Edmonton’s police chief, police commission, business associations, and a collection of conservative politicians brought an incredible amount of political pressure to bear on Edmonton’s city council over the past month in order to secure a $22 million increase in base police funding from the city and the continued existence of a police funding formula that has continually increased the police budget.
Central to their campaign were the murders of Ban Phuc Hoang and Hung Trang in Chinatown on May 18th. But as reporting from Wallis Snowdon revealed last week, the narrative presented in these debates missed some key details—that Justin Bone, the accused, was not supposed to be in Edmonton at all, but under supervision in Alberta Beach; that when no space for treatment was available, and a family friend was unable to continue to have him in his house, the RCMP picked him up and dumped him with no supervision in Edmonton; that the RCMP had notified EPS that Bone was in Edmonton, in breach of his bail conditions; and that the Edmonton Police Service interacted with Bone before the murders, and despite knowing he was in breach of his bail conditions, did not apprehend him.
The Edmonton Police were very likely aware of all these details, yet they used the story in the most cynical way possible: as leverage to put pressure on Edmonton city council to increase their budget.
A timeline of events shows that it would have been extremely likely that Chief Dale McFee knew these details throughout much of the debate yet chose not to tell the public or city council. If he didn't know then he was incompetent. Either way, it's a gross dereliction of his duty.
Chief of the Edmonton Police Service Dale McFee.
April 26: Justin Bone is released from Edmonton Remand for break-and-enter. He is put on strict bail conditions that are meant to keep him in Alberta Beach living with a family friend and prohibit Bone from being in Edmonton unsupervised unless he’s going to court, seeing his lawyer or getting medical treatment. He is ordered to attend a treatment program, but is unable to as the program turns out to be full according to the CBC’s report.
May 15: Bone threatens the family friend that is supervising him while he’s out on bail, demanding money for drugs. The family friend calls the RCMP and is dropped off at Stony Plain Road and 156th Street despite this violating his bail conditions.
May 15 : Edmonton Police officers speak to Bone and make the decision to not to arrest him despite the fact that he is violating his bail conditions. The RCMP inform the Edmonton Police Service that they dropped Bone off in Edmonton. Bone ends up crashing at an acquaintance's house. The person in Alberta Beach who was providing shelter to Bone tells the EPS that Bone is intoxicated and in violation of his bail conditions.
May 16: The RCMP inform Bone’s probation officer that he has been dropped off in Edmonton.
May 18: In two separate incidents, Bone attacks Ban Phuc Hoang and Hung Trang. A private security guard follows Bone after the second attack and calls in the Edmonton police, who apprehend him. Hoang and Trang die from their injuries. These allegations have not yet been proven in court.
May 18: Edmonton city council’s executive committee debates the police funding formula. In a heated meeting that saw Edmonton police commissioners stump for the continued existence of the funding formula, police commissioner Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse calls for Councillor Anne Stevenson to be removed from her post on the Edmonton Police Commission because she employs someone critical of the police.
May 18: Executive committee recommends to city council in a narrow 3-2 vote that the EPS base funding be set at $385 million and the police funding formula be discontinued.
May 20: Justin Bone is charged with the murders of Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang. Chief McFee assigns a superintendent to keep track of the case for him.
May 20: Chief McFee tells the Edmonton Police Commission that more officers will be allocated to downtown, Chinatown and 118 Avenue areas. “I want to take a minute to apologize to the citizens of our city, because there are areas of our city that also need services that aren’t going to get them for a while,” said McFee.
May 24: Transit safety, the city’s community safety strategy, and a funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service are all on the day’s agenda for city council deliberations. EPS has been calling for an amendment which would see $22 million added to their budget in order to replace funding from traffic fines that dried up after the UCP government put restrictions on where Edmonton could run photo radar. Council chambers are packed and several prominent conservative politicians and former politicians are in attendance, including Stephen Mandel, Kerry Diotte, and Steven Young. All attention is on the families of the two victims, who speak to council during the deliberations. Council votes to immediately direct $300,000 in subsidies to Chinatown businesses to hire private security.
May 24: The MLA representing the area, Janis Irwin, asks in the Legislature for more provincial support for Chinatown. Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro responds by pointing the finger at Edmonton city council, intimating that the area was made more unsafe by council’s ‘cut’ of the $22 million in photo radar revenue—though the funding was threatened due to his own government’s actions, and despite council not having made any decision to cut the police budget. Shandro also incorrectly claims the two residents were murdered with a gun.
May 25: Mayor Amarjeet Sohi releases a blog post in which he explains why he thinks the city should do away with the current police funding formula.
May 25: Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Dale McFee speak together at a press conference announcing a modest funding package for the Crimestoppers program. Shandro is asked about his false statements in the Legislature and struggles to find a response. At no point does Chief McFee tell anyone of the fact that the RCMP told the EPS that they had dropped Bone off in Edmonton in violation of his bail conditions.
May 26: Tyler Shandro invokes section 30(1) of the Police Act, directing the city of Edmonton to develop a public safety plan in two weeks.
May 26: Minister of Housing Josephine Pon, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis and Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan tour Chinatown, including the two sites where the murders of Trang and Hoang took place.
May 27: City council is given an update by city manager Andre Corbould on efforts to comply with Shandro’s letter. Council also debates transit safety. Chief McFee is in attendance and again does not tell the council, the media or public that the Edmonton Police Service interacted with Bone days before the attacks, were aware that he was in violation of his bail conditions, and had not taken him into custody. But he does dance around the topic, telling council that "there needs to be a parallel system looking at what's coming into Edmonton with the Nations, and some of our surrounding communities. because let's face it, we are the gateway to the north."
May 28: Chief Dale McFee attends the "Rally for Safety in Chinatown” held outside of City Hall. He does not tell the attendees, the public or the media about the fact that the RCMP had dropped Bone off in Edmonton in violation of his bail conditions.
May 31: An “Emergency Meeting with the Provincial Government Ministers” is called in a letter signed by representatives from the Chinese Benevolent Association and the Chinatown and Area Business Association. It is held at the Edmonton Chinatown Multicultural Centre and according to the flyer this meeting was attended by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, Housing Minister Josephine Pon, Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis and UCP MLAs Jason Luan and Jeremy Nixon.
June 3: Police commissioner Ashvin Singh writes a letter to Mayor Sohi demanding that Councillor Anne Stevenson be removed from the police commission due to vague charges of political interference into a police investigation of me, the author of this article. I am not aware of any investigation by the police or the police commission into my journalism or any criminal acts I may have committed.
June 6: Mayor Sohi’s office issues a statement saying he has no jurisdiction to investigate the conduct of councilors or police commissioners.
June 7: Edmonton’s city council deliberates on the police funding formula. By the end of the day a large majority votes to fully meet both of the police lobby’s requests: Edmonton will continue using with a police funding formula, which has seen the police budget go up every year of its existence, and the $22 million in photo radar revenue that the provincial government blocked the city from collecting will be covered by raising taxes on city residents and permanently added to the police budget. Chief Dale McFee is not in attendance and the EPS do not provide any comment to media.
June 8: Edmonton’s city council amends the transit safety bylaw, re-enacting loitering provisions that had been removed in 2021, despite criticism that this will lead to overpolicing of people who can’t afford to pay tickets.
June 9: Edmonton’s city council releases the public safety plan that Tyler Shandro had demanded. The plan consists largely of programs and projects that are already underway. Premier Jason Kenney and Shandro both take a victory lap. “I’m glad to see that Edmonton has begun to listen to its citizens,” said Kenney. “I’m encouraged by the constructive discussions I’ve had with Mayor Sohi and the recent steps municipal officials have taken to improve public safety for Edmontonians,” said Shandro.
June 10: The CBC publishes Wallis Snowdown’s investigation into the incident, revealing that the RCMP dumped Bone unsupervised into the city in breach of his bail conditions, the EPS were aware of that breach, the EPS directly interacted with Bone days before the attacks and the EPS declined to take him into custody.
June 16th: At the Edmonton Police Commission meeting Chief McFee changes his story and says that a communications error led to the EPS telling media that they had been in contact with Bone prior to the murders. According to McFee all that occurred was that the RCMP told EPS that Bone had been dropped off in town. He also vociferously argues that his officers didn't have the ability to arrest Bone for breach of his bail conditions because it was the RCMP who brought him into Edmonton. A few hours later the CBC releases a report where Bone's guarantor says he told the EPS that Bone was intoxicated and in violation of his bail conditions.