All’s not well in the world. All’s not well anywhere, including here in this country, in this province, in this city. Turn over a rock, any rock, anywhere. Here’s the question. What are you going to do once you’ve seen what someone doesn’t want you to see? And, you will see what someone doesn’t want you to see.
Charles Henry Klassen
Born in Niagara Falls in March of 1942, growing up in Queenston, I began an active advocacy by initiating a fund-raising lunch program in Grade 8 (1955-1956) at Laura Secord Public School in support of UNICEF. Two years later I represented the USSR at a high school model UN Assembly in Buffalo to better understand repressive political regimes, and the suppression of free thought.
I grew up in what was primarily a police-free zone which led to a curiosity about policing when I first moved to Toronto in 1959. Two years later while living in Rexdale, I met with the officer commanding the local division of what was then the Metropolitan Toronto Police to discuss the poor relationship between police and the area’s teenagers. That conversation was the seed beginning a 50 year plus concern with the accountability of law enforcement here and elsewhere.
Later still, I erected a pole in the front yard of my home and flew the Canadian Red Ensign during and after the parliamentary debate that adopted the Maple Leaf flag we use today. I still have that ensign.
Canada’s federal and provincial penal systems deserve particular scrutiny, and Correctional Service of Canada is a specialty over more than twenty years of research and observation. Our prisons and how we permit them to operate should be near the top of any list for communities working to build healthy and productive environments for everyone.
Klassen’s Korner, a 1980s newsletter, its later revival as Klassen’s Mailing List in the early 2000s, and today’s blog all demonstrate that there’s never been a time when “no vigilance, no democracy” isn’t necessary.
Politically, I came of age as a Diefenbaker conservative, morphed into a left of centre liberalism with Pierre Trudeau, and haven’t looked back.
I grew up in the Anglican church, wandered away in early adulthood, and was drawn back in 1993. That proved to be a smart move and the best decision of my life. Healthy, progressive faith communities foster, spawn and support activism and advocacy, as they should. I thank mine for giving me flight.