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Letter: Fines won't stop COVID-19 spread

Dear editor, We are all looking for some positive news in these trying times.

Dear editor,

We are all looking for some positive news in these trying times. With the pandemic raging, global instability and the economic destruction of Canada, we can all use some lighter news, no?

Consider how our police services are helping out lately: Bravely putting a stop to outdoor hockey games, nobly monitoring the free association of adult citizens and ferociously defending the rights of Costco and Amazon to perform those essential services we can find nowhere else.

In case these events have not crossed your radar, let me elaborate. You may have heard of a man arrested for playing outdoor hockey in Calgary. This is a true fact – the police have not denied questioning, harassing, and arresting a private citizen who was not participating in any illegal acts. He was charged with offences such as obstruction and resisting arrest. Playing hockey is not a crime, so police laid procedural charges against him for resisting. Does arresting this man stop COVID-19 from spreading? Of course not.

A woman in Simcoe dropped her kids off at their grandma's so she could go to the grocery store. Little did she know the boys in blue were protecting the neighbourhood. As she drove away from her mother's house, she was pulled over and given a $880 ticket by a police officer. No groceries for her! Does ticketing this private citizen for associating with her family stop the spread of disease? Of course not.

A man in Etobicoke, Ont. was arrested for daring to operate his business. It is a local restaurant – not a chain – so we all know it is not essential for this business to remain open. Costco, McDonalds, etc. are allowed to remain open because no disease can spread there. It only spreads in small, non-essential businesses. He was charged with 13 offences, ranging from trespassing at his own restaurant to selling food at his restaurant. Does ruining this man's livelihood and business stop disease? Of course not.

I can hear your objections: But dude, these people were violating public health orders that our infinitely wise public servants have put in place! They were scofflaws!

Perhaps that requires a separate response, weighing the pros and cons of lockdown mechanics.

But until then, I want citizens to consider these questions: What is the function of a police officer? Is it to protect and serve the taxpaying public? Is it to enforce government ideology? How does arresting business owners and people playing sports protect anyone? How does forcing people to patronize certain stores and not others serve the public? Is it acceptable for the state to use force to compel behaviour from free citizens? When will people be free to live their lives without gross state intervention again?

I believe the fear from the "panic-demic" has blinded us to the brutal reality that our governing institutions and people do not have the best interests of the country's citizens at heart. I am genuinely terrified by where we go from here.

Fallon Merkowsky

Windridge Road