Thursday, March 22, 2018

Burying Political Correctness

Even the judge who wrote this did just that.
I don't even know if this internet document is authentic--or if the judge is actually a judge--but here goes.  Probably because I agree wholeheartedly.


Brian Giesbrecht
February 16, 2018

A jury’s acquittal of a white man for the killing of an Indigenous man has highlighted some of the deep divisions in this country.
One of those divisions is between people living on reserves, and the farmers and townspeople living in the vicinity of those reserves. The Red Pheasant First Nation, where Colten Boushie lived with his mother, Debbie Baptiste and her family, from the reports I have read, sounds like most of the reserves on the prairies that I am familiar with; communities of chronic unemployment, where welfare dependency and alcohol abuse have become a way of life.

The residents of these communities are often held hostage by corrupt administrations, and can only watch as their young people descend into a destructive lifestyle. And these bored young people have little to do except party, with liquor and drugs as the constant. That heavy drinking and drug taking often leads to violence and other criminal activity that erupts on reserve communities first, and sometimes spills over into adjoining communities, in the form of theft and break and enters. The Red Pheasant First Nation is also typical of these communities, in that it has a long history of corrupt and incompetent administrations.
There are such places near where I live. Not all Indigenous communities. One reserve to the southeast of my farm is noted for its progressive and peaceful lifestyle. However, most of the First Nations communities would more closely resemble the picture painted of the Red Pheasant First Nation. One such community to the northeast of my home is notorious for groups of mainly young people trespassing on private property, and stealing, and destroying property – sometimes brazenly.

Anyone attending a provincial court sitting in a town or city close to such a First Nation community will immediately notice the disproportionate number of Indigenous people charged with criminal offences. This disproportion exists not because police lay too many charges, but because so many offences are being committed by Indigenous people from these lawless places.
The farmers and townspeople living close to these dysfunctional communities, as well as many of the residents of those First Nations, feel trapped and almost under siege. They are afraid, not only for their property, but for the safety of their families, as some of these theft situations have involved violence. Many live in dread of often intoxicated young people invading their property, and committing crimes.
And that is what happened on Gerald Stanley’s farm the day Colten Boushie died.
The five people clearly entered his property intending to steal a vehicle. The suggestion that these young people were only seeking help to fix a flat tire – endlessly repeated on CBC, even after it had definitively proven to be false – was an obvious lie.
The group had attempted to steal a vehicle from a nearby farm, smashing the window of the vehicle with a rifle they had with them in a botched theft attempt. (The neighbor, Mrs. Fouhy, testified at the trial. She had clearly been traumatized by the incident.) The rifle – damaged, but loaded and operational – was with the five when they trespassed on the Stanley property, with theft on their minds. In fact, it was found beside the body of Colten Boushie in the SUV he had been driving.
As soon as they entered onto the property, one of the group jumped into a truck that Stanley had been fixing for one of his neighbours. He exited that truck and got onto one of Stanley’s ATVs and attempted to start it. Meanwhile Stanley’s son, Sheldon, smashed the windshield of the 2003 Ford Escape Boushie was almost certainly driving, in an attempt to stop the brazen theft that was in progress. The driver of the Escape, promptly smashed it into a vehicle that belonged to Stanley’s wife.

The situation was clearly out of control and made even more dangerous by the fact that the group had been drinking heavily. One of the five testified that he had consumed thirty shots of liquor that day. Colten Boushie’s blood alcohol was over .3. That is very high; four times the legal driving limit. It was in that alcohol-fueled, and highly volatile atmosphere that Boushie was killed.
Anyone in the immediate vicinity of that chaos could just as easily have been killed that day.

And we are only now finding out disturbing details about the criminal records of members of this group.
So, a question we should ask ourselves is: How would any of us behave in a life and death situation like this?
The experts tell us that in unpredictable life and death situations, our primitive brains take over. There is an adrenaline rush, and it is fight or flight. Our basic instincts kick into gear and we are solely focused on saving our lives, and the lives of our kin..
We see this phenomenon clearly in police high speed chase situations, where a police officer’s life has been in jeopardy.. Often the officer is accused of over reacting when he forcefully subdues the offender. What is not as well understood is that the officer is still in a primitive response mode when this occurs. His heart is racing, the adrenaline is coursing through his brain, and he has not yet reverted to his calmer, more rational self.

That is the mode the Stanley family would have been in when their peace was violently shattered that day. They found themselves in a highly unpredictable, fast- moving, and terrifying situation. Anything can happen in such circumstances – and the results are all too often tragic.
How would we react if we were forced into such a situation?  Hopefully, we will never have to find out.

And for farmers like Gerald Stanley, it seems that break-ins and theft from residents for the Red Pheasant First Nation were not an uncommon situation. They lived with the daily fear that this could happen to them.

These were the circumstances leading up to the tragic death of Colten Boushie, and the RCMP’s visit to Colten’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, with the sad news of her son’s death.
Violence was not usually involved with the thefts, but it is not uncommon. In fact, twenty years ago another Baptiste – Colin – took part in the murders of two Saskatchewan farmers a very short distance from the Stanley farm. The Court of Appeal dealt with his appeal, and said this:
“(Baptiste and Caldwell) while armed, decided to steal gas from a farm residence. The co-accused, Caldwell, held the two residents of the house (Tetarenko and Kipp) at gunpoint while the respondent searched for other weapons. Before leaving the house the co-accused discharged the rifle killing Kipp. He then shot Tetarenko and the two men left the house, stole fuel, the respondent shot the farm dog, and they left together”.

This case is well known to the farmers in the vicinity of the Red Pheasant First Nation. That is not the comfortable world of  secure neighbourhoods in the city – but it is the world the Stanley family lives in.
What happened at the Stanley farm that day is the rural equivalent of a violent home invasion. The only real difference between a city and a rural home invasion, is that in the country, the next farm might be miles away. – and the police may be hours away. You are alone.

Those are the bare bones of the case the jury heard in much more detail. The trial judge gave a superb charge to the jury. The jury deliberated for about 12 hours, and acquitted Stanley. We don’t know at this time if there will be an appeal.

But, here’s the thing:
No charges have been laid against the group of young people who carried out this farm invasion. This is astounding! It is clear that a whole raft of possible charges – some extremely serious – have been committed, but to date there are no charges at all. What is going on?  A “Get Out of Jail Free” card for home invaders? A new, and very disturbing, racially-based charging policy?
Could it have something to do with the fact that our Prime Minister, and his Justice Minister, have jumped into the fray – not only criticizing the judge and jury, but baldly stating that too many Indigenous people are being taken into the criminal justice system? Even a high profile senator weighed in – claiming that the jury’s verdict represented a “dark day for Canada”. How much influence is their irresponsible tweeting having on the administration of justice in this country? Will police and justice officials hesitate to do their job, as they have so far in this case, by not laying charges? Are the Prime Minister and his misguided Justice Minister telling the police that there are to be two distinct sets of rules, depending on one’s race? And will we be able to find juries to deal with highly charged cases like this in the future as a result of these thoughtless tweets?
The signs are not good. This is a Prime Minister who seems to be committed to adding to the legal differences between Indigenous people and the mainstream, instead of starting to dismantle this destructive system.
What about the way the media insisted on describing this as a case of young people innocently going onto a farm for help with a flat tire? This was blatantly untrue. This was a case of intoxicated young criminals, armed with a loaded weapon, brazenly entering the property to steal, and daring the shocked property owners to do anything about it. This was in broad daylight. The Stanleys were in plain view, but the thieves did not care. It was an “in your face” home invasion. Yet the CBC and other mainstream papers insisted on repeating the lie that this was a case of a young man who died while trying to get a tire fixed.

There is a world of difference between the death of a criminal that occurs during a home invasion, and the death of an innocent person.
No one deserves to die, but the death of a criminal that occurs during the course of a dangerous criminal offence is much more understandable.
Why did the CBC and other media mislead the public in this way?
How much did their misinformation stoke the flames of racial division?

And our senior federal politicians and mainstream media are not the only people acting irresponsibly in this case. What about the families and community leaders on the Red Pheasant First Nation? What are they doing to control their young people, or to show a proper example? Why are they not taking responsibility, by acting responsibly themselves? Corrupt leadership makes it next to impossible for the decent families in the community to succeed, and only aggravates the inherent dysfunctionality of the reserve system. Why are the chiefs’ organizations not dealing honestly with this corruption, instead of exploiting the issue to further their financial agenda?

Finally, how is it that the federal government continues to fund such a corrupt and broken system, while turning a blind eye to the legitimate safety concerns of law ordinary citizens, and leaving the law-abiding residents of the Red Pheasant First Nation to the tender mercies of their corrupt leaders?
I suppose that the answers to these questions are – as the poet says – “ blowing in the wind”.
But it took an Indigenous politician to do the right thing in this unfortunate case.
Winnipeg MP Robert Falcoln Oullette – recognizing the devastation that had been experienced by both the Boushie-Baptiste  family, and the Stanley family, reached out to both of them. Although he later back tracked a bit, after facing vicious criticism from strident chiefs with an agenda, his initial reaction was the right one.
In fact, Falcon Oullette did what should have been done by the Prime Minister.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and Senior Fellow with Frontier Centre for PublicPolicy"


Rings a bell, doesn't it?


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