Canadian PM calls Taser video
Politics Watch ® News Services
November 19, 2007, updated 5:15 p.m.
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA (PoliticsWatch.com) —
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said a video showing RCMP
officers Tasering a Polish national is "deeply
Harper made the comments during question period. It was the
first time the prime minister has weighed in on the incident which
has received international media attention.
Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died last
month shortly after he was Tasered following a confrontation with RCMP
officers at Vancouver International Airport.
The dramatic incident was captured by amateur video and has been
viewed by millions. The video was the most watched politics or news
video on YouTube last week.
The prime minister declined to comment on whether the federal
government would take further action as a result of the
"We obviously want to express our condolences to the family as
well," he said.
"Obviously . . . the government does not interfere in the operational activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That said, there are inquiries that are underway. We will be following those inquiries and also looking at what other options and what other actions may be necessary in this case."
Harper's comments came after NDP Leader Jack Layton called
upon the government to introduce new rules for the user of Tasers.
Layton said Dziekanski's death "raises very serious questions"
and he wants the RCMP to suspend the use of Tasers "pending a full investigation and a review."
After question period, Layton told reporters that it was clear the
RCMP's manual on Taser use wasn't followed at Vancouver
"There's got to be a retraining initiative immediately launched before Tasers are used
again," he said. "And I think the government is not taking a sufficiently proactive stand in light of what's happened and in light of what everybody watched on television."
The incident has also struck a nerve at the highest levels of the
provincial government in British Columbia.
On Monday afternoon, B.C. Solicitor General John Les announced
a public inquiry into the death of Dziekanski.
On the diplomatic front, Canada's ambassador to Poland, David Preston,
met with officials at Poland's Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Poland's Foreign Ministry officials have been calling for the RCMP
officers involved in the incident to be prosecuted.
Over the weekend, the RCMP announced the four officers who are seen
on the video had been reassigned.
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