ME THINKS … by Rattan – News behind the news: Week of Saturday, May 28

Guns seized by police in a 2010 case.
Guns seized by police in a 2010 case.



I found it amusing to see the law enforcement authorities’ zeal to try and get at least 500 illegal guns off the street in Metro Vancouver one year with this week’s announcement of the “cash for Guns” campaign.

I still remember how the provincial government didn’t take my warning about the proliferation of illegal guns in the Lower Mainland seriously when I wrote about it back in 2001.

In a lead article in The VOICE – “GUNS! GUNS! GUNS! LOWER MAINLAND POLICE FORCES NEED TO TAKE MASSIVE ACTION” – that appeared in this newspaper on August 11, 2001, I wrote:


WANNA settle scores?

No problem.

Just get a gun and ‘bang!’

No, I am not trying to be humorous or sensational.

But that’s exactly what’s happening in the Lower Mainland and also back east in Toronto.

And, unfortunately, it’s happening in a big way in our own Indo-Canadian community as events in the past few weeks as well as those in the past few years have so graphically demonstrated.

It’s not that homicides have increased as such – it’s the fact that guns have increasingly become the weapon of choice in killings as well in the commission of other crimes in the past few years.

Yet it appears that the Lower Mainland police forces – the RCMP and the municipal police forces – have not sat down together to discuss this menace of guns and work out some kind of a strategy before things spiral out of control.

Delta Police Sgt. Fred Leisz told The VOICE: “There’s enough weapons around that if a person wants it bad enough, that if he makes the right phone calls and makes the right contacts, he’s going to be able to get a gun.”

And Surrey RCMP Corp. Janice Armstrong told The VOICE: “I think it’s more difficult to get guns here (than in the U.S.), but they are still available. I mean if somebody in the criminal element wants to get a gun, I am sure that they will get a hold of a gun somewhere and I don’t think they have to go the United States in order to do that.”

Even in Burnaby, where there has been only one murder so far this year, RCMP Constable Phil Reed told The VOICE that the number of guns they are coming across in the commission of different crimes “is disturbing, because we realize that somewhere down the road someone’s going to get killed as a result of it.”

In Vancouver city (population: 565,905) itself, gun-related homicides shot up from 39 per cent in 1998 to 62 per cent so far this year, according to statistics provided this Wednesday to The VOICE by Vancouver police Detective Scott Driemel.

And back east in Toronto, police Chief Julian Fantino told the Toronto Star that it seemed the way people dealt with conflict nowadays was with violence and, invariably, the weapon of choice appeared to be the gun.

In Toronto city (population: more than 2 million), homicides in which gunshot wounds were the cause of death have jumped from 23 per cent in 1998 to 60 per cent so far this year.

Here in the Lower Mainland, police spokespersons told The VOICE this week that it seemed the days of settling scores with fists were over and that guns were being increasingly used in homicides.

(Interviews with Delta Police’s Sgt. Leisz, Vancouver police’s Detective Scott Driemel, Surrey RCMP’s Cpl. Janice Armstrong, Burnaby RCMP’s Constable Phil Reed followed.)





LOGO SOCCERSO let me get this right: There is this independent Islamic school in Ontario’s Peel Region – ISNA High in Mississauga – that is voluntarily a member of the Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association (ROPSSAA) that has its own rules.

The rules ROPSSAA follows are those set by the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations, which allows girls to join a boys’ team if a sport is not available to girls at that school if they qualify.

Now, this school’s soccer team was playing a game with the senior boys’ team from Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon, Ontario, that had two girls on it. I assume that the ISNA coach knows how to make out the difference between a girl and a boy.

But it took the ISNA coach to “officially” recognize that difference only when his boys were being beaten by the other team 3-1 at half time!

The ISNA coach apparently threatened to withdraw his team if the girls were not pulled from the game and unfortunately, the Catholic school’s coach caved in to that ridiculous blackmail and asked the girls if they would agree to withdraw from the game.

Carla Briscoe, 18, told the media that she agreed because her team needed the extra points and she didn’t want to ruin it for the rest of the team. That was a noble decision, indeed.

But it was anything but noble for the ISNA coach to behave the way he did and for the Catholic school coach to put that kind of pressure on the girls. In any case, the ISNA team got licked good and proper 6-1.

Paul Freier, ROPSSAA Chairman was absolutely right to say that the girls should never have been put in such a position. He has emailed the ISNA coach to tell him that schools must follow the rules or quit the athletic association.

A good stand – and the right thing to do.

(Let me here reveal that I am a Christian – just in case there are any misunderstandings about what I write on this “touchy” issue.)

The ISNA coach told the Ontario media: “Understand that free mixing is something that, generally speaking, we do not do, more so out of respect than anything. It’s got nothing to do with discrimination.”

But that is NOT the point!

The point is that you should know what the rules of the athletic association you joined voluntarily are and abide by them.

Also, you could have raised objections AFTER the game if you had failed to do so before it. Obviously this was going to cause unnecessary controversy and even spark off racism and / or bigotry. That was quite evident from some extreme remarks by some readers on various websites.

The coach and the school have only themselves to blame for it. I am positive no Canadian court will support their stand.

Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a statement to the media that some interpretations of the Muslim faith say there should be limited or no physical contact with players of the opposite gender during sports and added that this was “considered by some Canadian Muslims to be an expression of personal modesty and is not meant to be regarded as a personal insult or affront.”

Again, that is NOT the point. If you can’t abide by the rules, don’t join that organization and make an ass of yourself.

This is NOT the same as the soccer controversy on wearing religious head coverings. Let’s not mix up the two.