I think Dawson City stands apart from other towns in many respects. In particular, it pretty much offers instantaneous acceptance of newcomers. Maybe because of our transient nature and willingness to survive this harsh climate nurtures a pack mentality rather than the exclusion found in other small towns in Canada where status as a “true” local comes only after a generation or two.
Some people say that Dawson radiates an air of excitement with an ever churning undercurrent of unfulfilled potential waiting for a catalyst. Apparently a thrown gauntlet lies before us at all times. We can choose to pick it up or walk around it. Importantly, the challenge extends to everyone. As a Cheechako or a Sourdough you will be judged on the quality of your contribution to the community and not how long you’ve lived here.
Dawson’s diversity includes a number of narrow minded, self serving people. I won’t go as far as to say this should be celebrated any more than we would celebrate racist opinions but in the spirit of Noam Chomsky we should defend people’s right to express even bigoted points of view as much as our right to rebuke them.
And rebuke I will.
Recently a member of the community wrote to the local paper saying how tired she was of newcomers coming to Dawson trying to change things and that they should go back to where they came from.
This reminds me of language used by racists telling Muslims or Sikhs to go back to where they came from or asking blacks to move to the back of the bus during the civil rights era.
Apparently, new Dawson residents have fewer rights compared to her and therefore should keep their heads down or go back to where they came from if they try to change something that she doesn’t agree with.
Bigoted intolerance towards others within our community exists minimally, sprouting up like a smelly fungus once in awhile. Creative criticism tempered with tolerance remains the Dawson standard.
Last week it appeared as if the city wanted to take away our senior’s discount for the water and sewer bill as well as the residency subsidy.
Dawson residents jumped into action by calling the city office, writing emails and letters to councillors asking for an explanation.
On the phone I was told that because a new provisional budget allowed for the removal of subsidies the billing department was waiting for council to formalize the new rate structure by amending the bylaw. In the meantime I and everyone else was required to pay the full water and sewer rate (in my case $3,400!!) and if the bylaw amendment didn’t go through I would be credited back the discount I should have received in the first place!
This “shoot from the hip”, improvised policy was reversed over the weekend when it was recognized that a provisional budget does not trump an existing utility rates bylaw. The change of heart was brought about largely due to some prodding from Community Services who likely pointed out that this was a contradiction of the Yukon Municipal Act.
Ultimately, three councillors held a well attended mid-day meeting to backtrack and restore the “subsidy” in the provisional budget with a warning that the bylaw governing utility rates is still subject to review with the possibility that these discounts might be removed in the future.
This begs the question; what is a subsidy?
A former Senior Financial Officer for the city suggests that the actual yearly cost of delivering water and sewer to a residence is around $1100. After the so called “subsidy” each resident homeowner pays $1125, so exactly what subsidy are we talking about? Rather, the city is making a profit on the backs of rate payers.
The facts seem to reveal that year round homeowners pay cost recovery for the service and those that don’t qualify or are delinquent get surcharged $575 per year for a total of $1700.
As it stands now, if you have a self contained apartment in your house that the city knows about, you will be billed an additional $1700 per year. In my situation I’m caring for my elderly father who occupies our two bedroom in-law suite for which I am charged an extra $1700 for water and sewer in addition to the regular rates. If all “subsidies” were removed, I would have to pay $3400 a year for water and sewer. Does that seem a little excessive to you?
I will say that the term unfair is an understatement, especially when a bed and breakfast in someone’s home often reverts to being an apartment for nine months of the year and is charged only $200 per bedroom in addition to the standard household rates.
In case you are wondering, there are no provisions for an in-law suite regardless of whether rent is collected or not.
Many other inequities exist within the Water and Sewer rate structure.
You might ask, “John, when you were mayor, why didn’t you change it when you had the chance?” My answer is that there were too many other pressing issues that council had to deal with at the time, although we did take a stab at it in committee. Also, I was hesitant about pushing it, thereby being seen as taking advantage of my postion to enhance my own bottom line, contrary to what is expected by the general public fueled by their cynical view of politicians.
At the end of the day, the entire water and sewer bylaw governing definitions and user rates requires serious review within the context of a realistic operating budget and not one that is designed to be a slipper that fits whatever foot suits the council or the budget committee.
It’s been awhile since I’ve complained about the prevailing culture of police violence in Canada and elsewhere. Not to say that it got demoted on my long list of perceived injustices against humanity. On the contrary, this unhappy narrative along with the horrific visuals occupies a good portion of my thoughts while mulling over how best to deal with this abomination.
Since my last outburst, several other videos featuring a cop’s love of violence have surfaced, most notably in Ottawa where a blameless prisoner got beaten by police with her shirt and bra pulled off in public. Homeless people lying on a cell block floor staring up at video monitors while being kicked and maligned by police, not to mention those baton wielding state troopers bludgeoning roadside detainees – a la Rodney King, etc. The movie soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange would have fit this footage perfectly.
Try visiting rcmpwatch.com for a comprehensive listing of misdeeds and related news.
Nor should we overlook Yukon’s Raymond Silverfox’s death while he languished in detention, enduring mockery and disdain as authorities watched him suffocate on his own vomit.
The most recent display of RCMP goonery happened in Kelowna, British Columbia where an arresting constable kicked a citizen in the face while he was kneeling down, complying with an order to lie flat on the ground.
The cop’s boot to the head landed so viciously that the victim lay face down in a pool of trickling blood while another member handcuffed him. The adrenaline infused “shoot first and ask questions later” policy of the RCMP kept the officer from knowing that the individual had a disability along with permission to discharge shotguns for the purpose of scaring geese away at the local golf course – the circumstance which initiated the take-down.
This same “shoot from the hip” approach to enforcement came into play when another RCMP goon squad killed Robert Dzienkanski at the Vancouver airport a few years ago.
Yes, dear reader, like a broken record we have another shameful and reprehensible example of our police harming the very citizens they are trained to protect, in theory.
The police academy curriculum must have gone completely sideways to have graduated members willing to inflict injury on citizens just because they can. The RCMP “Depot” division web site asks the question to prospective recruits, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to train to be an RCMP member?”
One of those training sessions might as well be called; “How to Enjoy the Use of Excessive Force During an Arrest and Get Away With it.”
If people didn’t have video cellphones at the ready, some cops would likely continue to nurture their love of physical contact more than they already do. Although I’m pretty sure that the culture of police violence towards our citizens continues to thrive despite the not so random, hateful cop who gets his fifteen minutes of infamy on You Tube, flushed out like a Norwegian wharf rat for the world to see.
One shudders to think of the many instances of police aggression suffered by citizens unknown to the public that will remain swept under the RCMP public relations carpet.
Nothing would have come of the Dzienkanski murder inquiry had it not been documented by an alert passerby that day.
Only the full weight of video evidence will prod the Queen’s Police into a corner forcing the superintendent to announce an internal investigation into the officer’s behaviour. In other words, the fox will investigate the hen house, as usual.
Seriously, why are we citizens so timidly accepting of this ongoing brutality at the hands of the police? Short of a people’s militia, a Civilian Oversight Committee sounds like a reasonable arms length forum. Will it happen? Probably not. Why? Because they don’t answer to the public, only to the Crown.
Of course to paint every RCMP member with the same sordid brush has the unfortunate appearance of a complete dismissal. Decent, caring cops with a commitment to community, outreach and prevention do exist, I’ve had the opportunity to know some of them.
This most recent example of dysfunctional policing should trigger outrage among normal people backed up by a collective appeal to have the culture of police violence ended and replaced with properly trained RCMP that can carry out arrests without using excessive force.
Our Prime Minister – The Dear Leader Stephen Harper - recently announced Yukon’s new Commissioner. Whitehorse resident Doug Philips will assume the mantle of proxy for the British monarch.
A juicy gig if you can get it. And by the way, you can’t get it, no matter how hard you try.
Frankly, Mr. Phillips’ history in the Yukon finds me searching for substance. So much so that this appointment clearly underscores the ongoing culture of patronage within the ranks of the Yukon elite.
From my perspective, Mr. Phillips’ least regal moment continues to occupy a special place in my memory when as MLA he launched a personal attack in the legislature against a local artist who happened to have just received a major grant. Unless his position has changed, this freshly minted Commissioner appears not to support the cultural fabric of our Territory.
One truth does remain; Mr. Phillips will help continue the cycle of drawing down taxpayer’s money to perpetuate this royal charade.
He replaces outgoing commissioner Geraldine Van Bibber who during her tenure appeared completely preoccupied with the status and perks that come with the position.
Once I attended a dinner where Van Bibber hosted the Lieutenant General of Prince Edward Island. Conversation did not revolve around solving poverty, aids or world conflict, rather the problem of how to elevate the Yukon Commissioner to the same status as Lieutenants General of other jurisdictions dominated the evening’s conversation while gushing and tittering about the magnificence of the official residence in Charlottetown.
Did you know that loyalty and subservience to a foreign monarch continues as a central qualification for Canadian citizenship? I’ve never had to prove my allegiance to her majesty because I’m from Canada, so by default I’ve accepted this condition without really acknowledging it. Although, I did affirm – under duress – my duties to the Monarch and her heirs when I became Mayor of Dawson. I neutralized this unfortunate oath by crossing my fingers behind my back. Ha! One superstition deserves another!
Let us consider the absurdity of subservience to another human being who by privilege and not virtue persists in an artificially elevated position over others.
Let us work to neutralize monarchies wherever they flourish.
Looks like most members in the House of Commons kowtowed to pressure from Canada’s mining lobby to vote down private member’s bill C-300 at third reading Wednesday by a narrow margin of 6 votes.
Thanks to our MP Larry Bagnell for supporting corporate accountability and his vote for third and final reading.
This bill was brought forward by Liberal Member John McKay to make Canadian mining and oil and gas companies in other countries accountable to Canadians on issues of human rights, worker conditions and environmental standards.
This is particularly relevant to Canadians with a conscience because taxpayers may not be comfortable with allowing continued Export Development Canada funding to our companies in third world countries who might engage in labour or human rights violations. Not to mention withdrawal of interest from the Canada Pension Plan and support from Canadian trade commissions and embassies.
Apparently the Canadian mining industry which, by the way, has a huge footprint in the world, is more concerned about investor relations than it is about exploiting foreign labour.
Viewing C-300 as the thin edge of the wedge the mining community came out swinging against this bill, arguing it as unnecessary and flawed saying that they already operate under high scrutiny and accountability provided by the Mining Association of Canada.
In reality, Canadian companies that operate outside Canada are subject to very little legal liability for activities that might violate human rights in other parts of the world.
Bill C-300 was a very modest bill meant to improve human rights and Canada’s reputation among the Canadian extractive companies abroad.
The Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict recently published a study commissioned by the mining industry itself showed that out of 171 high profile incidents of alleged corporate abuse in the mining sector over the last 10 years, Canadian companies were implicated in 57 of them.
Because bill C-300 was defeated there is no obligation for some of these companies to answer to these serious allegations and will go on besmirching our reputation abroad as exploiters of the world’s mineral resources with taxpayer’s money and resources while trampling on the indigenous peoples.
Apparently this isn’t much of a concern for most of our members of parliament.
A woman is arrested as she was waiting outside Toronto's detention centre during the G20 summit Sunday, June 27, 2010 in Toronto. Photo: Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press
Police in Canada do not have the right to ask a pedestrian who is going about their own business on the street to reveal their identification without cause.
Given there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offense has been committed, police do have the right to question a pedestrian, which brings up a grey area as to the length of detainment while being questioned, when does detainment become arrest and can the detainee just walk away at some point?
The next step after detention might be arrest. In either situation the officer has to inform the individual of the reason for their detention or arrest as well as the right to legal counsel when arrested. They have to provide other information to the prisoner as well.
These constitutionally protected rules for Canadians became a vexatious problem for enforcement in anticipation of the G20 in Toronto last summer when strategizing on how to control protesters around the perimeter of the conference encampment.
G20 enforcement found a workaround solution.
The government customized an old statute in Ontario called the Public Works Protection Act that was created around World War II to protect public buildings against enemy attack from within.
3.A guard or peace officer,
(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;
(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and
(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 3.
In other words this statute allowed police officers to conduct a warrant-less search of any pedestrian entering the defined area; a public sidewalk and roadway or bizarrely, any public road in Ontario.
These changes were made without public notice.
It reminds one of other regimes in the world where warrant-less search is the norm.
This act, no matter how temporary, has the smell of an out of proportion boot-heel over our right to freedom of movement as guaranteed under the Charter.
Unfortunately, this and other police tactics such as agent provocateur strategies skew these events as a “See, I told you so” position by the police and government, especially the Prime Minister’s Office when asked to provide justification for heavy handedness and the $1 billion security price tag.
The irony shouldn’t be lost on us that those paying for this “enhanced” security and the G20 photo op were the ones being pummeled in the streets of Toronto. Seems a bit too Orwellian to me.
Let there be no mistake that during a world stage extravaganza like the G20 the last thing enforcement wants is a peaceful and orderly citizen’s protest. A controlled amount of chaos and vandalism during public protest strengthens their position as an indispensable part of the equation. It provides them the theatre in which to display their force and an opportunity to act out their training.
Too bad it comes at the cost of undermining our constitutional rights.
I resist the “Let Them Eat Cake” attitude many of us have when confronted with serious social issues such as police abuse, whether it be verbal or physical.
During our day-to-day existence we clasp our hands together in admiration of a new work of art or some other titillation. We amuse ourselves with numerous diversions while munching on the fruits of “Civilization.”
Often we give “The benefit of the doubt” to those in law enforcement when accused with overstepping their bounds.
We know deep down that the police abuse their authority under certain circumstances. We turn a blind eye by saying, “Well, the guy probably deserved it anyway” or “There’s always a bad apple in the barrel.”
The message that has been perpetuated and ingrained within the psyche of society is that authority shall be feared and if directly challenged you will be punished, either behind the locked door of an interrogation cell or in the courts. In some instances you may lose your life for which there are many precedents involving police custody fatalities, not only in Canada but in other countries as well.
I wouldn’t want to be accused of one-sidedness by not acknowledging the flip-side of the issue which of course is the physical danger that the police often find themselves in and the price that they sometimes pay both in injury and death. Those events are tragic, sad and deserve every bit of sympathy and respect from us.
It does not excuse the bad behaviour that some police officers have displayed when interacting with the people they are supposed to serve and protect.
I’m not taking a position against policing. I’m taking a position against the current culture of policing which for the most part is a world reserved for those excited by violence and power over others along with an isolationist stance which serves to strengthen the brotherhood/sisterhood of the police as distinct and detached from the rest of society.
The police culture of today is a militaristic entity which serves the interests of the governing power and not those who gave government the power first. Yes, they cultivate the appearance of outreach and caring when the optics require it. Ultimately the true culture of policing prevails and is something we should no longer tolerate, especially when it comes to the arena of public protest as illustrated in Toronto during the summer of 2010.
An absurd confrontation as it may be, the following video illustrates this point all too well. A Toronto police officer loses his cool over a trivial matter while looting and mayhem went unchecked in other parts of the city during the G20 conference last summer.
I’ve come to appreciate that one of the highest callings in life is public service. While we all scurry around padding our nests and filling up our cache for the future there are those that go out on a limb to defend the interests of everyone.
Todd Hardy was such a person.
He wasn’t about profiting from the weaknesses of others, he wanted to apply his socialist principles to help the weak get stronger so everyone could navigate the often shark infested waters and allow everyone a chance for a fair shake in life.
Did Todd get a fair shake in life? All I know is the legacy he has left for us. The most recent example being the public smoking legislation that he introduced in the Legislature which became law. Now, fewer Yukoners will become sick from breathing second hand smoke in public places and vehicles.
Todd was true to his ideals. A vision firmly rooted in the notion that people shouldn’t be punished just because they can’t play the game as well as others in society. That woman’s rights be defended in a sometimes misogynistic world. That labour be empowered in the hardcore environment of “private enterprise”. That we celebrate our differences rather than abhor them.
In the Buddhist sense I have no doubt that Todd’s energy will be “recycled” as another positive force in the world of the future.
"Please sir, may I have another bowl of porridge, sir?"
When I consider our town council I see a group of people with their hearts in the right place – apparently. In reality they are emasculated and powerless to provide an adequate level of self determination for our town. Regretfully this was also true to some degree with the previous council, but not as much.
Why isn’t the right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of one’s property defended as provided by the Yukon Human Rights Act?
Since the issue of placer mining in people’s back yards on the dome came up months ago, Town Council has made promises, held special meetings, passed resolutions, wrote letters to various governing bodies and made a great public display of doing something when in fact nothing has been done to mitigate the problem. The placer miner in question is carrying on happily despite an ongoing contravention of city bylaws. Meanwhile, home owners adjacent to the mine are met with a “Gone Fishing” sign pinned to the door at City Hall.
Why is this? It is because we allow other orders of government to tell us what to do.
Again, this issue isn’t about placer mining – our holy grail – it’s about power and Dawson City’s inability to acquire it and to use it.
Another example; During my watch as Mayor our MLA Steve Nordick arrived on our City Hall doorstep and declared that a new hospital will be built on top of the children’s playground in Minto Park. He said the location was etched in stone and no community consultation will be considered regarding the location.
Why doesn’t our public have the right to decide for themselves where new infrastructure will be located? Most people want an enhanced health care facility but not necessarily at the expense of self determination and thoughtful consideration of the big picture as it relates to the whole town and our overall needs.
The point is that it’s all about power. YTG are simply asserting themselves with the standard paternalistic stance similar to “Father Knows Best”.
It was the same deal regarding the paving of Front Street. It’s not about about whether to pave it or not but rather who decides what goes on in our town.
Is it the people that live here as expressed by their elected council or is it some other governing body? Again, our MLA Steve Nordick, smirkingly stated that no permission from Dawson was required in order to proceed because a special order in council sidestepped the meddlesome requirement for a municipal development permit and the scrutiny such an application would trigger.
Some say that municipalities are simply a statutory creature with little or no real power. So why continue with the charade? Dissolve council and re-install a government appointed Trustee. After all, the way it stands now Town Council act like a proxy for the YTG Trustee anyway.
Here’s a government action that will hopefully protect consumers at the pumps. Some gas stations already charge hyper-inflated prices for fuel which are completely out of sync with market prices.
The captive market of unwary tourists in our town continues to be shamelessly gouged while filling up, unaware that there is the added potential for inaccuracies in the volume delivered by the pump itself.
The following is a recent article by CBC on the topic.
Industry Minister Tony Clement confirmed Thursday that the federal government intends to get tough with service stations that rip off customers with inaccurate gas pumps.
“This is simply unacceptable,” he said at a news conference in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
News of the government’s plan emerged Wednesday.
Under the proposed legislation, the federal government will increase inspections of gas pumps and substantially hike fines for service station owners whose pump readings are inaccurate.
“When Canadians pull into a station to gas up, they want to know that what’s on the pump is what’s in the tank,” he said, adding that the new legislation will save motorists millions of dollars each year.
Federal government figures indicate six per cent of pumps fail to accurately measure the volume of fuel flowing into a vehicle’s tank. Two-thirds of the time, a faulty pump benefits the retailer, amounting to $1.50 to $2 per fill-up, according to Clement.
At present, retailers face a $1,000 fine if their pumps fail to accurately measure the flow of fuel. Under the new legislation, repeat offenders could be fined up to $50,000 and minor offences could cost $10,000.
Clement is proposing mandatory inspection of gas pumps at least once a year, which he expects will reduce the number of pumps that read wrong.
Retailers would be told to correct faulty pumps and submit to new inspections. The minister did not say how soon the changes would take effect.
The proposed Fairness at the Pumps Act — which would also cover retail food scales — would authorize private inspectors to set up shop and bill retailers for checking their equipment.
“The proposed act means Canadian consumers will be protected against unfair business practices and can be more confident in everyday transactions that involve measurement,” Clement said.
“As far as the implications, we’ll just have to see how it rolls out,” said John Skowronski, director of environmental affairs with the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, which represents producers and service stations. He said it’s important for service stations to provide accurate pump readings if they want to maintain their customer base.
Retailers already pay for maintenance programs and testing, Skowronski said in an interview with CBC News, and he doesn’t expect the new legislation to have a major impact.