, expertise, or living experience to make operational decisions," said Laura Huey, a professor of sociology at Western University.

She cited the 1997 APEC Suharto controversy as an example, but there are also recent controversies.

Huey recalls Otawa Mayor Jim Watson trying to negotiate with a free convoy protester earlier this year — Mobile Serious Incident Command Expert Said she exacerbated the bad situation.

Otawa Mayor Jim Watson tried to negotiate with Freedom Convoy protesters during the Otawa occupation earlier this year. Professor Laura Suei of Western University says the case is a good example of why it is a bad idea for politicians to take over the responsibility of law enforcement agencies. (Giacomo Panico / CBC)

"Most police services dealing with public order are experienced and highly trained to specialize in negotiations in such situations. There are specialists, "she said.

"So I want the mayor to get off and tinker with something he didn't know at all and didn't work anyway."

Roach is his favorite The example states that it includes former RCMP commissioner Leonard Nicholson.

In 1959, the John Diffenbaker government ordered Nicholson to send more officers to crack down on labor disputes in New Foundland. Nicholson chose to resign instead of following the order.

"Such a thing shows this idea that RCMP does not like political direction. is embedded in RCMP's DNA," Roach said. ..

Is there a better way?

If too much political interference with policing is a problem, then too little danger.

Voters do not elect police officers, but politicians. Therefore, voters act as police checks.

"Society also cannot afford police services that are not responsible to anyone," Oriola said.

The section of Liberal's 2021 Campaign Platformis dedicated to the changes to RCMP, , especially to increase the accountability of Mounties.

Oriola calls the government-police relationship a "subtle" relationship, requires a "subtle balance", and needs to consider intent.

"Are you instructing the police to punish political opponents, or are you building a better society and based on the priority of the policies you campaigned for? Are you giving instructions to improve? Above. "He said.

Huey could improve hiring decisions by increasing the training of police service committees that hire police chiefs, resulting in increased confidence in police leadership and political interference. May be less.

"If we hire very talented people, I think we need to give them space to make decisions," she said. 

Roach offers potential solutions in addition to legal clarity regarding interference. is a law mandating government ministers to instruct police to in writing to . Requirement that direction is open 

He believes that the RCMP Act is amended by this requirement and is only allowed outside of individual cases.

"In democracy, citizens seem to have the right to know what the minister is doing ," Roach said. "I think that command system not only promoted transparency, but also avoided all of these controversies."