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Toronto Star
  • Will old SIU reports see light of day?

    The retroactive release of all Special Investigations Unit directors’ reports — including censored details related to the death of Andrew Loku — looms as part of a new review of police oversight, Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur said Monday.

    Under fire from critics outraged that only nine of 34 pages were made public from the SIU probe of Loku’s shooting by Toronto police last July, Meilleur said Monday that more information will be forthcoming.

    That could include the release of the thousands of secret reports prepared by SIU directors since the civilian watchdog was created in 1990 — including the 138 fatal police shootings the agency has probed.

    But critics say the release of the reports is meaningless if key information, such as evidence provided by witnesses, is kept secret.

    In an interview Monday, Meilleur said her ministry has asked Justice Michael Tulloch, the judge appointed to review all Ontario police oversight bodies, to make the release of past and future SIU director’s reports among the first issues he tackles.

    Tulloch will be empowered to release any SIU reports even before his final report is completed, Meilleur said.

    “He will also prioritize looking at whether past SIU reports should be made public, and the form this information would take,” Meilleur said.

    To the families of those killed by police, there is relief in knowing they may soon learn more about the investigation into their relative’s death.

    But they will not accept heavily censored documents such as the Loku report released Friday, said Karyn Greenwood-Graham, who runs a support group for families of those killed by police.

    That report, written by SIU director Tony Loparco, omitted the names of the officer who shot Loku, the names of 24 police and civilian witnesses, and all of the evidence they provided.

    “We need the full report — the who, what, where, when and how,” said Greenwood-Graham, whose son Trevor was killed by Waterloo Regional Police in 2007.

    Former Information and Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said releasing past and future SIU reports in the same restricted fashion as in the Loku case could not be considered an accomplishment for transparency and accountability.

    It could in fact create the perception that important details are being concealed, she said.

    “The point of releasing the reports is to enhance openness and transparency associated with what transpires in these investigations. So it just strikes me that it would defeat the purpose of releasing them by reporting information in the words of the SIU as opposed to the words of the actual witnesses,” she said.

    Cavoukian supports the public release of the names of subject and witness officers, as well as the accounts of civilian witnesses without any identifying information. She recommends that the government first give consideration to releasing the actual words of the witnesses in the Loku case, and then applying the same procedure retroactively to previous reports.

    When releasing the Loku report last week, the government explained that the omission of civilian accounts is due to an undertaking given to witnesses by the SIU that their identities and accounts will be kept confidential unless the case ends up in court or a coroner’s inquest.

    “That’s the question that we have asked the judge (Tulloch) to give us advice on and we believe we will have an answer before March 31, 2017 (when Tulloch’s report is due),” she said.

    Former SIU director and Crown attorney Howard Morton believes the government could already get a legal opinion from lawyers at the Ministry of the Attorney General on the release of the SIU reports, rather than wait for Tulloch to weigh in, which Morton said appears to be a stall tactic.

    “The only issue once they decide if it’s legal to release them is whether it’s politically wise to do so, and that’s a decision they don’t need Michael Tulloch for,” he said.

    The partial release of the SIU director’s report into Loku’s death — the first director’s report ever released since the watchdog’s creation — also drew criticism in the legislature Monday.

    NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh accused the Liberal government of dragging its heels on Loku’s death.

    “First, the attorney general took 30 days to read a report that only she could read. Then, while the Premier (Kathleen Wynne) made some promising remarks about perhaps releasing this report, the attorney general said ‘no’ four times in response to media questions about the release of this report,” Singh told the legislature.

    “Now, finally, when the government releases the report, they release it late on a Friday. They release only ten out of 34 pages — and one of those ten pages is blank. The pages that are released are heavily redacted,” he said.

    Singh, who praised Friday’s appointment of Tulloch to review SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, said the public shouldn’t have to wait for additional answers.

    “While New Democrats welcome this commission and welcome the appointment of Justice Tulloch, that doesn’t answer the question of transparency,” he said.

    Loku, a 45-year-old father of five from South Sudan, was shot dead when officers were called to an apartment building — leased by the Canadian Mental Health Association to tenants with mental health challenges — at 502 Gilbert Ave. last July, after reports he was threatening a woman inside with a hammer.

    Loparco’s report said Loku was advancing on the officers with a hammer raised above his head and the unnamed shooter fired in self-defence, to thwart an imminent hammer attack.

    As revealed in the report, Loku had a blood-alcohol level was 247 mg/100 mL of blood, three times the legal driving limit.

    The SIU director concluded it was likely Loku’s intoxication, not his mental illness, that caused him to be aggressive toward police, though it’s not clear how he made that determination.

    The report also revealed Loparco criticized the conduct of one Toronto officer immediately after Loku’s death. That unnamed officer, who did not arrive on scene until after the shooting, “improperly” attempted to review and download surveillance video of the shooting.

    Loparco said that contravenes the Police Services Act, which clearly states the SIU is the lead investigator.

    “This case is another example in which the post-incident conduct of some officers threatened to publicly compromise the credibility of the SIU’s investigation,” Loparco wrote.

    But in a statement Monday Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said his officers have the “legal onus,” also set out in the Police Act, to fulfil the responsibility to secure the scene before the SIU investigators arrive and take charge.

    “My officers attempted to locate and secure the video. Due to technical difficulties, they were unable to do so. They did not review the video, nor did they download the video. An officer was posted to secure the scene until technical assistance could be contacted. The SIU, in fact, downloaded the video at a later time. The SIU’s forensic examination states that no tampering took place,” Saunders said.

    Saunders added that at no point did SIU investigators on scene “question, contradict or prevent my officers from carrying out this responsibility.”

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text95607 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • RCMP ?trying to get? access to Panama Papers to pursue Canadian tax evaders

    OTTAWA—The RCMP says it expects to soon get its hands on the so-called Panama Papers revealing offshore companies and bank accounts around the world, though it was coy about how it intends to obtain the documents.

    Yet asked if people who are deliberately hiding their money to evade taxes could be in trouble, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said “I’d like to think so.”

    Paulson appeared with several of his top deputies at the Senate standing committee on national security and defence Monday and outlined challenges the force faces in trying to obtain evidence abroad to pursue charges when it comes to terrorist financing.

    But when Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan asked about the Panama Papers, RCMP deputy commissioner Mike Cabana, in charge of federal policing, said the RCMP moved quickly after their publication.

    “As soon as we learned of the existence of those documents we started discussions with our foreign partners in order to get our hands on copies of those documents. Those discussions are still underway; we have received confirmation that we are going to receive the documents in their entirety,” Cabana said.

    Cabana said the RCMP is working with “domestic partners here in Canada” including FINTRAC, the agency that tracks money-laundering and other suspicious financial transactions, “so that once we get all of the documents we will be able to quickly analyze” them.

    “I didn’t say we had them,” Paulson said later. “We are trying to get them. We’re interested in getting our hands on them and what criminality they may represent, and what investigations we should pursue, we’re in partnership with a number of people.”

    Asked if he is seeking judicial warrants to seize data or documentation from the International Consortium of Journalists or media involved in the reporting, Paulson dodged a direct answer. He said he was “uncomfortable” discussing details of what actions the RCMP might take around the documents.

    “There’s a broad understanding of what they represent and there is a tremendous suggestions (sic) of criminality and we’re going to have to proceed very carefully. Typically when we do investigations of these types we like to have some discretion, the ability to manage that,” Paulson said.

    On May 9, the International Consortium of Journalists has scheduled a partial release of corporation names and associated names, but not individual records, data, documents or passports associated with its trove.

    Reporter Rob Cribb, who has led the Star’s reporting on the documents as a partner in the media consortium, said nobody in the RCMP has contacted the Star, but nearly two dozen national tax authorities around the world, including the Canada Revenue Agency, have made formal requests of media involved.

    The Star and the CBC have declined to turn over the documents to the CRA.

    Cabana said the RCMP has 57 officers deployed in 30 countries who work either as liaison officers or analysts with other agencies on investigations of interest to Canada, or to promote information-sharing.

    Paulson said the RCMP faces “huge challenges” in pursuing terrorist financing cases related to the difficulty of gathering evidence abroad.

    The RCMP managers also outlined how the force is “living within” its budget while building a case for more funds to juggle national security investigations along with other investigative operations.

  • Boom! Justin Trudeau says, ?Take that, U.S., U.K.!,? as he promotes Invictus Games

    Never one to miss an opportunity to do a push-up in public, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on the latest international sporting rivalry to sweep the globe: the Invictus Games.

    Not to be outdone by videos released by the Obamas and the Royal Family, Trudeau released his own video on social media showing just how tough Canadians can be on Monday afternoon. The prime minister had earlier met with Prince Harry to launch Invictus 2017, which will be hosted in Toronto.

    In the video, Trudeau is seen flanked by members of Team Canada for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla.

    “Oh hey, I just thought I’d show our friends in the U.S. and the U.K. how Canada brings it,” he said before doing a pushup and dropping an imaginary mic.

    “Boom!” he said.

    The smack-talk is the latest escalation of an international sporting rivalry, begun when U.S. President Barack Obama imperiously attempted to drop-the-mike on Prince Harry, who founded the Games.

    “Hey, Prince Harry, remember when you told us to bring it at the Invictus Games?” Michelle Obama asked on camera, standing beside her husband and flanked by members of the military.

    “Be careful what you wish for!” Obama adds, before one of the soldiers drops an imaginary mike.

    “Boom!” the soldier says.

    Once that gauntlet waslaid down, Kensington Palace had to respond in kind.

    “Boom? Really? Please!” says the Queen, flanked by Prince Harry, throwing the most regal shade ever in her video response.

    Now that Canada has weighed in, it looks like the 2016 Invictus Games could very-well spark an international rap battle the likes of which the world has never seen . . . Angela Merkel, you’re next.

Arts & Letters
Trudy
Sunday, 12 August 2007