Globe and Mail
March 26, 2009
Walking a mile in the wrong shoes
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott wants Canadians to “walk a mile in my shoes” – a Mountie’s brown boots – before RCMP Commissioner William Elliott judging the organization or its people in the fatal tasering of the Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport.
But the RCMP is not the victim here, and it will not regain Canadians’ confidence by acting like one. Mr. Elliott’s comment is egregious and insulting because he asks for his organization what he does not ask of it – that it walk a mile in the shoes of an unarmed immigrant who did not speak English or French, and who had been waiting for his mother for 10 hours. Never mind a mile.
The Mounties never took the first step. They began tasering Mr. Dziekanski, about whom they knew nothing, and never asked, within 30 seconds of approaching him.
Mr. Elliott asks for empathy, but why should Canadians ignore incompetence and unprofessionalism?
It is clear to nearly everyone in Canada except the RCMP that the tasering was unnecessary, brutal and a national embarrassment. It is equally clear that the RCMP, in its official statements and in the initial statements of the four officers, told rank falsehoods.