One odd feature of the 2022 Siege of Ottawa is how the Ottawa Police Service stood watching for a couple of weeks then suddenly imploded. We don’t really know what happened, on the familiar Canadian principle that the public shall be provided with reassurance rather than information. But since the OPS is not the only institution to crumple on contact with reality lately perhaps it’s both odd and typical.
When Chief Peter Sloly abruptly resigned, we got that Jedi mind thing about “you don’t need to see that information”. The chair of the Police Services Board, councillor Diane Deans, declared it a “personnel matter” on which no further statement would be made, so one promptly was, in the form of a resignation letter from the Chief that said what a great job he was doing without any effort to explain evacuating in his moment of triumph, not even “to spend more time with my family”.
Then Deans herself imploded, discussing her fantasy of going to the protest to “poke that hot tub myself and let the water flow out of it and unplug that [expletive deleted] bouncy castle”, accusing the almost equally paralyzed mayor of “a horrendous decision to negotiate with terrorists” during “the biggest crisis in this city’s history”, then getting turfed as chair of the Police Services Board at the behest of that mayor, as skilled in the underhanded arts of politics as he seems to be unacquainted with the above-board ones of governing and who is fast running out of fall persons.
The mayor also used the phrase “the biggest crisis in this city’s history”. Which not only indicates unfamiliarity with either World War, the Spanish Flu or the October Crisis, but also makes his petulant inaction that much worse. And Deans also apparently made some sort of ataxic lunge to hire a new chief she favoured with no competition, part of the general meltdown of our governing institutions.
Then City Council had a meeting with many members on the verge of tears, exactly the sort of leadership we weren’t looking for at this critical moment. But perhaps the sort we ought to have expected. As her chair wobbled Deans lamented “You know what makes me the saddest of all? You’re unseating a progressive board that was bringing about important and progressive change in policing in Ottawa. And you’re going back to the 1950s… and old-school law and order.” Well yes, since the big issue in Ottawa for three weeks has been the incapacity of the police to enforce the law or uphold order. Which is kind of their job. As you’d expect her to realize this deep into the crisis.
Or would you? And is it? When Sloly stepped down, someone predictably tweeted about a black chief taking the fall for privileged white cops who hadn’t done their jobs. It’s not obvious that police are recruited from the private school upper crust, although I suppose whoever makes it onto the force does get public sector privileged salaries and job security. But I started poking around a bit trying to find out what proportion of Ottawa officers are at least white if not necessarily to the manor born.
Naturally I couldn’t. See “you don’t need to see that information” above. But I did stumble across a revealing Ottawa Police Service Diversity Audit. And what was revealing wasn’t the slogan “The Trusted Leader in Policing” although it has a certain savory irony today. It was the existence and absolutely predictable nature of this management consultant’s dream full of colourful flowcharts, buzzwords and vague good intentions.
It contained plenty of recommendations as full of virtue as they were devoid of detail, like “Explore and pilot innovative models for alternative entry paths”. “Redefine and modernize promotion criteria to explicitly value new skills. Formalize a career development program for members with diverse backgrounds.” And a judicious blend of praise and criticism, neither a whitewash nor a roast, holding nobody to account and impossible to act on: “Good efforts are under way to minimize barriers. Important concerns continue to exist in recruitment and hiring.” Mental mush a la progressive.
I don’t know how much they paid for it. Probably a lot. It’s the sort of thing they do. As opposed to, say, clearing rowdies from the streets.
Aha. There among the standardized graphics, in every imagine sense, I suddenly found an ace that I could keep. What got Chief Slowly resigned wasn’t failure to follow the directions of his superiors (and yes, politicians do direct the police despite the modern oleaginous habit of denying it in the name of thrusting accountability into the same void as information). It was precisely that he did so.
He was the walking, uniformed incarnation of progressive policing. He was “woke” and awakening the department. Exactly as progressive mayor Jim Watson, progressive chair Diane Deans and the whole progressive family wanted. He was all in on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity which, as Jordan Peterson has lately taken to warning, hollows out institutions. And so the Ottawa Police Force, the city, and Sloly himself were the victims not of his failings but of his successes.
OPS is obsessed with progressive policing, alternative paths, redefining skills, revaluing all values, fixating on race in the name of anti-racism and otherwise turning hard reality into narcissistic word salad. And one salutary if painful result of the convoy protests has been to reveal the extent to which Canada’s dominant institutions have wandered into this land of make-believe in the course of which they have become enervated, brittle and incapable. Including mainstream media still depicting this messy, momentous protest as a run-of-the-mill tiny fringe national Nazi-Confederate insurrection.
Not to digress, but when people on the grounds of the New Zealand legislature are waving Canadian flags and shouting freedom, something worth reporting has occurred. But, as Chesterton said, “When the real revolution happens, it won’t be mentioned in the newspapers.” And it mostly hasn’t been here despite it being, again, their one job in an old-fashioned sense.
It’s not just us, by the way. In the city disgruntled progressive Michael Shellenberger recently labeled “San Fransicko” in a book subtitled “Why Progressives Ruin Cities”, voters just “recalled” three Board of Education members including the chair for being so obsessed with race and indifferent to education that they spent months debating renaming schools instead of working to reopen them. And the bigots behind this vote were largely Chinese-American white supremacists, apparently.
It is characteristic that while fantasizing about a singularly feeble freelance assault on the protestors, Deans denounced “old-school law and order” precisely when even people sympathetic to the general message of the “Freedom convoy” were saying Ottawa desperately needed the police to stop standing around examining the racial composition of their navels and enforce the law. And that Ottawa’s only black councillor ever stepped down from the Police Services Board in solidarity with Deans, insisting that the board had asked the “toughest questions” during the three-week protest. Not including “When will you do any real policing?” apparently. Just as his resignation will apparently frustrate his efforts to do some vague thing with communities who have been “over-policed” which rather obviously doesn’t include either the persons of truck or inhabitants of nearby neighbourhoods.
So yes, Chief Sloly’s quick departure was odd. But in an absolutely typical way.