Changing Our Mind

Every Saturday as a small boy in a one horse town on the Canadian prairies I raced down the gravel streets six blocks to the ramshackle Odeon theatre with 25 cents clutched in my little fist. I bought my ticket rushed into the dark and musty cinema hall and settled into the ragged seats. I clutched the arm rests in anticipation of another exciting matinee ride with Sergeant Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

                Sergeant Preston, in his brilliant red surge on Rex, a shining black stallion, rode the highways and by-ways of the Yukon in pursuit of every sourdough villain in the north. Accompanied by only his faithful companion a pure–blooded malamute husky called Yukon King they always got their man. And after every episode I was convinced that one day I would join the RCMP and ride with Sergeant Preston.

                A few years later I was benched for showing off on the ball field by our little league coach who was the local RCMP officer. He had also reported me to my parents for riding my bicycle recklessly on the town streets and playing knock-out-ginger with the horns on the tractors parked in an implement dealership lot. By then my conviction on a partnership with Sergeant Preston was a tad shaken.

                A few more years and potash was discovered under the fields adjacent to that one-horse town. Large mining companies moved in and I was seeing the world from a new perspective. New people with material possessions that I had only dreamt of were everywhere. The new wealthiest and most prominent citizens in our town all seemed to be engineers and I got to thinking I should rethink my choice of a career. At that point I pretty much abandoned my thoughts of ever riding with Sergeant Preston.

                Some 30 years later during an engineering career that led me into the financial side of administering large capital projects I was selected for jury duty on a historic fraud case in Saskatchewan. Eleven weeks of pouring through multitudes of documents that presented the case. I loved every minute of it. Following the conclusion of the trial and back at my real-life day job I learnt that one of my colleagues who was the company comptroller had at one time worked as a forensic auditor for the RCMP. My immediate thoughts were of a career move to the RCMP. I could once again see myself riding with Sergeant Preston. Like some Rudyard Kipling-combatants we would ride into the jaws of evil and into the mouth of crime and we would capture felons and find every defrauded dime.

                But there were clouds starting to form over the RCMP. The media was shocked by various commissions that found that a male dominated paramilitary organization was sexist. Even after a musical ride of multitudes of recommendations regarding diversity and sexism the force pretty much remained unchanged. After a series of management changes a woman was appointed as chief commissioner. Within months she was embroiled in a political conflict of interest scandal with the Liberal government in its attempt to implement gun regulations in the country. And an after-the-fact investigation into the protests of the freedom fighter’s convoy that took over a large section of the country’s capital city suggested that RCMP officers were providing inside information to the protesters with regard to planned police movements. Top this off with the knowledge that John A Macdonald, the first Prime Minster of Canada, was instrumental in establishing the RCMP as a national police force. In 1867 Macdonald was the dominant figure in Canadian Confederation annexing a number of provinces and completing the construction of the Canadian National Railway that joined Canada from sea to shining sea. He was also responsible for the execution of the Metis leader Louis Riel and the development of the residential school system designed to assimilate Indigenous children. The clouds darkened, especially with regards to the residential school issue, as social justice warriors and representatives of First Nations tribes from all over the country were calling for the tearing down of statues of Macdonald and changing the names on any buildings or streets bearing his name. As a result, those of us who are holier than the pope when it comes to political correctness were shying away from the red surge and boy-scout hats.

                The media continues to report on a number of deaths of RCMP officers who are protecting us as we sleep in the safety and comfort of our beds. On every chance the media gets, it questions the decisions of officers who are facing danger each day. And with RCMP officers riding with danger and disgrace I decided one more time that I wouldn’t be saddling up with Sergeant Preston.