In 1989, Assistant Commissioner Rod Stamler quit the RCMP in dismay at what had happened to the integrity of the police force he’d joined as a young man.
As head of the force’s Economic Crime Directorate – its fraud and corruption unit – Stamler found his investigations were being stymied by a federal government intent on protecting its own.
There was, he decided, no future for him in a police force that allowed itself to be directed by politicians who placed themselves above the law. In his book, no one was above the law, no one.
When Stamler left, he took his personal records with him, documents he later allowed Paul Palango, an award-winning journalist, to peruse.
The result of their collaboration is Above the Law, a chilling portrait of a man and a police force under increasing political pressure to look the other way whenever a good friend of the government illegally dipped into the public purse.
Almost from his very first investigation of corporate corruption, when Stamler joined the new Commercial Crime Branch in 1968, he found that the paper trails he followed led to the doors of Canada’s elite. He first discovered an attempt to rig bids in the proposed salvage of the sunken oil tanker the Irving Whale.
He then went on to uncover habitual dredging scams in Hamilton Harbour, massive fraud on the Department of Regional Economic Expansion by the Cartier Mint, and major corruption in the Sky Shops affair involving Senator Louis Giguère.
Now he was investigating whether Senator Michel Cogger had been peddling his influence with his good friend Prime Minister Brian Mulroney – an investigation doomed by the RCMP’s obsequiousness toward the Mulroney government. A once proud and independent police force had been leashed by its self-proclaimed political masters.