3 min

Those inconvenient facts

Don’t you just hate it when facts interfere with the spin you’re trying to create? I’m sure that’s how Stephen Harper and the PMO must be feeling today – after all, StatsCan just released the figures that say that crime stats keep dropping, pretty much across the board. Doesn’t that kind of undermine the whole narrative the Conservatives have been trying to sell for the past, well, forever, that our streets are ruled by “guns, gangs and drugs,” and that the only solution is to lock people up and throw away the key?

One would think so, but oh no. Just like those who refuse to let science get in the way of dogma, Harper refuses to let fact get in the way of ideology. Last summer, he told an audience not to let the “ivory tower experts” tell them that their experiences were wrong, but that obviously we were in the grips of a crime rampage. (Well, that last part was a paraphrase, but only barely). And yesterday, the Justice Minister said basically the same thing – damn the statistics, and full speed ahead.

But for as much as Harper and Nicholson consider the “ivory tower experts” to be out of touch (though Harper shouldn’t exactly cast stones there, considering his own economist credentials), the facts don’t lie – their policies don’t work, and the policies that were in place before them continue to work, and continue to be having a positive effect. And for as much as they keep rolling out law-and-order bills, most of them have fallen victim to their own procedural jiggery-pokery and died on the Order Paper due to prorogations or elections, and we should probably be thankful for that – lest our already overcrowded prison populations continue to swell (which I’m not convinced isn’t part of their agenda in order to justify building privatised super-max facilities, but that’s a topic for another day).

But it should serve as a reminder as to the way this government operates in the face of reality – with blinders firmly in place.

Elsewhere, time is running out for the Canadian woman trapped in Kenya before she is deported to Somalia. The government has declared her an impostor, despite the number of testimonials of people who are willing to vouch for her. And she went through the process of getting fingerprints taken to prove her identity, to match them against the prints that were taken when she immigrated to Canada four years ago – only to be told that those prints had been destroyed when her immigration was finalised and the file closed. It should worry one that the government won’t tell us why they consider her to be an impostor, and even if that is the case, then what happened to the woman whose identity she is claiming? Why are they not sounding that alarm?

One of my favourite senators to watch, Céline Hervieux-Payette, has pulled another fantastic stunt. I’ve been a fan of her antics ever since the incident with the Minnesota family. You see, a couple of years ago, this family decided to write to the Canadian Senate to say that even though they loved Canada, they wouldn’t visit us so long as we still killed those poor baby seals. Hervieux-Payette, a staunch defender of the seal hunt, decided to write back and list off the litany of questionable human rights practices that America engages in. In other words, mind your own business.

This time, Hervieux-Payette has written a letter to the people of Mexico – in Spanish – and basically apologised for having a socially regressive minority government that unilaterally decided to slap visa restrictions on Mexican visitors to Canada. She says that she hopes this will be but a blip in our relations, and that the majority of Canadians welcome them. Quite a lot of fun, and one of the reasons I’m a fan.

Our youth are losing touch with the Commonwealth, and don’t understand the value of maintaining it! Err, not terribly unexpected, given that we’re not teaching them about things like history or civics, and that they’re getting all of their cultural and political knowledge from American television. Here’s a thought – why don’t we add that to our curriculum wish list?

And finally, at the International AIDS Society conference in Cape Town, a Canadian researcher’s controversial “treatment as prevention” plan is finally getting attention – which is good. I do, however, take umbrage when he says governments are reluctant because they’ve put so much time and energy into the “condoms and monogamy” approach, that it would be admitting that it failed. Um, considering how much time and energy that religious groups and certain very powerful governments have put into discrediting condoms in order to promote “abstinence” instead, condoms never actually had a chance. Condom education didn’t fail because it didn’t actually happen, and I suspect the reluctance has a lot more to do with the cost of providing AIDS meds to all infected people from the start has more to do with it than being afraid of admitting a program failed when it never really got off the ground in any substantial way.