Will the Furlong report will help to ensure political accountability for the riot?
After only a few weeks of being on the job, John Furlong and Douglas Keefe have now wrapped up their work reviewing the circumstances surrounding what has been dubbed ‘Robertson’s Riot.’ They were appointed by the premier to conduct an independent review into why the riot took place and what could be done to prevent another one from happening.
Their report is scheduled to be released today at 1 pm and you can expect one of two responses. Some will call it a whitewash and claim the whole process lacked any real public input and was too rushed. Others will say it is the final chapter in what was clearly an embarrassing and frightening night for many Vancouverites.
I must admit that I am a bit stunned at how quickly the ‘Robertson’s Riot’ review was drafted. When you consider that not a single person has been charged with a criminal offence, it seems odd we’re now officially dissecting who goofed up.
Despite the fact the report is being released on the eve of a long weekend, you can be rest assured that every media outlet and politician in Vancouver will be analyzing it in great detail.
There are likely no politicians more interested in what the report says than Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver caucus. That’s because with a civic election less than three months away, they have the most to lose if the report is in any way critical of the City of Vancouver.
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If Furlong’s report is to have any credibility, it will need to address the critical issue of why the Mayor’s office invited 150,000 people downtown without a proper crowd control plan in place. If it ignores the reality that decisions made that evening were driven by political considerations, the authors will have opened themselves to some legitimate criticism.
Although I’m not privy to what’s in the report, I do anticipate the Vancouver police will begin laying a number of riot related charges in the coming days. This will be part of a major PR offensive to help deflect attention away from what is contained in the report and onto the actual perpetrators themselves.
Despite the rushed nature of the riot review, I am still hopeful it will provide the public with a clear line of political accountability for who was responsible for the poor planning that led to the mayhem. If it merely speaks in generalities, it deserves to be just another government report that sits on a shelf and gathers dust. Then it would be up to the voters to decide who should be accountable on Nov. 19.