The thin blue line just got thinner

Claude McIntosh - Mac's Musings
The thin blue line just got thinner

The thin blue line got a little thinner last week with the assassination of two young Edmonton police officers ambushed by a 16-year-old armed with a rifle as they responded to one of those so-called routine domestic calls.

The call was made by the mother who didn’t mention to the dispatcher that the kid was armed with the father’s rifle. Just as with the young rookie Ontario Provincial Police officer ambushed and killed a few months back, they hadn’t drawn their sidearms.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, a city councillor has her knickers in a knot over members of the Ottawa Police Association hockey team wearing the Thin Blue Line symbol – a tiny patch – on their jerseys at a nondescript charity game witnessed by a couple of hundred folks, mostly family and friends.

She connects the symbol – a black Canadian flag with a thin blue line running across it – to racism and right-wing extremism (as opposed to left-wing racism and extremism) and a rebuke of the racial justice movement.

The main-stream media and social media went bonkers with the story that was paused by the assassinations in Edmonton and wave of nation-wide grief for the fallen officers and outpouring of support for the men and women who make up the Thin Blue Line.

The councillor announced that after her comments went public, she received death threats (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, must be the cops). To his credit, the president of the Ottawa Police Association, who defended the use of the symbol, came to her defence and condemned the threats.

We’re still waiting for the councillor to condemn the assassination of the two Edmonton coppers. Please don’t muddy the waters with the loony idea of replacing cops with social workers. The difference it would have made is that we’d have two dead social workers instead of two dead police officers.

In Canada, and the United States, the real Thin Blue Line refers to front-line officers as the last line of defence against the criminal world.

Some would call it an exaggeration.

But one thing we know for sure is that the last line of defence isn’t the court system.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The circus came to town on the evening of March 20, 1965.

Actually, it was a three-ring circus disguised as a city council meeting.

Led by future alderman Angelo Lebano, dozens of citizens packed the council chambers to make their beefs known in a less-than-diplomatic manner.

In a bombastic presentation, Lebano blasted council for “wasting” taxpayers’ money. In his cross-hairs were the decisions to construct three swimming pools, to build a youth arena (Bob Turner Memorial Centre) instead of refurbishing the Water Street Arena, and raising property taxes to finance the projects.

He accused council of “blunders, fancy promises and cheap political tricks.”

Lebano took a shot at Mayor Elzear Emard, who owned radio station CJSS, of using the station news department as his personal propaganda machine by manipulating the news and editorials, an accusation strongly denied by the mayor who said his son not he ran the station.

Emard laid the blame for the need to increase taxes on former mayor Nick Kaneb. He said his predecessor and his council failed to create reserves for much needed infra- structure in order to keep taxes low at election time.

The meeting hit rock bottom when a member of the audience shouted that welfare in the city had made welfare too easy to get, He claimed many male recipients arrived in taxis to pick up their cheques. He said some even changed into old clothes before going into the welfare office. And that many times the cheques were squandered on booze and gambling.

Welfare cheques, he said, should be given to the wives not the man of the household as was common practice.

“And then she (wife) gets beat up because she won’t turn over the cheque,” responded Emard.

“Too bad,” yelled the lout-mouth protester, a member of a prominent city family. “If she lets him hit her, she deserves to get hit.”

The mayor just shook his head as the guy got a ripple of applause from his pals.

MARCH 1965 – This wasn’t the brotherhood speech his audience was expecting. A city minister who resigned weeks earlier as pastor of St. Paul’ United Church (First and Sydney streets) told the annual Brotherhood Week dinner sponsored by the Jaycees that he was “sick” of “hypocrites” who filled the pews of Christian churches, including his former congregation.

“The (Christian) church is notorious for a lack of brotherhood,” Rev. Frank Ball told his audience. He said Christian churches were divided into class groups and racial cliques. “Seldom do we find a congregation which practises the universal meaning of brotherhood,” said Ball.

He didn’t stop there.

Repeating the Lord’s Prayer, said Ball, is one of the most hypocritical things in the Christian church with few living its words. Ball’s left-leaning political views got him in hot water with the mostly conservative congregation. Rather than change his strong views on social justice, he resigned. It was either that or be fired.

Today, his views would be embraced by the United Church of Canada.

ALSO THIS MONTH IN 1965 – The Ski-Hi Drive-in in Alexandria got an early jump on the season when it opened on March 19. … Smith Falls Bears scored with 44 seconds left in regulation time to beat Cornwall Gordon Refrigeration Royals 3-2 and claim the Central Junior Hockey League championship. The series went six games. George Desjardins and Ray Barnes scored for the Royals who were up 2-0 going into the third period … Cornwall brothers Kent and Don Plumley were called to the bar after graduating from Queen’s University law school. Graduates of CCVS, they starred with the Queen’s Golden Gaels football team. …

TRIVIA President Joe Biden received his law degree from this university: 1) Delaware, 2) Harvard, 3) Princeton, 4) Syracuse, 5) Ohio State.

TRIVIA ANSWER Barrie Dunsmore spent two years as a up-and-coming 23-year-old broadcaster with CJSS-TV. He went on to work for ABC television and at the height of his 30-year career served as the network’s Middle
East bureau chief. Of Dunsmore, former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger said, “He (Dunsmore) is one of the significant journalists of our era.” He retired to Vermont where he died in August 2018 at age 79.

QUOTED “Let us all be happy, and live within out means, even if we have to borrow the money to do it with.” – Artemus Ward

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