The fervent and sometimes frustrating quest for details of a Nova Scotia gunman’s deadly rampage has rekindled concerns about the RCMP’s traditional reticence concerning major criminal probes.
More than a decade after the national police force embarked on a modernization drive, media advocates and journalism professors say the RCMP has not yet evolved into the forthcoming and transparent institution Canadians need and deserve.
The police initially said the Nova Scotia suspect had been taken into custody, and only later did a senior unnamed source confirm he had been dead for several hours, and that citizens and an RCMP officer had been killed.
Information on the calibre and types of guns the RCMP seized was kept under wraps for days, and questions about their origins remain unanswered.
The Mounties’ approach to media relations stems from an outlook that has been ingrained over many decades, said journalist and author Stephen Kimber, who teaches at the University of King’s College at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
“There’s a military mindset that the RCMP operate under, which is very much top-down and need-to-know,” he said. “And if they decide you don’t need to know, you don’t need to know.”
Following a particularly difficult period marked by controversy and scandal, a government-commissioned report by Toronto lawyer David Brown concluded in 2007 the RCMP suffered from a “horribly broken” culture and management structure.
A council on reform implementation urged force managers to see communication as a positive opportunity to reach out to those they serve, rather than as a challenge or threat.
“The RCMP must improve its ability to anticipate communication opportunities and requirements and to react quickly and effectively where unforeseen events occur,” the council said. “We understand the difficulties of doing this, but fast action or reaction is one of the fundamental requirements of successful communications, and we think more can still be done.”
Media advocates and educators see little tangible progress.
The Canadian Association of Journalists awarded the RCMP its 2017 Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the category of law enforcement agencies.
More recently, the association pressed the RCMP over continued access to an exclusion zone in Wet’suwet’en nation territory so media could report fairly on tensions over the Coastal GasLink project in northern British Columbia.
The Mounties are “very inconsistent” in their dealings with the media, said association president Karyn Pugliese.
“I wouldn’t say that they’re always terrible, but we have so many examples of when they have been terrible that this becomes a problem.”
Members of the public don’t have a chance to ask RCMP officers for crucial information, she said. “They rely on us to do that for them.”
Pugliese cited a lack of information about internal disciplinary measures against Mounties who step out of bounds. Nor has the force been very forthcoming about how it is addressing sexism and racism within its ranks, she said.
“We don’t know how they’re solving these problems, and that’s an important matter of public interest.”
The Mounties display ”a very high-handed manner” in their approach to determining what is public information and seem to treat this as “some kind of battle or brinkmanship with the news media,” said Lisa Taylor, a former lawyer and CBC reporter who teaches journalism law and ethics at Ryerson University.
“They appear to have lost sight that the journalists asking questions are mere surrogates for the public and this is a matter of public accountability.”
Linda Duxbury, a professor of management at Carleton University’s business school, excuses any lapses immediately after the Nova Scotia murders as the miscues of a shell-shocked force.
“Sometimes they are not forthcoming, but in this case I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt because the situation was so horrendous,” said Duxbury, who has done consulting work for the RCMP and currently assists other police forces.
Duxbury says it is too early too tell whether the Mounties have made sufficient strides towards transparency.
For its part, the RCMP says decisions on whether or not to release specific information is made by the lead investigators and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“With certain investigations, especially those that impact so heavily on communities, investigators make every effort to provide regular updates and make themselves available to the media to answers what questions they can at the time,” said Catherine Fortin, a spokeswoman for the force.
“There are many reasons why information could be withheld at various stages of an investigation.”
For instance, the force might decline to discuss details at the request of a victim’s family or shield information that could compromise the investigation if disclosed, she said.
“It could relate to investigative tools and techniques which we don’t generally make public outside of court. Investigations are a process, where information and different pieces of the puzzle come in throughout various phases and are not usually known all at once.”
There may be valid investigative reasons for the RCMP to choose not to disclose a fact, Taylor said.
“But it could just as likely be because the facts are not going to be favourable to the RCMP, or because they think journalists are asking the wrong questions,” she said.
“Rumours and conspiracy theories will absolutely flourish in the absence of reliable information.”
Kimber sees a need for the RCMP to practise openness by default, sharing everything with the public that the force possibly can and withholding information only when truly justifiable.
“But I think at a larger level we really need to have some way of stepping back and saying, ‘Is this the police force that we want today? And what do we need to change it, to make it into that force?”
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Media Alert: ESG Event for Board Directors Featuring CEO of Bank of America and Founder of World Economic Forum Explores Measurement of Stakeholder Capitalism – Financial Post
Exclusive virtual event on June 16th, hosted by Diligent Corporation, provides insight into ESG, metrics and the board’s role from a powerhouse panel
NEW YORK — As companies continue to focus on long-term value creation in the face of economic recovery, operationalizing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) will be critical. However, with no consistent metrics, disclosures or reporting frameworks, companies and board members struggle to effectively oversee risk, communicate performance, and measure shareholder and stakeholder impact.
Hear directly from the business leaders who are actively seeking to formalize common metrics and how board members can support initiatives for consistent ESG standards. Featuring Brian Moynihan, Chairman & CEO of Bank of America and Chair of the World Economic Forum International Business Council, and Klaus Schwab, Founder & Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: ESG, Metrics & the Board’s Role” will explore:
- Will the push for stakeholder capitalism accelerate in a post-COVID world?
- What can boards expect with the move towards common metrics and consistent reporting?
- How can boards best navigate the implications for company strategy and governance?
What: Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: ESG, Metrics & the Board’s Role
When: Tuesday, June 16 at 10 AM Eastern
Where: Virtual event link will be sent after registration
RSVP: by Friday, June 12 to confirm participation
Event press inquiries should contact Shana Glenzer, VP Marketing & Communications, at Diligent Corporation: email@example.com or 202.227.2036.
About Diligent Corporation
Diligent Corporation is the pioneer in modern governance, empowering leaders to turn effective governance into a competitive advantage. Leveraging unparalleled insights from a team of industry innovators, as well as highly secure, integrated SaaS technologies, Diligent’s industry-leading suite of solutions changes how work gets done at the executive and board levels. Leaders rely on Diligent to drive accountability and transparency, while addressing stakeholder and shareholder priorities. Its applications also help streamline the day-to-day work of board management and committees, and support collaboration and secure information sharing. Designed for both public and private sector organizations, Diligent is helping to usher in a new era of modern governance.
The largest global network of directors and executives, Diligent is relied on by more than 17,000 organizations and 660,000 leaders in more than 90 countries. With an eye towards inclusivity and accessibility, Diligent serves some of the largest public governing bodies, including more than 50% of the Fortune 1000, 70% of the FTSE 100, and 65% of the ASX.
The Media, Entertainment and Culture Industry's Response and Role in a Society in Crisis – World Economic Forum
In collaboration with Accenture
COVID-19 continues to unfold with a profound shock across the media industry. At extraordinary speed, it has disrupted supply and demand, workforce and business operations, monetization, the industry ecosystem, and the emotional and physical health of the industry’s community. The first priorities have been to adapt to ensure business continuity and support society, workers, and customers.
The Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Culture, has convened C-level executives from the Media ecosystem to identify leading responses to the crisis in the short term, and help build back better in the mid to long term. In the first of a series of papers on what COVID-19 will mean for the media and entertainment industry, this report, in collaboration with Accenture, explores the role of the industry in a society in crisis and how the companies’ efforts can advance recovery for long-term resilience.
REPEAT – Media Advisory: Wednesday, June 3, Ontarians will demand action during the Ford Failed Us Province-wide Day of Action – GlobeNewswire
TORONTO, June 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ontarians are fed up with the Ford government’s failure to support the working people of Ontario, and they will be telling him so on Wednesday, June 3 with the Ford Failed Us Province-wide Day of Action, says the Ontario Federation of Labour.
From taking action in their communities, to sending a letter to their MPP, to asking questions of the Premier in a People’s Question Period, the workers of Ontario will tell the PCs that they have failed Ontarians.
“Before COVID-19, Ontarians were already feeling the damaging effects of PC government cuts. Now, COVID-19 has revealed to everyone just how much this government has failed all of us,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “There is a crisis in long-term care and a shortage of personal protective equipment. Not one worker in Ontario has legislated paid sick days, and the province still has an unlivable minimum wage. There is a deep lack of leadership when it comes to ending racism in this province. It’s time for this government to listen to workers and provide decent work, safe and healthy workplaces and communities, strong public services, and equality and justice. The people of Ontario must come first during this pandemic.”
The labour movement and its allies are calling on the government to fix the crisis in long-term care; prioritize workers’ health and safety; implement the promised pandemic premium pay; expand its eligibility and make it permanent; introduce a livable minimum wage immediately with no exceptions; provide permanent paid sick days plus paid days during an outbreak; respect collective agreements, and listen to workers.
“The PCs cannot miss the onslaught of concern being voiced by Ontarians suffering because of this government’s short-sighted policies,” said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Ahmad Gaied. “Ontarians know that the way we will get through this pandemic is by supporting each other, not by counting on big business to offer direction on government policies and long-term care homes.”
The OFL has provided activists with information on social distance actions they can take to send a strong message safely during the pandemic. The OFL will also launch The People’s Question Period on Twitter where Ontarians will ask the Premier a question about building an Ontario for all with the hashtags #PowerOfMany, #PeoplesQuestionPeriod, and #OnLab.
“The Ford Conservatives have failed Ontario,” said OFL Executive Vice-President Janice Folk-Dawson. “Calling front-line workers heroes but not ensuring they have access to life-saving personal protective equipment shows just exactly what this government thinks of workers. We also know that refusals of unsafe work are being denied by the Ministry of Labour. It’s time this government took workers’ concerns seriously.”
The OFL Power of Many is a campaign by the Ontario Federation of Labour and its allies in communities across Ontario, working together to protect and win decent work laws, strong public services, along with equality and justice, as well as safe and healthy communities for all.
OFL President Patty Coates will be available for media interviews by phone or on Zoom on June 3, 2020.
Visuals include Ford Failed Us and The People’s Question Period posters, tweets and video from @OFLabour, and questions for Premier Ford, which can be searched using #PowerOfMany or #PeoplesQuestionPeriod.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour
firstname.lastname@example.org l 416-894-3456
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