Vancouver police chief Jim Chu refuses to arrest Dick Cheney, so what's next?

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      The Vancouver police refused to arrest former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney when he spoke to a prosperous crowd last night at the Vancouver Club.

      This is despite a declaration by a leading U.S. human-rights group on the weekend that Canada was obligated to investigate "overwhelming evidence" of torture committed by the Bush administration, including at least two cases involving Canadian citizens (Maher Arar and Omar Khadr).

      "In addition, Canadian law expressly provides for jurisdiction over an individual for torture and other crimes if the complainant is a Canadian citizen, even for offenses committed outside of Canada," New York-based Human Rights Watch stated. "Canada ratified the Convention against Torture in 1987 and incorporated its provisions into the Canadian criminal code."

      So what can citizens do when their police don't enforce the law in the face of overwhelming evidence?

      One option would be to lay a complaint against Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

      Video footage of the event (see below) clearly demonstrates that police were asked to take action, and refused to do so.

      Vancouver police ignore calls to arrest Dick Cheney.

      On the weekend, a group called Lawyers Against The War wrote a letter to Chu advising him of his duty to arrest Cheney if he arrived in Vancouver.

      "As you are aware, the duty of the VPD to investigate and prevent statutory crimes arises from both the common law and the Police Act, which imposes a mandatory duty on police officers to prevent crimes and offences against the administration of justice," Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson wrote in the letter. "In accordance with the Criminal Code, Mr. Cheney's arrest can be carried out without warrant and in advance of the commencement of criminal proceedings."

      Under Section 269.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, torture is an indictable offence with a maximum 14-year prison sentence. It's also illegal under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which is federal legislation.

      Chu disregarded Davidson's unsolicited legal advice.

      Under Section 77(1)(b) of the Police Act, a public-trust offence is, among other things, anything that would "discredit the reputation of the municipal police department with which the member is employed".

      Under Section 78(2)(a), anyone can file a complaint that Chu committed a public-trust offence under Section 77(1)(b) of the Police Act by failing to arrest Cheney.

      Under the Police Act if the complaint cannot be resolved informally, any investigation cannot be conducted by an officer of a lower rank. This means that another chief would be required to examine the evidence.

      History will not be kind to Cheney. As Derrick O'Keefe, one of the leaders last night's protest, put it: "Cheney lied, millions died, we demand he must be tried."

      Derrick O'Keefe says Dick Cheney should go to prison.

      Cheney was deeply involved in launching a war of aggression against another country without the justification of self-defence. He and other members of the Bush administration lied about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction.

      The International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg after the Second World War characterized a war of aggression as the "supreme international crime". It can only be launched legally with the authorization of the UN Security Council, which the Americans didn't obtain before attacking Iraq.

      On the face of things, it appears that Chu and his officers did not enforce the law. And by filing a complaint against him, there is a case to be made that this discredited the reputation of the municipal police department.

      The head of the provincial prosecutorial branch, Robert Gillen, also deserves to come under scrutiny for his role in this affair. Gillen, an assistant deputy attorney general, has not chosen to charge Cheney despite the Human Rights Watch declaration that there is overwhelming evidence of torture committed by the Bush administration.

      The Crown counsel office has full independence on whether or not to lay criminal charges, which makes it impossible to seek judicial review of its decisions in this area.

      There are two tests that must be met to launch a prosecution: it must be in the public interest and there must be a reasonable likelihood of conviction.

      Given the evidence that has accumulated in connection with the Bush administration's actions—including Cheney's public utterances in favour of waterboarding and other actions tantamount to torture—there probably is a "reasonable likelihood" of convicting the former vice president under Section 269.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

      The protesters outside the Vancouver Club clearly feel that this is in the public interest.

      Gillen is a lawyer. As such, someone could file a complaint against him with the Law Society of B.C., which regulates the profession. It has statutory authority "to uphold and protect the pubic interest in the administration of justice".

      Under Section 26 of the Legal Profession Act, a member of the public may file a complaint if he or she believes a lawyer "has practised law incompetently".

      Did Gillen demonstrate incompetence by not taking all the evidence at his disposal and charging Cheney? That would be up to the law society, which is dominated by lawyers, to decide. And unlike Gillen's decision not to prosecute Cheney, this would be subject to judicial review.

      Related article: Welcome Dick Cheney and George W. Bush—perhaps Mugabe or Gadhafi could visit Vancouver

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      Sep 27, 2011 at 8:54am

      Charlie, Jim Chu refuses to arrest the rioters... but I guess that you do not mind do you?

      7 3Rating: +4

      cranky mom

      Sep 27, 2011 at 9:24am

      They won't arrest Dick Cheney, yet the Vancouver police acting on the request of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Marc Emery.

      9 7Rating: +2

      Not a proud Canadian

      Sep 27, 2011 at 9:34am

      If the highest officers of the law have no respect for the law, then law itself becomes meaningless. This set a precedent: nothing is against the law anymore, no trials are valid, commit any crime you want. Thanks, Officer Chu - you just gave your blessing to anarchy!

      7 5Rating: +2


      Sep 27, 2011 at 9:42am

      May I be the first to say: yawn.

      7 7Rating: 0


      Sep 27, 2011 at 9:55am

      they did not "refuse to arrest the rioters". just taking way too long to get around to it.

      9 8Rating: +1


      Sep 27, 2011 at 10:10am

      Though I agree with the sentiments behind this article - yes, Cheney's crimes are abominable and action should have been taken by the Vancouver police - this article is not news nor is it anything resembling journalism. The Straight has been slowly disintegrating any image of itself as a news source in the last year with stories like this. This poorly constructed and inflammatory article reads like an amateur blog-post, and it makes me sorry to see the Straight going in this embarrassing direction.

      7 5Rating: +2

      Clayton Lloyd-Jones

      Sep 27, 2011 at 10:13am

      George Bush senior should be put in the same category as Cheney and George W. After the first Gulf War in a direct violation of the Geneva Convention,he did not give the Iraqi people access to clean water and as a result more than 300,000 chidren died from contaminated water. Children are still dying due to radiation poisoning.
      Madeleine Albright said it was acceptable that this many children were being killed.

      11 5Rating: +6

      Ashame to be Canadian

      Sep 27, 2011 at 10:54am

      Harper wants to be tough on crime, but only on crimes committed by Canadians. When it comes to act on crimes committed by his puppet-masters he's not so tough. This government has no morality.


      Sep 27, 2011 at 11:14am

      Don't blame Chu he does not want a Dick Drone to target him and Vancouver :)

      8 7Rating: +1

      LOL hippies

      Sep 27, 2011 at 11:59am

      to which crime is he convicted? or where is he wanted for trial exactly?

      5 5Rating: 0