Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A National Embarassment

I watched the video tonight of newcomer to Canada, Robert Dziekanski, who was tasered to death after suffering through hours or what's likely to have been angst, hunger, thirst, and not in the least confusion.

Robert was failed on many levels. Let's start with the most obvious, the RCMP. In the last while there hasn't been much good news attached when those four letters are grouped, and this just makes things worst. In an instant after arriving, the quickdraw officers taser a man who had no weapons, no way of communicating, and was obviously confused. I don't know about you, but is it reasonable to assume that four trained officers weren't able to deal with an unarmed man without the use of deadly weapons? Obviously, hindsight gives a clearer picture and likely there are defences that will try to rationalize these officers' actions, but the fact is this is what these officers are trained to do. The reality is they failed in their job; furthermore, they failed miserably. They took the life of a human being, they bestowed hurt on a mother, and they put an ugly scar in our national reputation.

As for the border officers, well it's probably not in their job description to aid anyone who's lost or confused due to the volume they deal with each day, but I think it's definitely within everyone's job requirement to use common sense. This was not applied in this case. What was a confused man doing wondering around for 10 hours at an international airport? What if he was dangerous? He could have done a lot of damage in way less than 10 hours. It's more than an unfortunate way to learn, but let's hope that this man's memory can give life to better practices.

How about the other people working at Vancouver airport? This woman is going around for hours to multiple sources to inquire about her son's arrival and no one takes it seriously. That's ridiculous. I can't help but speculate how much better she would have been treated had she been better able to articulate herself in english. Too often sub par english is equated with lack of knowledge or lack of intelligence, and I wouldn't be surprised if this played a role in this particular case.

I hope the parties involve don't try to give any preposterous rationalizations and just apologize to this woman. That wouldn't even be close to approaching enough.

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