What the choice of Phillipe Pichet means for the SPVM’s future course, spoiler alert, nothing good

William Ray

Mayor Denis Coderre’s recent choice of Phillipe Pichet for the new chief of the SPVM most probably indicates an even darker future for democratic rights in Montréal and Québec in general. When it comes to Mr Pichet’s background  the Montréal Gazette stated ” city hall was reserved when it came to detail on Pichet’s background and qualifications on Friday, refusing to provide a biography to the media or to allow interviews with its pick.”. Why this is so, can quickly be determined by some surface checking into his google signature. As a former commander of post 41 in Rivière-des-Prairies  he publicaly backed closing his old station against the wishes of the community members and many very vocal groups. As quoted by the Gazette “Community activist Pierreson Vaval, the director of the community group Équipe RDP “We don’t agree with a decision that will go against all our hard work,” he said. “We’re here today to say, ‘No thanks’.”,”  Despite citizens vocal complaints the merger of 2 posts went ahead.  Mr Pichet holds degrees in management from  École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal and a master’s degree from the École nationale d’administration publique so his drive for downsize is perhaps unsurprising.

But since at least 2009 Mr Pichet’s real work has had nothing to do with community relations. No he has been working in the rarefied world of National Security as defined by the Harper government most directly through Bill C51. In testimony before the

Special Senate Committee on
Anti-terrorismIssue 8

– Evidence –

Meeting of November 15, 2010 full text.

 

Mr Pichet very contentedly lists his position and duties for the Senate;

g37

I am in charge of the response component. My unit determines how to coordinate the efforts of our troops with those of the other first responder groups on the island of Montreal, in terms of how we should proceed to foster a more integrated response and to achieve interoperability with the various organizations involved. Keep in mind that Bill 19, respecting the organization of police services in Quebec, confers the responsibility of providing the response in the event of a terrorist attack within Quebec’s borders to the Montreal police force.… On one hand, you have the intelligence and investigation component, and on the other, you have the response. The way we, in Montreal, provide that response is through CAAM, the counterterrorism advisory committee of Montreal. That is how we do it, because we feel interoperability is critical from a response standpoint.”

P.Pichet Senate Special Committee on Terrorism 11/15/2010

So Mr Pichet is the response component of a structure that includes police forces at all levels including RCMP and their ubiquitous INSET squads recently active in Montréal against young people apparently suspected of aiding ISIS and in B.C. in the odd case of John Stewart Nuttall, Amanda Korody.  A case that has been repeatedly questioned for entrapment.  He is used to dealing directly with representatives from the RCMP”s burgeoning national security empire, the Canadian Forces intelligence structures, CSIS, And our own NSA north the Canadian Communications Security Establishment. No doubt in dark rooms full of screens.  When you couple this with the shift of attention to anyone who disputes energy policy as being a terrorist most recently outlined in  bill C-51 but part of a much older process,  I’m sure you can form a pretty good picture of where this is headed.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 2.22.25 PM

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That would mean that he was intimately involved in the police response to social protest  in all of Québec not just Montréal since Law 19 gives Montréal police overall control as stated in his Testimony to the senate, anyone remember Victoriaville. It also means that his contact with actual policing issues in the last half decade might be somewhat minimal. But it is obvious from this choice where the focus of the Montréal police will be in the next few years , compression of services to the public in real community based policing and the increased use of civil police to carry out “National security” functions. In fact with his combination of rigid professional training in bureaucratic management and his long stint as a sort of secret policeman he calls to mind the Orwellian stereotype of the bloody handed Aparachnics at the Ministry of Truth  Enjoy.

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