Union Men

Here’s some nuggets-of-joy culled from the archives of Lexis-Nexis (thank you NC State) giving some history of the last ten years of the Surete du Quebec (these are long, but stay with me):

I don’t know what to say about this one:

December 1, 1995, Friday

Diver found car, dead teen in 10 minutes – after 14 tries by SQ


A commercial diver did in 10 minutes what provincial police divers were unable to achieve in 14 attempts – locate Helene Hurtubise’s body and car in the St. Lawrence River, a public inquiry into her death heard yesterday.

“After about 10 minutes in the water, I found the Grand Prix,” Rejean Chagnon told coroner Anne-Marie David about his May 4 find in about 10.5 metres of water. The inquest is being held at the Longueuil courthouse.

Evidence presented to David on Monday showed that Surete du Quebec divers unsuccessfully searched the same area around the Baillargeon pier in Sainte-Catherine on 14 different occasions during the seven months Hurtubise was missing.

Chagnon and diving partner Pascal Dufresne, conducting an inspection along the South Shore pier as part of a federal contract, made the grim discovery of the 18-year-old woman’s badly decomposed body floating inside her car. One of her legs was sticking out the driver’s-side window, Chagnon recalled.

Asked by inquest prosecutor Gilles Arseneault whether it appeared the window had been broken, Chagnon replied that it seemed both windows in the two-door vehicle had been lowered.David is trying to determine if Hurtubise’s death on Nov. 6, 1994, was an accident, suicide or murder.

The last person to see her alive was Gerard (Gerry) Theriault, acting supervisor of the Delson RCMP detachment at the time.

Theriault has testified that, the same day she was reported missing, he spent about an hour with Hurtubise – who had earned a reputation among the Mounties and members of the Surete du Quebec for purposely committing traffic violations to get the attention of male officers.

He and two fellow Mounties, Richard Lemay and Dany Beland, testified this week that the young woman shared her sexual fantasies with the men.

Lemay and Beland admitted Monday to destroying a videotape of a meeting they had with Hurtubise in their cruiser early on Oct. 31, 1994.

They had pulled her over about 2:30 a.m. and questioned her, David was told.

After trying to seduce them, the officers said, Hurtubise insisted they take down her phone number before she returned home.

Under the pretext of wanting to help her, the two Mounties said they phoned her about 1 1/2 hours later and arranged a rendezvous near a field.

It was inside the cruiser that they said Hurtubise lifted her shirt to show them her black bra.

They also claimed she jumped into the front seat and grabbed Lemay’s leg next to his crotch. The men then kicked her out of the car and removed the videotape from the cruiser-equipped camera. Theriault said he challenged Hurtubise’s advances during his Nov. 6 encounter by asking her to show him her breasts, which she did before placing her hand on his genitals through his uniform. Sgt. Yvon Poirier, a local RCMP spokesman, revealed this week that two internal investigations into the Hurtubise case are on hold until David completes her inquest.

The inquest is scheduled to resume Dec. 19.


This one can’t be too much of a surprise to anyone:

February 29, 1996, Thursday,


Charges are dropped against ex-SQ officer


The Crown will not proceed with charges it laid in December against Gaetan Rivest, the former Surete du Quebec officer who went public last year with claims that he and fellow officers had beaten confessions out of suspects. He was arrested in the same sweep on Dec. 18 that netted criminal lawyer Gilles Daudelin. Rivest was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault against Gerard Etcheverry, a Pointe-aux-Trembles restaurateur.

The Crown said this week it would not call any witnesses in a preliminary hearing for Daudelin on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, thus dropping the case.


This one is too, too disturbing (glad I can be a gadfly from down here in the U.S.):

March 1, 1996, Friday
Lawyers fear being targets of SQ probes

‘If you take on any high-profile case, God knows what will happen’


The buzz in the Montreal courthouse these days is that it does not pay to speak out against the police or the Public Security Department.

Given what happened to Gilles Daudelin, the outspoken criminal lawyer who was, until this week, facing charges of conspiracy to murder a West Island real-estate agent.

Many lawyers were too nervous to go on record. They said they feared that they would be the next target of investigators, some of whom spent an entire day in Daudelin’s Old Montreal office, seizing items that seemed to have little to do with the charges, such as a file called “Motards vs. the SQ.”

“It’s like the Soviet Union,” said one. “You did things they didn’t like, they took care of you.”

Another lawyer said: “This is something that should be taken very seriously by everybody – by journalists, lawyers, doctors, you name it. It was a case of intimidation, pure and simple.”

Strong statements. Scary scenarios. The Daudelin case, whatever its merits or its faults, raises the issue – and the possibility – that a lawyer who takes a strong stand in defending his clients might get arrested, even if he respects every rule in the book.

“The fear is there,” said Louis Belleau, who sits on the executive of the Montreal Defence Lawyers Association and is helping to prepare a paper on the Daudelin case.

“If you take on any one of these high-profile cases, God knows what is going to happen to you. If a lawyer is going to conduct his duties as he should, he has to feel free to do so as long as he respects the law, or else nobody can expect to be properly defended.”Otherwise, Belleau said, the system is in big trouble.

“It’s not right that a lawyer could be prosecuted just because he takes a stance against a given police department or because he defends any particular criminal,” he said.

“Do we shut up and stop defending our clients or do we take action and raise the point with the proper authorities?”

Daudelin counts among his clients Maurice (Mom) Boucher, the leader of the Nomads chapter of the Hell’s Angels. The lawyer made headlines last year when, with former Surete du Quebec officer Gaetan Rivest, he publicly criticized the SQ. Daudelin was arrested Dec. 18.

He was charged along with two others, Robert Savard and Gilles Giguere, with plotting to kill a woman named Laurette Lavallee, whom they suspected of hoarding several million dollars in a Swiss bank account.

The evidence was based on a statement by an informant named Leo Lemieux, who claimed to be half the hired muscle for the caper, the other half being his brother-in-law, Normand Major.

Although the Wolverines anti-gang squad claimed Major’s statement was corroboration, Paul Skolnik, who defended Daudelin, pointed out that it was more like hearsay, with Major saying things like “Leo told me that.”Two days after the arrest, the Crown asked that Daudelin be denied bail. About 15 defence lawyers offered to put up his bail money, should he need it.

Superior Court Justice Rejean Paul said the evidence against him, which included no wiretap, was fragile and circumstantial, and set him free after his wife agreed to pay $ 100,000 should he skip his next court appearance.

On Monday, the supposed opening day of the preliminary inquiry, prosecutor Paul Crepeau told Quebec Court Judge Jean Sirois that he would be presenting no witnesses, which meant there was no case. There was no case against Savard and Giguere, either.

Louise Viau, a law professor at the Universite de Montreal, said that as long as police obey the law, there should be no problem. The Criminal Code contains a section that deals with these very situations – namely, searches and seizures that would otherwise be considered unreasonable.’Intimidation measure’

“Besides,” she said, “this was certainly an intimidation measure that was meant to destabilize motorcycle gangs.”

Leon Bedard, a Quebec Bar spokesman, said the organization has little comment on the Daudelin case, save to say that he was a paying member. Neither did the SQ nor the Crown have comment.

Belleau said it is up to the courts to determine whether police, including members of the Wolverines task force and the Montreal Urban Community police department’s economic-crimes division, conducted a legal seizure of items in Daudelin’s office.


This editorial is an eye opener. When the local paper has to write one like this, you know your public safety is in trouble. It should come as no surprise that the police union has all the power in this relationship. And in the last 3 years (2003 – 2006) they’ve managed to bring public safety to a halt: their contract negotiations have been the priority.

April 25, 1996, Thursday


SQ union should wise up

Troubling testimony is emerging from the trial of the four Surete du Quebec officers accused of falsifying evidence in their efforts in 1994 and 1995 to obtain drug-trafficking convictions against Richard and Gerald Matticks and five others.

An SQ constable, subpoenaed as a witness for the prosecution, told the court this week that an official of the police union had instructed him not to co-operate with the internal probe that the provincial police force had launched last year into his colleagues’ conduct in the Matticks case.

The constable, Yves Prefontaine, said he received a telephone call from the union in November advising him that its members should not answer questions from the SQ’s investigators. If that statement is true, it would indicate appalling misconduct by the union representing 4,000 SQ officers, the Association des Policiers Provinciaux du Quebec.

The allegations against its four members are extremely serious: the internal probe had been investigating whether they had placed certain damning documents inside the office of a member of the Matticks group.

The documents – bills of lading – entitled the group to take possession of the cargo inside several shipping containers. That cargo was 40 tonnes of hashish imported from Africa.

All unions worth their salt will vigorously defend their members’ interests against an employer’s overbearing actions. But this employer was looking into conduct that was possibly criminal – surely a legitimate field of inquiry. A union representing any kind of worker should co-operate fully with such a probe, especially a union representing law-enforcement officers.

Maintaining public confidence in the justice system and its members’ integrity should be a high priority.

Last September, this same union’s displeasure had taken another form. Because the SQ had suspended the four officers, the union threatened to tell its members not to join the large “Wolverine squad” created to crack down on biker gangs.The union soon changed its mind. It should do so now, and tell its members – some of whom are having spectacular memory problems – to try to be more voluble in their testimony at this trial.


Now take a look at this one and ask yourself; did the union get what they wanted in Normand Proulx?

Surete du Quebec chief Normand Proulx

I would suggest that the leader the union wants and the leader the public needs are two different people.

November 20, 1996, Wednesday,

Surete’s next chief must defend force: union leader



The Surete du Quebec’s interim chief must be more vocal than his predecessor in defending its members against attacks, the newly elected president of the union representing provincial police officers said yesterday.

Tony Cannavino, 43, said the force’s reputation has been tarnished by the Matticks affair and that rank-and-file officers want their leaders to defend the Surete more forcefully when controversies arise, not remain silent.”With all the allegations, we never hear the Surete’s position,” said Cannavino, who was elected Saturday to replace longtime president Jocelyn Turcotte.

“The members want to feel that there is support somewhere. When there are accusations made against us, there should be a reaction from the leaders of the Surete.”

If there is no leadership, the union will make sure that the public gets the officers’ version of the events, he said.

Cannavino, 43, a Montreal native who speaks French, English and Italian, said he campaigned on a promise to rehabilitate the force’s reputation.Cannavino insinuated that Surete chief Serge Barbeau, who stepped down last month for the duration of a year-long public inquiry, did not provide that leadership.”When the sea is rough, we need a captain who can stand the pressure,” he said.

Cannavino said he is not opposed to the government’s decision to appoint a civilian to lead the force during the public inquiry into how the Surete carries out its major investigations.

But he said Guy Coulombe, who is expected to be appointed interim chief today, might run into difficulties because he doesn’t understand the police culture.”From the time you start as a patrol officer, you learn to do things a certain way. I think it is going to be hard for him because he doesn’t know that culture. But we will give him a chance.”The public inquiry was triggered by the Matticks affair, a drug case that was halted last year after a judge ruled that Surete officers planted evidence.

Cannavino, who has 24 years of police service, has worked for several years in the Surete’s organized-crime squad.As the son of Italian immigrants, he is the first Quebecer of ethnic origin to lead the force’s 3,750-member union. He said increasing the number of ethnic officers on the force is not a priority.

The Surete is looking for competent officers regardless of their ethnic background, he said.

During the last federal election, Cannavino ran as an independent candidate in the Hull-Aylmer riding while he was on sabbatical. He received about 5,000 votes and finished third behind the Liberal and Bloc Quebecois candidates.”I was elected the president of the Liberal riding association, but Mr. (Jean) Chretien decided to put Marcel Masse (Treasury Board president ) in that riding,” he said. “So I ran as an independent.”


Now finally this from 1997: What faith do you have in an ethics board where the police union is policing itself?

January 17, 1997, Friday

Shakeup urged: Police-complaints system too slow, not trusted: report

Quebec’s police-ethics committee should be overhauled or scrapped, complaints against law-enforcement officers investigated by non-unionized police from outside the department under scrutiny, and the police complaints process streamlined, an inquiry by Quebec’s Public Security Department has recommended.

Claude Corbo, the former rector of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal who five months ago was asked to assess the efficiency of the province’s police ethics-review policies, said he believes the changes, if adopted, will save taxpayers about $ 2 million annually and restore the public’s faith in a complaints system that has become bogged down in delays and bureaucracy.

“The perception of the public is unfortunately formed by certain events,” Corbo told reporters yesterday. “While I was working on this report last fall, I read that three Surete du Quebec detectives assigned to investigate the conduct of four of their colleagues had received threats … and then were suspended. “It calls into question the will of police to investigate themselves.”

Corbo said the only way to restore the public’s faith in the response to complaints would be to have files handled by non-unionized police personnel from outside the department under scrutiny. At the moment, investigations are handled by 10 overworked investigators – usually retired police officers – reporting to the ethics commissioner or the internal-affairs departments of the Montreal Urban Community police department or the Surete du Quebec.Quebec’s police-ethics law was adopted in 1990 and was a reaction to complaints that citizens could not expect a fair hearing from police departments investigating themselves.

The law forbids police officers to use excessive force or blasphemous language or to abuse their authority.

Currenly, anyone who feels a police officer has behaved unprofessionally has two years to file a complaint with the commissioner of police ethics. The commissioner investigates the complaint and, if he or she feels it is founded, cites the officer to appear before the police-ethics committee. The committee hears the officer and plaintiff state their case and then rules whether the officer is guilty of misconduct.

If found guilty, the officer can face a series of sanctions ranging from a verbal reprimand to dismissal. Any sanction ordered against an officer by the committee can be and usually is appealed to a Quebec Court judge, whose decision is final.

Corbo said the average time for a complaint to go through the entire system is about two years, although the appeals process could sometimes stretch that out to twice as long.

‘Lost in legal tactics'”

People (interviewed for the inquiry) tell me it’s a long process, that they get discouraged, that they get lost in legal tactics and there is a margin of skepticism as to the efficiency of the system,” Corbo said.

Corbo wants the ethics committee, which has three divisions – each of which is composed of a lawyer, a police officer and a civilian – either pared down to a body with only three chairmen or replaced by a trio of Quebec Court judges who would be assigned nothing but ethics cases. Their decisions could be argued only before the Quebec Court of Appeals.

Statistics cited by Corbo and co-author Michel Patenaude do little to dispel the notion the system isn’t working.

Of the 6,037 complaints filed with the commissioner between September 1990 and July last year, 70 per cent were dismissed and 10 per cent were settled through conciliation. The remaining 20 per cent – about 1,200 cases – actually made it to the ethics committee and only one-quarter of them resulted in any sanction against the officer.Almost inevitably, Corbo said, these judgments were appealed to a Quebec Court judge.

Corbo would like to see the deadline for filing complaints reduced to six months from two years and investigations completed within 90 days. But he said the complaints process could be speeded up if the conciliation process was promoted over the adversarial process of a hearing.

“The mediation mechanism would have to deal with the case in 30 days,” he said. “If not, the investigation process would begin.”

The report recommends that municipalities and urban communities form their own mediation committees.

Corbo also would like the police department under scrutiny to pay the bill for the investigation – an amendment which at worst would speed up the investigative process and at best encourage police and the municipalities to settle complaints through mediation.

Public Security Minister Robert Perreault said he hopes to have amendments to the police-ethics law submitted to the National Assembly by the spring, but acknowledged he will first have to discuss the recommendations with the Justice Department, which would be expected to underwrite the cost of assigning three judges to police-ethics cases.


So how strong a leader is Normand Proulx? For that matter, how strong has been any Surete du Quebec head? Well take a look at this history of SQ chiefs. By my calculation the average tenure of these guys has been 3 – 4 years. Just long enough for the union to use them up for their own interests then send them on their way.


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