Month: August 2017

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Revisionist madness

It’s hard to think Captain James Cook who discovered Australia, and John A. Macdonald, our first Prime Minister would have anything in common besides liking a good, stiff drink.

But now in 2017 they both find themselves at the centre of historical revisionism. Cook’s 19th Century statue bearing a plaque that he “discovered this territory” on August 22, 1770 is under attack. Indigenous people are up in arms and say they were there tens of thousands of years before and want the plaque changed.

Back home, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario union have voted to rename the schools bearing Macdonald’s name. He’s part of the generation of leaders to have opened residential schools. All of this feigned indignation in the wake of Confederate statues being covered or removed south of the border as they serve as painful reminders of some of the darker moments in American history.

Some call it a culture war. Others call it political correctness run amok. I call it a total eclipse of sanity.

Where do we draw the line on historical revisionism? Why stop with Mcdonald’s name on schools? How about tearing down the statue of suffragette Nellie McClung on parliament hill who was one of The Famous Five to get women recognized by courts as “persons” in the British North America Act, 1867. After all, she was a key proponent of eugenics – a pseudo-science at best which favoured sterilization and segregation of those with mental health issues to improve the “race quality.”

And then there’s UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who in 1945 ordered the fire-bombing of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, killing up to 25,000 mostly civilian victims in a city which had little strategic value and at a time the Nazis were on the verge of capitulation. There are dozens of schools in Ontario bearing his name. Let’s rename them all while we’re at it.

Let’s not forget US President Harry S. Truman who ordered the US military to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. 129,000 people were instantly vaporized. And within the first two to four months the acute effects of the bombings killed almost a quarter of a million people. Luckily, we have no schools named after him.

The point is that there are a lot of good people who have done bad things. The bad things were often understood at the time as good ones. It’s all about the context and understanding that we just can’t rewrite history and erase the bad parts.

I can just see this radical political correctness jump into other areas. For example, the erogenous area of the vagina is called the G-Spot, after male gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg who identified the area in an article called The Role of Urethra in Female Orgasm in 1950. Imagine that. A part of a woman’s body that can lead to strong sexual arousal is named after a man. Sharpen your pen revisionists, surely, we need to find the G-Spot a new name.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Wynne presser load of hot air

News came out early on Wednesday that on Thursday afternoon something big would come out of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s mouth. An event not to be missed. The pre-spin was out of the ordinary.

Pundits started speculating.

Wynne was supposed to meet with her Liberal party executive, followed by a cabinet meeting and an “open” caucus meeting which would be live-tweeted and broadcasted on YouTube. It sent the Queens Park media pool and a few analysts in a twizzy. What were the tall foreheads in her office scheming?

It created buzz and had all the telltale signs and markings that something big was about to happen.

Some were speculating that Wynne had come to her senses, put party before person and realized that it was time for her to go to give the Liberals a fighting chance at survival in next June’s provincial election. After all, when you’ve been sitting at 15% approval ratings 10 months before the vote, the likelihood of her winning is extremely slim. How low is 15%? Let’s put it in context. South of the border, US President Donald Trump is being excoriated for having “only” a 34% approval rating. Wynne should be so lucky.

It’s possible a fresh face at the helm with new ideas could renew the Liberals on time for the election.

But of course, Wynne, who views herself as a great campaigner put her ego ahead of logic. History will liken her to the band of musicians who played on when with the titanic was sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Others speculated that she was poised to call a snap election for the fall. She’s been handing out goodies to buy votes for months now – with questionable effect given her approval rating. But the cupboard is bare now and those goodies risk being forgotten in 10 months. And the party is scrambling to fill nominations. Not to mention that the party’s finances trail the rival Progressive Conservatives.

So what was all the hoopla about on Thursday? It turns out to have been a publicity ploy. Liberal House Leader Yasir Naqvi let the cat out of the bag in a mid-morning tweet that Wynne was going to outline her “Plan for Fairness and Opportunity” at the caucus meeting. The whole thing landed like a big thud.

What was meant as a big splash barely left any impression. And there’s hardly a trace of her announcement on the internet. Nothing on the government of Ontario newsroom. A few tweets from reporters describe that the Liberals greeted her with chants of “4 more years! 4 more years.” Just like trained seals.

Wynne declared to her captive audience that the “world is inherently unfair” and that Ontario is not immune to global problems. As Queens Park Today’s Allison Smith tweeted: “And that’s it. Much ado about, literally, nothing.”

If anything, her announcement backlashed. It’s rich of Wynne to speak of fairness. Anyone who consumes electricity in Ontario would have a word or two about the topic.

If Wynne has any chance of surviving the election, she’ll have to do better than pretending she’s some kind of philosopher king surviving up puff, platitude and empty words at a dog and pony show in Neverland.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Law applies to cops too

Our system of justice is based on the rule of law, which is in fact enshrined in our constitution through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It means that the law applies to everyone – no one is above the law. And the law must be applied the same regardless of race, gender, status or any other consideration.

The reality, however, is that the military and the police at times get the kid glove version of the law while visible minorities who happen to be male are at the other end of the spectrum.

One of the causes, perhaps not the main one, of cases being tossed from the courts because of the time it took for them to get to trial is over-charging by cops. For example, if you’re black and found shoplifting an item and damaging it all the while and you were agitated during the arrest, you might well face charges of mischief, theft, resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer out of one simple act or incident. And maybe more charges. These cases unnecessarily clog up the court docket.

But when a member of the military or the police allegedly commit a criminal transgression, the favoured instrument of trial is all too often their respective disciplinary code. Of course, this way of prosecuting miscreants keeps it “in the family.” And spares the offender from a criminal record and the stigma attached to having one. The consequence for police officers found guilty is generally a slap on the wrist in the form of a temporary rank reduction or some kind of fine.

Case in point, last week the Toronto Police Services Chief Mark Saunders was ordered by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIRPD) to hold a disciplinary hearing concerning Sgt. Eduardo Miranda. A video by a bystander showed “excessive force” being used by Miranda while arresting a man by repeatedly Tasering him six times when he was “prone face down on the ground being physically controlled by four officers,” according to the OIPRD. And stomping him repeatedly.

The hearing will be held Sept. 26 and the man who videotaped the incident, Waseem Khan, plans to attend.

Khan had a good point when he said: “I hope that there’s some sort of accountability, because I think officers, just like any other citizen, should be held accountable when they go beyond the law or do something criminal.”

Despite the video of the incident going viral, Toronto police apparently didn’t see anything wrong with one of their officers Tasering and stomping on a man repeatedly while being held on the ground. They had to be “ordered” to hold a hearing.

And logically, if the matter leads to reasonable grounds that a crime was committed, then the cop should be charged accordingly. The disciplinary hearing should follow.

As the video surfaced, Saunders should have immediately ordered a criminal investigation into the actions of his officer. He has so far shown himself to be a weak Chief, and too cozy with the police union.

The police board, supposedly his boss, should remind him that the thin blue line doesn’t override the rule of law.