Thursday, November 22, 2007


Canadian screenwriters, along with others in our showbiz community, often bemoan the lack of appreciation we receive for what we do. Sometimes the grousing can make it feel like the "powers that be" in this nation are somehow out to get us. I believe there's much truth in that. But I also know we're not alone.

Constable Chris Garrett of the Coburg, Ontario police department, responded to a 911 robbery call from a teenaged boy in the early morning hours of May 15, 2004. What he didn't know was that the call was a set up, designed to lure the officer who answered it into an ambush that was to mark the start of an all out assault on the local police.

Posing as the victim, 18 year old Troy Davey, gained Garrett's confidence, getting close enough to slit his throat. But the officer fought back, chasing his attacker as blood gushed from his neck and firing a shot that wounded him in the leg before Garrett died.

Davey was soon captured, the investigation revealing that he was in possession of homemade bombs and other weapons. The evidence at his trial indicated that he had planned to destroy the Coburg police station and kill as many cops as he possibly could.

I've been to a few Police funerals. They're an incredibly moving spectacle. And while writing on "Top Cops" I had the opportunity to pen several stories about fallen police officers, learning first hand from their families and fellow officers how impactful these events are.

That led me to writing speeches for two US Presidents on occasions honoring their fallen at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington. Not the same as having your work voiced by Pacino or Clooney, but still very cool. If you visit Washington, the Fallen Lions overlooking the names of the Fallen Officers on that memorial delivers a profound and moving message.

I also shot a documentary about the Canadian Police/Peace Officer's Memorial at one of the annual Services held the last Sunday of September on Parliament Hill. That event draws thousands of Police from around the world to witness the names of the previous year's fallen enscribed in the granite stone at the pavilion's base.

After his death, Chris Garrett was rightly named a hero. His actions, while they forever took him from his wife and two children, undoubtedly saved many other lives and many other families from the same anguish. It was a selfless sacrifice and Garrett's thankful colleagues nominated him for the highest award a member of law enforcement can receive in Canada -- the Cross of Valour.

But Garrett won't get a medal.

Governor General Michaelle Jean, whose office handles such matters, has let Chris Garrett's family know that she won't award it. You see, there is a time limit of two years between the date of the incident and the date an application will be considered. Constable Garrett's application arrived -- eight months too late.

Now, there was a reason for that late application. It's called the Canadian Justice system. Which, for reasons good or bad, took almost 3 years to try and convict Garrett's killer of First Degree Murder. And no application for awards to Fallen police officers can be made until all legal matters in the incident have been resolved.

You'd think a Governor General might have enough common sense to do the right thing under the circumstances; or that one of her minions would take a moment from planning the guest list for the Rideau Hall Christmas party (which you can be assured did not include members of Constable Garrett's family) to find a way to bend the rules.

But that's not how Ottawa works. And that's not the mentality of the kind of people who work there.

And you thought all those CRTC rulings that only favored the wealthy and powerful were an anomally, didja Sparky?

Unfortunately, the GG may strike an egalitarian pose when she's touring Haitian slums or glad-handing Inuit school kids. But at the core she's part of the cabal who really run this country. And just like we showbiz types, cops are not part of their inner circle, nor much valued by it, if the truth were known.

If this callous disregard for someone who gave their life in service of their fellow citizens appalls you as much as it does me, there's an online petition you can sign here, which, as of this morning, had over 10,000 signatures.

Or you can contact your local MP, who'll be on the list here and ask what they plan to do about it. Maybe you could phone the Prime Minister and suggest that when he's finished abolishing the Senate, he take a look at some of the other parasites in Ottawa we're supposed to respect.

At the moment, a movement is afoot in Canadian Police circles to return all medals officers have received, including Crosses of Valour that will come from the widows and families of Fallen officers. Just how sad is that?

And come next September, GG Jean will still take her coach to Parliament Hill, as she and all her predecessors have always done, escorted by her personal Horse Guard, to make a nice speech to several thousand law enforcement officers and their fellow Canadians about how much they are valued.

Only those people will know she doesn't mean it.

And maybe some of them will also be wondering if anyone's taken convicted felon Conrad Black's place as an Officer in that self-same Governor General's Horse Guard -- or if that is being politely ignored and hopefully forgotten by us masses.


Anonymous said...

As the authour of the petition for Cst. Chris Garret, I just wanted to say thank-you for a well written blog.

Hopefully, the GG's office will soon see the error of their ways and as soo many have written on the petition "Do the RIGHT thing"


Eric Spagnolo

Anonymous said...

Well said Jim, Bravo! Very informative thanks.
Hopefully the GG's office will put it right soon.

Best regards,

Bridget Fabi

Mef said...

hey Jim:
we ran an op. piece on the show (this hour has 22 minutes)last night. I should have hat-tipped you because i read about the story first on your blog.

thanks for writing it up


Anonymous said...

This is the craziest country that doesn't honour the hero police and doesn't reprimand the police that really do deserve to lose their jobs. May his family know that ordinary Canadians(apparently not represented by our government, what else is new) do honour and say thanks to men like Cst. Chris Garret. Don't let his story die, don't stop because of a silly rule if the governer general can't change the rules, she should find out how to change them. It is a disgrace if she does not at the very least put an effort in. Not impressed with her if she just takes the easy road out.There is no honour in that.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a little late to this party, but I wanted to suggest two small corrections to your blog entry (which I enjoyed very much).

First, the GG is never accompanied to Parliament by the Governor General's Horse Guards. The Horse Guards is an armoured reconnaissance regiment of the Canadian Forces, and despite its name, it has nothing beyond a symbolic connection to the GG. The Horse Guards do have a horse-mounted unit, but like the rest of the regiment it is based in Toronto and not Ottawa, and it performs ceremonies to honour veterans and the police (yes, the police -- it paraded for memorial services for fallen police officers). The horse-mounted squadron is made up entirely of volunteers, and it receives no public money.

Second, Conrad Black is not and never has been an officer of the Horse Guards. I think you are mixing things up with the Governor General's Foot Guards, which is based in Ottawa and which is attached to GG -- it provides the ceremonial guard for the GG's residence, Rideau Hall. Black was the honorary colonel of the Foot Guards, but resigned the post when he gave up his Canadian citizenship to become a lord -- years before his various scandals broke. Black's honorary post was taken over by Antonio Lamer, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, until the latter's recent death,

jimhenshaw said...

Wow! Thanks for the comments, Anonymous. I love it when really smart people read my stuff.

Your corrections have been noted and are appreciated.

R. L. Broadrick said...

I just learned of this when I was traveling on business in BC. I am a security professional from the U.S., and am appauled at the lack of respect and honor that is being shown Cst. Garret and his family. I know that the crime that took Cst. Garret's life happened a while ago, but the wounds that have been left in the aftermath are unsettling and will never heal. I hope that the Canadian government does right by Cst. Garret and his family, and just know that he is supported by those of us in the U.S. who understand the true sacrifice that he and his family have made. Cst. Garret, may you rest in peace brother...

R.L. Broadrick