Police Surveillance of NDP Cabinet Minister Shannon Phillips

As Ms Soapbox read the decision of retired superintendent Paul Manuel, formerly of the Calgary Police Service, in the disciplinary proceedings against two members of the Lethbridge Police Service who conducted unauthorized surveillance of an NDP Cabinet Minister at a breakfast meeting with four stakeholders, a thought crossed her mind: “When did having a meeting with a government cabinet minister become illegal?”

The Facts

In April 2017 Sgt Carrier was having a meal with two junior officers at a Lethbridge diner. He spotted Shannon Phillips, then NDP Cabinet Minister responsible for parks and environment, having a breakfast meeting with four stakeholders.   

They were in the booth behind him and he overheard Phillips discussing a proposal to create a new park in the Castle region. He texted Acting Sgt Woronuk to join him because Woronuk, like Carrier, enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting and off-roading in the Castle area and, like Carrier, did not support Phillip’s environmental policies. (It’s unclear where the two junior officers stood on NDP policies).

Shannon Phillips

Another officer was invited to join them but by the time he got to the diner Carrier and Woronuk had left.    

Carrier and Woronuk both took photos of Phillips and her party. Carrier also took a “selfie” of himself and Phillips, with the other stakeholders in the background.  

As Carrier and Woronuk left the diner, Woronuk said he’d hate to see Phillips drive away from the restaurant and there be a reason to stop her. Carrier said just because she was a politician didn’t mean she’d get special treatment, she’d get a ticket.  

They left in separate cars. Carrier parked near the diner, caught up on reports and monitored the area for “prostitution-like activities.” He saw Phillips leave at 11:35 AM. He returned to headquarters at 12:06 PM.

Woronuk set up surveillance from his car. He saw a stakeholder leave in a blue Mazda and followed to see if the driver committed a driving infraction. He ran a licence plate search through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) “for assistance in case he lost the vehicle” (this is how Woronuk identified the owner as Harvey Locke, whether Woronuk knew Locke was a well-respected conservationist is not clear). Woronuk sent Carrier a screen shot of the CPIC search in a text.  

Woronuk lost the Mazda after five blocks; the other officer drove around the area looking for it but failed to find it.

The next day, using the name “Mike Corp”, Woronuk posted a Facebook photo of Phillips and the stakeholders and a long caption criticizing Phillips, the NDP government, and Harvey Locke. Woronuk was off duty at the time.  

Phillips brought a complaint to the Calgary Police Service. The CPS investigation resulted in Carrier receiving a two-year warning and Woronuk receiving a one-year warning.  

In the course of the CPS investigation, Woronuk submitted an Explanatory Report saying he’d identified Locke through internet searches. He omitted the fact he’d identified Locke through an unauthorized CPIC search.  

When Woronuk’s CPIC search came to light a second, a collateral investigation was commenced by the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS).  

On July 9, 2019 Carrier and Woronuk were charged with numerous counts of disciplinary misconduct relating to allegations of unauthorized surveillance and traffic enforcement. The officers entered “deny pleas” to all counts.   

On June 24, 2020, after almost a year of “hard-nosed negotiation” the officers entered “Admit” pleas to some of the charges—Woronuk admitted to corrupt practice (using his position for the personal advantage of himself or another), discreditable conduct, deceit and insubordination. Carrier admitted to discreditable conduct (being an accessory) and neglect of duty (failing to report Woronuk’s unauthorized CPIC search).

Penalty

The presiding officer at the MHPS hearing said all the right things: a police officer has extraordinary powers and an abuse of such powers is unacceptable. Policing must be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. It is important that the public has utmost trust and confidence in the police service. Etc.

He characterized this case as one where the police officers put their self-interests ahead of their oath in office, (it’s not clear what exactly the officers hoped to accomplish by engaging in unauthorized surveillance and issuing traffic tickets to a citizen who’d just met with an NDP cabinet minister).

The presiding officer found that Woronuk targeted Phillips because he didn’t support Phillips’ policies and targeted Locke solely because he’d attended a meeting with Phillips. He said Woronuk admitted he had “no lawful reason to conduct his CPIC search and was motivated to do so by his personal and political views…” and that “the seriousness of … Woronuk’s misconduct cannot be understated…”

Woronuk was not dismissed, he was temporarily demoted to Constable 1st Class for two years. This would result in a loss of wages of $19,000.

With respect to Carrier, the presiding officer spoke about the importance of proper supervision, particularly in the rank of sergeant. He noted Carrier’s conversation with Woronuk outside the diner was “tacit approval” for Woronuk to proceed with his traffic enforcement plans and that Carrier failed in his duty as a supervisor by not addressing Woronuk’s actions with Woronuk after he’d discovered what Woronuk had done.

Carrier was temporarily demoted to Senior Constable Level II for one year. This was a wage loss of $11,600 and would impact his pension.    

Why weren’t these officers dismissed?

Because in Alberta, the police investigate themselves under a statement of principles developed by the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board in 1993. These principles, unlike the law governing termination of employment in the private sector, include an obligation to consider extenuating circumstances like:

  • length of service (here 23.5 years for Carrier and 19.5 years for Woronuk),
  • previous good record (yes, in both cases)
  • whether it was an isolated incident (yes)
  • premeditation (none)
  • provocation (Phillips was found not to have provoked the officers, however the presiding officer made a point of noting “…the members were motivated to act by what they perceived as an injustice with the proposed restrictions being placed in the Castle area.”)

Yes, we’ve reached the point in Alberta where imposing restrictions on camping, fishing and ATV-ing are considered an “injustice” by people entrusted to enforce the law.

So that’s it.

Woronuk engaged in unauthorized police surveillance of citizens and a minister of the Crown, his supervisor Carrier tacitly agreed to it, they got caught and will be temporarily demoted.   

As you might expect the NDP and the public don’t think this is good enough so Justice Minister Schweitzer asked ASIRT (Alberta Serious Incident Response Team) to look into the matter. Every single one of ASIRT’s 22 investigators, as of 2018, were current or former cops.*

And we’re right back to where we started.  

ASIRT cops and former cops will be investigating a case previously investigated by the Medicine Hat Police Service (and adjudicated by a retired Calgary Police Service cop) which was originally investigated by the Calgary Police Service.

What the Justice Minister should have said was, enough, the unauthorized police surveillance of Albertans and a minister of the Crown will be investigated by an independent body.  

Why? Because it’s the only way to rebuilt public trust.  

*G&M July 16, 2020 p. A10

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46 Responses to Police Surveillance of NDP Cabinet Minister Shannon Phillips

  1. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. I thought this was Canada, not some other country, where they have a police state. If this is what our police are doing, it will erode the trust we have in them further. We can’t say that all police officers are bad, but with what we have seen going on lately, (and even longer than that), it does not improve the image people have of them. There is no defending this at all. These two police officers clearly had an agenda, and had a political motivation, and it’s been that way in Alberta, with the NDP, before they got into power, and when the NDP were in power. The NDP in Alberta were targets, because the staunch conservative supporters in Alberta, simply couldn’t let go of their longtime support for the conservatives, and anything the NDP, or another party did, would be bad for Alberta. There were even death threats against Rachel Notley. The NDP wanted to create an expansion of a provincial park, and stop the damage from off road vehicles in that park, and in other provincial parks in Alberta. The Alberta PCs, and the Wildrose didn’t like that, and now the UCP don’t like that. The UCP is giving away Alberta’s provincial parks to private groups. Even now, the NDP are still being abused. Look at how the Speaker in the Alberta Legislature, who is a UCP MLA, shamefully treated an NDP female MLA, not that long ago. The best thing for these two police officers, is that they be fired, and without pay. An outside investigation also has to look into the matter.

    • Dwayne, I absolutely agree with your comments. It’s bad enough when the public engages in threatening behavior towards our elected officials, Remember when the president of the Brooks Big Country Oilmen’s Asso. put up a picture of Notley’s face for target practice at a golf tournament. I’d be stunned if he’d ever tried that with a photo of Jim Prentice or Brian Jean. He said he did it because he was “frustrated” with the Notley government and justified it because it was just a headshot and nothing lewd. Crikey.
      And now we find out two Lethbridge policemen responsible for upholding the law, engaged in unlawful surveillance of Shannon Phillips because they didn’t like the NDP in general and Phillips’ policies in particular.
      As you point out, this animosity towards the NDP, particularly its female MLAs knows no bounds, therefore it’s up to us as a civil society to demand it stop. Enough is enough.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I know the abusive behavior in the Alberta Legislature, and wherever our elected provincial representatives meet, has been there for a long time. I remember it really getting up there with premier Ralph Klein. I recall Ralph Kelein bullying and intimidating Opposition MLAs, like Liberal MLA, Laurie Blakemen, with the remark. “Are you calling me a liar?” Ralph Klein didn’t treat others so well either. Rachel Notley also got more death threats than any other premier in Alberta’s history. I met a former Alberta MLA, a while ago. He told me that the Legislature was different when he was there. He said the Conservatives didn’t behave like they do now. He said it was better. Jason Kenney isn’t doing anything to deal with the bad behaviour in that happens in the Legislature, or elsewhere, to the Opposition MLAs. He is only babbling platitudes.

      • Dwayne, do you remember when Jason Kenney said he was going to raise the bar on civility in the Legislature. That lasted about 2 seconds. A true leader knows he has to set the tone at the top. The behavior of the UCP MLAs in the Legislature reflects what Kenney thinks the “tone” should be, and it’s definitely not civil.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Susan: I also think the police should not be investigating the police. I remember this issue being brought up under the Alberta PCs, under Solicitor General, Heather Forsythe, (who was negligent on many portfolios, like foster care, before going to the Wildrose). Heather Forsythe was adamant and said that there was no problem with the police investigating the police. She felt that the police know what’s best. This isn’t the case, with matters of investigating police wrongdoing. If the UCP had any bit of common sense, they would have an outside, independent investigation into this matter. It’s likely they won’t. Also, there has to be better rules made to deal with police misconduct. Robert Dziekanski, George Floyd, and Shannon Phillips, are some examples. We have to expect better. If we don’t, things will not get any better.

    • Dwayne, this notion that police should investigate police because they know best is ludicrous but Doug Schweitzer, our Justice Minister is taking us down the same path. He’s asked ASIRT to investigate whether there was any “criminal behavior” on the part of the two policemen. The answer to this question will involve an analysis on what “unauthorized surveillance” means and whether “unauthorized” is the same as “illegal”.
      Leaving aside the fact that the police adjudicators aren’t lawyers–if you read the presiding officer’s decision in this case you’ll see just how sloppy his reasoning was–asking police to investigate the police raises serious questions of conflict of interest and bias.

  3. CallmeHal says:

    This isn’t Portland, so maybe they think they can get away with it all.

    Ah, Portland, where mysterious armed men in desert camo who wouldn’t identify themselves kidnapped people from the streets, where police shot a peaceful protestor in the head with rubber bullets, causing critical injuries, where moms dressed in white and wearing bicycle helmets formed a human wall between police and protestors to protect the young people.

    Is this how it will end? I don’t know, but Lethbridge is the beginning.

    • CallmeHal, the Portland situation is terrifying, but some ways this is worse. In the Portland case, the armed men in camo are federal agents sent by Trump, someone is directing their activities; whereas here the two police officers took it upon themselves to conduct unauthorized surveillance of law-abiding citizens without their superior’s knowledge simply because they didn’t like Phillips’ politics and decided to make life difficult for a citizen who’d met with her in the diner.
      They used the tools of law enforcement to serve their personal agenda. This sets a very dangerous precedent and it must be firmly addressed. I can’t understand why more people aren’t demanding a public inquiry into this.

  4. Jerrymacgp says:

    So: a somewhat contrary opinion here. Of course they acted inappropriately, but should they have been dismissed? Had there not been a Police Act governing discipline within the LPS, their Collective Agreement, if they’re unionized, would apply, and if they’re not, Employment Standards and the common law of wrongful termination would.

    In either scenario, the principle is “progressive discipline”: begin with a reprimand in the employee’s personnel file, then suspension, before dismissal. Demotion can be an option between reprimand and dismissal as well in hierarchical workplaces, as this one is. Going straight to dismissal in the face of an employee with a previously clean record is usually reserved for the most severe offences; whether this would constitute such an offence would be a question for an HR expert or an arbitration panel, or a court of law in the event of a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, in my opinion, it wouldn’t.

    That said, perhaps we as citizens expect a higher standard of behaviour from our police. But if we do, certainly the Police Act is not equipped to ensure it.

    • Jerrymacgp: in this case the matter of discipline is determined by the agreement between the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Association which states the Police Act and the Police Services Reg (356/1990) govern conduct.
      The Reg sets out nine acts of misconduct, but does not require “progressive discipline”. In fact the presiding officer at the disciplinary hearing is free to impose whatever penalty he deems appropriate in the circumstances. The penalties are set out in s 17(1) and range from reprimand, to suspension, to demotion, to dismissal. If the presiding officer concludes the officer must be dismissed, he may allow the officer to resign instead of being fired.
      The Presiding Officer in this case reviewed the decisions of the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board for guidance on the appropriate penalty. I found his analysis at least with respect to Worunuk to be sloppy but that may be because the charge that Worunuk used his position to his personal advantage or another person’s advantage doesn’t really make sense. I don’t see how giving a traffic ticket to Locke would be to Worunuk’s personal advantage. Worunuk and Carrier were peeved at Phillips for closing parts of the Castle region to outdoor activities, ticketting Locke wouldn’t change Phillip’s decision, all it would do is impose a small fine on Locke.
      That’s why I think the best way to get to the bottom of this is to take it out of the police-policing-the-police arena and put it into a public hearing which would examine what happens when police officers use the tools of law enforcement to serve their own political or personal beliefs.

      Here’s the Reg: https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/laws/regu/alta-reg-356-1990/latest/alta-reg-356-1990.html
      Here’s the agreement between the City and the LPA: https://355f20d4-4757-4dcc-b75f-122e9098b26e.filesusr.com/ugd/51fa03_014b6532a52c4352b90a1f5f60c4b031.pdf

  5. Paul "kill the black snake"Armstrong says:

    Not only are these officers guilty of the charges as stated, they are also guilty of violation of Phillips and Lockes right to “freedom of assembly”. ..no matter what the other “Cops” say, they should be dismissed, lose their pensions and have other sanctions… Enough is enough.

    • Paul, that’s a very good point and supports why I believe this should be examined in a hearing with a broader mandate than ASIRT which has been tasked with determining whether the actions of these officers were illegal (hopefully the Justice Minister misspoke and what he really meant was one or more of the acts of misconduct listed in section 5 of the Police Service Reg 356/1990, although I wonder whether any of the acts of misconduct adequately capture unauthorized surveillance of law abiding citizens).
      When I told my daughter it looked like the officers were tailing the blue Mazda to see if they could nail the driver on a traffic violation simply because the driver was seen at a meeting with Phillips, she said this was similar to Black drivers being tailed and ticketed for what amounts to “driving while Black”.
      As you said, enough is enough.

  6. Elaine Fleming says:

    Susan I will have to try hard to stick to the issue of police harassment in this case, because there are other elements here that I feel strongly about- like protections for Alberta’s remaining wild areas and the species that live there, and then the issue of overt and covert misogynism in Alberta, most recently on display in our Legislature involving MLA Marie Renaud of St. Albert.

    So, the Lethbridge police. Stalking and photographing a government Minister, following law-abiding citizens, and scheming God-knows-what on the public dime and on public time. And, the penalty for that behaviour does not, to an average person, seem fitting relative to the violation of the public’s trust. It begs some other questions too. Would they have done this if the Minister was a man? Is this common practice? What was the end game here? What else were they planning? They should be asked those questions. By an independent investigator. This is some serious s#*t.

    • CallmeHal says:

      Anyone old enough to remember what happened to Karen Silkwood on lonely stretch of road might be able to imagine what could happen by accident, in theory. Lethbridge has lots of gullies. But that kind of thing only happens in the movies, or to Karen Silkwood. Right? And the imagination is a powerful thing. No one is suggesting this would have happened. We don’t know where it might have led.

      It must have been both frightening and intimidating. Posting on Facebook ensured that it was.

      • CallmeHal: I’m sure you’re right. Phillips put it best when she said “using police power to stalk and intimidate a minister is the stuff of police states.” She’s absolutely right. Canada is not a place where law-abiding citizens are put under surveillance for political reasons.
        You’d think these freedom-at-all-costs Albertans would figure that out. Heck they’re down at City Hall protesting against wearing masks, but they’re not up in arms about the police secretly surveilling them because of a difference in political opinion.

      • CallmeHal says:

        Susan, now is the time to share that I was stalked by RCMP in an Alberta oil city when I was 22 years old. I had told my own 22-year-old about this a couple of weeks before CHAT news and Shannon Phillips brought this story forward. It can happen. It did happen to me, and I had done nothing wrong. I was doing my job. My 22-year-old remarked on the coincidence of this timing.

        Men would wait in the parking lot outside my office in a burgundy sedan that was known by locals to be the RCMP’s unmarked car. Clearly, they were not trying to hide. At the time, RCMP did the job of the alphabet agency. My work colleagues knew about it. I became so concerned, that I phoned family to tell them that if I was “Silkwooded”, it was not an accident. Then we heard analog clicking on the phone line. The relative I called was a lawyer. A source told me that my phone had been tapped. Again, I was not doing anything illegal or associating with people who did. I was, however doing my job in the public eye.

        I took precautions like using public transportation for trips out of town to the big city. The road was a two-lane highway with no shoulder at the time.
        I did not like to drive the long, winding hill in that place, and sometimes took taxis for safety. I did not even like to drive any road out of the downtown core, because I did not want to be in any place where people would not see me. After a year of this, I left and never went back.

        Alberta has a long history of this sort of thing. Maybe others will come forward to tell their stories now.

      • Oh my god, Hal, what you went through is unconscionable. And here we are decades later and nothing has changed, if anything they’ve gotten worse because we’re getting lots of lip service from those responsible for the people who abuse their power but not much action on ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It underlines the point that we cannot stand by when the people in authority abuse the tools they’re entrusted with to protect and serve the public.

    • Elaine, great questions. Even the Presiding Officer (PO) who wrote the decision couldn’t figure out what Worunuk hoped to accomplish. One thing is certain, following and ticketing Harvey Locke wouldn’t get Phillips to change her mind re: Castle. Incidentaly Harvey said they weren’t discussing Castle at all. The meeting was about the re-introduction of bison in Banff National Park and what Phillips could do to protect the animals if they wandered onto provincial land outside the park.
      This makes the whole thing even more frightening because in essence you have the police overhearing a conversation, getting the facts wrong and using police enforcement tools to conduct the unauthorized surveillance of law-abiding citizens…to what purpose?

  7. Joanne Helmer says:

    Yes. Elaine Fleming’s questions are valid. What was the end game? What else were they planning? I’ll add more: Why should Canadians be subjected to this kind of invasion of privacy from a public servant? Why are Albertans not up in arms about this?

    • CallmeHal says:

      Let’s call it what it is. It sounds an awful lot like the resentful stalker type here:

      https://www.mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/62668/stalking-intervention-know-5-stalker-types-safety-strategies-victims

      If this was merely surveillance, why was a photo posted on Facebook, with a commentary? That was an abusive fear tactic. The entire basis for this was personal resentment, nothing at all to do with official police business.

      Stalking in any form should never be taken lightly. Police should be held to a high standard of behavior. Police should not be stalking anyone whether they’re on duty in uniform or not. Allowing this to happen without serious consequences for this behavior sends a very strong message to women in abusive domestic partnerships, women who have been sexually assaulted, and women in general. If you ever need help from the Lethbridge police, can you trust them? Would you ever trust these two officers in particular? What does this say about the workplace culture of the Lethbridge police that it happened at all?

      Of course the powers that be obviously see it differently. Wrists have been slapped. Finis.

      • Joanne Helmer says:

        I didn’t think about the idea that it’s stalking and women should be uncomfortable with the lethbridge police force. to be honest, i think most women in lethbridge were already uncomfortable with them.

      • CallmeHal, it’s interesting you bring up the topic of stalking. The Presiding Officer considered two cases where a cop used an internal system to obtain personal information from a license plate query. In the first case the cop used the information he’d obtained in a legitimate investigation to send a woman a personal text from his private cell phone, in the second a female officer used it to check who was visiting her ex-husband. The cop in the first case had to forfeit 36 hours of accumulated overtime and in the second case had to forfeit 24 hours of overtime. In those cases the cop had a personal reason of doing the license plate check, in this case it was a political reason, but the reason for the licence plate query shouldn’t matter; it’s the unauthorized use of a tool of law enforcement.

    • Joanne, I agree 100%. The disciplinary hearing was originally scheduled for 4 to 5 days, witnesses were lined up to give evidence, and if Worunuk had taken the stand I’m sure someone would have asked him what his end game was.
      Since the parties settled all that was left was for the Presiding Officer to review the settlement and determine whether it was acceptable.
      The Presiding Officer made a number of comments which led me to believe he was concerned people (the LPS?) would think the penalty was too harsh, which is bizarre given that (a) it doesn’t adequately reflect the gravity of the misconduct and (b) we’re in the era of George Floyd and BLM. Carrier made an interesting comment. He described policing “as a different age now,” he said it is tougher and requires transparency.
      I wish everyone in the police service would open their eyes and recognize that it is “a different age now” and if they’re not prepared to perform their sworn duty in this new environment, they are welcome to step aside.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: It’s like the Robert Dziekanski incident at the Vancouver airport. A man had an SD card on his smartphone, which contained the recording of Robert Dziekanski being tasered by the police, when he was on the ground. The man had to fight to get his SD card back from the police. The police wanted to keep it. An undisclosed settlement was reached between the R.C.M.P and Robert Dziekanski’s mother. Amnesty International thinks that tasers should not be used by the police, because of the harm they cause. In Alberta, we had an Indigenous youth, Randy Fryingpan, who was tasered by a police officer, when Randy Fryingpan was passed out in an abandoned vehicle. The police officer was the son of the police chief, and wasn’t disciplined. Further back, in relation to the Weibo Ludwig matter, the R.C.M.P were destroying oilfield property, and blaming Weibo Ludwig. I don’t recall any actions taken against the R.C.M.P on that matter. We cannot paint all the police officers with the same brush, but from what has been happening, changes need to be made.

      • Dwayne, I wasn’t aware of police refusing to return the witness’s SD card, nor was I aware of the Fryingpan case. As you said, we can’t paint all the police officers with the same brush, but there are enough incidents coming to light to show that this abuse of power much be taken seriously. One place to start would be a public inquiry into the unauthorized surveillance of law-abiding citizens. And let’s not forget that in the first investigation when Worunuk was asked how he discovered Harvey Locke’s identiy he (in the words of the Presiding Officer) “omitted” to mention he’d conducted an unauthorized licence plate search.

  8. ingamarie says:

    The widespread calls to ‘defund the police’ are not coming out of nowhere and nothing. Shannon Phillips got off lightly. Had she been black or indigenous, alone in a car or answering her own door in the middle of the night for a so called ‘wellness check’, she might be dead.

    The use of unwarranted ‘authority and casual violence is likely more endemic to our police forces than most of us realize…..and the attitudes many of our boys in blue have, more right wing than we want to imagine.

    The right to trash the Castle, and other wilderness areas, essentially for free….was what Kenny’s ‘war on fun’ was all about. Not surprised our police force has individuals who see their rights to ‘fun’ in this way, and are prepared to break the law to maintain them.

    • Joanne Helmer says:

      I think it’s interesting that you would say that. I lived in Lethbridge for many years and never heard a nasty word about the police. i wonder if things have changed or it’s just that people are waking up.

    • Elaine Fleming says:

      A question that needs to be asked is why these fellows hate Shannon Phillips so much. And not just them. (And not just her). Not long ago she was demeaned in our very Legislature by MLA Joseph Schow (UCP, of course) when he said to her, “Settle down, kitty cat!” That did not sit well with me. People who have studied misogyny and sex-power-politics, or worked with abused women (including police) or virtually any girl or woman who has been subjected to it will recognize it. There are red flags all over this case. And the more defiant and/or powerful women are, and the more they stand up to their abusers the more in danger they are. And there is no way the current UCP government isn’t sending out those dog whistles- like that Joseph Schow’s comment) or UCP MLA Shane Getson’s mocking Marie Renaud in the Legislature (and HER getting expelled!) Differing points of view are one thing, but harassment, sexism or racism have no place in our society, but especially in the chamber of our Legislature or in the public service. But these MLA’s are directing their dog whistles to their “base” supporters who see powerful women as a personal threat and some of them unfortunately, are police officers. My theory.

      • You make an excellent point Elaine.
        Recently I read a paper published by the U of C School of Public Policy which found 34% of Canadians are “ordered” populists with an “ordered” rather than “open” outlook on life. They’re older, less-educated, working-class people who are more likely to support conservative parties. They tend to be xenophobic, nativist, and distrustful of science and institutions. They’re not “sympathetic to equality and gender issues” and there are more of them in Alberta and Saskatchewan than the rest of Canada.
        Apparently Rachel Notley and her female MLAs got a surge of death threats and threats of violence including rape after she tabled Bill 6, the farm safety bill. And the situation continues today with the garbage behavior you’ve described at the Legislature. Jason Kenney could stop this behavior if he wanted to, he hasn’t. And that’s a dog whistle to others who think it’s just fine to harass female politicians because you don’t like what they’re saying. Sickening.
        Here’s the link to the School of Public Policy paper: https://www.policyschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Northern-Populism-Graves-Smith.pdf?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT0dWaE1URmtOamt5WVdNNCIsInQiOiJ4TlZoVXZzcEt1SFJCTml5SDdPWHJnZGZEdTRoeTdnUVBmRDZoaXBVY2ZkeXZsdWtkUzRtXC9GdUsybVB2UENxT1JyakhXQ3JqWDR3aHBGaklkSzVpWmg1SDl5VVwva3ZoN0FxZWMrZ3htSGZrbkZSSUorXC9xMzRwS3ZESkxNK29iUiJ9

      • Carlos says:

        Elaine I very much agree with your theory and I also agree with Susan that Jason Kenney could stop it. The real issue as you say, is that this kind of attitude is normal with the UCP much more than it was with the old Conservative party, only because the majority of the UCP is the old Wild Rose party that did not have any respect for anybody other than their own kind. We know from experience what kind that is.
        Jason Kenney and his caucus do not care about law , rules or acceptable behavior. They just bully everybody and force their rules no matter what. Of course in Alberta where it seems the majority of us does not mind that attitude, we are showered with daily abuses of power which in term give permission to others to do the same. Why would the police not bully someone if Jason Kenney does?
        To get this kind of government going is easy as we are witnessing daily but the problem is when we will have to reverse it to standards of a civilized society.
        Yes I said a civilized society. Right now we are back in the Old Wild West.

      • CallmeHal says:

        Jason Kenney himself insults women during Question Period. He allows his MLAs to make rude gestures. He could call a halt to it if he wanted to, but he won’t. Women are supposed to be cowed by this. It is abuse. Behind it all is implicit violence. Policies of the UCP are intended to harm women and children first. We are headed for a moment like this.

        https://www.npr.org/2020/07/23/894596598/i-could-not-allow-that-to-stand-ocasio-cortez-rebukes-republican-for-vulgar-insu

        It will backfire on these vile abusers. Women will not stand for this any more. Enough is enough.

      • CallmeHal: that’s a great link! You’re absolutely right that these sexist insults are intended to put women back in their place. These disgusting men think attacking women demonstrates their strength and superiority when in fact it shows they’re weak, insecure and pathetic. Like you said, enough is enough.

  9. GoinFawr says:

    Disgusting. Disheartening.

    Any abuse of power by those holding it should result in stunning consequences that they can’t just walk away from, or the perpetrators are just encouraged in their malfeasance, and will repeat it; which, ironically, is exactly what every police officer says regarding ANY lawbreaker (without a badge). Go figure.

    • GoinFawr: that’s the irony of this entire situation. The Presiding Officer went to great pains to explain the temporary demotions were not an unduly harsh penalty and stressed the primary purpose of any disciplinary action is to educate and correct behavior and to make “any police officer a better police officer.” I wondered whether the Presiding Officer or the two policemen would say the same thing with respect to a civilian charged and convicted of stalking and harassment in connection with a violation of a victim’s constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of thought and privacy.

    • Carlos says:

      So much for Law and Order.
      Cheating Law and Order I guess. It is gross that so many Albertans actually are followers of this pure garbage and consider themselves Christians. Nothing but lies and total disrespect for citizens.
      What is more scary is that this is what we can see, I can only imagine what is going on behind the scene.

    • Carlos says:

      GoinFawr what is even more Disheartening is that we the so called people, we that pay for all these people’s salaries and allow them to have titles and power have to deal at this moment with unemployment, lack of certainty due to the pandemic, a country down South close to the moral precipice and to top it all our prime minister gets into another ethic black hole and the Governor General who to do a good job just have to be alive, decides that she also has the right to harass and mistreat people and to be another stab in our already faulty and unstable pseudo democratic circus. Why don’t we have ways out of this mess other than doing nothing and hope for the best? Why did we not develop democratic processes of stopping these abuses.
      Why in a province like ours we have to witness our premier donating our money to his businesses landlords and cut on education and health to pay for it. Even worse, invest our tax money on dead industries without any approval other than his own devious mind.
      We have a very long road ahead of us.

      • GoinFawr says:

        I know Carlos, the only explanation I can come up with for what makes legion in Alberta (and elsewhere, for that matter) a blind devotion to those who would undermine the very foundations of all the proven valuable institutions they and their ancestors collectively worked for decades to build is summed up in a quote by Mark Twain,

        “Hain’t we got all the fools…on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” – The ‘Dauphin’ aka Jason Kenney

      • Carlos says:

        🙂 🙂 good one GoinFawr – always a smart answer

        it comes to mind what Margaret Mead wrote before her last days – We will go through another Dark Ages very soon

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: This is the only way I can reply back to you. The Randy Fryingpan incident happened in Edmonton, many years ago. The patron at the Vancouver airport who recorded Robert Dziekanski being tasered by the R.C.M.P had his SD card from his smartphone taken by the police. It was a while before he got it back. He had to fight to do that, by legal means, if I recall. The R.C.M.P were reluctant to hand it back. In this day and age, with almost everyone having a smartphone, they can record things. There is no getting around that. Even before smartphones were here, I remember news reports of people recording acts of police brutality, with a camcorder, from their high-rise apartment, in Canada. Indeed, it’s long overdue for changes to be made.

    • Dwayne, thanks. Your comment about the public recording acts of police brutality reminded me that many police departments now require their officers to wear body cameras and install dashboard cameras in their vehicles, and yet even with the existence of these recording devices, the acts of unnecessary brutality continue. The case involving Chief Allan Adam comes to mind.

  11. Carlos says:

    Just the fact that the police officers decide on their own to spy and harass a minister tells us clearly the type on mentality these people have. It also shows the total lack of democratic knowledge in society as a whole including of course the current government.
    It is appalling that in our country, after 150 years of democratic experience and evolution we are still struggling with basic democratic concepts.
    This is all because we do basically nothing to maintain and evolve our democratic values. The results are obvious. Starting with Harper and now at provincial level, we are violating democratic rules as if we were a country just starting to deal with our freedoms and responsibilities.
    The UCP government is supporting all these devious moves by doing the same themselves.
    By the way where is the report of the RCMP investigation on baby Jason Kenney.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Good question.

    • This is an excellent observation Carlos. If Canadians and Albertans don’t fight to protect their democratic rights we’ll end up in the same quagmire as the US where Trump can use the Dept of Homeland Security as his own personal militia…and get away with it.
      I worry about the Albertans who continue to support Kenney when he’s demonstrated he’ll rip up our democratic conventions and norms in the blink of an eye if it gets him what he wants.
      Do these people still believe he will put more money in their pockets? And that the destruction of our public healthcare and education systems is the price we pay for Kenney jacking up the incentives to corporations while at the same time giving them big fat tax breaks.
      All he’s done is made us a harsher, less civil society. That’s not something to be proud of.

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos: It’s clear that democracy in Alberta has been under attack. It really doesn’t seem to exist in Alberta anymore, does it, with the UCP, and their gang.

      • Carlos says:

        Dwayne, this kind of government coming from people that constantly trumpeted against the NDP’s lack of democracy at every single bill and at every policy that defended the common good is of course shocking. Conservatives have for generations been a party of rich and on the side of business but never anti-democratic. That has changed tremendously with the Harper government which of course became the very first time the conservatives were amalgamated to the Alliance party controlled by Harper.
        Jason Kenney was part of that government and to me he was a failure in many respects. Harper did not accomplish much with is bullying controlling style and so the Liberals won the government back.
        It was clear to anyone that cared about politics, that Jason Kenney was from day 1 bad news for Alberta democracy but the promises of bringing back the Alberta booms was just too strong for greedy Albertans who could not resist the lies coming out of Jason Kenney’s too big mouth.
        Now we have the results and it is not over yet.
        In my opinion this was as predictable as it can possibly be. Again the issue here is democratic illiteracy along with obstinate addiction to easy money.

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