RANT: An open apology to IIO CCD Ronald MacDonald and the B.C. Public
This is the first (and, oh, please God, the last) rant I’ve ever written directed at myself. I was vitriolic, vicious and unfair in my comments of IIO CCD MacDonald, and so shall I be, now, with me (except for the unfair part which is, when you think about it, doubly – triply? – unfair, but I just can’t parse that any further).
I’m going to start with apologizing for the unfortunate delay (I’m using the phrase in the correct manner, here). I dislocated my ankle and was hurting badly enough without subjecting myself to what is, to me, one of the most embarrassing, humiliating and shameful moments of my entire career.
(The words ‘unfortunate delay’ are what sparked this whole bonfire to begin with.)
There are most certainly some who will accuse me of orchestrating said delay to illustrate a point, but the truth is, I am neither mercenary nor clever enough to do so. (Okay, scratch that, I actually don’t know if I’m that mercenary, because the thought would never cross my mind. The point being, I’m for-sure not that clever.) And there are very few points I so badly want to illustrate that I will dislocate my ankle to paint a picture – and this isn’t one of them.
I know I’d dislocate my ankle again if it might take back what I did in this regard.
To provide some background, I penned many outraged rants at the IIO for taking three-plus years to pursue and conclude investigations into the only two officer-involved shootings in our area. In my opinion, that ‘unfortunate delay’ constituted gross negligence that pitted neighbour against neighbour, got kids bullied in playgrounds, and was an horrific violation of the public trust. It tortured the police officers and grieving family members alike. For YEARS. It was a crippling blow to public trust.
There’s no part of that I retract.
So when the findings of the DeGroot shooting came out and repeatedly referred to an ‘unfortunate delay’, my simmering rage boiled over (which is NO excuse) and I wrote without getting the facts. It would have been okay if I was just furious, but I didn’t stop there … I laid it directly at the feet of IIO CCD Ronald MacDonald. I was vicious and accusatory, which is bad enough, but sometimes the correct thing to do as a journalist. The unforgivable part is that I was dead wrong. Repeatedly wrong.
This is what I wrote, and I hope you don’t bother to read it, it only furthers his and my humiliation.
It was an act of journalistic malpractice and, ironically, a wild violation of the public trust I was accusing him of breaking. I think I’m protected under the ‘fair comment’ clause of defamation – but I shouldn’t be. Not for that. It was a truly hideous breach of everything journalism should be. Blowing off without facts because you’re angry is brutal, thoughtless, stupid, self-indulgent and dangerous.
I was all of those things.
And this is my complete, unqualified apology:
CCD MacDonald, I am deeply sorry.
And here are the facts, in opposition to my every ignorant, selfish, angry, unprofessional, irresponsible word:
The IIO budget for the 2017/18 fiscal year (ends on March 31) was $7.5 million. The budget was increased for the 2018/19 fiscal year by $1.1 million. This will allow the IIO to establish a third investigative team to increase capacity in an effort to further improve timelines.
This money will also be used for the ongoing development and implementation of a comprehensive training program specific to police/RCMP oversight for all of the IIO’s current and new investigators. This mandatory two-year program will provide standardized training and evaluation, build competency and enhance professionalism.
The money is a direct result of face-to-face meetings and other representations over the course of several months between MacDonald and government.
Additionally, B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby has previously spoken publicly about his confidence in MacDonald’s appointment as CCD: “I know the IIO will be in good hands with his leadership and significant experience” (https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2017AG0021-001578.htm)
And the list of errors goes on:
MacDonald did not start at the IIO until October 24, 2017. He therefore cannot be held responsible for any failure to seek additional resources from Government over the past three years. Since his arrival, he has successfully lobbied the government for increased resources ($1.1 million) .
The reason the IIO Public Reports do not name individuals is that the privacy legislation in BC does not permit the IIO to use names or identifying information in our public reports. Legislation requires them to consult with the Office of the Independent Privacy Commissioner before they release any reports. A breach of someone’s privacy can lead to sanctions under the Act. When the IIO uses initials regarding people in investigations, it is to comply with the laws of B.C. and the practice follows all other such agencies across the country.
“The suggestion that I would consider charges against an officer for political reasons is contrary to my fundamental ethics. I would never do so, and only forward a matter for consideration of charges based on my assessment of the facts and law,” MacDonald said. “In addition, with respect to any current charges, the suggestion that I referred them for political reasons is impossible given I was not here at the time the matters were forwarded to the Crown.”
Again, I apologize.
The Castlegar Source and the Trail Champion.