By Medicine Hat News Opinion on June 27, 2020.
Some quick hits this week because I can’t decide what to write about…
“Defund the Police,” means something different to everyone, it seems, and as per usual when people get stuck on semantics, the conversation ends up leading away from the point.
Last week my neighbour – a woman in her late 60s who lives on AISH in a rundown rental property – flagged down a passing vehicle and through tears said, “I need help. I’m having a nervous breakdown.” A few minutes later there were three police cars on scene and, eventually, an ambulance.
We can gab all day about protecting those who “protect and serve,” but if you think three cruisers carrying armed officers is a sensible response to an unarmed senior citizen in a mental health crisis who has just requested help, then you’re in a minority that likely doesn’t even include the folks in uniforms. Over the years I have seen police at her house on countless occasions – zero of which have been for actual crime – and eventually you come to realize that not even the cops want the cops there.
If those we task with enforcing the Criminal Code were only sent in when a criminal offence is involved, wouldn’t that result in less public money needed to fund them? Seems to me, if three cruisers are available to attend an old woman’s nervous breakdown, we could send them to everything and still afford some defunding.
Speaking of police, after charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer were dropped this week against Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation following a now-public video of his violent arrest, it was quoted in a Canadian Press story as being a “true victory … for our society” by the man’s defence attorney.
Meanwhile, the arresting officers are still on the job – one with a pending assault charge from an unrelated incident – while the arrest is under investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. It’s plausible that disciplinary action will follow, and the officer who was seen tackling Adam with a forearm to the face and then punching him multiple times will be facing a new assault charge, but until then he’ll be allowed to continue enforcing laws he has trouble following himself.
Whenever incidents like this surface, we hear the people with the authority to actually fix problems go on about “a few bad apples” for a week or two, but real action seldom seems to follow. If you want the rest of the public to buy into the idea that policing is inherently good or decent, start by picking the rotten fruit off the tree and throwing it in the trash where it belongs.
Chief Adam was beaten that night. I’ll acknowledge a “true victory” when the officer that did it is no longer an officer. Until then, the “good apples” should know they’re part of a spoiled bunch, and perception is reality.
Speaking of perceiving realities, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act (Bill 1) was quietly given royal assent on June 17. It was crickets from the media until the Alberta Union of Public Employees announced it would be challenging the bill in court on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. David Khan, leader of the Alberta Liberals and a constitutional lawyer, wholeheartedly agrees with AUPE and has been telling anyone who will listen since the bill passed third reading in May.
If you ask him, it’s a slam-dunk win for anyone willing to take this to court.
Maybe you think the UCP is doing the right thing here, because you’re convinced this law is only for those heathenish “thugs” who stand on railroads over pipeline construction or Indigenous rights, and judging by the lack of real pushback from the official opposition, I worry that the NDP agrees. But the fact is, the bill describes critical infrastructure in a way that allows it to include every square inch of the province – attested to on several occasions by experts like Khan – and is almost assuredly going to be struck down by the courts.
Like so many of the theatrics this government is becoming known for – see: war rooms or equalization referendums or corporate giveaways – it won’t end like they claim it will and the public coffers will be paying the tab. One can look at Premier Jason Kenney’s time thus far in really only two ways: unsuccessful at governing, or successful at distraction.
Either way, it sure is expensive.
Speaking of unsuccessful, Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell really wants to push separation from Canada, and he’s been fused to the topic for a while now. This week he even cited “one poll” where “a little over half of United Conservative supporters believe Alberta would be better off separate from Canada,” which, in reality, is just a fancy attempt at masking how little interest there is for this nonsense.
Recent polling puts UCP support at less than 50 per cent province-wide, so any time half those folks are in favour of something, it’s at best a reflection of about 25 per cent of the population. If you recall last week’s Laying It Out, this is the exact percentage Kenney pegged separatist support at, and even he knows a far smaller number would actually choose the option when it counts.
Bell referred to himself as a “newshound” no fewer than five times in his most recent piece. What good is a hound if it keeps sniffing out the same crap?
Scott Schmidt is the layout editor for the Medicine Hat News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @shmitzysays
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