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David Bleakney © 2003

 

 
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You find the strangest things inside the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Even stranger are the priorities of the high level managers in the finance department. Recently, a group of postal union "inspectors" visiting a retreat at Port Severn, Ontario decided to observe whether ministry officials were hard at work defending truth and justice for the citizens of Ontario.

It has been more than seven years since the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), armed with automatic weapons and an armoured personnel carrier aimed them at unarmed protestors at Ipperwash, Ontario. When the smoke cleared a dying Dudley George lay on the ground, a victim of the government of Mike Harris and the OPP.

For years there have been calls for a public inquiry to find out how it came to be that an unarmed native man was shot to death while standing on traditional native ground.

Flash forward to 2002. Bayview-Wildwood is a quiet and charming resort on the shores of Sparrow Lake near Port Severn, Ontario. It's a unionized place where postal workers go to participate in popular working class education. It's also a place known to the Ontario government.

The postal workers were surprised (and not exactly delighted) to find themselves in the same place as managers from the Ministry. A group of workers formed an affinity group developed a plan. They wished to confirm that work of value for the citizens who pay their salaries was taking place. And they wanted to express dissatisfaction with the lack of action in the case of Dudley George. It was decided a message and an investigation team would be sent.

A visual inspection was quickly formed to ensure ministry officials were hard at work. What strategy was being developed for the people of Ontario? What priorities were being considered? Was Dudley George on the agenda? Instead the activist inspectors foundpublic servants hard at work drinking wine and redesigning their offices.

Inspectors soon located a large cache of a dozen (empty) wine bottles and coolers. The classroom is a thirsty place and no one, it seems, is any thirstier than the financial managers of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

It appeared the topic of the day was about designing the dream office. Who knows? Maybe I've got it wrong. Maybe what people in Ontario want is not social justice but nicer offices for those that have them. At least that's what it looks like inside the Attorney General's Office.

So what are their priorities? As reported by the team here is a partial list highlighted on the classroom flipchart: "massage table, wall unit TV, wellness center, blinds and new circular windows". This would go nicely with the new "stereo, fitness center and lounging robes" for reclining in the new "wing chairs". But these items form merely a pauper's wish list in the government of Ontario.

Also desperately needed is a "private office jacuzzi". Maybe this could be set beside the new "balconies" being proposed for a decent view while sweating out the stress that must arise from having a job where you get paid to drink a cache of wine. One item, "meet public needs" was literally at the bottom of the list. Everyone knows you can't serve the public without an office Jacuzzi and a nice Government issue lounging robe first.

Not wanting to spoil the party, the team chose to assist the participants in developing a new set of priorities. A large sign was posted that said "WE REMEMBER IPPERWASH". Black tombstones appeared throughout the facility inscribed with "Dudley George - RIP". One large poster proclaimed "Wanted-Government of Ontario for the murder of Dudley George".

Hopefully, while looking out from their new balconies, they will see the rising cloud of stench and denial rising over the legacy of a corrupt and mean government. They may also observe the dignity of the poor, maligned and marginalized who will not lay down and go quietly into the night.

POSTSCRIPT:

As postal workers were finishing lunch and preparing to return home the OPP arrived. Apparently there had been complaints of "harassment, intimidation and vandalism" from, guess who, the Ministry of the Attorney General. Ever vigilant in their efforts to ensure truth and justice the officials chose fit to invite the OPP to investigate. In fact no specific incident of harassment, threats or vandalism could be produced.

The writer asked the OPP officer "who killed Dudley George"? The officer threatened to set up a RIDE program to stop and harass postal workers returning to Toronto. He followed this writer around the parking lot in his cruiser as I walked to my cabin. Eventually he parked behind a bush and watched for a while before going on his way.

There is still no justice for Dudley George.

   
   
   

 

 
   
         

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