Does the beauty and welcoming nature of the new Vancouver International Airport (YVR), completed in time to showcase British Columbia and Canada to the world for the 2010 Olympics, belie the holding of dirty little secrets in the bowels of that sparkling facility?
Sometimes the greater threat to our democratic way of life comes from within and not from without. I am not speaking of terrorists, jihadists or those would join murdering bands like ISIS, I am speaking of how we respond to the threat. When we begin to dismantle all that which underpins our democracy because of them, they will have won.
As I researched the following post, I was astonished to see just how far we have fallen in the past decade. I fear that if we continue along this path for another decade, we will have become just a shell of nation which our grandparents and great grandparents fought for in first fifty years of the last century and which they and our great-great grandparents dreamed of when they first joined a line of immigrates and refugees to take up life in Canada. (From Facebook Post)
Would it surprise you that under the Beijing Airport, hundreds of people, thought to be ‘suspicious’ are detained after being pulled aside for a secondary search and questioning during entry? No surprise you say? In China, you could just as easily be whisked away on the street. What about Russia or other countries where human rights and the rule of law has little meaning? Same answer? Probably.
How about the United States? Given the incredible size and strength Homeland Security and the many laws enacted since 9/11, there is little doubt a person, particularly a foreign national, could easily disappear without a trace at any airport or transportation hub in the country. Being whisked off the street would be just as simple.
Now, what about Canada, “the true north strong and free”? Do you think it possible thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of men, woman and children might be arrested and taken away to secret prisons located below major airports such as Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg and at other, more or less secret facilities across Canada? Is it possible these prisoners have been stripped of all the rights we Canadians take for granted? Finally, is it possible these people could be whisked out of the country at the stroke of a pen, never to be heard from again? Not possible you say — we have far to many checks and balances. Well, think again.
This week after researching an article on the plight of a few immigrants and refugees, I was astonished to learn that not only is this happening, it is happening on a regular basis in cities and towns across Canada. (52)
A full set of photos from this story and a short introduction for the post appears on the
McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page (Link Here) (Note: All the photos except the two for the Police Department are captured from Web sources.)
“Except for my dogs, I am alone in a world filled with people.”
For people of all ages, but particularly the young, few things can be more lonely than being on a street full of people and the only looks received vary between pity, disgust and outright anger. Most street people are viewed as being worth less than the clothes they wear. They could go missing, be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, even murdered, yet this often raises barely a ripple within the police circles. If they are of native, it is even worse. In 2010 during the Olympics, I watched as two members of the “Red Shirt Brigade” (Volunteer Security) in Vancouver were openly antagonistic and physically aggressive towards a native woman sleeping in the doorway of a store that was closed for the night. This story traces the social conflicts which remain close to the surface in this bountiful country of Canada. (Photo Web source)
“In the Oak Bay office it was nearing 3:00 am, as the night shift Sergeant, Constable and a Civilian Dispatcher were cleaning up the coffee room when the five phone lines lite up. In the quiet hours this usually meant an accident or similar emergency had shaken several residents from their pre-dawn slumber. In this case, two blasts from a shotgun were followed by blood curdling screens. So began a twelve hour saga where a young woman’s life hung in the balance.”
Having lived inside the police system for thirty years, this story (and others to follow) use various Oak Bay Police Major Crime files to demonstrate how some criminal acts (or suspected criminal acts) can be quickly filtered to ‘inactive’ when the victim lives outside the mainstream. While this is sometimes done for good reason, discounting these crimes can have serious, unintended consequences in the mainstream as demonstrated in eight interconnected chapters beginning in the early 1980′s and extending to the present day.
Chapters 1: A discussion of how the police and justice system filter is applied and how societal norms (reference the section on deviance) impact the events described in this Oak Bay Police abduction case.
Chapter 2: A general description of the Greater Victoria area, the various police departments and of area in which the crime occurred.
Chapter 3 and 4: Provides background on the victim as a method of demonstrating how some victims, because of age, sex, socio-economic status, mental illness or some other factor, are left vulnerable when society in general and the criminal justice system in particular, fails to render assistance.
Chapters 5, 6 and 7: Tracks the investigation from beginning to end as a means of demonstrating how a high level of cooperation between police agencies is an essential component of effective law enforcement. This is particularly so when a crime crosses jurisdictional boundaries, be it local, provincial or national. The chapters also demonstrate how a small Department the size of Oak Bay is able to provide a full range of effective police service.
Chapter 8: Outlines other cases, in particular the recent murder of Tim Bosma in Ancaster, Ontario, as a means of demonstrating how application of the police filter can have unintended consequences when a serial sex offender or murderer is at work.
Addendum 1: Summary of a personal experience that resulted in some follow-up at work. The matter flowed back to the surface in July 2013. (452)
September 12, 2014: Further to a recent story on this blog (Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness) posted on August 19th, 2014, the Vancouver Police Chief and Mayor have now waded in on the subject of metal illness. They outline how the VPD will likely make 3000 arrests under the Mental Health Act this year, up from just over 2200 five years earlier. (Link to Province Article)
Both the Mayor and the Chief make the point that the Criminal Justice System is not the place on which this problem should be offloaded. They state that we are now seeing the consequences as senior governments continue to close hospitals that provide intensive care for those having spiralled into the depths of despair that comes with deteriorating mental health. As was pointed out in the earlier story, over 8000 seriously mentally ill people were dumped onto the streets when the Riverview Hospital closed its doors in 2012. The Coquitlam Mayor is now calling for that hospital to be updated and re-opened in order to help deal with the crisis.
The previous story also outlined how the dangers of letting this crisis continue unabated will be measured in lost lives, both of the mentally ill and of police and citizens who happen to get caught in the cross fire of some incidents. The mentally ill stand alongside the learning disabled and others who deal with life challenges that are beyond the scope of personal initiative to correct. Teachers and medical personal who specialize in training and treatment is needed, not more police, courts and prisons.
It is time to take a stand on these issues.
Shooting by Science World (Link)
June 12, 2014: This man was shot and seriously wounded by police after he went on a shooting rampage that began in Yaletown. Another family member said the man had been slipping further into mental illness over the previous several months. How he accessed the weapon used to injure a bike shop owner in Yaletown and later to challenge police, is not known. It was simply quick police action mixed with a fair amount of good luck, that no one was killed and that many more were not injured.
Photo (Web Source). The dark shadows of depression and mental illness can be lifelong or sudden in onset. While cancer, heart disease and any one of dozens other diseases are accepted and treated with respect, not so for depression and mental illness. They remain in the shadows. People experiencing these debilitating states are often cast aside where they are left to their own devices. Many Military personnel have felt that pain. Can you imagine a cancer patient being cast aside and left to his or her own devices?
As many families have learned, the nature of the illness makes it difficult to reach out for assistance as the attached stigma casts an ugly net. This story continues to track those who have been caught at the margins of our society where failure to provide timely and ongoing assistance can have tragic consequences in the mainstream.
Note: This story is part of a series about living at the margins of our society. Abducted, the First Twelve Hours was posted a couple of weeks back. A list of other editorials on the subject is posted in the footer.
Photo (Web Source): Several young people, a few of whom share a quirky 7th or 21st chromosome, gather
for a Christmas Party. Within the group can been seen a few like our son who has a quirky 7th that is commonly known as
Williams Syndrome (I)
Re: Open Letter Penned to Anne Coulter
On October 23, 2012, a young man, John Franklin Stephens, an Olympian, posted a letter to Anne Coulter on the Special Olympics blog. In the letter John chided Anne for her insensitivity by referencing President Barack Obama as a retard. John, a very inquisitive and sensitive man who entered life with a mix-up in his 21st chromosome, inquired of Anne as to why she choose to use the word ‘retard’ to describe President Obama. John’s comments include:
… I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarky sound bite too the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income, and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift…
… After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV. Link here for Letter
John’s words struck a chord, not only with my wife and me (reference footnote 2), but also with the general public. His remarks were shared widely across the internet and in news reports around the world. (421)
The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not
Vancouver, April 20, 2012. Over 20,000 people, the largest crowd to date, attended the Four Twenty Protest.
At 4:20 pm (precisely), a sweet smelling cloud lazily drifted over the Library and across downtown Vancouver.
Twenty thousand people just had a group toke.
It has long since been ordained that the ubiquitous Mary Jane would one day become, if not legal, at the very least a controlled substance sold in Government style Liquor Stores. Marihuana grow ops will be popping up across the country like dandelions on a newly planted lawn. Now that a few States in that bastion of extreme conservatism south of the border have begun to decriminalize the substance, can the Province of British Columbia’s five billion (that’s right five, with nine zeros) pot growing industry, be far behind? For BC this is not a trivial amount of untaxed ‘free enterprise’ money by any count.
Seeing an opportunity in this trend, Medbox Inc., a U.S. based company, is set to introduce into Canada, automatic Pot Vending Machines (PVMs) for use by those licenced to toke as permitted under the Canada Health Act (link to story). Apparently the PVMs provide easy and secure 24 hour access. Imagine, pot on demand at your nearest 7-11. It was also reported the RCMP is looking at installing machines in their remote detachments (link). City members, of course, will be able to pop by the nearest 7-11. (1882)