Michael Smyth (Vancouver Province) – Former top cop Kash Heed says he believes there’s a connection between the RCMP’s explosive criminal allegations against him and his recent criticism of the federal police force, including his suggestion that the Mounties should possibly be replaced by a provincial force.
In exclusive comments Wednesday to The Province, the former solicitor-general said he has made enemies in the RCMP who are angry with his criticism, including his condemnation this week of the Kelowna Mountie caught on video kicking a man in the face. The video triggered a recommended assault charge against the officer involved.
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.
Heed told me in the radio interview that he thought RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler inflicted “street punishment” on Kelowna suspect Buddy Tavares in the video that went viral on YouTube.
He also called for civilian oversight of the RCMP, independent investigation of RCMP misconduct and the possible replacement of the RCMP with a new provincial police force.
“I believe there is a better way to police the province of British Columbia,” he said.
The search-warrant documents that emerged Tuesday contain unproven allegations that Heed may have committed criminal breach of trust by paying $6,000 of taxpayers’ money to two campaign workers in his controversial 2009 election campaign in Vancouver-Fraserview.
Three people now face criminal charges for the distribution of illegal Chinese-language, anti-NDP flyers that flooded the riding in the dying days of the election, which Heed won by a narrow margin.
Heed has denied any wrongdoing.
Heed told me Wednesday he does not want to comment on the case, still in the hands of special prosecutor Peter Wilson. But, in a series of text messages, the former solicitorgeneral said he believes the RCMP are out to get him.
I asked Heed if he believes he has made enemies inside the RCMP. “Absolutely!” he responded. “I would affect the multi-billion contract.”
That’s a reference to the province’s contract for police services, currently being renegotiated.
I asked Heed if he thinks that’s why the RCMP are pursuing him.
“That, and the fact that I did not, and would not, give them what they wanted when I was SG. Also, they were very displeased with me after I came out strong on Part 1 of Braidwood,” he said, referring to the public inquiry into the RCMP Tasering in October 2007 of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.
When I asked him what he believes the RCMP are trying to do to him now, he texted back: “Sideline/discredit/ etc. I’m sure you and your readers and listeners can form their own opinions.”
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen strongly denied Heed’s assertion that the RCMP were exacting payback against Heed.
“I would reject that notion,” said Vermeulen, who also denied tipping the media to the existence of the unsealed search warrants.
“CTV obtained those documents and came to us with them. It was a surprise to us that they had them,” he said.
Despite the crisis he now faces, Heed said he wouldn’t stop speaking his mind on policing reform.
“I will continue to speak out on issues that are near and dear to me, regardless of what happens.”