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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week 4/2007

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.

28/11/2007 9:31 PM

The Repeat Offenders

The criminals that get away with crime, time after time, are costing our society and I have to wonder if they are not also indirectly responsible for the problems we are having with our national police force.
I don't know how many countless times Andy and I have been watching the news only to look up at one another, stunned at what we have just heard. Another bottom feeder that just walked away from a heinous crime scott free or nearly so. Some piece of flotsam that drags a gas station attendant with his car for several km to his eventual death. The driver knew what he was doing. Did he go up for life? No.
Another low life, this time a non-citizen, killed a Doctor on vacation from New Zealand in a hit and run in a marked cross walk. A witness to the fatal accident followed the driver, Zhang, who rammed the witness's car when he tried to block Zhang. After being caught and let out on bail, Zhang doesn't bother to show up at his hearing. Rather, they finally catch up to him in Ontario, four provinces away, and the arrogant little bastard gets away with it. No, he didn't go to jail forever and ever either where the maximum penalty for this is life in prison. He got 11 months and was out on parole after 5. The worst part about it? This wasn't his first hit and run offense.
As reported by the Vancouver Sun. He fled the scene of another accident in 2005, when he had tried to back into a parking spot in which a woman was standing, trying to save the spot. The woman screamed as Zhang knocked her over. He then sped away. He was also caught going through a stop sign last October -- after he was prohibited from driving while on bail -- causing police to seize his car. So he's not even a citizen of this country but he has already learned a blatant disregard for the system and knows he can get away with murder. Literally.
Those are two crimes committed with vehicles and the first to come to mind. But there are more. Lots and lots more.
Drugs, gangs, beatings, child molesters, fraud, you name it. Now the city of Vancouver has formed a new gang task force and here's a comment on the article in CBC news from one guy in the forum. -"Ryan (Vancouver) wrote: Anyone who knows what's going on knows that gangs, drugs, and dirty money are everywhere in this town. The guys who are shooting guns and dealing drugs now were the same guys who were getting into fights and stealing cars back in High School. They learned long ago that the police couldn't stop them and if they did, the justice system would give them a rub on the bum and let them carry on. I feel sorry for the Police and public they are dealing with, the issues the courts and system don't want to handle properly. Once the money runs out this team will be disbanded and everything will go back to normal...bad guys, guns, drugs and all."
That sentiment is repeated over and over, all over the Internet, in the news, and in the newspapers. We have a serious crime problem in Canada, a serious crime problem in British Columbia, and we have judges with absolutely no balls. Although I have to assume there's more to it than that.
There has to be some reason why judges refuse to sentence anyone to the time that suits the crime. There was a comment made by one judge that actually did put someone in jail which was, - "He later said he would have to "pander" to the public by putting Dickson in jail."
Does this mean that judges prefer to do exactly opposite of what the public would like them to do? Which is to fit the sentence to the crime? Why? Because they have the power to not do what is right but to do what they please and in so doing, shove their power down our throats?
I have no idea why our judges are so liberal and I don't think anyone else knows either, but I have always felt they are in BC. And I am the first to admit that I completely share the RCMP's frustration on that point. I don't feel the RCMP Members have a right to take that frustration out on the general citizenry, but I certainly understand where it comes from. After all, when you spend year after year investigating and arresting people, often putting your own life in danger to do so, spend hours at a desk building an airtight case that is properly put together in all respects, ensured that you haven't stepped on anyone's rights and tried to make sure a judge can't throw a case out on a 'technicality' then cooled your heels in a court room for hours, to have only a tiny percentage of the criminals you've caught actually go to jail for any period of time....
Figures show that 10% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes and the cops know that. To have to be picking up the same repeat offenders time after time, after time, well aware that had the judge put them behind bars for five years a few crimes ago, that would have been many fewer, if not hundreds fewer, crimes committed.
Personally, I know I'm hot headed enough that I could not in any way handle that kind of frustration without eventually blowing a gasket. But that's also why I would never consider joining a police force. I'm aware that I am not psychologically fit for the job and could, after a period of time dealing with those kinds of frustrations, easily be a danger to the public, or to the criminals, anyway. But if I'm aware of my limitations, then so should any cop on the beat.
So it comes down to this. We know that until Harper's government changes the minimum sentencing procedures for repeat offenders and steps on a few judges, nothing can be done about that level of frustration for the RCMP.
It would seem to me then that if that is one of the root causes of the actions we are seeing in the Force now, then either different training needs to be brought about, or stricter guidelines and psychological testing for choosing who is going to become an RCMP recruit, and who is not. Because right now, we've got way too many Rambos out there and it's not a matter of it becoming a dangerous situation for the general public, it has become a dangerous situation.
Anyway, I won't be able to post anything for the next few days. Right now I'm waiting for permission back from a fellow that had a pretty serious experience with the Dawson Creek RCMP to reprint his story. I think it's pretty valuable information for all of us. If you know you're right, you really need to stand your ground.
Just make sure you're right!
On a personal note, Andy says he's tired of hearing about cops and I'm sure everyone else is too. I keep trying to conclude this series with what I hope are reasonable suggestions for change, but new stuff just keeps popping up and I think that a knowledgeable citizenry is a much safer one.
On another quick note, this has been uploaded over the story below and since it has a similar title to the one below that... and, we finally are getting snow after a couple of weeks of cold, clear, glorious weather. Nimpo Lake has been booming steadily but the Main Arm still isn't quite frozen over. I've got some recordings and hope to have those edited and up next week for you. Othewise, it'll be late in the weekend before another article will be posted. Have a good one!
27/11/2007 8:12 PM

The Fallen

As discussed yesterday, the RCMP seem to have lost respect for the very people that they have sworn to protect, and have withdrawn into their own little society, impenetrable to investigators, their victims, or the victims' families. The public has been quick to sense that and the media attention has certainly brought a lot to light.
The shame of it all is that the lack of respect that we have seen in the last few years for our nation's finest has translated into an abnormal number of shooting deaths. There was a time when if an RCMP officer was killed, the entire nation was absolutely horrified and everyone was on the hunt for the killer.
I could be wrong, but I think I started to see a slight change after the four officers were killed on a farm in Alberta March, 2005, the largest number of RCMP officers killed in one incident since 1885 during the Northwest Rebellion. The incident shocked the nation and the public mourned the loss of these guys but many started to ask how this could have happened? How was one man with a rifle in a Quonset hut able to do that? Unfortunately, how many criminals wondered the same thing? How vulnerable are these officers and how ill prepared are they to handle an extreme situation?
Late this fall in just the space of one month, an officer was shot and killed in Hay River, and another in Nunavut. That is highly unusual for our country and I'm sure it's frightening for the police. The police insisted to the new Conservative Government when they came to power that they did not want the gun registry abolished because they hit the national data bank upward of 5,000 times a day. Presumably that is to check to see if someone they have stopped or who's home they will be entering, perhaps during a domestic disturbance, owns a gun. My personal belief is that it is none of their business, but I can understand their need to protect themselves and forewarned is forearmed. However, that registry doesn't seem to have helped the RCMP in the least when it comes to the shooting incidents of the past few years.
As recently as last week the RCMP admitted to the media that there are more and more weapons out there, most illegal and most automatics, and it's becoming increasingly easy to obtain one in Canada. So much for the Liberal Government's excuse that their registry legislation would cut gun crime. Instead, it's just made gun running an extremely lucrative business.
The RCMP are operating in their jobs every day under a cloud of fear and they no longer have the backing of much of the public. For just as the public has always expected the Mounties to protect them, so have the Mounties always been able to expect the public to watch their back. And so they have, through their respect and admiration of our nation's famous police force, for over a century.
But something has definitely changed.
John Brecknock and I have actually discussed this via email and since he is a Member retired after 30 years with the Force, I consider his opinion to be very valuable. As he has suggested, the Force has changed, but then so has society with eight Members shot and killed in the last two years or so. Prior to that, you would have to go back quite a ways to find a total of eight Members killed by shooting. And in his words, "Members are being shot and killed for really no reason at all! They are scared! They approach things a whole lot differently than they used to, that's for sure. They want to go home at the end of their shift."
John said he personally knew about a half dozen members who have been shot and killed over the years. The first being Joe Keck shot and killed in Kamloops June 18th 1962. Apparently, Constable Elwood Joseph Keck was shot with a .303 rifle while attempting to detain a suspect who had threatened two Game Wardens in Kamloops and was one of three RCMP Members killed that day. John said he had gotten to know Keck while he was posted in Alexis Creek.
I think that we are indeed seeing more senseless shootings of Members than ever before in our history, and again, I have to agree on John's take on the matter who says, "I would like to think the Legal system is more responsible for the ills of our society. Notice I said Legal system and not Justice system. One thing 32 years in the outfit taught me. "ANY SIMILARITY BETWEEN JUSTICE AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL!"
And boy, is that the truth!
There is no question in my mind but that our legal system is almost entirely to blame for the criminal behavior in our society and so eventually, to the behavior of our national police force.
More on that in the next article.
Photos on the top right are of Constable Joe Keck and are courtesy of John Brecknock.
26/11/2007 12:25 PM

The Mighty Have Fallen

A very funny cartoon was sent to my email this morning and I'm afraid I can't resist posting it. What was especially funny to me was that I was talking about the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team only just last night in the article below.
RCMP Officer explaining a tasering to his superior
Sadly, I think that this cartoon epitomizes just how far the RCMP have fallen in the estimation of the general public in Canada. I honestly can't imagine seeing a cartoon like this in years past. Only now. What was once the pride of Canada, has indeed fallen.
What is causing what we regard as over reaction on the part of the RCMP? Is it all of the RCMP deaths of late?
If you think that you might be shot and killed on the next call, are you more likely to pull a taser out, shoot first and ask questions later? Unfortunately, it would seem in the case of the YVR tasering, there was no danger of being shot at by an immigrant that was in a security area in the airport. Does that mean no one stopped for a second to think the situation out? Is that a result of poor training or the kind of people we're getting for cops now?
The media has been more aggressive about reporting police incidents in the last couple of years bringing to the public's attention some really questionable practices on the part of the RCMP. I think one of the most prevalent and one that really knocked us back on our heels was the case of Ian Bush. He had been arrested for having an open beer at an arena in Houston and jokingly giving a false name (He had a wallet on him with his proper ID, however.) to the officer on liquor patrol at the game. He was taken back to the station, even though other people around him had open liquor as well, and within 20 minutes had been shot in the back of the head in the interrogation room by Constable Koester.
The family had been denied getting any information from the RCMP for nine months. The police were investigating themselves, and there were many inconsistencies such as recording equipment being turned off in the interrogation room, blood spatter, etc. inconsistent with the Constable's story, that made the whole thing look pretty suspicious.
We followed the story closely at home here and were really appalled at how the RCMP were handling the situation. They were stonewalling the family, the media, the public, and the local politicians that wanted to know what had happened.
I'm putting a link here where you can read a little more if you like about the issue. Family Suing to Learn Evidence and you'll find that this is where the following quote comes from
- "But Bush family members are still trying to get answers to how their son, considered to be a mild-mannered mill worker, ended up dead. They have repeatedly asked to know: what exactly happened? What did their son say or do? The RCMP, however, has refused to comment on this case or any of the details surrounding it.
When Gary Mason writing for The Globe and Mail pressed the RCMP media department about certain facts that the public has a right to know, Const. John Ward stated, "The public doesn't have a right to know anything." Jason Gratl of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association feels that this type of response speaks to an institutional arrogance within the RCMP. "It's deplorable and reprehensible...and underlines concerns about the unfettered powers of the RCMP," he said.
That pretty much sums it up folks. That has been the attitude of the RCMP for a long, long time.
The public doesn't have a right to know anything.
I believe that was pretty much the attitude of the RCMP in the taser incident and I think they planned on stonewalling the public for up to a year hoping it would go away. Obviously public outcry has prevented that.
There have been calls for independent investigations of incidents such as this involving RCMP Members, particularly in suspicious circumstances or where the cop's declaration is suspect, for several years now. And yet still those reforms have not come. Yet again there are calls for an independent investigation into the taser incident because as the source above suggests, and as I believe strongly, you cannot trust a body that investigates itself.
In the case of the Bush family, they have finally been forced to file a lawsuit against Const. Koester, the B.C. solicitor general and the B.C. attorney general, in order to get to the bottom of this and find out what really happened. The following is from Another Date on the same newspaper.
- "He noted that after Ian Bush was killed, paramedics were kept waiting for 30 minutes outside the detachment. The officer who pulled the trigger, Const. Paul Koester, didn't produce a final statement until months later and even then the questions were pre-approved by his lawyer. The RCMP refused to allow a re-enactment of the incident, which, according to one blood-splatter expert, was impossible to have happened the way Const. Koester described it.
Despite this, there were no criminal charges laid, no blame assigned. Young's lawyer, Cameron Ward, said police are "immune from prosecution.
....lawyers, civil rights advocates and even the former chair of the commission that handles public complaints against the RCMP, at a forum on deaths in police custody yesterday. They argued that B.C.'s current system, which allows internal investigations of death or serious injury at the hands of police, is one that breeds secrecy and corruption.
Until federal and provincial governments create an independent body to review deaths-in-custody, they say, the number of victims like Ian Bush will continue to grow -- as will public mistrust of law enforcement."
Yep, that public mistrust of law enforcement has definitely grown, and will continue to do so for as long as the RCMP continue to treat human beings without respect, without courtesy, and as pieces of meat.
In other words, unlike one of nine of Sir Robert Peele's suggested principals of policing as mentioned in last week's articles, - "To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on "PUBLIC APPROVAL" of their existence, actions and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect."
Those guys have pretty much been falling flat on their face in that respect for the last few years, again as evidenced by our little cartoon above.
When a worm like Koester, who as I understand it is now posted in Williams Lake and not Kamloops, (Now there's someone you want to take on a hunting trip.) can get away with shooting a man whether in anger or otherwise, you have a problem in your Force. At the one inquest the police were trying to make Koester look good and emphasize how frightened he was when he called 911 after shooting Bush, by playing back the recording of the call. I listened to it on the newscast and I couldn't believe any head of a police department would think the public would swallow that bull. That man was in abject fear. He was about ready to pee his pants if he hadn't already. But it wasn't because he was in fear for his life. No, that little worm was squealing on that tape because he knew he had just screwed up big time. He had just killed another human being and although it's entirely conjecture on my part based on a pretty good knowledge of people, and especially cops, he hadn't killed him in self defense. Like the cop that tasered the old man in his vehicle for a traffic violation in Kelowna this month, revenge and anger were more likely the cause.
Throw in fear, because that is the only possible reason I can think of for four brawny cops to taser a man in an airport, and you have a pretty scary police force out there. Like an eager bunch of kids with a new toy, "Can I taser him, huh, huh? Can I taser him? Pleeeese?"
And that's just it. The cops now have a weapon that won't kill people, (or so it says on the packaging) but they can take out all their frustrations, fears, anger and revenge on anyone that they are called out to subdue. I know they have a crappy job, and reasons for being highly frustrated about a legal system that won't back them every time they try to put a criminal in jail, but I think it's gone way too far. They have an, "Us against them." attitude that has been encouraged by a system that backs them and does not punish them when they step outside the line. And they step outside the line a lot because the RCMP have become a ferociously arrogant body that no longer protects the public in the line of duty. They're more all about protecting themselves.
Bailey, someone that commented in the forum at the foot of the newspaper article quoted above said this very well,
- "In recent years our police forces have been showing increased signs of becoming a closed culture, separate from the society at large. Like an occupying army, they treat the people of this country like lesser beings, over whom they hold great power.
This is not only a Canadian phenomenon, but we have had reason to be proud in the past, to be the ones asked to teach other countries in distress how to do policing right. To train others in the world about duties, rights and proper procedures. I truly hate to see that excellence ruined like this. It's such a sad thing, and avoidable. We really must do better. And the way to do better is to absolutely demand the truth from our police. If this case is not pursued, we will have lost a piece of our national soul."

Well spoken and not by me. So you see, there is a general and very intelligent consensus throughout this country that our police force not only has a problem, but if left to its own devices, may soon become the problem.

25/11/2007 8:23 PM

The Loon

Our weather has continued to hold cold and clear. It dropped to -15.7C last night and didn't get above freezing today. Close though, and it was quite pleasant in the sun. There was a full moon last night that would knock you dead, it was so white and you could almost have read a newspaper by its light. Some high cloud to the east and some haze overhead has dulled the moon tonight though. We have a system moving in from the Pacific that will be bringing snow to most of the province from the look of it. After it passes through, the weather might be a mixed bag with some days sunny, and some not, and our cold temperatures are supposed to return.
Looks like the prairies are finally getting a piece of our cold front with temperatures expected to reach a high of -20C tomorrow, or -30C with the wind chill in Saskatoon. But not even icicles could put a damper on celebrations in Saskatchewan tonight! Their football team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, are bringing home the Grey Cup for the first time in 18 years so the party is on. Actually, I watched the last two quarters of the game and admittedly, it's one of the best football games I've seen in a long, long time. Both teams were well matched and it was a nail biter to the end with the possibility of it going either way. In fact, until the last minute or so on the clock, I would not have put my money on either team and been sure I would win.
I've taken to grabbing up the binoculars and checking out the lake in the mornings while I have my breakfast. I keep expecting to look out and see the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake frozen over but every morning there's mist rising from the water. I was shocked this morning to see a loon cruising the water along the ice preening himself. At least I was pretty sure it was a loon. It's quite a distance and though my glasses are good, that far away you have to study behavior more than anything to identify a bird. But Andy pulled out the spotting scope and determined that it definitely was a loon. Bigger and older than the one we lost to the ice. He felt it was probably last year's baby. It seems remarkable to see one here so late in the year. Aside from the water being so frigid, the fishing can't be as good and the bird risks being caught in really bad weather unable to fly, and being frozen in. Loons are clumsy out of the water and I can just picture a loon running around on the ice trying to outmaneuver Mr. Wily Coyote.
Speaking of which, the coyote was back out on the ice again today. He crosses between the point and the island quite a bit and I don't know if he's after something or the lake is just on his route. We've never seen a coyote on such a regular basis before and everyone else is seeing him too. Although there may be a whole army of them. How would you know? It's possible that some of the pack that was here last winter cleaning up wolf kills remained here through the summer. Or now that they've discovered the area and the easy kills, are coming back in the fall. All I do know is that there's at least one out there that's a pretty successful hunter. Aside from rabbit fur I've seen bird feathers and sign all along where I walk during the day.
Hope everyone had a great American Thanksgiving weekend. From some of the interviews done on television, it sounds like there's more than one Canadian out there that celebrates the American Thanksgiving, more for football than anything else. But for some folks, any excuse is a good one to have two turkey dinners!
Last week's articles, including the continuing series on the RCMP can be found at November Week Three.

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The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
RCMP officer standing outside.
RCMP Officer stands on steps.
Highway 20 winds among tall cedar trees and mountains
Long shadows on the ice in the back bay of Nimpo Lake.
Mountains and trees through a gate.
Looking from the back of a plane parked for the winter.
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