Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Disgrace Isn't Losing Game Seven, Part 2

I had an interesting discussion with my buddies last night over Mexican fare and a couple of cold ones at the very unique Twin Butte General Store.  Universally disgusted by the riot in Vancouver after game seven on Wednesday last, and in complete agreement that every identifiable vandal must have the book thrown at them (no slaps on the wrist as in Toronto's G8 debacle), we nonetheless expressed differing views on the culpability of the Vancouver authorities.  My assertion that the City Fathers should have been expecting trouble given that city's riot-blighted past - and that as a result heads should roll (the police chief, specifically, said I) - was deemed too simplistic by some.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge supporter of the constabulary in this country (no one else I know gets up every morning and puts on a bullet-proof vest to go to work), and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt every time.  And, yes, it may be that some blame lies with whoever the police chief gets his orders from.  (How's that for back-pedaling like a guy headed over a cliff?)  But someone screwed up big-time in their assessment of such a massive crowd's propensity for violence.  We don't yet know the total cost of this riot to Vancouver in physical damage, emergency care, higher insurance rates, and immediate commerce lost - let alone the damage to tourism and business down the road - but I suspect the short-term damage will easily approach $100 million and the long-term tally to be much more.  (Unless, of course, the anarchist tourist market is what you're after.)  Heightened visible security could have curtailed the general spread of violence on Wednesday in my estimation, even if it couldn't have prevented the few score hardcore anarchists bent on their evil instigations.  In other words, a realistic cost-benefit analysis would, I'm sure, come down on the side of spending a few million more on security just in case.  In similar U.K. situations rubber bullets are deployed with restraint (thank you, J.R., for pointing out that even rubber can kill), and in the U.S. I suspect it would be real bullets flying, while in most of the rest of the world ... well, you know, life is cheap.  A few rubber bullets early on might have stemmed the tide on Wednesday in my view.  We also differed last night on whether all Canadians should feel shamed by this particular episode, or just Vancouverites.  My brother in B.C. who lives in the East Kootenays says he is unashamed (and I agree), yet some of last night's bistro denizens feel that all of Canada should bear this cross.  Not so.  Somebody in Vancouver's halls of power screwed up, plain and simple.  We out here bear no responsibility and therefore no shame.  By the way, I mentioned that we were in complete agreement that every identifiable vandal must have the book thrown at them, didn't I?  And too, we all agreed with the scathing assessment of the Game Seven riot by the urbane and usually restrained Rex Murphy.  Couldn't have said it better myself.