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Shut up, shut up, shut up


No less a luminary than legendary lawyer and former justice minister Jerome Kennedy says you should shut up about the Donald Dunphy case.

In fact, Kennedy says you should shut up about it even if you’re a retired judge who was hired to observe the RCMP’s investigation of the Dunphy shooting to ensure the Mounties were impartial.

Retired justice David Riche gave some media interviews last week, and in the span of a few minutes provided more information about the shooting than the RCMP and RNC together have provided in almost a year and a half.

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For the first time, someone in an official position and involved in the case declared it was “really bothersome,” which many members of the public have been saying since the April 5, 2015 shooting.

Finally, someone in officialdom voiced concerns about whether a police officer — a member of then-premier Paul Davis’s security detail — should have been sent to Dunphy’s house in Mitchell’s Brook.

Riche said RNC officer Joe Smyth fired at Dunphy four times — one bullet struck him in the head, and one shot was fired from three or four feet away.

Two weeks ago, the RCMP announced no charges would be laid against Smyth.

Riche told reporters last week he was frustrated with the amount of evidence he was allowed to have access to during the RCMP’s investigation of the shooting, and that in his opinion the RCMP seemed to accept Smyth’s version of events.

Perhaps it is understandable Kennedy — who represents Smyth — would say this week that Riche should shut up.

In the interest of professional self-preservation, I won’t repeat any of the adjectives Kennedy used in his interview with CBC reporter Terry Roberts. I will, however, keep an eye on the news pages to see if Riche launches a lawsuit for defamation.

Understandably, and quite rightfully, Kennedy said he hopes Riche is summoned to testify at the upcoming Dunphy Inquiry, to be headed by Justice Leo Barry.

The public, too, would like to hear a full account by Riche, which thus far has been denied because the RCMP refuses to release his 23-page report.

Hopefully, Barry will open the inquest with the declaration, “OK everybody, it’s time to stop shutting up.”

Kennedy lamented the amount of “gossip” that has circulated about the Dunphy case.

As if it wasn’t enough to opine that a retired judge should shut up, Kennedy insulted thousands of citizens who are thoroughly justified in expressing concern about the shooting and the ensuing official silence about it.

There wouldn’t be widespread “speculation” — as Kennedy put it — if the RNC and RCMP leadership had fulfilled their duty to be open and accountable to the public they serve.

Maybe the police academy teaches “open and accountable” to include withholding important information from the public, but you would probably have a tough time finding a reputable political science professor who would agree with that interpretation.

(A note to the trolls who spend too much time watching cop shows on Netflix: none of this has to do with being “anti-police.”)

A man’s tragic death has become immensely politicized. Unfortunately, it is necessarily so. The blame for this does not lie with the people who continue to demand answers, but with the police and politicians who from the very start have refused to provide explanations to reasonable questions.

Again, as so many have said, it goes right back to the beginning. An ex-RNC constable was premier. His chief of staff, Joe Browne, was a retired RNC chief. An RNC officer goes to a citizen’s house after a supposedly threatening Tweet and shoots him dead. At what point in this scenario is it sensible or just to adopt the strategy, “We better not tell the public anything”?

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