Comment - The Canadian flag - what cost, what danger?

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

June 10, 2009

Because county officials have hinted that the OPP "could" transfer policing costs for flag raising events to taxpayers, one has to wonder if the OPP has hinted that it will and if it hasn't, why county officials have decided to voice the possibility.

Haldimand's CAO Don Boyle said that the OPP has made no such assertion and that he didn't want to put the idea in their heads. But he warned a local resident of the possibility.

"In the back of my mind I don't want to even say it too loud because I don't want the OPP getting ideas," he told The Regional News.

He then said: "If I'm in the OPP's shoes that's what I'd do. I'd say, 'We can only do this for so long. This is just general public unrest with general people having a political march and really it should be charged under the local policing contract.'"

According to Coun. Craig Grice, it's possible that the OPP could transfer costs for flag raising events to county taxpayers. He told The Regional News that police would probably do anything possible to get the albatross off their back.

Grice wasn't trying to be unclear, but after I got off the phone with him I realized that I should have asked what albatross he was referring to - DCE or flag raising events?

The OPP promised to pay for costs relating to DCE, however some people think flag raising events are the problem.

This is, if flag raisings were conducted anywhere but DCE, they probably wouldn't cost the OPP a single penny. Therefore, why would county officials even think that the OPP would or could be justified in transferring the costs of such flag raising events to county taxpayers?

Boyle said that if past flag raising events that occurred in Caledonia, occurred in Brantford, the city would have to pay for policing.

But again, the whole reason flag raisings are held next to DCE is to make a point - that such a peaceful event is only made dangerous by native occupiers who threaten violence. And, DCE is the creation of the province and the provincial police, and is unique to Caledonia.

As we sit here more than three years after native protesters occupied DCE, the county continues to endure threats, most recently the possibility of a Plank Road toll road in 2011.

Boyle said that a toll road will never happen. According to him, such threats are empty and create negative energy. This is probably true.

However, what did happen recently was a rash of break-ins to garages and sheds on Braemar Avenue where "suspects," according to police, used the Douglas Creek property to escape. The property is considered to be a no go zone to the OPP.

These robberies happened on the same street that councillor Craig Grice lives on, but the newspaper didn't find out until a local resident contacted us almost a week later, this past Monday.

Instead of coming out and addressing threats and crimes against local residents, county officials floated the idea that the OPP could transfer the cost of flag raising events to county taxpayers and have even gone so far as to suggest that that is what they should do.

You have to wonder why.

There may be nothing stopping the OPP from transferring charges for flag raising events to the county, but it doesn't mean they should.

It's not the act of raising a flag that's the problem. It's the location.