Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 2, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE HIRALD April EDITORIALS Criminal justice Canada is one step nearer to revamping its whole approach to criminal justice. A working paper of the Law Reform Commission of Canada takes the pop tion that imprisonment should be a last resort. It has long been apparent that imprisonment accomplishes almost nothing of value. Instead of turning individuals away from crime it tends to confirm them in a criminal pattern. The notion that it serves as a deterrent has no confirmation in repeated studies made on the subject. Above all, it does not serve justice. Putting offenders in prison is almost a mockery of justice when the victim of crime is considered. Instead of compensation he is handed an additional bill, his share of the cost of custodial care of the offender. It costs the taxpayers about a year to keep a person in prison. In cases of many minor crimes, the working paper suggests that restitution and compensation should take the place of imprisonment. If that could be implemented it might be possible to talk meaningfully about justice. The direction of the thinking of the law reform commission will be an encouragement to Solicitor General Warren Allmand. He needs that kind of backing in order to get on with the revamping program he is convinced is necessary. Perhaps now he may be able to persuade his colleagues in cabinet that bold moves must be made. The government should take its cues, in this instance, from those who have reflected on the system rather than from those who merely make reflex responses. Smoking prohibited Most smokers appear to be oblivious to the fact that their indulgence of the habit is obnoxious to non-smokers. They seem to assume that it is their God-given right to inflict smoke on others no matter the circumstances or the consequences it is not their wont to consider if the ventilation is adequate to prevent discomfort, or to inquire if persons present have health problems likely to be exacerbated by smoke. Increasingly this incivility is being Rebuked but that does not result in giving non-smokers the relief desired, so legal recourse is being sought. Laws prohibiting smoking on public carriers, in places of assemblage, in eating places, and in hospitals are becoming common. Unfortunately, lack of enforcement frequently has made the passage of such laws seem futile. Now. how.ever. those pressing for the enactment of laws protecting non- smokers have a useful precedent to employ. Canadian National Railways was ordered recently by small claims court in Mo'ntreal to pay three commuters each for failure to enforce no-smoking regulations on commuter trains. The threat of being sued could be a spur to the enforcement of existing regulations and those which are sure to be enacted in the future. This could encourage Alberta MLA Albert Ludwig who has introduced a private member's bill to limit smoking in public places. Normally such bills die without coming to a vote. With indications of greater public support for such legislation and the assurance that enforcement is possible, albeit with the need of a little prodding from the threat of being sued, Mr. Ludwig might succeed with his bill. A message for teen-agers It is doubtful if many Canadian teen- agers pay attention to commodity shortages. They may realize that somewhere in the world people wait in line to buy gas. The price of iood is undoubtedly discussed at their dinner table. Most of them realize that jeans have risen, in price. But world-wide shortages' of basic materials metals, lumber', fossil fuels have really not touched their lives enough to be of much interest. This is about to change. Canadian record companies are increasing their suggested list prices for records. Albums which were priced at will be increased by The reason given for this is a shortage of one of the main elements which go into the making of records and this shortage, in turn, can be traced to the oil shortage. The chemical in short supply is polyvinyl chloride. Canadian record companies have been looking for it around the world. Thus far they have been successful in acquiring supplies but the price has risen. It has not risen enough however to make them accept an offer from Hungary, which had a surplus of PVC at 75 cents a pound. The price here is about 29 cents. It has been suggested that the current crisis is just an excuse to raise prices. Record company officials deny this. However that may be, the end result is certain. More people are going to start buying tapes, which have not risen in price, and a few young students may even find themselves interested in the field of economics, which had heretofore seemed barren of interest because it seemed so far removed from their lives. ART BUCHWALD The future president WASHINGTON President Nixon's main defence against turning over documents and tapes to the House judiciary committee is that he is not trying to protect himself but the office of the presidency. He has said he has to think of future presidents he makes these unpopular decisions to withhold evidence that under any other conditions he would be happy to turn over to Congress. I think the president is right. The year is 2001. and President Harley Finckley. who was overwhelmingly elected by the Radical Energy Party (both the Republican and Democratic parties had gone bankrupt during the Great Depression of is sitting in the Oval Office at the White House. His most trusted legal adviser, John Dean IV. the son of John Dean III, comes i.n. "Mr. President, I must report to you that there is a cancer in your, administration. There are people in your own White House family who are trying to mortally wound you." "I'm glad you told me about that, John. What exactly is going.on around "Well, do you remember last June when seven men broke into the offices of the United Constitutional Party at the Vesco Trade "J think 1 saw something about it on television." "They're threatening to talk about their connection with the Radical Energy Re- Election Committee unless we pay them hush money." "How much would it cost.' trillion dollars." -We could ntaVthat, John. But it would be wrong." Mr. President. But if we don't hush them they may talk about the trillion contribution the nuclear energy producers gave to you to raise the price of uranium In the United States." "I forgot about that." "There's also the trillion contribution from ITT which was made the day before we agreed to let them buy General Motors, Chrysler and Ford." "that's not my problem." "But, sir, we have the meeting on television tape of the chairman of ITT handing you the money." "What's it doing on television "Don't you recall, sir, you ordered all the meetings in the White House to be televised for historical "I forgot about that." "But the real thing we have to worry about is the break-in of the Washington Redskins' psychiatrist's office. Remember, sir, you wanted to take a Idok at the psychiatric profiles of the team before you bet on "Yes, I do remember that, and our people botched it up completely. They stole the records of the Washington Senators, and we haven't had a baseball team here for 30 years." "I also have to warn you .that they're looking into how you got the money to buy the island of Hawaii." "I borrowed it like everybody else." "And then there are your taxes. A lot of people cannot understand how on an annual income of trillion you paid only in income taxes for 1999." "I donated all my piano music books to the National Archives." "Yessir. Mr. President. But what should we do about hush money for the break-in of the Vesco Trade "Do anything you have to do to save me." "Bui suppose someone finds out? "What's the difference? They can't touch me." "They "Nope. Thanks to the foresight of the greatest constitutional president In American history, Richard M. Nixon. God knows what would have happened to this office If he had taken the easy way out." Bassett hound Ministers damage credibility By W.A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator OTTAWA When govern- ments or their ministers con- tribute to public confusion they do great damage to their own credibility and render a major disservice to the community as a whole. It should have been possible for the government to get it right the first time when its members started discussing the retail prices that would follow the agreement with the provinces on oil. Within 24 hours of the conclusion of the prime minister's meeting with his provincial counterparts, however, the minister of energy had to announce that the government had under-estjmated the actual subsidized price of imported oil in Montreal. This immediately raises an important If the government does not have the answer right on Wednesday, why would we assume that it is reliable on Thursday? Perhaps on Friday, this week or next, it will have still a different answer. It seemed to me that the prime minister deserved credit, after this latest federal-provincial meeting, for having accomplished the real task of national leaders in this disparate -country: finding or. developing the national position that modifies and encompasses the competing regional interests without suppressing or ignoring any of them. That is an accomplishment of magnitude because it is basic. But these basic matters can easily be obscured by the sort of confusion that has now developed over the actual results of this development. If this were an isolated incident, the public could feel exasperated with Energy Minister Macdonald's difficulty with figures and let it go at that. But it is not isolated. We have recently seen a member of a government that has held power for six years announcing cheerfully that no policy exists in the "field of transport, with the later embellishment that the whole situation is a mess. Mr. Marchand's predecessor in the transport portfolio Eton Jamieson, sees nothing in this that calls either for explanation, protest or defence on his part. That in itself is a remarkable exercise in indifference. One of the legitimate grounds for public complaint against any government is failure to correct situations that produce errors. If Mr. Macdonald cannot get his sums straight the first time and tell us correctly what the effects of the petroleum subsidization program will be, that is because officials in his. department have done their work badly. If it is true that the Trudeau government has no transport policy, Messers Marchand and Jamieson are responsible. It is an open secret that the condition of the upper official levels of that department is not good, stemming from an unfortunate Trudeau appointment made seme years ago. If, as Mr. Marchand says it is all a mess, that is a further cause. Yet all of this goes un- corrected. Last year the transport de- partment made such a mess of its attempt to introduce an airport tax, which other countries find simple, that it had to give up the attempt as unworkable. One outraged member of the cabinet, resenting the absurdity of this embarrassment, told this correspondent that if he had his way every official involved would be located and booted out of the public service altogether. His reasoning was simple and convincing: If they could not do that job well, with the examples of the world before them, it was unlikely that they would do any further work well. Yet nothing is so inconceivable in government than that his viewport could ever prevail. It seems to me that men in government need to realize, much more than they do, that we are living in a period when the level of confidence is low and that of suspicion high. We have gone through a long period of social change during which values have altered with great speed. More precisely, perhaps, old values have been discarded or questioned but have not yet been replaced by new values which receive general accept- ance. This period has been followed by an intense, world- wide inflation, one of the most pernicious effects of which is the way in which it spreads suspicion and mistrust among the various groups that make up societies. Those engaged in one economic function distrust those at the next, suspecting a rip-off. We are far from any con- census in this country on a proper level of profits or even on attitudes towards them. If we were actually living in a socialist economy the distrust of profits would be normal and acceptable. But we are not. We are living in, more or less, a market economy which will not function and "produce new jobs or better incomes unless there is a healthy level of profitability in commerce and industry. By and large, it is an economy which provides a very large portion of the people with a good and comfortable life. Equally important, it produces the strength and resources from which much is being done to improve the lot of those who do not share adequately in the direct benefits of the economy. Yet there are not many out- side the direct ranks of business ready to say that the level of profits in an economy should never be viewed on the basis .of one year's performance but should be taken as an average over several years. Even then this level should be viewed as a proportion of Gross National Product and related to the rate of new and improvement in labor income before anyone begins making ex cathedra pronouncement, deciding whether the level is too high or too low. If in a period of generalized suspicion, men in government are to say things like this without being howled down in disbelief, they must themselves seem efficient and credible. Confidence in government is fragile at best. One of the dan- gers of the minority Parlia- ments which have become normal in Canada is that the constant attempts to pull the government down on every contentious issue that arises erodes popular confidence, not just in a specific administration, but in the political process itself. When ministers fumble on im- portant matters which they should get right in the first place, when they seek to skate around their difficulties by re- sorting to their personal charm, they do the same thing. When weaknesses go uncorrected the problem is compounded. Mr. Trudeau has just done one job, a difficult one, ex- tremely well. There are some others evidently awaiting his attention and they demand somewhat the same sort of accomplishment, not so much painful surgery as bringing things under control. Letters Block civilized living As I see it. both motor noise on the Streets .and garbage burning, when abused, are as effective a block to civilized and gracious living as could be devised. City council from time to time proclaims a desire to upgrade the quality of life in Lethbridge. .and I say they could go a long way in this ideal by simply seeing that the able laws governing the noise and smoke be effectively anil consistently enforced. I would' say these issues have come about mainly through apathy and neglect wherein the police choose not to act except upon complaint and citizens are obviously not complaining. As a consequence the motor noise worsens and apparently the garbage smoke persists. A vote on the garage burning issue or a flat outlawing of burning will leave approximately half the citizens unhappy about the matter, but if the law stating that a person must attend the burning until the fire is out was strictly enforced there would be little offence from this source. High fines and both police and citizen participation woujd be required in this goal. -The solution to the motor noise. problem, which molt people would agree in tact exist, would be largely remedied by bringing in noise meters and city council insisting that henceforth the. police be required to INITIATE the investigation, where it .is indicated by this which is so unmisu-keable and persistent on the streets of this city. Finally, for the police to stand behind a citizen oh a charge as serious as this is no way to create good public relations nor a good police image. To seek and arrest offence as covered by the la'w is a cardinal function of good policing. L. REGINALD WEIGHTMAN Lethbridge Principles forgotten The secret service agents of RCMP do not "serve the cause of democracy when they undertake to investigate the activities of reputable journalists. These agents apparently do not understand the difference between a legitimate political activity and a seditious, undertaking This being Jhe case, secret service officers should be sent back to police college for re- training in basic Canadian political science. Their ac- tivities in future should be scrutinized' by a federal ombudsman who would defend both the legitimate interests of the secret service to investigate bona fide security risks and protect law abiding Canadian citizens from being harassed by over-eager and misguided secret service agents. At the moment, the secret service appears to be out of the control of any elected political authority. Not only is secret service autonomy now dangerous to public welfare, it discredits the reputation of the regular RCMP officer who can distinguish between illegal and legal activities. The regular RCMP officer must command public respect to discharge his duties. The secret service officers are undermining this public support and are thereby making the job of regular RCMP officers more difficult. We must protect the regular RCMP officer as well as the freedom of the press from the activities of a small group of public servants who have forgotten the principles of the Canadian Bill of Rights which they are duty bound to protect. ROGER RICKWOOD Assistant Professor of f Political Science University of Lethbridge Beef mark-up higher In the article by Ric Swihart, in The Herald, (March 26) under the heading Cattlemen allege big beef mark-up, the term "mark-up" is incorreetlyjised. The dictionary definition of markup is: to fix the selling price by adding the seller's expenses and desired profit to cost. In view of the above the mark-up in this case represents over or 63.4975 per cent (not 38.83. per This does not include the revenue obtained by the Sale of the 42.88 pounds of bone and the 45.24 pounds of fat. One cannot get a bone from the butcher for nothing. Furthermore there is a. market for bones and fat. In The Herald, March 28 there was an article wherein the butchers refuted the charges by the Southern Alberta cattlemen. One particular item reads: "IGA only leaves a cut of meat packaged for two days and then it is taken- ovut of the cooler and made into hamburger." The above reminds me of an article published in The Herald late last year. An official of a chain that has stores in Lethbridge, was reported to have said that meat that is not sold in two days was reduced in price.- On February 4 I was in one of the stores of this chain and noticed that one package of meat was dated February 2.1 drew the clerk's attention to this, whereupon she took .the package to her work bench.' re-packaged it with the date now February 4 and the price increased by 10? a pound to conform with the other packages of the same cut of meat. E.B. MIDDLETON Lethbridge Secret investigations The secret investigations of the RCMP are not secret to the people who ordered the investigation. It is a crime that the last person to know that he was investigated is the person who was investigated. There must be a leak a mile wide in the police records for the fact that anybody was investigated to be known at all. Whoever let that cat out of the bag should be investigated and then dismissed as unworthy of a position of trust. Now that this much information has been released the person who was investigated should be given a complete, detailed, secret report so that he can check the information for accuracy. They say that the person who is investigated should not object if he has nothing to hide. The policemen who did the investigating should not mind their names being known if they are honorable men with nothing to hide. There also should be a law that anybody who makes records concerning anybody else must disclose those records on demand to the person about whom the records were made. A retired RCMP could really retire in style if he remembered the records of police investigations and used them for blackmail. Of course this will not happen because retired officers must be continuously investigated for our protection. Cards ton. M. E. SPENCER The Lethbridge Herald .904 7th St. 9. AlMrta LETHBRIOOC HERALD CO. LTD. and PuMMhara Second Mall Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS, Editor and Publtiher DON H. PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R. DORAM General Manager. ROY f. MILES Adverting Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Editorial Editor ROBERT M. FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E. BAftNfiTT Buainats Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"