Sgt. Paul Gagné, head of the RCMP’s Sackville detachment, says the investigation into the death of a farm animal in Dorchester hasn’t been completed yet.
The Mounties began their investigation on December 30th after residents reported that a 600 pound calf fell out of a farm trailer and died on the pavement in front of their homes on Cape Road.
Sackville farmer Keith Carter says he tried to revive the animal, but after realizing it was dead, cut its throat and bled it out on the road.
A video recording of the incident from a home security system has been turned over to police.
Sgt. Gagné says he realizes that the incident was upsetting for the people who saw it, but added the RCMP might have nothing more to say if police determine that no offences were committed.
“We’ll see what the interest is in the community,” he said during a telephone interview with Warktimes.
Gagné took more than a week to respond to repeated phone messages and did so only after I sought help from Cst. Hans Ouellette, an RCMP communications officer in Fredericton.
Gagné said he responds to questions from news outlets such as the CBC and the Times & Transcript, but sees Warktimes as a form of social media, not journalism.
“You’re no different than a regular citizen,” he told me, adding that I could call him in “a month or two” if I had more questions.
He did say that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which regulates the humane transportation of animals, is also investigating the incident.
A spokesman for the CFIA confirmed its investigation is ongoing.
Meantime, Tony Porter, Chief Animal Protection Officer for the New Brunswick SPCA says the Society would not get involved in the investigation unless requested to do so by the RCMP.
For earlier coverage, click here.
Nice touch, with the subtle comment by membership card. The Wark Times, along with CBC radio, CHMA, and CFTA are the only way we are going to hear anything in the way of thorough and balanced coverage of major events and issues affecting this little corner of the world.
I thought it was a reckless transport of an animal that was being investigated and I don’t understand why spca can’t investigate on its own. Sorry Wark Times was not respected.
This is outrageous that the SPCA isn’t getting involved in this. Carter was obviously neglectful and he needs to be fined!
I appreciate the journalism you are doing, New Wark Times, for our community.
The RCMP do not have the right to decide who is a journalist. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2009 that all citizens can be viewed by the law as journalists.
“However, the traditional media are rapidly being complemented by new ways of communicating on matters of public interest, many of them online, which do not involve journalists. These new disseminators of news and information should, absent good reasons for exclusion, be subject to the same laws as established media outlets.”
Thanks Harold for your supportive comment.
As I pointed out in my article, Sgt. Gagné was very frank about distinguishing between traditional media outlets — he mentioned the CBC and the Times & Transcript — and those, such as Warktimes, that he classifies as “social media”. He appears to use that distinction to justify not returning phone messages. In this case, I had called the Sackville detachment repeatedly for more than a week, but finally received a call back only after I sought the help of Cst. Hans Ouellette who handles province-wide communications for the RCMP out of Fredericton.
So, while the Supreme Court of Canada clearly states the rights and responsibilities of online disseminators of news and information, that does not mean that authorities will recognize their legitimacy and respond to their questions.
I faced this problem with former Mayor Higham who stopped responding to my phone calls and e-mail messages in January 2020. He never gave an explicit reason, but I concluded for a number of reasons that he too, classified Warktimes as “social media” and therefore, felt no need to respond to my requests for information. And, since the mayor speaks for council, I found it much harder to get information than more distant reporters from Moncton or Toronto whose calls he did return. Although I was still able to ask for information during town council question periods, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those sessions for a time too.
Thankfully, Acting Mayor Aiken does return my calls and e-mails and town staff have always been helpful when I needed information.
The Sackville detachment of the RCMP, however, is another matter. Here’s a little history:
After I raised the issue of why all RCMP council briefings were held behind closed doors in August 2019, the town decided to make them public and Sgt. Gagné clearly was not happy. He refused when I asked to take his photo outside the council chambers before his first public briefing. I gave him my business card and said I’d been a journalist for 50 years. “Anybody can be a blogger,” he replied as he walked away.
Then last February, he asked for a return to closed-door council briefings.
“Since we changed the format of our present meeting to being open to the public, I personally don’t find as much value in being here as I did before because I found our exchanges much more, I would say, hearty and substantial,” he told council.
Unfortunately, members of council are prohibited from disclosing information from closed-door sessions, so anything the RCMP says during them is shrouded in secrecy. Without the public sessions, for example, we would never have known that Councillor Tower had repeatedly asked the police to enforce no parking restrictions to keep fossil-fuel tanker trucks from parking on the Walker Road on and off ramps near the town’s water supply.
So yes, the RCMP may not officially have the right to decide who is a journalist, but they can decide who gets information and who doesn’t. Let’s hope at least, that council continues to hold RCMP briefings in public.
Thank you Bruce, for stepping in as a professional journalist and as a citizen journalist. With the demise of many mainstream outlets, we are all the media today. You are setting a fine example.
I must say, I think that the attention being paid to this cow is out of proportion to how much is paid to more serious crimes around Sackville. It’s an accident. A cow seriously injured, and let out of its misery and turned into steak. I don’t see the problem. It’s a cow, people, not a person.
What’s next? Having a go at me for having mousetraps? For stomping ants to death? What’s the difference?
To me, the bigger story is this business about the police and the municipality treating “media” differently than “regular citizens”. Implied in this is that certain media is “authorized” and others
aren’t. Now, I realize that the police have limited time and might not want to talk with everyone, and I’d be supportive if their attitude came from the angle that “We don’t have time to talk to everyone about everything, so we try to use the time that we do have to speak to those who represent a bigger audience.” But that’s clearly not it: the Wark Times is the closest thing we have to local media by any definition… except the definition of being on the government subsidy (i.e., the CBC and the recipients of the Legacy Media Fund monies). The implications of this are quite disturbing. They remind me of the Trudeau gov’t and barring media that they don’t like from press briefings.