Kash Heed, Catherine Urquhart And An RCMP Witch Hunt?
Is The RCMP Breach of Trust Investigation Into Kash Heed A Witch Hunt ? Is There A Connection To Suspended TV Journalist Catherine Urquhart?
Are those two fascinating stories involving former Solicitor General of British Columbia Kash Heed related? That is the question some journalists are asking, including Michael Smyth of The Province newspaper.
The first story involves a virtually-unprecedented search warrant served at the West Vancouver Police Department, where Kash Heed was once police chief.
The RCMP search warrant was in connection to a Breach of Trust investigation into the election campaign for Kash Heed, who became the Solicitor General of British Columbia .
The RCMP is most concerned with $6,000 that investigators believe Heed paid to two campaign workers after he was elected in 2009.
Police allege it was taxpayer money earmarked for office furniture, but Heed's office had already been furnished by Wally Oppal, the former attorney general.
Then, in another development in the case against Kash Heed, CTV news broke the story that rival Global BC has suspended reporter Catherine Urquhart after emails surfaced from the very same RCMP court documents investigating Kash Heed.
Investigator Sgt. John Taylor quotes an e-mail exchange between Heed's campaign manager, Barinder Sall, and Urquhart on June 10, 2010.
"I can honestly say Kash would not be SG today if it hadn't been for some key people behind the scenes," wrote Sall. "There were truly three people that played a major role: Me, Peter Dhillon, and yourself and Kash knows this. Peter was the money guy, I'm the brown tanned James Bond strategy girl chasing guy, and you were like the communications director… your stories, coverage and timing gave Kash a lot of profile and built him a following from day 1."
"Hey, that's really sweet of you," wrote Urquhart. "Have to say -- there were a number of people along the way (cops and reporters -- mostly cops) who seemed to have it in for Kash. But I always believed he was a good guy. I'm truly glad it worked out! C"
Catherine Urquhart has been taken off the air pending a Global BC review of the case. Setting aside the journalistic ethics of the Catherine Urquhart email correspondence for a moment, let's explore the motivation behind the news coming out now.
Kash Heed says it is not a coincidence. In fact, he indicated as much to CKNW host and Province journalist Michael Smyth during a text message exchange. Kash Heed was publicly critical of the police officer involved in the Kelowna RCMP beating incident - where an RCMP officer was video taped kicking a handcuffed man in the face.
Here is what Michael Smyth wrote.
Heed's latest public criticism of the RCMP occurred Monday, in a live interview with me on CKNW radio.
The next day, CTV News obtained unsealed search-warrant documents containing RCMP allegations of criminal breach of trust against Heed.
"It's strange that the day after I appear on your show, a reporter is directed to these documents," Heed wrote to me in a text message.
When I asked him if he believed there was a connection between the two events, Heed texted back: "Yes, although by nature not usually a conspiracy theorist."
He said he believes the RCMP are trying to "sideline" and "discredit" him.
The other factor to consider: not only has Kash Heed been critical of the RCMP in British Columbia, he publicly asked whether the RCMP in BC should be replaced by a provincial police force, or at the very least be more accountable to the citizens of BC.
The quote below from a CBC story dated October, 2010.
When he was solicitor general, he wanted all police agencies in British Columbia, including the Mounties, governed by the same accountability rules of the B.C. Police Act, he said.
Heed said he's heard from sources close to the RCMP that the talks aren't addressing that issue and others.
He also thinks a renewed contract should give the province a chance to back out of the deal after three years and that the force should be answerable to community accountability boards, Heed said.
The current police services contract between the RCMP and British Columbia expires in 2012 and the two sides are negotiating a new 20-year agreement.
Kash Heed was of course replaced as Solicitor General of BC by Mike de Jong. Heed stepped down in April 2010 - after it became public that the RCMP launched the Breach of Trust investigation
Mike de Jong quickly squashed any talk of killing the RCMP contract and bringing back the old BC Provincial Police. British Columbia is a cash cow for the RCMP. Their presence in central Canada is just not as significant (both Ontario and Quebec have provincial police forces) and therefore the money they receive from those provinces and municipalities is not as a big factor in their budget as their revenues from BC.
It is entirely possible that the RCMP would be spooked by someone like Kash Heed - a respected veteran police officer entering the provincial cabinet, asking for the RCMP to be held accountable to the citizens of BC - whether this translates into a witch hunt or vendetta is impossible to prove but the question is worth asking.
Perhaps more importantly, it is unclear, what if any, civilian oversight the RCMP will be subjected to in British Columbia now that Kash Heed is out of the picture and possibly facing criminal charges.
One thing is clear, the unofficial RCMP motto - "The RCMP always get their man" may well apply in the case of Kash Heed - guilty or not.