What the Mounties told me


Reading about the solid block of lies the RCMP has admitted they dropped on the country after some of their finest tasered Robert Dziekanski to death twigged something I meant to blog a while ago.

A few weeks ago, the RCMP police dog training centre in Alberta released the names of the winners of their annual “name the puppy contest.” Kids across the country are invited to submit suggestions for names for the new German Shepherd puppies that will grow up to be police dogs. The names had to start with the letter “B”, and the winners included Bailey, Badge, Blaze, and Bullet. And — oh yeah — Barack, suggested by Marc Richard, age 6, East Royalty, Prince Edward Island.

When the press release came out, I thought it was interesting they had named one of their new police dogs after the president of the USA. I wondered if Obama would see it as an insult, or perhaps an homage (remember the dog in Due South was named “Diefenbaker”). At any rate, I thought it might be worth a little story. So I phoned the RCMP flack listed at the bottom of the press release, and put my question to her.

She hemmed and hawed a bit, and said “Hang on a second.” A few minutes later, she came back and told me that the spelling of “Barack” in the press release (appended below) was a spelling mistake, and in fact it was supposed to have two “r”s. As in “Barrack”.

“As in army barracks?” I asked.

That’s right she said.

Hookay, I thought…

But it was a busy day so I didn’t pursue it. But a few days later I sent the press release to one of my reporters and asked him to double check. I thought if we could get a hold of young Marc Richard, it might clear up any lingering doubts. We didn’t reach him, but the reporter did call the RCMP back to ask about Barrack the dog, and reached the same flack who had spoken to me.

Except this time, her story was that the dog’s name isn’t Barrack-as-in-army-barracks, it is Barack-as-in-the-POTUS. Which is what the original press release had. Which is what I called about. Which means the RCMP flack basically made something up to get the media off the phone.

You think the Dziekanski lies are troubling? This is an organization that will lie to the media about the name a six-year-old gave to a puppy in a contest. Lying to Canadians is written into Mountie DNA.

The presser below.


Innisfail, Alberta
April 15, 2009
Winners of the 2009 RCMP “Name the Puppy Contest”

Innisfail, Alberta – On Monday, April 6, 2009, ten lucky young
Canadians each won the privilege to name a working dog from the RCMP
Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) “Depot” Division. PDSTC
received over 8,550 individual and 343 school entries- an unprecedented
number in the history of this popular contest.

As in previous years, participants were creative and imaginative,
submitting names starting with the letter “B”. For multiple entries
of the same name, winners were selected at random. And the winners are:

Brock: Aidan Schafer, age 8, Red Deer, Alberta
Bailey: Zahara Wolsynuk, age 10, Whitehorse, Yukon
Breeze: Vanessa Harris, age 11, Keremeos, British Columbia
Bullet: Joel Dyck, age 15, Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan
Barry: Taylor Shurb, age 11, Brandon, Manitoba
Badge: Lauren Neufeld, age 10, Smithers, British Columbia
Blaze: Rickey Smith, age 11, Amherst, Nova Scotia
Bounty: Randi Johnston, age 15, Makinson, Newfoundland and
Bella: Julie Morneau, age 13, Saint-Isidore, New Brunswick
Barack: Marc Richard, age 6, East Royalty, Prince Edward Island

The winners will each receive a 5×7-inch laminated photograph of their
“officially” named puppy, an RCMP ball cap, a plush dog named
“Justice” and a certificate. Please note that the other entries
will also be used to name future puppies.

The three winning classroom submissions are:

Dinsmore Composite School, Grade 1/2, Dinsmore, Saskatchewan
École de la Rive-Sud, Blockhouse, Nova Scotia
Westwood School, Grade 3, Thompson, Manitoba

Each classroom will receive an 8×10-inch laminated photograph of RCMP
puppies, a plush dog named “Justice” and a certificate.

“The PDSTC would like to thank all the children who took the time and
made the effort to submit names for our potential police service dogs.
RCMP police service dogs are an integral part of front line policing.
They track and apprehend criminals, remove illicit drugs from the
streets, search and recover articles as well as people,” stated
Corporal Whitney Benoit, non-commissioned officer in charge of the
Breeding Program. “It is gratifying to know that Canadians realize
and understand the importance of our police service dogs and are playing
an active role in naming those who will be responsible for saving lives
and protecting our communities,” concluded Benoit.

The PDSTC, “Depot” Division, is the national training centre in
Canada for all RCMP police dog teams. Currently, there are 132
multi-purpose operational dog teams in Canada and 23 specialty dog teams
that detect narcotics or explosives. The RCMP Police Service Dog
Breeding Program has produced over 100 police service dogs that have
been in service to Canadians and over 65 dogs that are working with
Search and Rescue and with other police agencies in Canada and the
United States.

Filed under:

What the Mounties told me

  1. I guess Breitkreuz didn’t make the list?

  2. It’s a gigantic federal bureaucracy. What did you expect?

    BTW has anyone else figured out yet why most parts of the country are deemed to be too ignorant or scatterbrained to be able to organize their own local constabulary in order to write parking tickets and fender-bender reports?

    It seems to me that if you live in Podunk, Sask. and you think that local cops need to be recruited, trained, supervised and paid through a federal bureaucracy in Ottawa then you deserve whatever you get.

  3. Your mistake was not to get video.

  4. I think you may be reading too much into this. Quite possibly the person you spoke to just can’t spell.

    • Sure, maybe. And maybe in Vancouver, the RCMP who put out the original press release simply couldn’t count:

      “In the first two days after Dziekanski died, the RCMP’s public statements on the incident contained false information about how many officers were involved, how many times Dziekanski was stunned and what state Dziekanski was in (initial reports described him as violent with police when, in fact, he had been calm).”

      • uhmm while without wanting to do excusable what i believe to be the inexcusable behaviour of the mounties re the death of Dziekanski, drawing a direct and a host of other recent scandals drawing direct links between their you phone call reminds me of the always helpful maxim ‘correlation does not equal causation’.

        There are a host of reasons the person on the other end of the line erred in the ways she or he did. A broad base smear that all mounties lie is no more insightful than saying all journos are lazy lefties.

        • Andrew, as much as I also hate the cops and their lies and their behaviour, you have made an untenable stretch, and here’s why. I have worked in clerical, PR, and communications positions with the federal government and a crown corporation. I can tell you that how well we do or don’t do our jobs comes 75% from within (ie, what skills and attitudes we have when we come in the door), and 25% from our managers, who are mid-level lackeys who report up the chain to Ottawa.

          All clerical and “civilian” staff at RCMP are considered Public Service employees, no different from those at Health Canada, Veterans Affairs, Heritage, etc. They report to bosses who report to bosses who report to deputy ministers and ministers who have no connection to the law enforcement end. The cops themselves have a different chain of command.

          What that PR flak did to you was a reflection of clerks in the Public Service in general. It sounds typical. The culture of the cops themselves is an entirely different dysfunctional beast.

      • Yeah, Potter is right, this is clearly a group of people, starting with the woman he talked to, who would rather lie than risk a minor controversy.

        It does have something to say about the culture of the RCMP. It sounds like a typical political office, rather than a police force bound to honesty and integrity.

  5. … And when the RCMP at UBC during the APEC affair were pepper-spraying students and telling them their campus was a “Charter Free Zone”, it was because, what? They couldn’t think?

    • The RCMP cannot be forgiven for the Dziekanski lies and the APEC stupidity, but I think the media person can be forgiven for not being diligent confirming the name of a dog in a contest.

      The problems with the RCMP misleading the public are huge… it’s just that this isn’t a great example of it.

      • The problems with the RCMP misleading the public are huge… it’s just that this isn’t a great example of it.

        That’s what it comes down to.

      • I disagree. I agree with Potter. This was not an error confirming a name. This was a deliberate falsehood to avoid any potential backlash concerning the fact that a dog was named after the president.

        I think it is a fine example. It is a window into the culture of the RCMP.

  6. Dix noms, dont seulement un qui pourrait ressembler, avec une bonne imagination, à un nom français.

    Does the RCMP not realize they are also the GRC? Or do the ten dogs each have a deuxième appelation in the second half of that press release?

    Maybe your lying RCMP flack would like to handle that question, too…

    • Well, I don’t know, I call french guys Michel and english guys Michael. I’m not a big fan of translating names.

      Although it’s true that this is Trudeaupia, where breakfast cereal labels must be translated to French in Kamloops for the benefit of the 2 unilingual french guys in town.

  7. They should have named one Bully. After all, that’s what a lot of the latest product form Depot seems to have going for them. They should be disbanded just like the Airborne. After all, they are a military regiment, and not a real police force.

    • To make this even more troubling, they have actually reverted to more “military” style training. That is exactly what we need, more militarily trained RCMP.

  8. I would have liked to submit “Billy Bob”

  9. Hey, this is just like picking a cabinet. One winner from every province/territory where the RCMP is also the provincial force (none for Ontario- OPP nor Quebec – Sûreté du Québec).

    You should have asked if the winning entry of “Barry” was for the period before Obama rediscovered his African roots.

  10. what is it gonna take to get these guys disbanded. they really are a threat to public safety.

    • I agree. Calling a dog “Bullet”? That’s just courting disaster.

      • Yeah, they should have named him “Taser”. Or “Gun Registry”.

  11. Previously I had thought the Mayerthorpe deaths were the counterpoint to the Dziekanski death, in that they showed how quickly a deadly situation can develop. It is becoming clear that the 4 officers who killed Dziekanski were acting within the parameters of their training. As a result, while they should be considered complicit in his death, the real guilt lies with the more senior levels of the RCMP. Now the Maythorpe tragedy is completely consistent with this new view. In Alberta, senior RCMP set out four young officiers with less than 20 years experience between them (most of that in traffic control) to the ranch of a known threat.
    The RCMP requires a complete reworking of its structure with additional civilian oversight. It is a great Canadian institution that in its current form is broken.

  12. Maybe the problems begin in that we use Mounties as traffic wardens. It becomes about quotas and bounties instead of to serve and protect. Don’t laugh but judges here have thrown too many drunk driving and reckless driving cases out because the paper work was so shoddy the Prosecution couldn’t use the Mounties statements credibly.
    Make them a National police force again and tighten the admissions back up.

  13. While the dog incident is hardly earth-shattering, I think it’s worth sharing. Simply further confirmation that there is a culture of obfuscation endemic to the RCMP these days.

  14. WTF have the Conservatives done to promote responsibility & accountability? You’re talking about the man who prorogued Parliament to avoid facing his own moment of accountability!

  15. Really though. what good are Police forces that lie so transparently for so little gain? We have supposedly understaffed forces but that isn’t an excuse for extremely shoddy execution of basic job requirements such as documentation, and answering harmless if annoying press questions. Are we reading too much into the myths of the RCMP or are they themselves neglecting them?

  16. I would be honoured if a police dog were named after me. But I know some people would not.

    Many black people do not like dogs at all, it’s something I’ve noticed over the years (a few white people also dislike dogs). Muslims dislike dogs because they are considered “unclean” and would be insulted to have a dog named after them.

    After saying those two things, this is where the politically correct must jump in and label me a racist for being honest.


    Barack Obama, on the other hand, is not muslim and just brought home a dog for his kids. So maybe he’d be flattered.

  17. "Lying to Canadians is written into Mountie DNA."

    Some reporter you are if this is news to you. Any lawyer doing criminal defence work would have told you that the coppers lie just as much as the crooks, sometimes more, and that the mounties are self righteous about their lies, as though they had some direct dispensation from God to do it.

    But knowing that would have meant working, shoe-leather, boots on the ground, and talking to actual sources, all very icky.

    The state of Journalism in this country is not much better than the state of the mounties. Maybe you press guys should get out more.

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