BTC: Checking in

Been out of Ottawa for a couple weeks now and out of the country entirely for a few days. And for most of that, horror of horrors, Internet access has been sporadic.

A couple things though while there’s a free moment.

1. Last fall, Marc Mayrand called a press conference to explain his stance on so-called veiled voters. Mayrand is hardly a big man, bit meek really, with glasses and a tight mouth. For maybe a half hour, he sat and repeated how it was that the law did not, in fact, prohibit citizens from voting without providing visual identification. And for maybe a half hour, the assembled reporters sat and told him, repeatedly and often dismissively, how awfully wrong he was. Then everyone in the press gallery went back to their respective offices, reread the law and realized Mayrand was, er, right. 

A couple days later, I was standing on a street corner, dutifully waiting for the light to change, when Mr. Mayrand pulled up beside me. It was all I could do not to thank him for the show.

This is not to say that Mr. Mayrand is unquestionably in the right in his fight with the Conservative Party of Canada. Again, I wasn’t around to see his appearance at committee. Nor have I spent more than a couple minutes trying to read the country’s election laws.

But this is to say that I’m not sure I’d want to be in a fight with the man. Because if last fall was any indication, he is not one to assert himself without due and thorough consideration. (A quality, by the way, that puts him in fairly rare company around the capital.) 

2. The only bit of home news to reach my blackberry was this business of the national crime rate reaching a thirty-year low. Terrible development, obviously.

If there’s anything our Prime Minister enjoys more than publicly lauding the contributions of various minority communities, it’s publicly lamenting the robbers, thugs, pick-pockets, perverts, murderers and other mercenaries who have made our country their personal playground of ill repute.

“Everywhere I go I hear the same refrain,” he said in June. “‘Prime Minister, please crack down on criminals, get guns, gangs and drugs off our streets, stop behaviour that threatens our property and our persons, make our communities safer.'”

“In Ottawa,” he opined in April, “there’s too often a disconnect between the fixations of the professional political class and the day-to-day issues that concern working Canadians and their families, such things as property crime and auto theft.” 

The Tories are, of course, quite fond of styling themselves “tough on crime.” Easy as it is to appear tough in the face of an opponent so apparently small. But as some pollster or another pointed out, if there’s no crime, there’s no threat. And if there’s no threat, there’s no great advantage in promising protection.

So what to do?

Rob Nicholson, the justice minister and attorney general and therefore, at least in theory, the sharpest legal mind in the country, chose simple denial. “We are not governing by statistics,” he told Canadian Press. But then we already knew that. And impressive as it is to deny objective reality, it’s a difficult line to maintain for longer than a year or two.

Which is why, by the time I’m back on native soil, I expect those easily directed young Cons—the same ones who put on yellow t-shirts and frolicked around the capital a few weeks back, delighted in their contribution to the cause—to have been dispatched across the country, equipped with Tory blue ski masks, Conservative logo pocket knives, crowbars, jugs of gasoline and matches. If the statistics themselves aren’t going to cooperate, the government might as well change the statistics. And if fear is what they require, imagine the panic incited by a crime wave of well-kept young people—bright and smiley and terribly opposed to the court challenges program—rampaging through our cities and suburbs, breaking and entering, burning down sheds, harassing little old ladies and stealing our sedans. 

With that, I’m off to the beach.