Is justice blind?
Why do we hear so much about accountability and transparency, and see so little?
How safe is our democracy?
Turn over a rock. Any rock. You’ll find what you don’t want to see. You’ll find what someone else doesn’t want you to see.
What are you going to do? When will you do it?
Charles Henry Klassen
Born in Niagara Falls in 1942, growing up in the nearby Village of Queenston, I began an active advocacy in social justice and civics while still in public school. That hasn’t abated through the years, but it’s become peppered with cynicism, pessimism, and a resignation that some people won’t always do the right thing unless their feet are held to hot coals.
Queenston was primarily a police-free zone. Police and policing was a curiosity then when I moved to Toronto in 1959. Two years later while living in the northwest suburb of Rexdale, I met with the officer commanding the local division of what was then the Metropolitan Toronto Police to discuss the poor relationship between his officers and local teenagers. That conversation seeded a 50 year plus observation of law enforcement here and elsewhere.
Canada’s federal and provincial penal systems demand particular scrutiny. After more than thirty years, I have two questions. Do we have a prison industry, a carceral business, or correctional services? And, how do we engage the community at large to contribute to healthy, safe, and productive environments by demanding the relevant ministries and public services document the efficacy of their mission from the perspective of both agency and client.
Klassen’s Korner, a 1980s newsletter, later revived as Klassen’s Mailing List in the early 2000s, and today’s blog establish that there’s never been a time when “no vigilance, no democracy” isn’t essential.
Politically coming of age as a Diefenbaker conservative, I then morphed into left of centre liberalism with Pierre Trudeau, and haven’t looked back.
I’m a cradle Anglican too, wandered away in early adulthood, and was drawn back in 1993. That proved to be a smart move and one of the best decisions of my life. Healthy, progressive faith communities foster, spawn and support activism and advocacy, as they should. I thank mine for giving me flight.