Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Better late than never, Mr. Swan

  • Print

Justice Minister Andrew Swan has come to understand the problem. So has Rick Linden, chair of the Manitoba Police Commission. In fact, all reasonable people should be able to understand why Louise Simbandumwe believes it would be inappropriate and a conflict of interest to submit to a background check by the Winnipeg Police Service, the very agency she was being asked to oversee as a member of the Winnipeg Police Board.

The Winnipeg board, however, is an exception. It thinks Ms. Simbandumwe, a Rhodes scholar who does economic development work in the inner city, is missing the point.

On the contrary, her well-reasoned arguments have exposed a problem that exists across Canada.

Potential members of police boards must submit to extensive background investigations, including authorizing police to inspect their bank accounts, credit card records, political activities, interview current and former lovers and talk to whomever they want. By the end of the process, police would have fairly extensive dossiers on the people who will be scrutinizing their conduct.

Ms. Simbandumwe doesn't object to any of these intrusions, but the investigation should be done by an outside agency, probably the RCMP.

The current process is vulnerable to charges of bias, if, for example, a person who has been openly critical of police, fails a background check. The system may also discourage certain people from accepting an appointment if it means being investigated by a force they don't trust.

It's also not clear whether police can resume an investigation after a board member has been appointed, leading to a continual police presence in a board member's life.

Ms. Simbandumwe's concerns would be even more acute in communities with small police forces.

Mr. Swan was concerned enough to ask the Manitoba Police Commission for recommendations on the problem.

The commission plans to study other systems in Canada, but it is likely to find the Winnipeg model is typical.

That, however, is no excuse to continue with a system that is clearly open to allegations of prejudice, abuse and conflict of interest.

The fact is the issue does not appear to have been studied or considered in other cities because most people are simply content to go along with the process and because no one until now has stood up and challenged the flaws in the conventional wisdom.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Raw: Video shows destroyed West Hawk Inn

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Standup- Morning Fog. Horse prances in field by McPhillips Road, north of Winnipeg. 060605.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google