Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

All the King's Men - Part 6 - Paul Davis and the RNCA

Paul Davis is running for the PC leadership race - the new one. The last one went off the rails like a train derailing at high speed. It was ugly, messy and well ... that about covers it. Davis was elected in the district of Topsail as a result of a by-election in 2010. A dashing, and well-spoken MHA (as opposed to any of the rest of the PC MHAs), Davis quickly made it through the ranks to the Cabinet table. He has held a number of cabinet positions in a very short period of time, mostly as a result of the political carnage at the top of the PCs over the last four years: Minster of  Transportation; Minister of Service NL; Minister of Child and Youth Services; and Minister of Health and Community Services. However, this post deals with the time just before Davis entered the provincial scene as an MHA.

Davis became best known in the province as the public voice for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC). He joined the force in 1985 and retired in 2010 - just as he entered elected political life at the provincial level. As part of his service i the RNC, Davis served on the Executive of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association (RNCA) - from 2005-2010. It is this period that casts a shadow over Davis's judgement and leadership qualities.

The RNCA is essentially the "union" for officers of the RNC. The RNCA lists, as its first objective as: "The goals and objectives of the RNCA are to improve benefits and working conditions for police officers." Nothing inherently wrong with that. Every union, or in this case "professional association" does the same thing. However, unlike other trades, or professions, the RNCA are restricted in how they can "improve benefits and working conditions." The primary restriction on that practice is a ban on political activity by RNC officers - ie: those that make up the RNCA:

From the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Regulations:

"Officer's Conduct:
       7. (1) (A) A police officer shall not:

           (d) wear the emblem, mark or insignia of a political party or in another way manifest political                               partisanship.
Seems straight forward enough. While officers have the right to advance their positions through the RNCA, the law of the Province requires they do so without "manifesting political partisanship". However, that is not what's been happening - and Davis had a hand in that.

The RNCA's entry into official political partisan activities first appears in 1999 with a $200.00 election contribution to PC candidate John Ottenheimer - yes the same John Ottenheimer that is now also running for the PC leadership (much more on him in another post). It made no other donations to any political party. In that same year, "Coppers" (the RNCA Mess) donated $200.00 to the PC Party. That's where the long relationship between the RNCA and the PC Party started. Also, in that same year, RNC officers were banned from staging protests by the provincial Liberal government - which caused fury in the ranks of the RNC. Whether or not the entry into political donations is tied to the dissatisfaction of a ruling against them is uncertain - although it pops up again in 2007.

In 2007, while Davis was an RNC officer, and a member of the Executive of the RNCA, the force became entangled with the then PC government in contract issues. Specifically, the PC government refused to grant the RNC the wage increases they were demanding, and the matter had to be settled by arbitration 

It was the only year the RNCA refused to contribute to the PC Party, and instead made a donation of $500.00 to the opposition Liberals:

1999 - John Ottenheimer    - $  200.00 (election)
1999 - PC Party                - $  200.00
2001 - PC Party                 -$ 1250.00
2002 - PC Party                 -$ 1250.00
2003 - PC Party                 -$ 1000.00 (election)
2003 - PC Party                 -$ 1750.00
2004 - PC Party                 -$ 3000.00
2005 - PC Party                 -$ 1800.00
2007 - Liberal Party            -$  500.00
2008 - PC Party                 -$ 2000.00
2009 - PC Party                 -$ 2000.00
2010 - PC Party                 -$ 2000.00
2010 - Paul Davis               -$ 1000.00 (by-election)
2011 - PC Party                 -$ 2000.00
           Liberal Party            -$ 1200.00
2011 - Paul Davis               -$ 1000.00 (election)
2012 - PC Party                 -$ 2000.00
           Liberal Party            -$ 1650.00 

When the story was cast under light by the Telegram in Dec, 2011, they received this response from Tim Buckle - RNCA President:

"The RNC Association supports the political process... Fundraising by political parties is an aspect of politics, and we have supported both (the Tories and Liberals)"

Buckle admits that "fundraising" is "an aspect of politics". In other words, Buckle admits that the Association has broken the law by violating the prohibition on partisan politics incorporated in the "Regulations". 

Now, the stated goal of the Association is to "improve benefits and working conditions for police officers". In other words, get better pay, benefits, etc for its members - who are all RNC police officers. That is its primary role. Therefore, it can be easily argued the RNCA is making financial contributions to the governing party to influence its ability to get those increases and benefits. The problem with that is it violates the Criminal Code of Canada:

"(2) Every one commits an offence who, in order to obtain or retain a contract with the government, or as a term of any such contract, whether express or implied, directly or indirectly subscribes or gives, or agrees to subscribe or give, to any person any valuable consideration

         (a) for the purpose of promoting the election of a candidate or a class of party of candidates to                          Parliament or the legislature of a province; or

         (b) with intent to influence or affect in any way the result of an election conducted for the purpose of                  electing persons to serve in Parliament or the legislature of a province."

It seems clear that the RNCA, including by his participation Davis, withdrew financial support of the PC Party when contract negotiations were forced to arbitration in 2007. It also seems clear that the RNCA started contributing to the PC Party (and parties in general) after a conflict with the then Liberal government in 1999. The "implied" message being quite obviously that political donations will be held back if contracts are not negotiated to the RNCA's satisfaction. That would violate the Criminal Code, and its corruption provisions. It is also quite obvious that the RNCA intended to influence the result of an election, because it donated to Davis and the PC Party directly in election and by-election contributions. 

I personally had a similar type situation indirectly with Davis in 2010. He, along with Terry French, were presenting on election readiness to the PC Party convention. While sharing the stage with Davis, French advocated that delegates should approach paving contractors for donations - reminding them where their contracts came from. When that issue hit the press French did not deny he had said it. More importantly, for the purposes of his leadership integrity, Davis did not come forward and admit the comments were made. Coincidentally, French is now Davis's co-campaign manager for the leadership. 

The bottom line is that Davis was involved with making political donations from the RNCA to the PC Party from at least 2005-2010. He accepted personal political donations from the RNCA for his election to office. All of which appear to violate a number of laws. That raises the question in my mind: Is Paul Davis fit to be premier of this Province? The answer: He looks the part, but his actions say different.

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