Newsfirst columnist Robert Vairo’s ‘That’s What I’m Thinking’

Robert Vairo

How Did Things Ever Get So Far?

“How did things ever get so far. I don’t know” The line is from the scene in the Godfather
where Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) seeks peace from the warring heads of the five
families. How DID we get so far, so fast? What is happening? An unprepared world for an
incurable Covid-19, a world economic shutdown, governments printing trillions of dollars
with no plan on how to resolve this massive debt, police brutality, protests, riots, killings.
You and I have never witnessed our world in such a turbulent state. Will all this be resolved?
I do not have an answer.

It’s business as usual for Elon Musk who continues to make Teslas and rocket ships that
send humanity into space. It’s business as usual for swindlers, identity thieves and organized
crime seizing another opportunity to milk an untold amount from Canada’s billions handed
out in CERB. It’s business as usual for the stock market that has in large part recovered its
losses of the last three months. It’s business nowhere near as usual for businesses. It will
take years to make up the eight million who depend on CERB, delayed in part by generous
Ottawa programs that often make it worth staying home rather than returning to work.

It is not business as usual for medical front liners still fighting the battle in hospitals and LTCH. It’s
not business as usual as we practice social distancing, don masks, shop in line or on line. It
is not business as ususal on our streets and cities. From Montreal to Whitehorse, Seattle to
Atlanta, to London, Paris, Hong Kong… shootings and killings continue. Pacifist anti racism
protests ruined by anarchists and so called Antifa bent on violence and destruction. And in
Canada police are still abusing their power after the George Floyd tragic arrest for allegedly
using a counterfeit bill.

I doubt the best of authors has ever written, or could write this kind of script. I’m even in
disbelief as I write this stuff.

Solutions. “Defund police departments”. What a dumb founded idiotic idea. Over the
decades police departments have been asked to perform more duties than they can handle,
and not trained to do them. Police are sworn to defend and protect people. They enforce
laws, prevent crimes, respond to emergencies, and provide support services. They serve
us very well. But the wise use of discretion by some RCMP, local, provincial police, is now
questioned. Why is someone unarmed shot dead running away from an arresting officer?
It’s a needless use of force. Why do police have to respond alone to ‘a mental wellness call’?
Most can’t handle that because they’re not trained for it. Allocate some of that police budget
to specialized social workers who can work in tandem with police when called to a scene
involving the mentally sick and others more vulnerable to society. Yes, wear body cameras,
and leave them on. Yes, allow for budgets to rethink and reform police response methods
and accountability.

But above all, stop beating and stop killing unarmed people. Even if they
have a knife, use your brains and bravery instilled at the Police Academy and apply tactics
to disarm. But not a gun. A threat should not mean the use of deadly force. Use of a police
firearm is an absolute last resort. Now it’s easy for me to write about this in my calm and quiet
environment, but in the heat of the moment, when the adrenalin is rushing, hyperventilating,
and events happen with lightning speed, judgement is blurred. I understand that. As a radio/
TV reporter, I have been there. That’s why being properly trained is vital. NY Gov Cuomo
has the right idea with new police accountability legislation. Token if not political gestures
taken by Montreal, Quebec and Toronto.

I like the idea of a civilian committee overseeing a
police officer’s questionable conduct. Some cities and provinces have one but their decisions
are not binding, and no ordinary folks, no black or indigenous sit on them. Police should
be there too. Not the high ranking officers, but the cop in the cruiser, front line to crime.
Jurists should have a seat, like a retired judge, lawyer. A social and medical worker who can
articulate mental state and condition of suspect or subject. Let’s make it a small committee
to avoid discussion log jams. Render a quick, binding decision. It may all sound radical, but
we have never lived through times like the present. We require radically creative ideas. I’m
not saying this is the answer. But as proud Canadians, we absolutely need to think this out
and act now to stop this insanity. That’s what I’m thinking.