A tale of two infractions…
I recently dropped by Ottawa to interview our latest Fight the Fines client, Mark Sylvestre. Last month, Sylvestre visited Ottawa’s Strathcona Park with his trusty metal detector, looking for discarded coins.
He ended up getting slapped with a fine for $880 by two City of Ottawa bylaw officers. No warning. No negotiation. No mercy. Just like that, the laid-off mover was nursing a financial hit for almost $1,000 simply for walking through a nearly deserted park all by himself.
Contrast the treatment Sylvestre received to that of “Ann Cognito” (not her real name.)
Last summer, “Cognito” allegedly walked and kick-biked her way from Calgary (where she headed up the Cowtown chapter of Extinction Rebellion) all the way to Ottawa. She arrived in the capital in December.
Her prime directive was to secure a meeting with the Prime Minister. She was going to demand that the federal government take action to ensure Canada would be free of fossil fuels by 2025.
In one of his most inspired decisions to date, Trudeau gave “Cognito” the cold shoulder. Even Justin had better things to do than meet with this eco-screwball.
But the thing is, “Cognito” wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, she camped across the street from the Prime Minister’s Office, erecting a tent next to the glorious National War Memorial.
Soon, other tents were erected by supporters of “Cognito”, and very soon after that, the National War Memorial was home to a filthy tent city (alas, most of the tents were symbolic – when I visited Ottawa in February, I discovered during a clandestine visit that the only resident of this tent city happened to be “Cognito”.)
Regardless, what Ann was doing was completely illegal. This was a public lawn next to a memorial. One can’t just pitch a tent and live in a park for months as “Cognito” did.
So, what did the authorities do? Did they slap “Cognito” with a fine? Did they immediately tear down that illegal tent city?
Nope. This pigsty was tolerated – for months on end!
All the authorities played hot potato on the law enforcement front. The Ottawa Police Service said it wasn’t their job to evict the eco-hippies. Ditto the City of Ottawa. And the National Capital Commission. And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They all turned a blind eye to this disgusting blight claiming lack of jurisdiction. Incredible.
Well, I’m happy to report that the Wuhan virus has now done what various layers of law enforcement in Ottawa were unable to: the “Cognito” camp has been abandoned and those tents are presumably occupying a landfill site somewhere.
Bottom line: looks like there’s at least one bright side to the #coronavirus.
Yet, why the double-standard? Why does a taxpaying citizen get immediately hammered with an $880 fine for doing absolutely nothing that put public health at risk but a hippie way past her best-before date and her ugly campsite are tolerated for months on end? Anyone?