United Way of the Lower Mainland has been linked to “political psychiatry” comparable to that practiced in China and the former Soviet Union, according to the ad hoc group Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry [COPP].

Accusations of political psychiatry began after a police complaint was lodged by Ron Dumouchelle, CEO of United Way of the Lower Mainland, in Dec. 2002 against a Vancouver woman. Dumouchelle wanted police to press the woman — we’ll call her the whistleblower — to stop making a Report on United Way available to major donors. Dumouchelle would eventually admit to police that he knew this was “not a criminal matter” and that he had recruited them because the civil court process would be too slow for him.Dumouchelle’s police complaint, though, resulted in Constables Lee Patterson and J.P. St. Amant writing a police report rife with fabricated and misrepresented evidence on Dec. 18, the day they met with Dumouchelle and anonymous witnesses at United Way Campaign headquarters. (See earlier post, “Fraudulent Evidence Found in United Way Police Complaint“.) 

The whistleblower fought back.She faxed St. Amant a memo announcing her intention to seek a fraud/public mischief investigation.   [Inspector John de Haas at the VPD had earlier told her in a taped telephone call that she was entitled to request a public mischief investigation under such circumstances.]  She also made reference in the memo to the fact that she had earlier informed St. Amant that she was invoking her right not to speak to police.  She copied the memo to Dumouchelle. Dumouchelle wasted no time in trying to reach St. Amant. The two had a telephone conversation about the memo on Boxing Day, according to St. Amant’s report dated Dec. 26th.

Car 87 visit arranged under fraudulent pretenses

    Just minutes after his Boxing Day conversation with Dumouchelle, St. Amant was on the phone arranging a visit to the whistleblower’s home by police “Car 87”. Car 87 is a marked police car staffed by a constable and a psychiatric nurse. They are granted the extraordinary power to disregard an individual’s civil liberties and enter their home to assess them for “apprehension” to a mental hospital.  Even when cleared, a targeted individual is left with a lifelong “DISTURBED PERSON” notation adjacent to their name on the police computer system.  But they are never really cleared: the official Car 87 report requires that a nurse check off whether the individual requires apprehension “at this time.”

According to COPP, the whistleblower did not come anywhere close to meeting the criteria for a Car 87 visit. Car 87 visits are restricted by legislation to individuals at “imminent” risk of physically harming or killing themselves or others. This fact was confirmed by Jan Fisher, Director of Client Relations at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, in a telephone call about a similar case a month earlier, a call which was taped by an advocate and passed on to Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry. Fisher added that Car 87 is for “extreme emergencies” in which “the public” is at risk of physical harm.

Prior to the Car 87 visit being ordered, St. Amant, Patterson, and Dumouchelle had repeatedly confirmed, according to the police report, that the whistleblower posed “no physical risk”.  Constable Patterson wrote in his Dec. 18 report, “No signs of direct threats or suggestion of violence to person/property.” After a conversation with Dumouchelle, St. Amant noted in his Dec. 18 report that Dumouchelle “agrees” that safety “is not perceived as an issue.” St. Amant reiterated this point in his Dec. 21st report after a follow up conversation with Dumouchelle: “No safety concerns….” St. Amant could not have been more clear in this report about the absence of physical risk: “At this time there is no evidence to substantiate [whistleblower] being a physical threat.”  In fact Constables Patterson and St. Amant, in their typewritten reports based largely on conversations with Dumouchelle, stated 15 times in the week prior to arranging the Car 87 visit that the whistleblower posed no safety risk.  COPP points to these entries as evidence that the Car 87 visit was ordered under fraudulent pretenses.

It won’t be easy for United Way to distance  from the Car 87 visit.  First, when St. Amant was arranging the Car 87 visit, he noted that Dumouchelle was waiting to be briefed on any contact made with the whistleblower.  Second, when entering the reason for the Car 87 visit in his police report, St. Amant quoted Dumouchelle as stating that the whistleblower had engaged in “cyclical” letter writing indicative of mental illness.  Dumouchelle identified no specific evidence to support his statement.  Nothing was filed in the police Property Office.  “He had never mentioned anything cyclical before,” says the whistleblower.  She’s right.  There was no mention of it in police notes based on repeated previous questioning of Dumouchelle in this case.  And there was no mention of it in an internal United Way document dated Dec. 23 in which Dumouchelle detailed his concerns about the whistleblower.  In fact, Dumouchelle revealed his central concern to be that the whistleblower could interfere with donations.

Just one document was turned over to Car 87 staff as “evidence” to justify the Car 87 assessment of the whistleblower: the memo revealing her intent to seek a criminal investigation. That points to a political motive, says the whistleblower. “This is a taste of China.”

This is an abbreviated version of the original article by the same title at the Downtown Eastside Enquirer

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