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FILDEBRANDT: Let’s just see what happens if we “defund the police”

By “defund”, they do not mean defund, at least in any English sense of the word.

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Backlash to the murder of George Floyd started off promisingly. It was a moment to mourn the passing of an innocent man, and to take stock of the militarization of police forces in the United States, Canada, and beyond. It didn’t take long however for the discussion to move from the need for major police reform, to being highjacked by the radical left into an agenda of race and bizarre social experimentation.

The opportunity was too good to turn up for liberals and their more radical partners to lecture people about how most of them were racists, and needed to bend to their latest trendy proposals.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kneeling at a Black Lives Mater demonstration

Sometimes police kill people. Sometimes necessarily, sometimes unnecessarily. Sometimes the officer and victim are of different races. Sometimes not. Sometimes police brutality is influenced by race, sometimes it isn’t.

None of this nuance matters to those taking advantage of this man’s murder to push a different agenda though. As peaceful protests descended in many cases into riots and looting, the message transformed from reasonable (and sometimes thoughtful) proposals for reform and accountability, into a bizarre call to “defund the police”.

The libertarians among us were intrigued at first. There is little that government does that people (individually or corporately) can’t do better. The anarcho-capitalist branch of the libertarian movement has long called for doing away with the state-monopoly on violence in favour of private police forces, contracted by paying citizens, or on a fee-for-service basis. It’s a bit pie-in-the-sky, but is essentially, “defunding the police”.

Police Officer Derek Chauvin uses a controversial knee-hold on George Floyd, leading to his death

Westerners wishing to push back against Ottawa’s overreach into the provinces are also keen to do away with the RCMP, replacing it with provincial police forces. This is not “defunding” in any sense, but “reallocating funding” from a force controlled by the federal government, to smaller forces controlled by provincial governments.

“Defunding” the police seems a strange position for socialists to hold however. The very existence of the modern welfare state relies upon the implicit use of force to collect taxes to support it. Canadians who do not pay their taxes, promptly receive a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) informing them that they are in arrears, and that a penalty has been assessed. If the deviant non-taxpayers still refuse to budge, they face up to two years in prison.

And many taxpayers have moral grounds to be a conscientious tax objector. Taxes fund wars, and yes, police. Taxes on the more productive are redistributed to the less productive, which some may view as theft. Taxes paid by Westerners are shipped eastward, often to prop up hostile governments in other provinces.

US Democratic Party Congressional Leadership kneeling, wearing Ghanan Kente cloth

Without police to show up at the door, it’s impossible to force people to pay taxes, and it’s a good bet that many a taxpayer do not feel that they get good value for their money. Without police to enforce tax collection, many would decide that they would rather get an effective 40 per cent raise on their paycheque.

Without the police, who would the federal government send to kick in the doors of gun owners and seize otherwise legal firearms?

“Defund the police” fits better with hardcore libertarians wanting to be left alone, than with socialists demanding more state power.

Prime Minister Trudeau announcing his party’s plan to ban new categories of firearms.

But when we scratch the surface of the new “defund the police” crowd however, it doesn’t take long to discover that they mean no such thing. By “defund”, they do not mean defund, at least in any English sense of the word.

When pressed, “Defund the police” advocates say that they still wish there to be an organization with a state monopoly on violence to enforce the law. It would just be called something else, and accountable to the people which it serves.

Unraveling the onion of ideological language, it sounds a lot like a typical municipal police force, with extra funding to deal with addictions and mental health.

University of Toronto-Mississauga sociology professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, gives “defunding” an interesting new definition.

“[It’s] a reallocation or a reassignment of certain tasks and functions that we recognize that the police aren’t performing very well, that there are negative outcomes to their involvement in those activities such as increased risk for the use of violence and potential for criminalization.

“A large part of the problem is for individuals who are suffering mental health crises, and for those around them, the police are often the quickest point of contact or seemingly the most sensible resource to call.”

To those who follow the Webster’s English dictionary’s definition of “defund” (“to withdraw funding from”), this is a perplexing argument.

When I say, “defund the CBC”, I mean “defund the CBC”. As in, “withdraw funding from the CBC”. Not reorganize the CBC with new management, departments, and functions. Not decentralize the CBC with elected local newsroom managers. I mean, “defund the CBC”.

“Sell the CBC” signs from the Libertarian Party, outside of the Calgary CBC headquarters

Defund is a wonderful word, with a wonderful definition. Like many words in the English language, post-modernists are attempting to redefine it to mean something else entirely.

Minneapolis’s city council has voted to “defund” its police department. We’ll get to watch – hopefully from a safe distance – how well that works out for them. Liberal Minnesota isn’t much of a Second Amendment state, and so it’s a good bet that if they truly did “defund” their police department, Minneapolis’s streets would be dominated by gang lords with illegal guns.

In the ANTIFA hotbed of Seattle, police vacated the Capital Hill neighbourhood, after which the terrorist organization seized six blocks and declared it independent of the United States, under the name “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone”. A sort of far-left Confederacy, or American Paris Commune if you will.

A banner declaring the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone

As such communes do, they almost immediately ran out of communal food, and pleaded with the City of Seattle for “Vegan meat and soy.” Soy armies don’t march on empty stomachs.

It didn’t take long for organizer/rapper Raz Simone to establish himself as a kind of warlord, imposing his will at the point of a gun. Whatever uniform they wear, whatever title they call themselves by, the man with the gun is the police.

Camden, New Jersey, “disbanded” its police department seven years ago. The department fired 250 officers, and ended up hiring 411 replacements, in addition to another 120 “civilian clerks”. Within its first year of operations, excessive force complaints were more numerous than any other in the state.

Of course, Camden didn’t actually “defund” its police. It’s slapped a new coat of paint on it, and added to its payroll under a new name. Areas like the “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone” may have more literally “defunded” the police, but have replaced it with a gangland warlord. It’s unlikely that it will survive as long as its Paris Commune predecessor did.

But none of the half-baked, language-bending proposals take away from the fact that there are real problems in policing. Most police officers are good men and women, and are responsible with the use of force. But like any job that comes with authority – from the police, to the military, to nightclub bouncers – it will attract schoolyard bullies wishing to flex their muscles with the sanction of government. There is no cure-all answer to this, but there are several practical measures that can be taken.

Lethbridge Police assault a woman in a Storm Trooper costume

Local police forces do not require military armoured assault vehicles, which to the uninitiated, look like tanks. Riot police in far too many cases in the United States have used excessive force against peaceful protestors. Even in much less serious circumstances, police use excessive force far too casually, as they did in beating up a Star Wars Storm Trooper in Lethbridge, Alberta just a month ago. Public awareness of and accountability for these cases – and of George Floyd – came from civilian cellphone cameras. It’s long past due that all on-duty police offers in the field should be wearing body-cameras.

The “defund the police” activists mean no such thing. They are proposing a renamed police force. And the ANTIFA terrorists are up backing warlords to do the policing for them. No matter what we call them, the man with the gun, is the police. So long as there are police, there will be abuse. The practical response is to demilitarize the police, and impose real consequences when they cross the line.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard and President of Wildrose Media Corp. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

Opinion

LETTER: Will Nenshi mandate masks?

A reader says that Nenshi should stop threatening Calgarians that do not wear masks.

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The word on the street is that the mayor of Calgary is going to institute a face-mask law for Calgarians in the next two weeks, based on the fact that not enough of them are complying to face mask recommendations. 

On July 8th, Nenshi told CTV News,  “Our level of mask wearing in Calgary, in stores and in public transit in particular, is way too low, and I’ve been pushing saying, ‘we gotta do it’ and people aren’t doing it.” Nenshi’s reason for implementing a face mask mandate is not because the death toll in Calgary is thru the roof; he has not even quoted scientific, medical data indicating if masks can contain the spread of a virus. Instead, he states that there are too few people wearing them, therefore we must force them to. Where’s the rationale in that? And why wait for two weeks before instating this mandate?  

If Nenshi and his gang believe that masks save lives, why wait? Why let more Calagarians die in the interim?  To me, his warning that he will issue face masks if Calgarians don’t cooperate sounds more like a threat from an autocratic, “too-big-for-his-britches” politician than a plea from a good-hearted, reasonable, genuinely concerned leader.  

Katrina Kitchen
Cochrane, Alberta

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Opinion

NAVARRO-GÉNIE: The University of Calgary’s “systemic racism” admission is virtue-signalling at its worst

Navarro-Génie writes about the University of Calgary’s self-flagellating virtue signalling.

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The University of Calgary (UC) has admitted to being a systemically racist institution against blacks, indigenous people and other people of colour. The revelation by its Senior Leaders University Team has hardly received any attention. The shocking admission was made on June 24, which coincidentally is the unofficial discovery of this country, when John Cabot landed in Newfoundland in 1497. 

Only three weeks earlier on June 1, the University tweeted a statement denouncing racism and offering support “in these difficult times.” It was retweeted 168 times and received 559 likes (July 14).

Spearheaded in the Department of Psychology, a group from the academic grievance industry reacted to the tweet a week later, charging the university with racism in an “Open Letter”. It is an adapted form letter circulated on other Canadian campuses.

The open letter initially acknowledges efforts at the UC to create an environment of inclusion, and welcomes the new “equity, diversity and inclusion” Komissar this coming August. But it’s not enough. The open letter claims that the UC is systemically racist and has “longstanding, underlying and systemic racism” problems. 

Claiming something does not make it so, however. A skeptical approach to these claims is necessary because the letter indiscriminately casts dispersions of racism on an entire community of scholars and workers. Equally important, a minimum standard of evidence is required in any academic setting. 

The letter says the UC is “the home of racist…sentiment.” If per chance it is, presenting evidence renders the greater service to alumni and donors, to this city and province. 

Alas, beside conjecture, the freest form of association and a cartoonish intellectual attitude, the letter presented no case of systemic racism on the university’s campuses. None. There was racism in “Alberta in the early 20th century,” it reads. There surely was, but does it link to the UC today? “Researchers have shown…racism within schools is among the main reasons for the academic failure of Black students,” they say, without establishing relevance to the UC from school research.  

In a blanket smear, the letter claims that “Students, teachers and administrative staff” can be racist. But saying that there may be racist people on campus doesn’t demonstrate that it is institutional? 

In all, not one example of a person subjected to such reprobate institutional behaviour at UC is offered. The letter even fails to summon the intellectual entrepreneurship to demonstrate how minorities might be underrepresented on campus. 

Similarly, the letter does not define “systemic racism.” This absence of a clear standard illustrates the failure of social justice warrior and the grievance-studies sub-cultures in universities more vividly than rhetoric could. Strong argument based on carefully marshalled evidence has always been a hallmark of scholarly excellence.

In the absence of any evidence, the signatories leapt to the undemonstrated conclusion that “there is need to address longstanding, underlying and systemic racism in our own university.” 

Judging by what follows the racism charges, the letter’s signatories want the UC to become a factory of social justice activists “equipped to advocate.” The adapted document offers a litany of requests to correct undemonstrated problems, including a condemnation of police brutality, “more faculty and staff of colour,” and less rigor in admissions. 

The requests betray an ideological desire to transform the university into a political tool. They want to radicalise the teaching and research, in the name of “protect[ing] the public from structural and research racism, bias and discrimination.” They want “permanently [to] abolish the unsafe practices currently being used to educate community leaders and researchers” without even showing anecdotal evidence of abuse. 

Short of saying the current academic offerings promote racism, they want “programming and curricula…to provide in-depth instruction [not education] on structural racism, oppression and marginalisation, and decolonisation…to provide people with the tools to combat racism.” 

The most radical indoctrinating request wants race at the center of all things and “adopt identity-conscious policies and practices.” Put differently, the UC should become the training ground for a new race-conscious activist who, in radical opposition to the accomplishments of the last 60 years, will judge people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

In response, the Senior Leadership University Team admits that the institution has a “crisis of systemic racism.” The response never says whether the university may be a racist emporium for its hiring practices, for failing non-white students or because qualified minority students are being denied entry into programs or the right to graduate? Albertans need substantive answers.

Meaningless politically-correct self-flagellation is one thing. But when the top thee UC administrators openly admit systemic racist practices, they also stain Calgary and this province. 

Marco Navarro-Génie is a Columnist for the Western Standard, President of the Haultain Research Institute, and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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Opinion

JAY HILL: Lend Wexit your vote

Guest columnist Jay Hill writers about the need for independence, and taking a chance on Wexit.

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Ask any Westerner and they can likely recite from memory a long list of grievances of how Central Canada has misunderstood and mistreated the West. And continues to do so. Some are historical dating back decades, some much more recent.

Many folks – like myself – have reached the breaking point.  The realization that no matter who we elect to govern us, nothing much will change in this regard.

‘The system’ is rigged against us and we must break the cycle that sees all federal governments -regardless of party – focus on appeasing voters in Central Canada to the detriment of the West.

So, we all know why we’re frustrated and even angry, but what is it that convinces some of us there can be a brighter future that Central Canada continues to deny us?

I believe it is because it is not only logical, but it’s the belief we can do, and be, so much better.  And it is deep within each of us. New immigrants have come here to the West for decades, from lands around the globe, regardless of their race, creed or gender identity.  They’ve been made welcome and with those who preceded them, have worked hard to build a future for themselves and their families. Not because there was a guarantee life would be better here, but because they dreamed of a better life and never gave up on working hard to ensure it.

I believe that dream is still very much alive and well in the hearts of each of us here in the West. It is part of what makes us distinct, even unique, from the majority in Central and Eastern Canada. We are different. It is time to reject the status quo, unconditional federalism that has shackled our economy and forced unfair laws upon us. 

Even with all the logical, common sense arguments for breaking free of this abusive relationship with the East, are you still reluctant to “hitch your wagon (reputation) to our team?” “What if it’s taken over by a bunch of ya-hoos and self destructs like so many independence movements before,” you may well ask. Believe me, the eight of us on the current Wexit Board share your concern, but that will not deter us from working as hard as we can to ensure that fate does not befall Wexit.

If seeking independence from the ROC (Rest of Canada) is still a bridge too far for you, then I respectfully ask that you consider lending us your vote… just once. Take a chance for just one election.  Let’s see what can happen if we send some MPs to Ottawa that will only vote for legislation if it’s good for the West.

Not MPs who must constantly weigh their support, or opposition, based upon whether it may enhance or harm their party’s chances in Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa.

We cannot, must not, keep repeating what we’ve done in the past expecting a different result… that’s the definition of insanity. Just imagine if the early Reform MPs of 1993 – myself included – had been demanding “The West Wants Out” rather than “In”, how much further we would have progressed towards independence over the past twenty-seven years.  

I believe in the succeed against all odds, hard working, entrepreneurial pioneer culture that built the West. Pioneers carved out their futures, and ours, with their bare hands. Like others, I worked alongside my father and brothers clearing and breaking raw land to become a field of golden wheat. That’s right, my generation… not people 400 years ago. Westerners know first hand how to overcome adversity, we’re just tired of trying to overcome it from our own federal governments and so many folks east of Manitoba.

If this describes some of your own thoughts and feelings please consider joining us in working for the brighter future we all know is possible.  

Jay Hill is the Interim Leader of the Wexit Canada Party

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