Petition to Label Criticism of Police as Hate Speech Was Authored By Liberal MP’s ‘Subject Matter Expert’
The author of a new House of Commons petition calling for criticism of police to be classified as hate speech is listed as a paid “subject matter expert” for Winnipeg MP Kevin Lamoureux.
Lamoureux controversially sponsored the petition and expressed his support for the petition’s aims.
The petition, authored by former Winnipeg Police officer Stan Tataryn, argues that police should be classified as an “identifiable group” under hate laws, something that would criminalize the use of language implying police are “despised, scorned, denied respect, and made subject to ill-treatment on the basis of group affiliation.”
Anti-hate groups say the petition perverts the purpose of hate laws, stressing that using hate speech legislation to shield police from public criticism is “extremely inappropriate.”
One thing Lamoureux did not previously disclose about the petition he sponsored is that the person who wrote it worked as his office’s in-house “expert.”
House of Commons records show that Tartaryn was paid thousands of dollars by Lamoureux’s office — expenditure reports show Tataryn received monthly payments of $510 between July and December 2020, totalling over $3,000.
The reports do not detail what kind of work Tataryn provided apart from describing him as a “subject matter expert.”
In a statement to PressProgress, Lamoureux’s office said Tataryn no longer works for their office, and characterized him not as a “subject matter expert” but as a “community outreach” worker.
“I can confirm this individual is no longer employed by our office, and that he worked in community outreach,” Lamoureux’s spokesperson told PressProgress.
Tataryn explained to PressProgress that he worked 30 hours a month doing community outreach in Lamoureux’s riding and that his “main function” was to “liaison with the non-profits in that area and keep them abreast of new government funding available to them and assist them in the application process.”
“My expertise was gained in thirty five years of Police Service,” Tataryn pointed out, noting that “twenty four of it in supervisory and administrative positions.”
“As for whether our relationship influenced MP Lamoureux to support our position, will get a question that he will have to answer,” Tataryn said.
Last week, Lamoureux told the Winnipeg Free Press he supports of the spirit of the petition, stating that he thinks there is a “great deal of merit for us to give more positive attention to law enforcement officers.”
“When it comes to law enforcement personnel, it takes just a few bad apples to portray a relatively negative image, and it’s not fair.”
Neither Lamoureux nor Tataryn, who is also the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Manitoba chapter, disclosed these personal, partisan or financial connections in the newspaper’s front page story profiling Tataryn’s petition.
I was asked for a comment on this and I’m so upset with how this story turned out. For WFP to give this man such a platform – cover story! – and lend so much credence to his harmful position, is so disappointing. MSM needs to stop pandering to police in the name of ‘neutrality.’ https://t.co/PgNgcnQvAJ
— Paula Ethans (@PaulaEthans) April 15, 2021
Community advocacy group Winnipeg Police Cause Harm believes this financial relationship should have been disclosed upfront.
“It’s unsettling and it just feels questionable,” Buck Doyle, a spokesperson for WPCH told PressProgress. “In this kind of realm, people should be honest and open about what is influencing them and Lamoureux did not take the moment to explain this existing relationship.”
“We know the police have a lot of power physically on the streets, but we also know they have a lot of informal power that we don’t always see in public,” Doyle said.
“I think this is an example of the ways they have an ‘in’ with politicians that other people don’t always have, and they exercise this power in different ways that we don’t always get to see. It’s just another example of the ways they wield their unchecked power.”
The petition has been criticized by local community and Indigenous groups, including most recently the Southern Chiefs Organization.
“When I heard about this petition, I had to make sure it was actually true,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels in a press release.
“To equate the lived experience of police forces with First Nations and other racialized peoples is dumbfounding at best. It’s one thing to have a former member of the Winnipeg Police Service lead this misinformed and tone-deaf initiative, but to have a member of parliament take a lead role is extremely disheartening.”