A good guy who deserves better than he’s getting

Arieh Perecowicz has fourty-four years experience driving taxi in Montreal.  Last Sunday he told me on air that by estimate he's chauffeured more than half a million customers in those four plus decades.  Not once a complaint.  At least not by a customer.  Enter the City of Montreal taxi authorities to change that reality.

Arieh Perecowicz fits the mold of honourable citizen.  Hard working (15 hours a day driving his taxi), a devoted family man who pays his taxes, loves his country, respects Canada's military and displays his religious commitment for all to see. 

On display on the dashboard of Arieh Perecowicz' taxi are a small Canadian flag, a poppy, Jewish religious icons and photographs of his family.  Not one customer has commented negatively about Arieh's display.  The Bureau du taxi though decided this 65 year old is in violation of a section of the taxi bylaw declaring there can be no objects or inscriptions in taxis not "required for the taxi to be in service."

The Bureau watchdogs began handing out fines. Fines now reaching $2000 which Arieh intends to fight in court on April 21. The deck will be stacked. Mr. Perecowicz will face two crown prosecutors and a crown expert witness.  The full weight of bureaucracy.

Let's call this for what it is and isn't.  It's not about the icon and the family photos.  It may partly be about the flag and poppy, and it can't be ignored that in 2006 Arieh Perecowicz commented publicly that Montreal's Bureau du taxi wasn't living up to its mandate to deal with unlicenced cabs. 

I see Montreal taxis with religious icons, mostly crucifixes and rosary beads hanging from their rearview mirrors.  Air fresheners are prominent as well.  Have any driver-owners of these cabs been issued fines for their violation of the "not required for the taxi to be in service" regulation?   Mr. Perecowicz hasn't been able to find one.  And he's asked around.

Arieh Perecowicz can't afford to pay the $2000 in fines.  He believes he can't afford not to.  It's a matter of principle.

Hats off to Arieh.  How many of us would, facing a similar situation, just moan, groan and roll over.

The ‘rights’ of Clifford Olson

It is a deplorable indictment of the Canadian justice system (which in this and other instances appears to be neither justice, nor system) that a serial killer of Canadian children is afforded rights of any kind beyond three basic meals a day, as needed health care and a prison cell. 

If final adjudication of Olson's status were mine to determine, Clifford Olson would long ago have felt a noose placed around his neck and a trap door giving way.

I'll be assessed as a neandethal.  Be that as it may.  I have no interest in Olson's well being and am truly sorry correctional authorities and our justice system didn't grant his wish to be placed into a general prison population, affording him the same chance at survival he provided his innocent victims.

Instead, this inhuman thug not only for now at least continues to be in receipt of government old age and guaranteed income supplement cheques, but has also been free to participate in extra curricular activites like an international poetry contest where he was declared winner.  That is until I informed contest organizers of the identity of their celebrated man of letters.

Olson continues to have the right to vote and until the courts declared him a vexatious litigant would initiate legal action against anyone he deemed to have slighted him.  Gary and Sharon Rosenfeldt were advised by their lawer to register their home in the name of their surviving daughter because Olson might begin legal proceedings against the parents of a child he'd murdered.  Why?  Because, as Gary explained on air, Olson objected to the manner in which the Rosenfeldt's characterized him.

Sometimes privileges afforded Clifford Olson roamed toward the maliciously goofy.  Gary and Sharon's daughter applied for a university correspondence course and was turned away. Meanwhile Olson, who applied simultaneously to the same institution of higher learning was accepted.

Consider that during one of his sundry complaints, appeals and demands that Olson was visited at his Saskatchewan prison by a federal judge and requisite entourage in order for the complaint to be dealt with.  Olson is judged too dangerous to leave his cell for more than one hour of daily exercise.

Proving the point that you can't outthink those who aren't thinking, Olson is nevertheless granted under section 745 of the Canadian criminal code an early parole opportunity hearing every two years.  It becomes even more morbidly banal when it's revealed Olson was flown by government jet from Saskatchewan to Vancouver in order to personally attend such a hearing.

Meanwhile, as Sharon Rosenfeldt reminded on air yesterday, she and Gary were living in Ottawa at the time of Olson's Vancouver section 745 hearing and requested federal financial assistance to make their way to British Columbia.  The Chretien government denied that request.

How much does a section 745 hearing cost taxpayers?  I've heard estimates as high as $1 million.

As I've pointed out many times on air, in 1971 the solicitor general for Canada in Pierre Trudeau's government informed parliament that from that day forward the focus of dealing with Canada's criminally convicted would be on the rehabilitation of the individual and not on the protection of society.  And so Olson's list of rehabilitation initiatives and rights include that he votes, receives excellent health care, including dental care and without the lengthy hospital ER waits the law abiding Canadian encounters.

The annual cost of housing and caring for Clifford Olson is somewhere north of $110,000.  By now we're approaching $3 million in total expenditure to address the defined needs of this mass murderer. Distributing that $3 million among Canadian World War II veterans or their surviving spouses would have been far more honourable.

That the Harper government will take steps to put an end to Olson and his ilk receiving federal pension funds is only one step out of the muck. The focus of Canada's parliament must return to the protection of society.

Clifford Olson has earned no privilege.  What he has earned is either the death penalty, or inclusion into the general population of a maximum security Canadian prison population.  

The inmates committee at Joyceville prison near Kingston, Ontario, made it very clear during a broadcast from that facility what Olson's welcome would consist of. 

Freedom of Speech and Ann Coulter

 The questions simply are these. Do we have, do we value, do we support freedom of expression in Canada?

Constitutionally freedom of expression is enshrined. Which brings me to Ann Coulter.

The outrage and invective delivered toward this conservative Christian U.S. pundit's university speaking engagements in Canada are completely disproportionate to the importance
of her visit.

Ann Coulter is a controversial person. She has said things which offend, like 72 hours after 9/11 suggesting "we know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering
and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." That no doubt offended Muslims and in fact non-Muslims who have the right by way of freedom of speech to express their outrage. 

I might remind that much was said in anger as the dust was settling in New York seventy two hours after the last of the commercial jetliners and their passengers were sacrificed
in that brutal assault which felled the World Trade Center towers and ultimately sent more than three thousand innocents to their deaths on September 11, 2001. 

I am not excusing what Ann Coulter said then, prior to 9/11, or recently. I don't need to. She used only words and we are free to interpret and assess those words. We are
free to debate Ms. Coulter's words if we so choose. And that is the point isn't it?

Beginning with the uncalled for email from the provost of the University of Ottawa and ending with the cancellation of Ann Coulter's speech to students who chose to attend, listen and determine for themselves the value or lack
of same of Coulter's presentation, we witnessed a series of events which neither distinguished the university, nor Canada to many observing from outside our borders.

I'll have more to say about this issue and open the phone lines for your words on Saturday's Roy Green Show on the Corus radio network. Talk radio, where freedom of speech is practiced daily. Or did someone miss
that point?