Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Over the course of the 37 day Federal election campaign, now mercifully over, there have been some minor incidents involving vandalism to candidates' signs and advertising.

In a few rare cases the motivation may be racism, intolerance, or hate: Those events should be and generally are investigated by the police.

My riding, Ottawa-West/Nepean, is the home of John Baird, the Federal Minister of the Environment. Early on in the campaign now ended, a substantial number of Mr. Baird's road and street signs were vandalized by hooligans. To his credit, Mr. Baird took the High Road. While his campaign acknowledged the acts of vandalism and noted that these matters are illegal under the Elections' Act; Mr. Baird felt that policemen are far too busy with real crime to be called-in to investigate such pettiness. He was right.

In Winnipeg and a number of other cities studies are underway, by-laws pending, over roadside memorials...dangerous eyesores or tender reminders?

Over the weekend the Canadian Press reported that internet discussion boards in several communities are..."abuzz with debates about whether it's appropriate to put candles, crosses and flowers by the side of the road."

Vaughan, Ontario, north of Toronto, wants an inventory of memorials and wants each to be taken down after a year. Calgary has hired an academic researcher, Richard Tay, to determine how people feal about the roadside shrines and whether they affect driver behaviour. In the Saskatchewan city of Prince Albert, all heck broke loose over the summer when the city proposed taking down memorials 3 months after a person's death....now, Winnipeg wants to place its own limits.

These are silly cases, particularly in some cities (Winnipeg comes to mind), where surely the police have more important matters to tend to than monitor law breakers whose only offence is to grieve for a loved one's untimely death frequently at the hands of a drunken driver. Margaret Miller, the Canadian President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), says the memorials are a designation of..."some place that was important to the family. It just hasn't been forgotten."

The leader of the Calgary study told the Canadian Press that memorials are an increasingly familiar sight on North American roads and everyone seems to have an opinion about them. Of course Richard Tay is right...Now, can't we just move on to really important matters.

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