Pubdate: Wed, 07 Dec 2016
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Dave Dawson
Page: A4


Dan Mulligan, like many Canadians, is in favour of legalizing
marijuana. Big deal, right? It is to his employer: the Ontario
Provincial Police.

The 33-year OPP veteran is at the mercy of the professional services
bureau, facing two counts of insubordination and discreditable
conduct, because he had the audacity to be a speaker at the 2015 Not
by Accident conference in London. Technically, he's on "trial" not
because of his presentation but because he disobeyed an order from his
superior not to speak at the conference.

"This case is about the disregarding of that order and speaking at
that conference," said Andrea Huckins, counsel for the OPP in the
adjudication held last week at OPP Headquarters in Orillia. "The
charges are not about his beliefs, but acting on them in the manner he

And those two sentences neatly summarize the crux of the matter: When
is a human being allowed to exercise his freedom of speech? Does his
employer have the right to deny that basic human right when the
employee is not at work and not representing his employer? The simple
answer is no and the OPP is over-stepping its bounds by trying to
control an officer's off-hours actions in this manner. Do we not live
in a free country?

Mulligan has come to embrace legalizing pot after serving on the front
lines of policing for almost three decades. He joined the Liberal
Party of Canada and spoke at its policy convention in 2012 - in favour
of legalization. Between that convention and the ill-fated London
event, he spoke at about a dozen engagements. He did not seek
permission from his superiors to speak. Why would he? "These actions
were on my own time and my own dime," Mulligan said. "The opinions
expressed were my personal opinions and certainly didn't represent my

When his superiors discovered he was to speak at Not by Accident,
Staff Sgt. Dave Cameron summoned Mulligan to his office and told him
to cancel his appearance. He gave the order verbally and then, as per
Mulligan's request, in writing. Mulligan spoke anyway.

Huckins argued Mulligan's stance could be detrimental to his job.
"This creates a conflict of interest, or at least a potential conflict
of interest," she said. "He is a representative of a police force,
giving a talk about a law he is to be enforcing and giving a contrary

One can only imagine how many police officers have a contrary opinion
about some of the laws they enforce - or about some of the decisions
from on high that they must act on. What about a police officer who
coaches competitive hockey? Is he advocating for assault when,
presiding over the team, his player engages in a fight? Of course not.
And this is no different.

Cameron had no right to pressure Mulligan to cancel his speech. We
live in a free society. That means Mulligan should be free to offer
his opinions in his free time - free from sanction from his bosses.
Hopefully, Supt. Gregory Walton, who is overseeing the adjudication,
will bear that in mind when he makes his ruling in January.
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MAP posted-by: Matt