Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tone deaf RCMP

Update below.

This is a very strange trial balloon: "RCMP wants less strict rules on disclosure to defence lawyers."
The RCMP is calling on the Harper government to find a way to ease disclosure requirements that force the Mounties to share all of the fruits of their investigations with defence lawyers, although such a move would face stiff opposition in legal circles.
The RCMP claims that disclosure obligations are straining the budget. That's challenged in the piece by leading defence lawyer and defender of the wrongfully convicted, James Lockyer.

Maybe they're just angling for budget dollars or something by making this claim, but this seems quite ridiculous. They didn't seem to have any qualms in spending a bundle at the G20, as if it were Christmas time to rack up all the new equipment. Yet constitutionally required disclosure obligations need to be eased for cost reasons? Remarkable.

It's also not exactly been a banner year for the RCMP conduct-wise.

Plus we've just been through, as a nation, a very high profile incident of police abuse in the form of the Stacy Bonds video that has reminded us all of the need to be extra vigilant about monitoring what it is that police are doing. Dialing back disclosure obligations for budgetary reasons seems like a very strangely timed request as a result. Trust levels between the public and police forces are strained as it is.

This should, hopefully, go nowhere.

Update: The Globe reports, Thursday evening: "Government won’t modify evidence disclosure rules." Nicholson's office says no but there is a bit of discussion about the notion of "streamlining" the justice system in recognition of the RCMP's point about increased costs. Both the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association weigh in.