Stray Casts: Considerations of racism – or was it simply illegal fishing

Anyone who has any in­ter­est whatsoever in angling can­not help having heard about in­cidents of assault on Asian anglers over the past year.

The Stray Caster went to a report in the Edmonton Journal online to read something with a little distance and less hysteria than the Ontario media and vari­ous provincial groups have been providing.

As usual, there are two sides to every story, and then, most likely, somewhere in between lies some truth.

Of course, once a few Asi­ans were attacked, the politi­cally correct crowd clambered on board with a vengeance. They sought police officers train­ed in hate crimes to ex­amine what is going on. It was simply assumed the attacks were racially motivated.

The Stray Caster states categorically that he does not be­lieve there should be any such thing as hate crime. There might be hateful people, there might be, and likely are hateful criminals, but crime is crime is crime. It does not matter what someone is thinking when he smacks someone else in the nose. Assault is assault, is assault. Determining whether someone hated someone else enough to whack them in the nose is impossible to really de­termine, and even trained judges have to guess.

Presumably, one would have to have at least a strong dis­like, but detecting hate crim­es requires Thought Police. Anyone who has heard that term before knows it comes from George Orwell’s 1984, where the government deter­mines how people are permit­ted to think. Pray we have not reached that level in Canada – yet, anyway.

The Stray Caster finds it most unfortunate that some have attacked Asians and call it “nipper tipping.” Such deroga­tory terms are disgusting, and demean the speaker, and not the people being attacked. A per­son who uses the term is ugly.

There have been a number of incidents reported from last year. That Journal report said on April 27, police said a 13-year-old Asian teen was thrown into a lake while fishing at night. Nearby, a 72-year-old white man had his fishing gear damaged. There were no in­juries reported. On July 22, a middle-aged Asian couple who were fishing, had their car dam­aged and windshield smash­ed. On Aug. 6, police reported an Asian man was pushed into Lake Simcoe while fishing. That case is currently before the courts.

The victims, apparently mostly Asians, have every right to be upset. Nobody should have to endure such attacks.

And then there is the other side of the coin. The Stray Caster has also heard that a number of angling groups are sick and tired of seeing their environmental and stream and lake work such as fish stocking go down the drain because illegal anglers ignore the rules, take whatever they catch, and to Hell with the regulations.

The Stray Caster recently re­ceived an email from the Eastern Ontario Outdoorsmen Asso­ciation (EOOA) an affi­liate of the Ontario Land­own­ers Association. They are ap­pal­led by the lack of action by the Ministry Natural Resources in the latest incident of illegal fishing by anglers in Westport. 

The groups stated that Min­ister of Natural Resources Don­na Cansfield heard testimony from angry and concerned West­port residents at a public meeting this April, of hooded people fishing illegally from dark to dawn.  The email stated, “These same intruders then scurried around in the dark of night, entering private back­yards, and unabashedly using the premises as a bathroom. After four years of complaints of illegal activities, not one charge has been laid by MNR or OPP.”

The group added, “Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall had the gall to call Westport a ‘racist town.’  In reali­ty, Westport survives on tourism from around the world.”

The group’s president, Bob Leonard, suggested,  “Ms. Cans­field needs to call for an inde­pendent investigation to restore credibility to the MNR, and explain why they have imposed 5,500 precautionary regulation changes to the fishing industry, while at the same time, turned a blind eye to illegal fishing.”

And there you have it in a nutshell.

Are there ethnic groups that disobey the rules? Of course there are. The Stray Caster has spoken to numerous officials of governmental organizations who will admit that – just not for the record. The Stray Caster does not blame them one bit. Their jobs are at stake, and nobody wants to face the Human Rights Commission complaint. Winning there is a Phyrric victory.

Are there ethnic groups that obey the rules? Of course there are. But, does one bad apple tar an entire group? The Stray Caster would suggest that, in some minds, it does. He has even heard a list of the top five ethnic group offenders from a government worker who insis­ted on anonymity.

Clearly, the real problem starts and begins at the Ministry of Natural Resources. First, the provincial govern­ment should give its officers the last part of that name, and provide it with enough resourc­es to properly police fishing and hunting.

That would, soon enough, end angry attacks.

The Stray Caster believes that when it comes to racism, some groups might be hiding behind the anglers’ groups. If angling violators of all nation­alities and races are charged when they fish illegally, no­body will feel the need to become a vigilante to protect a fishery or private property.

Thus, anyone who attacks innocent anglers deserves those few years in the slammer for assault, and we don’t care if the person assaulted is white, red, black, yellow, or polka-dot.

Crime is crime is crime. Let the punishment be just, swift, and harsh. Maybe such behavi­our won’t be repeated.