Police Abusing Curfew Already
It’s Wednesday in this fine, normal world of ours. Great, isn’t it! The sun, the sky, we love it. Your pal Robert (@robert_hiltz) here from grey af Montreal.
Today we’re starting off with the bad parts of police-led pandemic policies. Then we’ve got news of 23 people being charged in a raid on an Indigenous fishery building, a quick note on the federal cabinet shuffle and finally, claims Sir John A Macdonald is being treated very unfairly (no he’s not).
Good news (?) ahead!
So, We Live In An Arbitrary Police State Now?
Now that the governments of Quebec and Ontario have let the pandemic spiral so out of control — they’re actively talking about triaging ICU patients and taking people off ventilators to give them to others with a better chance of survival — they’ve decided to do something. And the only lever they really know how to pull is to give powers to the police.
So, bam, here we are. An 8 p.m. curfew for Quebec and a nebulous, all-day stay-at-home order for Ontario. Give police wide discretion and they’ll be able to cooly and sensibly sort out who has a reason to be outside of their house, and who doesn’t. But, of course, that’s not what’s happened.
A number of employees at Marché Good Food in Montreal were all handed tickets by police while waiting for a bus to go home outside the company’s production facility, according to CTV Montreal. All of them had letters saying they were essential workers and should be exempt from the curfew, but the cops didn’t care.
Elsewhere in Montreal, a woman on her way to work at a snow removal contractor was stopped by police at 4 a.m. It didn’t go great.
Here’s the CBC with her story:
“I got my letter out of my glove compartment and he asked for my ID, I gave him that,” said [Sarah] Vresk. “He then asked me what was in my bag.” Vresk demanded to know why that mattered, and why she wasn’t free to go after showing a letter from her employer….The officer questioned the validity of that letter, saying it’s just a piece of paper, and threatened to give her a ticket anyway.
She was eventually allowed to go without a ticket.
Meanwhile, in Ontario, police seem to have been given even broader discretion to do this stuff all day. The order is to stay at home, unless you need food or medicine. Yet it also allows for gatherings of up to five people outside, and a number of other loopholes. Stay at home, but also don’t? Have I got that right?
The police don’t actually know what the rules are, or what they should be enforcing, according to the Toronto Star. Joe Couto, spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chief of Police, told the Star, “There’s way more questions that we have answers at this time. And so we’re really in a waiting period so that we can have some specifics in terms of what does this mean for enforcement.”
The Ontario government put out an FAQ today about the stay-at-home order that can best be summed up by a gif of Elmo shrugging.
And so, as we move forward into this new phase of restrictions with police given wide autonomy, expect to see many more stories of outrageous behaviour on their part. Rarely are police given a broad power they decide to use narrowly. Four days into the Quebec curfew, they’re already pushing its limits.
It will only get worse.
- Last October, about 200 people, many of them commercial fishers, raided an Indigenous lobster warehouse in Nova Scotia, ransacking it, destroying equipment and setting a van on fire. Now 23 of them have been charged with breaking and entering, with eight of them also facing mischief charges.
- “They vandalized (my van) and they were peeing on it, pouring things into the fuel tank, cutting electrical wires…. I thought they were going to kill me.” — Jason Marr, Mi’kmaw fisherman
- There are some slight changes in the federal cabinet after a mini-shuffle yesterday. Now former-industry minister Navdeep Bains decided to retire from politics, so his spot was vacated for Francois-Philippe Champagne.
- Marc Garneau takes Champagne’s place as foreign minister, and Omar Alghabra replaces Garneau at Transport. Jim Carr becomes a minister without portfolio as a special representative for the prairies.
ICYMI: A Bunch Of Big Brains Want You To Know John A. Macdonald Is Sir John A-Okay
More than 130 academics and other big names put out a letter through the Macdonald Laurier Institute yesterday in support of John A. Macdonald.
Our big beautiful first prime minister has been having his name tarnished lately, they say, and they want to set the record straight. Saying the country’s first prime minister was much maligned, and unfairly tarred with the brush of modern morality, they defended his legacy: “Macdonald’s failures must, however, be weighed against an impressive record of constitution and nation building, his reconciliation of contending cultures, languages and religions, his progressivism and his documented concern for and friendship with the Indigenous peoples of Canada.”
Macdonald, in an 1882 debate in Parliament, described this concern for and friendship with Indigenous people thusly: “I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole, and I am sure it is the case with the Commissioner, are doing all they can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation to reduce the expense.”
The starvation was part of an intentional plan to move Indigenous people onto reserves, and out of the way of the cross-Canada railroad then under construction. The railroad was one of the things the letter’s authors point out as a Macdonald accomplishment, of course.
Something to think about when hearing people defend his legacy.
DIG DEEPER: Canada Has Never Been A Peacekeeping Nation
That’s all folks! See you back here tomorrow for another news roundup.
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