Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Story of a Canadian Hero: Norman Perrin

Someone passed along a column from yesterday's Toronto Star, that told of a man who had 20 years ago been cited for bravery, for helping to not only rescue a victim of rape, but apprehend the rapist.

His name is Norman Perrin. His story should have been uplifting, but instead it was tragic. Because after hearing of the horrendous assault on civilians during the G20 debacle, he turned his citation for bravery back into the police.

Like many of us he is finding little reason to be proud to be Canadian and even less reason to feel any sense of security, from a police force that was supposed to protect citizens, not turn out to be the people citizens needed protection from.

We were sitting in front of police headquarters; as he told the story, he dug into his bag for the plaque. “In grateful acknowledgement of outstanding services and unselfish assistance rendered to the Metropolitan Police in the preservation of peace and order.” Peace and order?

Peace and order indeed.

“The main thing was that 5-metre rule, but they were arresting people two miles away. And then we heard the premier saying that no new powers were given to the police. If that’s the case, what protection do I have now? And what the hell can I do about that?” The question was not rhetorical.“I can give this back.”

And so, when the weekend’s dust had settled, Norman called the cop shop and asked how he might proceed. No one on duty could tell him a thing, so he decided to hand it over in person on Saturday at noon. ... [Staff Sgt] Clarke asked if he wanted a receipt. Norman didn’t. Clarke asked for Norman’s name. Norman rolled his eyes and said it was on the citation. Outside, lighter of step if not exactly pleased, he said, “Done best, done quickly, I guess.” Like all acts of courage.
I wept through Norman's story and wasn't even sure if I could blog on it, but knew I had to. Norman already knew what it meant to be a good Canadian but learned on that weekend what little that now means.

I blog a lot now on Mike Harris and the man who was behind him: Guy Giorno. Giorno is now the man behind Stephen Harper and the script for what is taking place today, can be read at Hansard for the Ontario Legislature between 1995 and 2003.

Linwood Barclay wrote an excellent satirical book during those days: Mike Harris Made me Eat my Dog. (ECW Press, 1995, ISBN: 1-55022-368-2). The following was his tongue in cheek analogy of the Harris team being called in to do minor renovations, and instead they locked out the owner and gutted the place.

I held up a sign that read "Mike: Please Listen to Me!" and paraded out front of the house, but this proved to be a bad move strategically because he locked me out of my own home and barricaded the place.

I called a news crew out to the neighbourhood, to make my case that Mike was moving too far too fast, making changes we'd never agreed to. When reporters cornered Mike for his comments, he mocked me: "Well, of course he'd say that, wouldn't he? It's his house, after all, and he's motivated solely by self interest. But I'm here to tell you, this is one renovator who's not about to cater to vested interests."

When they were coming back from lunch, I attempted to block their path into my house, but I ran into a little trouble with some opp riot squad officers, decked out in Darth Vader gear, who'd been hired on by Mike to make sure things didn't get out of hand. When I stood in front of Mike, the riot squad officers, who had been trained in the most up-to-date negotiating techniques so as to defuse tense situations peacefully, beat the crap out of me.

As funny as that sounds it represented the Harris years when Giorno tried to turn Ontario into a police state. They even wanted to finger print all welfare recipients and anyone belonging to what they called "special interest groups". The idea prompted this cartoon:

I don't know what we can do to get the media to start paying attention. Stephen Harper is not a Conservative, he's a Neoconservative, and Neoconservatism is a form of fascism, where the country is run by corporations and religious zealots, and the only real power belongs to the boys in the backroom.


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