Black and white in a world of grey

Of course we are all upset.

Who wouldn’t be, now that many of life’s issues are conveniently distilled down to a hashtag of one group or another.

People who fail to sign on or carry a plaque right away unwittingly become part of the problem.

A number of years ago, as the war on terror took full flight, we recall a quiet conversation with a higher-up at the OPP. He’s retired now and happily so, but he was a good guy who did a solid job.

Anyway, our informal chat, of which there were many, involved the goings-on at Camp Fallujah. There, suspected terrorists and notorious fighters were brutalized at the hands of their captors. Waterboarding, humiliating acts and activities that ran contrary to the Quran were visited upon the prisoners. The more egregious examples as the News broke had this old cop visibly upset. The guards weren’t doing their jobs, he said, chiefly protecting the prisoners from abuse.

It was a conversation I have thought about many times over the years and it spoke to a career he built on integrity and trust. Everyone has a job to do and a role to play in ensuring a healthy democracy.

That was then, however, and this is now.

The removal of Patrick Brown as leader of the Progressive Conservative Leader in Ontario offers a stunning look into the state of the media and how it is now possible for anonymous allegations to topple someone – without even a criminal charge laid, yet alone proven in court. Regardless of political stripe or gender, this slippery slope does not serve democracy well and people should have the conviction to say so.

This past weekend after a Saskatchewan jury found farmer Gerald Stanley not responsible for the death of Colten Boushie, a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, Ottawa politicians, including the prime minister and justice minister, commented publicly on the outcome of the trial.

The wisdom of that prior to the appeals period expiring is questionable, but more worrisome is the politicization of this specific trial.

This is precisely why the judiciary operates outside the bounds of politics and the system insists on the rule of law as opposed to the flavour of the day.

Canadians have a role to play in ensuring basic fairness for each other. Latching onto hashtag campaigns and running around like vigilantes is not a measure of good citizenship – in fact it may well be the antithesis of civic duty.

Picking and choosing between the most basic of principles is a recipe for trouble longer term.

It is after all, a world of grey out there.