Brief Encounters: A Tale of Two Commissioners
One of Dianne Martin's last academic projects was to help organize a .symposium and contribute a chapter to a book devoted to the question of police-government relations and the debates concerning police independence and police accountability.1 In recent years, a number of commissions of inquiry have had occasion to examine and consider the police commissioner-police minister relationship in some detail in connection to particular incidents or allegations of impropriety. In earlier essays, I have reviewed the relationship the between the commissioner of the RCMP and the federal government during the last forty years of the twentieth-century2, and the relationships between police commissioners and ministers in Australia, New Zealand, Metropolitan London.3 In this essay, I examine the relationship between and two former Canadian police commissioners and their respective governments. In doing so, I seek to get beyond broad generalizations about such relationships, and examine more closely some of the details of them. How do such relationships play out on a day to day basis? To what extent do they vary, and if they do, how and why? What is the nature, extent, and typical content of communications between police commissioners and their ministers? What relationships do police commissioners have with other ministers, the premier or prime minister, or the cabinet as a group? How does a crisis or a very politically sensitive, high-profile case impact upon or change such relationships? The data on which this analysis is based consist of the transcripts of hearings of two very recent commissions of inquiry in Canada (the Ipperwash Inquiry and the Arar Commission), and of the public hearings of the House of Commans Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in September and December 2006.
Honouring social justice: honouring Dianne Martin