Tag Archives: Terrorism

A tasteless, jingoistic, paramilitary embarrassment…

Lord what’s become of the RCMP Musical Ride?

The title of this post is a quote from former CBC journalist Frank Koller; you can read his blog post here.

The paramilitary demonstration in question, according to the RCMP, has been a part of the Musical Ride for roughly a decade (or roughly as long as Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister, but that’s just a coincidence… right?).

Koller’s reaction echoed that of many in attendance who were shocked to see this military display at a Canadian institution that’s been described in the past as ‘ballet with horses’.

The RCMP in turn responded by down-playing the demonstration, arguing that it’s only a part of the Ottawa-based sunset ceremony and not the touring Musical Ride. They also mentioned it was just a few minutes in a two-hour presentation, and re-iterated the supposed longevity of the display to make it seem as though it’s a perfectly normal component of the Musical Ride (the Emergency Response Team or ERT has existed since 1977, and the Musical Ride has been going on since the late 19th century, but it’s only in the last decade that these ‘long-standing’ displays have popped up).

Also – mass citizenship oath? When did that become part of the ceremony? One of the benefits of living in a liberal democracy is not being compelled to demonstrate your citizenship in mass recitations. That’s more of a North Korea type of thing…

Some took issue with Koller’s use of the term ‘paramilitary’, as the RCMP was, in a sense, a paramilitary organization. I’d argue this hasn’t been the case for much of the organization’s recent history, as the 19th century need for a paramilitary police force has disappeared. The RCMP are not tasked with defending Canadian territorial sovereignty, this is the job of the military. The ERT is indeed the paramilitary component of the RCMP, intended to be used as an aid to the civil power in extreme circumstances warranting the use of military-grade equipment and tactics.

My question is what precisely they’re trying to demonstrate. I know the ERT exists, I have an idea about what it would be used for, but I just can’t fathom what this has to do with the Musical Ride, or why this component of the RCMP should be demonstrated at any public event in the first place.

Think about it: wouldn’t it be odd for Montreal’s SWAT team to put on public displays during Jazz Fest?

What are they trying to show us? A forceful traffic stop? This isn’t what an RCMP take-down of suspected terrorists would look like at all… it’s unrealistic to the point of being comedic, and if this is in any way comparable to an actual RCMP training operation we should all be very worried.

And this is aside from the fact that we still haven’t produced ‘home grown’ terrorists since the October Crisis, and even then the FLQ was really little more than a loose association of politically-motivated bank robbers. Zehaf-Bibeault was a habitual offender with mental problems who somehow got himself an old winchester dual action. He was only ‘radicalized’ by his own sick mind, not a Canadian based Islamic fundamentalist terrorism network. On a day to day basis the RCMP spends a lot more time and effort responding to domestic disputes and highway code violations than combating domestic terrorism.

So again, what is this idiotic spectacle supposed to demonstrate?

When are RCMP tactical units going to be cruising around the neighbourhood searching for slow-moving pickups with shirtless terrorist drivers?

Furthermore… as a patriot I feel compelled to explain that the Tragically Hip song Three Pistols references the community of Trois-Pistoles, Quebec (pistoles were an old French currency, not a gun), and that the song itself is a kind of interpretive biography of the Group of Seven painter Tom Thomson.

So there’s that… on top of this being nearly Monty Python-esque in its asinine absurdity, this demonstration was set to an inappropriate musical choice, one that indicates a superficiality and lack of general awareness again, I would hope is not actually indicative of the RCMP.

A display like this doesn’t make me feel any safer, and knowing that I’d be subjected to this kind of tastelessness gives me every reason to avoid paying money to see the Musical Ride. This spectacle reminds me of the evident Americanization of Canadian police and this in turn is of no benefit to anyone but chiefly American arms dealers. The fact is crime has been falling for decades not as a result of this recent trend, but rather the result of sound public policy enacted by democratically elected responsible governments. Buying armoured trucks and flash bangs for the RCMP is of no particular strategic advantage, and it would be in our strategic security interest not to demonstrate how the ERT actually operates at public functions. If anything, we should treat the ERT much like JTF2, keeping them out of the public eye until absolutely necessary.

This demonstration is a farce we should be embarrassed of.

Interesting Day in the News

The video is completely unrelated to this article, just something I found recently that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit.

As to what’s happening this lovely spring day, well, quite a bit.

On the political front, Denis Coderre (who’s starting to remind me of those god awful reality shows that waste twenty minutes building the suspense and then cut to commercial without revealing anything with his ‘will he/won’t he’ pre-campaigning) has once again left us desperately wanting more with his announcement he’ll make an announcement on the 16th of May regarding his political future.

I’m on the edge of my seat, really.

The CAQ has sent Bill 14 to its second reading, though with a laundry list of generally sensible amendments the PQ won’t like. If an election were held today there’s a 97% chance the Québec Liberals under Philipe Couillard would win.

The foiled terrorism plot has taken yet another interesting turn in that the accused refuse counsel and at least one, the well-respected doctoral biotechnology researcher, has indicated he doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the criminal code of Canada because it’s not a holy book, but rather the fallible creation of mere mortals.

Where have I heard that argument before…

Is it possible this guy’s plain old insane? Is this an Islamofascist Kaczynski?

Back on track – there’s a movement afoot that proposes Meadowbrook Golf Club in Cote-St-Luc get turned into a rather large park (roughly twice the size of Parc Lafontaine). The West End could use a park of such size, the problem as I see it is that Meadowbrook finds itself somewhat wedged in between rail yards and industrial parks, chopped up by rail lines and positioned at the back end of Cote-St-Luc.

I’m always in favour of more parks, but this one’s a bit tricky. For one the proprietor, Groupe Pacific, would rather build, what else, a condo development, something the City already rejected part of the plan that spilled over the Cote-St-Luc border.

And while this particular area, from a bird’s eye perspective, sits in a desert of open, accessible green space, it’s completely inaccessible to Lachine. Incidentally, the City of Montreal rejected condo development on infrastructure grounds. Meadowbrook could be a great park, but it’s location is too severely detached from the people who live around it.

On the list of potential could-bes, a plan to revitalize the Marché St-Jacques as, well, a public market, something we could use far more of, but that’s a subject for another day. Apparently the Qataris have made a compelling case to move ICAO from Montreal to Doha, part of a broad plan by the kingdom to recast itself as a major centre of world affairs. Reaction from the Fed and PQ were surprisingly swift and unanimous, both are obviously committed to keeping things as they area.

And finally, though there’s still a lot of talk about possibly building tram lines in Montreal, still no action, just calls for more studies, themselves costing tens of millions of dollars. Today’s transit news started with open discussions about what could be and closed with a reminder billion-dollar projects such as these will take forever to complete and will require provincial and federal financing (and neither are terribly interested, the province having already stated no way until 2018, five years from now). Somehow, despite requiring more study, initial cost estimates are $1 billion.

Just for context, the first 20 stations of the original Métro system were completed in four and half years at an adjusted cost of $1.5 billion.

Installing a surface tram – no tunnels, no stations – is supposed to cost just as much?

Are these figures pre-Charbonneau or post-Charbonneau estimates?

That’s what I’d like to know.