POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MARGARET ATWOOD IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
Thank you, Ms. Atwood, well put.
I always treasured the restraint and decency of police in Canada, having come decades ago from a tough part of a tough American city.
The first time I was shocked out of my warm glow was with the OPP shooting at Ipperwash. That pointless and brutal event much resembled the activity of thugs like the FBI, an agency which has a huge list of abuses and violence and stupidity and literally thousands of victims over its history.
The Toronto example however is turning out even worse than first reports, so the contrast Ms. Atwood offers is even greater.
I heard today on CBC Radio the chilling report of a man with artificial legs who was arrested.
The police apparently ordered him up - he was sitting on the ground - but he couldn't stand without the sticks he uses, and he explained all this to the police.
Then some genuinely bad-apple cop reached down and pulled one of his legs off.
Then the disgusting cop ordered him to hop.
The man was under arrest for more than a day without his appliances.
There was also the ugly case – involving genuine police-state brutality – of the man who was arrested while with our highly regarded journalist, Steve Paikin, who witnessed everything.
Such behavior by police ranks with the vicious criminal morons who killed a distraught Polish man in Vancouver's airport.
I know, thank God, that most police do not behave in this way, but policing always is a job which both attracts dangerous personalities - psychopaths of varying degree - and challenges the self-control of those with bad tempers. People who want some “action” are inevitably drawn to policing, much as they are to the military.
Only a tough standard of review of excesses and the absolute determination to rid ourselves of such thugs in uniform are defenses against them.
I do not think we are in danger of all our police behaving the way American cops have a well-earned reputation for behaving in many small towns and poor parts of cities, Amnesty International having cited many times police brutality in America as common.
But I do think our institutions governing police are weak. Those cops in Vancouver, at the very least, should have been rudely dismissed. So too the cop who pulled off the artificial leg and ordered a man to hop.
Show the thugs the door, and I do not think we have to worry about their sickness taking hold. Doing so would serve as a declaration to the world that Canada is determined to remain a decent society, the kind of society where people peacefully protest the closing of prisoner farms as Ms. Atwood did.