Police and Government Relations: Who's Calling the Shots?


480 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-8020-9423-0
DDC 363.20971




Edited by Margaret E. Beare and Tonita Murray
Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein is a history professor at York University and author of
War and Peacekeeping and For Better or For Worse.


The killing of Dudley George, a Native protester, by an Ontario Provincial Police officer at Ipperwash, Ontario in 1995 led to the establishment of a major inquiry into the actions of the provincial government and its police force. One offshoot of the inquiry was a symposium in 2004 on police-government relations, and this volume presents the papers offered to the symposium attendees. Notably, it also publishes the remarks of the commentators on each of the papers, something that works very well, for example, when former RCMP commissioner Robert Simmonds politely but effectively critiques Kent Roach’s overview paper.


This was not an especially adversarial relationship between author and critic—Roach prints a long memorandum Simmonds wrote to his minister in 1985—but it is a useful one. That Roach deals with the RCMP and the federal government in a number of cases indicates that he, his colleagues at the symposium, and the Ipperwash Inquiry took a properly broad view of their task.


The essays here indicate that the independence—or otherwise—of the police is a lively topic whether at the federal, provincial, or municipal level. Our elected politicians invariably claim that the police make almost all the decisions on whether to prosecute or not. No one much believes them. This volume will provide everyone with facts to use to buttress their arguments.


“Police and Government Relations: Who's Calling the Shots?,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32655.