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Peace, Spalding

March 9, 2004 in Opinion

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Spalding Gray’s body was found in the East River March 8th, two months after he disappeared from his Manhattan apartment. The brilliant actor and performance artist had been increasingly troubled in recent years, after being badly injured in a car accident in Ireland. His work and spirit will survive.

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According to reports on Vancouver radio station CKNW, Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis “tore a strip off organizations like the Pivot Legal Society and Vancouver lawyers Cameron Ward and Phil Rankin for persecuting the police…Stamatakis said there seems to be a political agenda that goes beyond police conduct. He also blamed the media for ‘sensationalizing the stories.”

I confess. Mr. Stamatakis is right. I have an agenda. I want better policing in my city and I want a police force that the residents of Vancouver can trust and respect.

Mr. Stamatakis’ ire is misplaced. He should try to get his own house in order. I didn’t beat Michael Jacobsen in a jail cell and lie about it for years, I didn’t trash a house on Commercial Drive and try to cover it up, I didn’t beat people with batons outside the Hyatt Hotel, I didn’t beat Jeff Berg to death in an alley, I didn’t drag Frank Paul out of the jail and leave him to die, I didn’t assault people at the Guns ‘n Roses concert and I didn’t take three people to the woods of Stanley Park and beat them up. I speak out about these incidents because I consider that I have a duty to do so.

One can legitimately question whether the Vancouver Police Union serves the best interests of the residents of Vancouver. While Vancouver is not New York, the report of the 1994 Mollen Commission into police misconduct in that city may be instructive.

At page 66, the Commission wrote: “Unfortunately, based on our own observations and on information received from prosecutors, corruption investigators, and high-ranking police officials, police unions sometimes fuel the insularity that charachterizes police culture.”

And, at page 67: “In the course of corruption investigations and Departmental administrative proceedings, police unions suffer from a conflict of interest between protecting the interests of the individual officer and promoting the larger interests of their members. Consequently, according to Department managers and prosecutors, police unions help perpetuate the characteristics of police culture that protect corrupt officers.”

Methinks this union leader doth protest too much.

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The Auditor-General has released her long-awaited report into the federal Liberals’ sponsorship program. She found that millions of dollars of taxpayers’ monies were siphoned off by Liberal friends and insiders from the sponsorship program administered by Public Works. Paul Martin, our new unelected Prime Minister, has professed surprise and shock and has vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal. He has said that he was “out of the loop” and knew nothing. Can we believe him?

I submit that anyone who has spent a month in the city of Ottawa in the last twenty years would become aware that the Liberal party has operated a gravy train, doling out vast sums of our money to its friends and supporters. I spent three years there while getting my law degree and I could see evidence of the Liberals’ largesse everywhere.

Paul Martin has been connected to the Liberal party his entire life, some 65 years. He has been an elected MP since 1988, some 15 years. Before ascending to his present job as Prime Minister, he was the Minister of Finance and the highest ranking cabinet minister from the province of Quebec. So, was he blissfully unaware that tens of millions of dollars were ending up in the hands of Liberal cronies?

Maybe the electorate should decide.

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The Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have resolved, by a vote of 17-9, to instruct staff to prepare a form of referendum question dealing with the appropriateness of compelling BC lawyers to pay CBA fees as a condition to obtaining a practice certificate from the Law Society.

It is expected that the binding referendum will occur prior to the 2005 practice year. Past and present CBA executive members spoke against the referendum concept, but their views were rejected by a majority of the Benchers.

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Law Society grants audience

January 31, 2004 in Opinion

The Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have accepted Mr. Ward’s request to address the issue of mandatory CBA payments at the next Bencher’s meeting, scheduled for February 6, 2004. Mr. Ward has been given five minutes to set out his views on the subject.

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