By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)
I’m going to Vancouver, British Columbia on September 22nd and 23rd. That’s in Canada. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure where the heck that was — I’m a little ignorant about our Northern cousins and their unique geographical margins.
So, I Googled. What do you think pops up when you put “The Great White North” into Google? The Canadian Rockies? The Montreal Olympic Stadium? The Canadian National Tower in Toronto? Niagara Falls? The Northern Lights? Nope.
My clever quest for fun facts about Canada yielded The McKenzie Brothers. You older guys may remember the beer-swilling Canucks named Bob and Doug. They hosted “The Great White North” a regular skit on SCTV back in the 80s (ay-dere-hoser). They were sort of a Canadian version of “Wayne’s World” (though interestingly Wayne, Mike Myers, is in fact a Canadian not an Illinoisan). Although I was slightly frustrated by the lack of information gathered for my trip, I spent an enjoyable hour watching old clips on YouTube — still funnier than hell by the way.
Following my hour of Internet time-wasting, I figured out the logistics for my trip and then contacted David Clarke, the person who worked his Canadian ass off to get the Street Survival Seminar up there.
David is a Constable with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) who began his career in 2006. One sentence in his email told me all I needed to know about him:
“I'm a firm believer in having law enforcement officers get as much training and tactical awareness as possible.”
Too bad more officers and supervisors don’t have that mindset.
Being from the States I never gave much thought about Law Enforcement in Canada until about four years ago when I met my first Canadian cops at a Seminar in Oregon. The “Mounties” I met were reeling from a recent incident. On March 2, 2005, Constables Brock Myrol, 29, Anthony Gordon, 28, Lionide Nicholas Johnston, 32, and Peter Christopher Schiemann, 25, were murdered by one man at a rural residence outside of Mayerthorpe in Alberta. You should go to odmp.org to see their memorials.
The case started out as a simple assist on a seizure of property pursuant to a court order. But a marijuana grow operation was discovered and a time period elapsed while a warrant was drafted. Sometime during that wait, the four Officers assigned to secure the property were shot and killed by the murderous drug dealing coward.
Canadian Cops are regular attendees to our Northern Seminars, so I hear their stories about crazy domestics, drug dealers taking hold in major cities, gangs on the rise everywhere, stopping terrorists at our common border, and all the other dangers cops face on a daily basis. RCMP Constables, I was told, often handle calls on their own as back-up is not always an option — at least immediate back-up isn’t.
As Chuck Remsberg noted in his book, Tactics for Criminal Patrol, those in the narcotics trafficking business can be a particularly violent breed. Therefore, it is imperative — as David Clarke mentioned in his email — “that police officers be schooled in tactical awareness.” And no matter what the nation, state, province, or city, criminals communicate nefarious intent during interactions with law enforcement officers all of the time: even in Canada.
Over the last several years there has been an ‘uptick’ in criminal enterprises taking hold in Canadian cities. And not surprisingly they are driven by the drug trade.
A May 2008 article in Macleans (a weekly Canadian magazine) highlighted a criminal surge in British Columbia:
• “There are an estimated 20,000 marijuana grow ops in houses across the province, and many thousands more hidden in the mountains and valleys of the interior. It's conservatively estimated that marijuana is an industry with revenues of $5 billion to $7 billion a year.”
• “According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, more than $1 billion worth of cocaine has been seized at borders in the Pacific region.”
• “In the last year there have been roughly two dozen gangland slayings in the Vancouver region.”
• “Meanwhile the number of gangs operating in the province has jumped from less than 10 a decade ago to 129.”
In a 2008 interview, Gordon Muir Campbell — the Premier of British Columbia — commented on why criminals seem to be drawn to B.C.. “There’s a number of things. We’re an international province. We’re a crossroads for Europe, Asia and North America. And we’re a welcoming and open society. Unfortunately, it means the bad guys can get here as well as the good guys. And so I think they try and take advantage of that. So we’ve got to be vigilant. It means resources. It means police strength... All of those things are part of the solution. But I think what draws people to British Columbia is its international reputation. Its inclusiveness and its diversity.”
As we have found in the United States, our welcoming attitude and openness to others has a dark side: Criminals targeting the weak.
Covering more than 3,850,000 square miles, Canada is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere and the second-largest country in the world. About 33 million people live in Canada — in excess of 300 million live in the States. The border between our two countries is the longest common border on the planet. Not counting Alaska, the total length of this commonality is roughly 3,900 miles (an additional 1,500 miles of border runs alongside the Alaskan wilderness). In comparison, the border between the U.S. and Mexico is not even 2,000 miles — it’s seven miles shy of two grand. Which border is more vulnerable? Which is more inviting to criminals?
Put it this way: Criminals are opportunists. Predators are always on the prowl, looking for victims. The only thing stopping them is the police.
Something else: Remember how the attack was launched in Mumbai? Twelve guys coming ashore in Zodiac boats. Well, some people call one part of our border with Canada “America’s fourth coast.” The Saint Lawrence Seaway extends more than 2,300 miles — from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Lake Superior. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a couple dozen armed jihadis could use a launch in the middle of nowhere on the Canadian side of Lake Huron and a few hours later be getting out of their fast boat and storming Soldier Field in Chicago.
Readying for violent criminals, the terrorists that are unquestionably targeting the common border, and the gangs that wish to take hold, is more than an organizational responsibility. As Dave Smith, the Senior Instructor for the Street Survival Seminar, has said countless times: “Your performance, your survival, and your ability to win is a personal choice. It is a decision. So decide and act. And it begins with self-education.”
Take that advice and do what it takes. Learn your craft. Start today.
If you’re interested in attending the British Columbia Seminar contact David Clarke of L.E.O. Productions via phone at 778-996-4090 or through his website, www.leoproductions.ca.