Friday, 2 March 2012


At some point in my tweenage years a grown man punched me in the face. My friends and I were playing road hockey outside of his house. While I was in "the penalty box" (aka, the steps of my friends house) this man asked me "What's the matter with you, huh?" as I didn't run away when he came storming out of his home. When my friends saw this cranky man leave his home and come toward us, they instinctively ran. Apparently this "man" had a history of being the neighborhood crank - essentially the local Mr.Wilson. He left his home to shoo us off, I stayed on the steps as the egg timer on my penalty hadn't finished, he felt disrespected, and he punched me in the face.

I ran to my friends house crying with a bloody lip, and the police were called. The man was arrested, and put in the back of a police car. While in the back seat, he laid on his back and kicked the windows, eventually popping one out of place. Months later, an officer arrived at my home and delivered a subpoena to appear in court. The mere delivery of this summons sent tween me back into tears as I apparently hadn't resolved whatever issues I had around the incident. 

In the court room it was explained to the judge that the mans wife had recently had a dental procedure, that the man had drank much of a bottle of wine, and that otherwise he was an upstanding citizen. The Crown wanted a fine (a little over $1000 if memory serves me correctly). The defense wanted community service. The judge didn't even appear to take any time to think about the two options, and provided the man with ~100 hours of community service. I was shaken again. How does a grown man punch a child in the face, and only have to pick up a bit of garbage as a result? This was the day that whatever innocence I had left from parents divorce died.  

My friends and family were all aware of this and many of them found it to be absurd. A grown man punches a boy in the face and only has to pick up a bit of trash as a result? Outrageous. "In America, this would never happen. They'd throw this asshole in jail right away." This was a thought that I heard in some form on multiple occasions. Essentially that the Canadian justice system was broken if something like this could happen. 

I am nowhere near naive enough to think that mine is somehow a unique story. A story like this must happen almost every day in Canada, and six degrees of separation would tell us that everyone knows someone (or someone who knows someone) who's been through a similar incident. Perhaps not the grotesqueness of a man hitting a child, but of perceived injustice in our criminal system. Depending on the immediacy of relation they may even have completely emotional view of it. For example, "My brother was hit by a car, has to take pain medication for years, and the guy who did it is running around fancy free." 

So now we're faced with new crime legislation in Canada, that will soon become law. This story, and many like it, can serve to show that there is need for some reform of our criminal justice system. The Conservatives know this and have promised change for many years. 

The only problem with the changes they're proposing, is that they'll only make the situation worse. As outlined by the university of Ottawa, the CCLU, and the Canadian BAR association - the legislation which passed in December has many provisions that won't actually keep Canadians safer, but instead create more criminals. The bill follows the American blue print, which as their neighbors to the north we've seen fail over and over again. 

This is not a unique Americanization, however. Character assassinations have been frequent from Conservatives toward the last two Liberal leaders. Of course, when Vic Towes was called out for proclaiming family values while being a convicted criminal and adulterer, attacks on character were decried as inappropriate. When I try to think of political candidates promoting family values, only to act in the very nature they decry, I again think of our neighbors to the south. 

Recently, the robocalls scandal has been the flavor of the month. A conservative affiliated robocall company has been accused of making robocalls to Canadians misdirecting them from their voting locaton. Since this issue has become public, Elections Canada has indicated that it's received 31,000 contacts in regards to the issue. A few years ago I read a book by Allen Raymond called, "How To Rig An Election." In it, he took actions to try to stop people in liberal households from voting. They did this by targeting the campaigns though, not the voters directly. Conservatives, it seems, found a way to improve his methods.   

When bill C-30 was first discussed in the house of commons, Vic Towes channeled George W Bush, and proclaimed that people can either stand with the government, or with child pornographers.  

In another Bushism, scientists are being muzzled by the government. Remarkably as Nature journal points out, America has actually been improving in this regard while we're declining toward bush-era scientific regulations. 

I wrote a blog during election season where I noted that the conservatives were trying to convince us that a duck was actually a moose, and that I wasn't buying it. In that light, I'll start calling our country Camerica, as our government has clearly adopted many of the most unsavory themes from American style politics. These aren't just politics as usual in Canada, this is a systematic attack on how our democracy operates.

Camerica is a place where anecdotal evidence outweighs real evidence, where misdirection outweighs integrity, and the public service needs to be cut back - in every area but communications.  

When I was a tweenager hit in the face by an adult, I lost my innocence about humanity. The Harper Government has now taken away my innocence about governance. The first made me question the public's intentions, the latter has made me question their intelligence. 

1 comment:

  1. Lax criminal laws, election tampering and keeping hazardous 40 year old diesel subs in service that put our armed servicemen at risk among dozens of other issues that don't get solved + 3 useless political parties - people too lazy too vote for a radical party X 36 million people who complain about issues for 2 weeks then stop caring \ 50000 people who care enough to do something about it = violent revolution, and it's long over due.

    "now and then the tree of liberty must be fertilized with the blood of patriots and tyrants, it is a natural manure"- Thomas Jefferson