Oops, our "hang-'em-high, toss-'em-in-the-hoosegow" Premier has done it again. Yet another headline-grabbing announcement on dealing harshly with riotous ruffians who made mincemeat out of Vancouver's fair reputation the night we lost the Stanley Cup.
And once more, the tough vows by the province's latest version of Judge Matthew Begbie, legendary Hanging Judge of the Cariboo, are about matters completely out of her hands.
The flames of arson had barely cooled when Christy Clark declared that she wanted rioters "to see the inside of a jail cell," never mind that sentencing is up to judges, not the premier.
Later, she expressed "anger and frustration" that no riot charges have yet been laid, never mind that's police business, not hers.
And this week, it was all about opening the courts to TV cameras for the riot trials, never mind that the decision to do so is judicial, not political.
But this isn't about justice. It's about grandstanding.
Indeed, whenever she stands and delivers the outraged goods on them lootin'-tootin', no-good varmints, Ms. Clark can barely restrain a satisfied smile. Take that, John Cummins, she must secretly muse. You want tough on crime, I'll show you tough on crime.
Not that there's anything wrong with allowing cameras in the courtroom, apart from the fact that proceedings are often so dull even your ever-alert correspondent has been known to doze off (sorry, boss).
Still, suddenly singling out these alleged crimes for TV coverage, when murderous, gangland stuff remains off-limits, is a bit much.
Do you permit cameras at all the trials, from those of car torchers down to hapless purloiners of perfume? Do you allow shots of the accused who, after all, are innocent until proven guilty?
Does letting the public "see" what is going on mean reliance on a few, arbitrary news clips from a full day in court? And, when media interest inevitably wanes as trials drag on, do you force cameras to be there?
Meanwhile, we await Ms. Clark's call for the installation of public stocks at Georgia and Granville to further shame those who ran amok that dark, dark night. Heck, we could have all those "real Canucks fans" gather around and chant "[So and so]sucks!" as they do so charmingly at Rogers Arena.
Me, I'm holding out for trial by ordeal. If it was good enough for the Middle Ages …
Family Day opportunism
On a happier note, Ms. Clark is granting us a new holiday in family-friendly February. The news will undoubtedly cheer my late Uncle Ed, who first introduced the idea of a day off in that miserable month, while an NDP MP during the Trudeau minority government of 1972-74. Mind you, his private member's bill, if passed, would have implemented the holiday on the first February that came around, and not wait, as the Premier is doing, until (surprise!) three months before the 2013 election.
My uncle was kind of naive that way. He thought just being a good guy counted. When the Liberals pretended they were against wage and price controls during the 1974 election campaign, honest Ed was trampled by NDP voters rushing to vote Liberal. Shortly after winning a majority, the Libs brought in wage and price controls. Fancy that.
It must be a slow day in the news biz when so many people think that an oddball comment on Twitter by David Schreck – elected once as an NDP MLA 20 years ago – about a smidgen of Christy Clark cleavage showing in the legislature is considered worthy of coverage, so to speak.
Teacher job action
Psst. Quiet message to B.C. teachers. Just between us. Public support for a wage increase – merited as it may be – in these troubled economic times, when so many civil servants have already accepted zero, is likely close to zero as well. And contending that your current job action is actually better for students is not likely to help.
Thanks for the ALR
Lovely to see ageless Richmond Councillor Harold Steves honoured by the Union of B.C. Municipalities for his 41 years of municipal service, always fighting the good fight as he sees it and standing up for heritage.
Less well known is Mr. Steves's key role in creating the province's esteemed, long-standing Agricultural Land Reserve.
After Richmond expropriated a big chunk of his family's dairy farm for apartments, Mr. Steves became concerned that good agricultural land was increasingly being blacktopped in the development-mad 1960s.
He brought the farmland preservation issue to the B.C. NDP, it became party policy, and, not long after flamboyant Dave Barrett became premier in 1972, the ALR was reality.
Every time a plane carries me over the Lower Mainland and I see those vast tracts of farmland below, I think how lucky we are to have had the ALR for all these years. Thank you, Harold.