In response to the raid, Roszko shot and killed all four Mounties. Even setting aside the gruesome and sensational details of the case, four dead members of the RCMP lie at the country’s feet. It is no surprise this image has brought forth a deluge of hyperbole over the tragic loss of the officers — after all, the Mountie is perhaps the most widely recognized Canadian symbol.
Although there has been a national outpouring of grief over the event, it also appears that various individuals and groups are trying to harness the issues surrounding the incident to service their own causes.
For instance, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has already used the shooting to lambaste the federal government for its $1-billion gun registry plan; the shooting suspect was able to kill four Mounties with a non-registered, high-powered rifle.
Officials from the RCMP have used the Mounties’ deaths to request increased government funding, specifically for heavier body armour and more sophisticated weaponry to combat violent elements of Canada’s criminal community.
Other police administrators across the country have maintained the deaths were the result of lax laws and penalties against pot growers and their operations, and have rallied for the Liberal government to abandon efforts to decriminalize marijuana.
A retired RCMP commissioner questioned the wisdom of sending four lightly-armed and inexperienced police officers into a potential lion’s den without full knowledge of what they would be encountering.
Thus, the deaths of the four officers morphed into a gun control issue, a pot decriminalization issue, a police funding issue and a police procedure issue. Throw in the troubled history of the killer — a man with a mile-long police record who was labeled insane by members of his own family — and you have a very attractive story for any variety of media outlets.
No wonder the shooting has been all over the media lately; sensationalism sells newspapers and drives up television ratings.
But upon further examination — and after looking beyond political interests and reactionary posturing — it seems the entire event was nothing more than an isolated incident. The greatest concerns for most RCMP officers on the rural beat are drunk drivers and the occasional cat burglar. Rarely does a police officer even have to draw his or her pistol.
Granted, the event may have brought critical issues to the forefront of the public mind, but the powers-that-be must not be driven to make decisions for the wrong reasons.