photo_031124-VPA1coleman and stamatakis.jpg

Warm, dry and sober: Solicitor General Rich Coleman and Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis enjoy a recent function with the Lieutenant Governor

On Wednesday, March 18, 2004, The Province newspaper reported that British Columbia Solicitor General Rich Coleman had refused a formal request from the province’s Police Complaint Commissioner to hold a public inquiry into the death of Frank Joseph Paul.

Mr. Paul, an intoxicated 47 year old Mi’kmaq, died on December 6, 1998 after a Vancouver police officer and a provincial corrections officer dragged his rain-soaked and motionless body out of the Vancouver Jail and dumped him in a nearby alley. Since it was December, he froze to death.

The Police Complaint Commissioner, Dirk Ryneveld, Q.C., supported his request with volumes of new records and his plea was endorsed by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, editorials in the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Courier and scores of community groups and associations. All this apparently fell on deaf ears. Mr. Coleman, a former police officer himself, was unmoved.

At a public rally outside the Vancouver Police headquarters on March 19, 2004, Chief Stewart Phillip deplored Coleman’s decision as ‘racist’.

After reflection, I have to agree. What other reason could there possibly be for this outrageous decision? After all, in Mr. Coleman’s world, wasn’t Frank Paul just another drunken Indian? If Mr. Paul had been a white businessman from Shaughnessy, there would have been a different approach. (Of course, if he had been a white businessman, he probably wouldn’t hve been subjected to such abuse in the first place).