OPPA attack ads cross the line

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence.

OPPA attack ads cross the line

Postby Thomas » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:26 am

Toronto - Who do you call when the police break a law?

You have to ask that as the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) sent shockwaves through the election campaign Monday with attack ads targeting PC leader Tim Hudak.

It’s the first time the OPPA has entered the political fray with advertising.

I hope it’s the last.

“We’re here to keep you safe,” says one ad — and shows uniformed officer pushing a lawbreaker into a cruiser.

“We’re the OPP and we’re here for you. Who’s Tim Hudak here for?” the voiceover asks.

A respected Toronto lawyer said he believes the ads are illegal and may contravene the Ontario Public Service Act which prohibits civil servants from engaging in political activities unless they take an unpaid leave of absence.

“Yes, I think they have broken the law,” said Paul Copeland, a life bencher with the Law Society, in a telephone interview.

Copeland, who was awarded the Order of Canada for human rights an social justice work, points out that the Public Service Act prohibits civil servants from commenting on politics.

He pointed to a section of the act that says civil servants, “cannot comment publicly outside the scope of his or her duties as a public servant on matters that are directly related to those duties and that are addressed in the policies of a federal or provincial party or in the policies of a candidate in a federal or provincial election.”

Unlike municipal police, OPP are not governed by the Police Services Act, which also prohibits political activity.

Copeland said traditionally it’s considered improper for police, armed forces and judges to comment on political matters.

“They are public servants with a very special status in society and it’s dangerous to the democratic process to have them commenting on political matters and endorsing candidates,” he said.

Meanwhile, OPPA President Jim Christie confirmed there are real cops in the ads — and a real OPP cruiser. They were part of a public service ad put out by the police union to laud the good work they do. They tweaked it for the attack ad.

When asked about the legality of the ads, he said it’s not unusual for cops to participate in political activities.

“I think it’s naive to believe the police services don’t get involved politically,” he told me.

“We’ve donated to campaigns, we’ve attended fundraisers, we’ve gone to leaders’ dinners, we’ve supported golf tournaments, all with the view of putting money in political coffers.”

He said it’s his job as a union leader to fight for the pay, perks and pensions of his members and he’s concerned about Hudak’s plans to freeze OPP pay for two years and change the pension plan for new recruits.

The OPP has received hefty pay hikes under the Liberal government.

An 8.55% pay hike kicked in Jan. 1 as part of the government’s commitment to make them the highest paid force in the province.

That pay hike gave an OPP constable with three years on the job an annual base salary of $90,621.

There are two OPP probes going on at Queen’s Park — one into the Ornge air ambulance scandal, the other into the alleged deletion of e-mails by senior staff in former premier Dalton McGuinty’s office as they supposedly attempted to cover their tracks in the gas plant scandal.

How can those probes continue when the force has been politicized like this?

While the act may prohibit police from engaging in political activites — as suggested by Copeland — it’s unclear if the same applies to their association.

Politicians shouldn’t direct cops. And cops shouldn’t engage in the political dialogue during an election when they’ll work for — or perhaps investigate — whoever wins it.

This is a conflict in so many ways. The OPP provide protection for provincial politicians.

Imagine how Hudak feels today, knowing his bodyguards have funded an ad that’s attacking him.

The cops have crossed a big blue line with these ads.

The big question is can we make a citizen’s arrest? And if so, will you do it?

Or shall I?

http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2014/06/02 ... s-the-line
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OPP union attacks Tim Hudak over job cuts plan

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:25 am

Ontario Provincial Police Association has released videos in publicity campaign against Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak

In an unprecedented move the association for the rank and file of the Ontario Provincial Police has come out strongly against a political leader — the Progressive Conservative’s Tim Hudak.

“For the first time in the sixty-year history of the OPPA, Tim Hudak has given us no choice but to engage in a publicity campaign during an election”, OPPA president Jim Christie said in a news release.

The OPPA released two videos Monday attacking Hudak for wanting to cancel OPP contracts, cut pay and reduce pension plans for new recruits.
The kicker in each video is, “Every day we are working hard for you. Who is Tim Hudak working for?”

The OPPA’s position comes somewhat as a surprise given the Tories and police are often like-minded on many issues, especially law and order. The videos, however, did disappear later in the day for a short time because “of technical issues.”

Christie said he fears a Hudak-led government would launch a direct assault on the collective agreements of police associations right across the province.

“His positions on arbitration, public sector pensions and further wage freezes, among other issues, are unacceptable to our members who put their lives on the line for their communities every day,” said Christie, emphasizing that the OPPA anti-Hudak campaign is not an endorsement of the other leaders.

“Let me be clear. These ads do not serve as an endorsement for the Liberals or the NDP. This also does not mean that we don’t respect and work well with many in the Conservative caucus. We just don’t want this Conservative as premier.”

“There is no room for the divisive “Tea Party”-style politics that Mr. Hudak would bring to Ontario. From what we have seen during his past as leader of the Opposition through to the illogical present-day promise to fire 100,000 people to try (to) create one million jobs, it is clear that Mr. Hudak subscribes to the far right-wing teachings that have led to chaos in the “Right to Work” states south of the border,” Christie said.

The Tories have complained to the government and OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.

The OPP issued a statement Monday saying it does not support the OPPA campaign.

“As part of the greater Ontario government, the OPP does not participate in or offer any opinions or positions regarding elections and politics,” said Sgt. Pierre Chamberland.

“ . . . The OPP has no opinion or position on the current election, the political parties involved, or any of their party leaders.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario_ele ... _plan.html
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OPP attack on Hudak relegates the public interest to second

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:02 am

Kelly McParland: OPP attack on Hudak relegates the public interest to second place

In launching a direct attack on opposition leader Tim Hudak, the association representing 6,000 Ontario Provincial Police officers underlines just how hard it is for any government to make a serious effort to control public spending.

Wages and benefits consume more than half of Ontario government spending. Any attempt to reduce spending must therefore include some restriction on salaries. But public servants are heavily unionized, and unions ferociously oppose any plan to might impact on their members. Therefore any government that hopes to control spending faces fierce opposition from public sector unions.

The Ontario Provincial Police Association is the latest to join this cabal. On Monday the OPPA released two 15-second ads denouncing PC leader Tim Hudak, who is seeking election on June 12 on a pledge to control spending and eliminate the province’s annual $12 billion annual deficit.

“For the first time in the sixty year history of the OPPA, Tim Hudak has given us no choice but to engage in a publicity campaign during an election”, said OPPA president Jim Christie.

“A Tim Hudak led government would launch a direct assault on the Collective Agreements of Police Associations right across the Province. His positions on arbitration, public sector pensions and further wage freezes, among others issues, are unacceptable to our members who put their lives on the line for their communities every day.”

Absurdly, the association maintains it is not taking sides in the election, despite the ads. “Let me be clear,” said Christie. “These ads do not serve as an endorsement for the Liberals or the NDP. This also does not mean that we don’t respect and work well with many in the Conservative caucus. We just don’t want this Conservative as Premier.”

Ontario’s unions are already heavily arrayed against the Conservatives. Working Families Ontario, a union group financed by an array of public and private sector labour organizations, spends millions on TV and web advertisements attacking Conservative candidates. The PCs launched a legal challenge charging the group is a front for the governing Liberals, but lost when the court ruled there are no formal ties to the party.

It’s unfortunate that the OPP have seen fit to put their own interests ahead of a province that badly needs to get its finances in order.

The OPP is thus joining teachers and nurses in seeking to block any legislation that might help get provincial spending back into balance. Not that it’s suffering. The OPP web site notes that it “prides itself on how it treats its employees.” A beginner recruit starts at $49,751 a year, and can work up to more than $90,000 after just three years. The annual Ontario “Sunshine List” of public employees earning above $100,000 a year shows hundreds of OPP staff and officers earning above that level. And while promising to cut public employment by 100,000 jobs, Mr. Hudak has expressly exempted police from being affected.

Ontario municipalities have been increasingly vocal about the difficulty of meeting regular rises in policing costs, and fear a further increase will follow a new OPP billing model they say could add millions of dollars to local budgets. But getting control over costs is aggravated by the natural reluctance to engage in a high-profile confrontation with police, and by the peculiarities of the provincial arbitration system. Ontario arbitrators often settle pay disputes by comparing local pay to other regions, without taking into account a municipality’s ability to pay. So if one town gives in to higher pay demands, it sets off a cycle of increases across the province as each force in turn demands similar treatment. In addition, larger forces vie to be the highest paid, ensuring a second domino effect. Similar pressures in the U.S. have led to a number of cities declaring bankruptcy, especially over policing costs.

The easiest way to deal with the problem is simply to give in to the unions, as the Liberals have done throughout most of their 11 years in power. The Liberal practice of buying labour peace has contributed heavily to the doubling of Ontario’s debt since the Liberals took office. The toughest approach is to challenge the unions and risk the kind of attacks now being aimed at the Conservatives.

The result is that political parties find themselves in a paradox. If they do the responsible thing and make a serious effort to oppose ruinous spending increases, they risk a public battle they could easily lose. If they give in to union pressure they may find it easier to get re-elected, but at the cost of forsaking the best interests of the province. It’s a Catch-22: What’s best for the party is what’s worst for the province. For 11 years the Liberals have consistently opted to do what’s good for themselves, amassing a debt that will be left for another generation to confront. Mr. Hudak, in pledging to pursue what’s good for the province, has made himself deeply unpopular with union groups and the subject of virulent attacks.

It’s unfortunate that the OPP have seen fit to put their own interests ahead of a province that badly needs to get its finances in order. Police occupy a special place in society and enjoy a number of privileges as a result. Using that status to wage a partisan political battle is both unseemly and inappropriate. The familiar police motto, “to serve and protect” is generally taken to refer to the public interest, not their own pocketbooks. They’d have been better off staying silent and leaving the politicking to politicians.

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Re: OPPA attack ads cross the line

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:58 am

Ontario Provincial Police Association exchanges anti-Hudak ads for fat pay increases

The Ontario Liberal Party ought to be very pleased to see that the Ontario Provincial Police Association has delivered on its expected quid pro quo.

The police union yesterday launched two attack ads targeting Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. This from representatives of a police force that receives an 8.5% pay raise this year, complements of the ruling Grits.

OPP officers got a 5% increase in 2011, and the new 8.5%increase is a catch-up for the two years Dalton McGuinty froze their wages. Furthermore, the Grits have guaranteed that the OPP will be the highest paid police service in Ontario in 2014.

One might reasonably question the largesse of a government that’s so deep in debt. Why, for example, are increases so high when the cost of living averaged less that 2% a year?

The most likely answer is that the Grits have been “paying it forward.” That is to say, give big pay increases and get big union support during election in return—the classic quid pro quo.

This isn’t surprising, though. This is the same cosy “deal” the Liberals have with teachers’ unions across the province. No official, written deal, of course, but an understanding of sorts: We Liberals keep the province’s vaults open to you; you teachers’ unions spend millions on anti-PC advertising when elections are called.

Moreover, firefighters and other public sector unions have climbed onto Wynne’s gravy train so now the unions have a headlock on the agenda of two out of three political parties in the province’s legislature.

This latest initiative by the OPP’s union my not even be legal. According to the Toronto Sun, Paul Copeland, a Toronto lawyer who was awarded the Order of Canada for human rights and social justice work, “points out that the Public Service Act prohibits civil servants from commenting on politics.” (The OPP are not governed by the Police Services Act.) A civil servant, apparently:

"cannot comment publicly outside the scope of his or her duties as a public servant on matters that are directly related to those duties and that are addressed in the policies of a federal or provincial party or in the policies of a candidate in a federal or provincial election.”

One law for the police, one law for the rest of us. Not a good precedent. Surely even Kathleen Wynne must see the danger posed by an actively partisan provincial police force.

It’s an insane way to manage the province, of course, for everyone knows this unholy alliance between the Liberal party and the public sector unions can’t last forever. Sooner or later the credit rating agencies will downgrade again the credit rating on our provincial bonds. Interest on the debt will soar, sucking up valuable resources that could be better spent on health care and transportation.

That day is nigh.

Or voters can say, no, to the Liberals and wrest the government from the greedy arms of the public sector unions and bring back sanity and prudence to our fiscal policies.

http://www.russ-campbell.net/2014/06/on ... mment-form
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Re: OPPA attack ads cross the line

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:15 am

People should be very worried when their police forces get involved in the politics that run their country. Don’t these guys study history? History has indeed demonstrated that it has never been a good thing when uniformed forces influenced a democratic election process. What has occurred over and over in history when armed and police forces had a say in politics is the creation of a totalitarian regime!
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OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes lays down the law about attack

Postby Thomas » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:55 am

OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes says footage used in an OPPA attack ad against Tory leader Tim Hudak was improper and not permissible.

The commissioner said he outlined his concerns personally Thursday to Jim Christie, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association. He also issued a directive about the issue to 8,000 OPP officers.

“I did meet with Jim Christie and discussed the memo I sent internally — (regarding) members involved in political activity — and that he does not have permission to use OPP images for any political agenda,” said Hawkes. “The OPP footage used was from another joint project that was authorized for that purpose only.”

The OPPA has released a video — one that is critical of Hudak — which includes images of a uniformed OPP officer.

Christie described he meeting as productive and added the commissioner was “professional” in reminding staff of what the rules are.

He also said there was never any intention for the OPPA to use OPP equipment or employees in a partisan manner.

As the Sun’s Christina Blizzard highlighted this week, the OPPA posted two 15-second video spots opposing Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak in the June 12 election.

Hawkes said Wednesday that they were inappropriate.

In a letter to “all members” on “Ontario Public Services Employees, Rights and Restrictions during the Election Period,” Hawkes outlined the things officers are not allowed to do.

“There has been a considerable amount of attention given recently to the Ontario Provincial Police and the rules and responsibilities of the members,” he wrote. “I remind all OPP members, uniformed or civilian, we are restricted from engaging in political activity.”

He provided a list to the members saying they can’t do “anything in support of or in opposition to a federal or provincial party” or “candidate” or “engage in political activity in the workplace” or “while in uniform.”

He also cited that “uniformed members should be cognizant of regulated restrictions on political activity under the Police Services Act.

Hawkes’ closing line in the letter said “your adherence to the Public Service of Ontario Act, the Police Services Act, and OPP order is appreciated, as is your continued as is your continued professionalism as members of the Ontario Provincial Police.”

http://www.torontosun.com/2014/06/05/op ... attack-ads
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