Must-reads: Ian Mulgrew on the Robert Dziekanski fiasco.
Shameless cops, creepy hockey coaches and random urban gunfire. What a country.
The Vancouver Sun‘s Ian Mulgrew believes the RCMP may have blood on its hands in the death of 21-year-old motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson, who was struck and killed Saturday night by an off-duty RCMP officer who happened to be inebriated, and who happened to have been one of the four officers who so professionally dealt with Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. Those officers “have had a horrible cloud over their heads and their careers” while the RCMP dithers over what to do with them, he argues, and it’s not tough to imagine that stress leading to “self-destructive judgements.” As for the RCMP’s refusal to name the officer, on grounds he hasn’t yet been charged in either Dziekanski’s or Hutchinson’s death, Mulgrew says he can’t believe they “have the audacity to pull a stunt like this.” It really is staggering, the third-world depths to which the RCMP is capable of sinking.
The Globe and Mail‘s Christie Blatchford and the Toronto Star‘s Rosie DiManno report on yesterday’s developments from the David Frost trial, where a 28-year-old woman testified as to the various acts of depravity Frost forced her and his players to perform. DiManno’s is a little more in-depth when it comes to the legalese, but you won’t want to read either piece with a full stomach. (Interestingly, we note the Star seems to have reversed course and is now only identifying the female witnesses by their first names, just like the Globe.)
Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley did better yesterday in responding to the shooting death of Bailey Zaveda in east-end Toronto than he did the day before, says the Globe‘s Murray Campbell, when he suggested “Opposition Leader Bob Runciman should direct his ire about gun violence at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.” Perhaps chastened by a response from federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who noted Bentley’s Liberal pals in Ottawa had nixed minimum sentences for firearms offences, he dialed down the partisanship. Unfortunately, says Campbell, “he still hasn’t risen to the occasion to calm the fear that people he calls ‘the dangerous, the violent and the out-of-control’ are flouting the justice system.” He might want to get on that.
In the National Post, Lorne Gunter suggests that with all due respect to the Star‘s editorial board, which suggested this week that a handgun ban would be “a good first step” to prevent shootings like Zaveda’s, a far better first step would be “longer sentences with no parole for violent criminals” like Kyle Weese, the man accused in the shooting. We’re going to go ahead and agree with that.
Charest rolls the dice
The Star‘s Chantal Hébert notes certain ironies at play in Jean Charest’s mad dash to the polls, including the fact that his main argument—that “a minority government is just another luxury Quebecers can no longer afford” in troubled economic times—was noticeably absent during the federal election campaign, when Charest didn’t exactly pull out all the stops for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. The federal election offers a cautionary tale for Charest too, says Hébert: “no campaign in Quebec is ever a done deal until the votes are counted.” And considering “Charest’s relationship with francophone voters is ultimately no less fragile than Harper’s,” he’d better hope he’s right and “some of his most trusted advisers,” who do not share his enthusiasm, are wrong.
“Voters like minority governments,” says L. Ian MacDonald in the Montreal Gazette. “They like keeping the government on a short leash.” And they don’t, apparently, like being hauled to the polls for no good reason twice in less than two months—70 per cent of Quebeckers told CROP they’d rather Charest stood pat. That said, MacDonald believes the economic justification is a “compelling campaign scenario.” He’d just better “define the ballot question” right out of the gate, or “he could be in very big trouble.”
Recessed, or depressed?
The Star‘s Thomas Walkom has had it up to here with people not comparing our current financial situation to 1929. Yes, yes, “stock declines to date have not yet matched those of the 1930s depression,” but there are too many “eerie and unsettling similarities” to ignore. Britain was a military powerhouse and an economic basket case, just like America is today; “self-regulating markets that were supposed to keep the economy in equilibrium only accentuated the crisis,” just like they have today; and, also just like today, political leaders insist on “trying to balance the fiscal books, thereby making matters worse.” (Interestingly, the New York Times says deficits would increase under both McCain and Obama, but it’s not a very good newspaper.)
The Gazette‘s Janet Bagnall sees a recent OECD report on growing income inequality in Canada as a wakeup call. “Work is the primary way out of poverty in this country,” she notes, which is “undoubtedly a good thing.” But those who lose their jobs stay poor in Canada longer than in other OECD nations, and “pockets of persistent joblessness” remain among certain groups in certain regions. All these problems are solvable, she stresses, but “it will require social investment and the acknowledgment that we are in danger of creating a society that is not fair.”
The Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson suggests the Harper government’s China policy, if it can be so called, be abandoned, erased from our collective memory and never spoken of again. It is time to “hit the restart button,” as Jim Balsillie told “a sampling of civic society in the form of about 500 people gathered in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum for a fundraising dinner organized by the Canadian International Council” on Monday. (Elites! Get ‘em!) “You don’t have to like China’s regime, or admire its human rights record,” Simpson argues, “but you do have to deal seriously with the emerging economic superpower.” And everyone who’s not a Tory MP or apparatchik of some sort seems to realize it.
Not for the first time, the Vancouver Sun‘s Daphne Bramham accuses the Canadian government of having “no national strategy for finding [human] traffickers, no national plan for identifying and helping victims and little understanding of who the victims are.” She may well be right. But we find it hard to believe that treating every single Canadian prostitute as a victim of human trafficking, as she seems to, is either logical or in the spirit of the law.
Also in the Sun, Vaughn Palmer bravely attempts to sort out the mess over the security budget for the 2010 Olympics, which was originally estimated at $175 million but now, if Stockwell Day is to be believed, may be more in the neighbourhood of $1 billion—that’s right, one billion dollars. Should the province pay for the cost overruns, or the feds? He has little success in extracting an answer from finance minister Colin Hansen, but as he says, it doesn’t really matter. One government or the other is going to pick up the tab, and neither of them has any source of funds other than the Canadian taxpayer.
The Republicans have long known how to rail against Harvard types in furtherance of winning elections, the Citizen‘s Dan Gardner argues, but he suggests that until now, Pat Buchanan and Richard Nixon were “the only major figures to really feel the resentment they sought to exploit.” Sarah Palin may be the next major figure on that list, Gardner suggests. And “if the Republicans are blown out next week, the bile will rise and Palin—mocked and dismissed by ‘the elites’—will be embraced all the more passionately.” The GOP, in short, “will become the party they would have been had Pat Buchanan led them in 1992.”