Bring him to justice – on Canadian soil

“He’s back.” Those are the words that greeted me when I answered an early morning phone call today.

George Flowers, aka Mr Flowas, has been returned from Jamaica, processed, charged with several counts of aggravated sexual assault and currently sits in a jail cell somewhere in or around Toronto. Not sure when he will appear in court for a bail hearing, but my best guess is sometime today. In my view, this will be a mere formality and bail will be denied as he is a flight risk – it just took almost four years to get him from Jamaica. As and when more information becomes available and can be confirmed, I’ll post it.

Once again, if you had sexual relations with this man but didn’t come forward earlier because you didn’t think he’d be caught or were afraid, well, they caught him. He’s in jail. And don’t be afraid any longer. Please contact Detective Sergeant Nancy Johnston at the Toronto Police Service, 55 Division, at 416-808-5505. You don’t have to have tested positive – DS Johnston wants to hear from you.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – coming home

I’ve waited a long time to write these words: I have received and confirmed information that George Flowers will be returning to Toronto on June 21 accompanied by a member of the Toronto Police Service. This has been a long time coming because his legal counsel exhausted every possible legal means to keep him in Jamaica.

I urge any of my followers and readers that if you have had sexual relations with this man, or know anyone who has, to come forward if you haven’t already done so. Contact Detective Sergeant Nancy Johnston at 55 Division, Toronto Police Service, at 416-808-5505. As Detective Johnston told me when I first started writing about this, you don’t need to have tested positive to have a valid complaint. Just the fact you had relations without knowing his status is enough.

Cat.

No Ben, just no

I try to avoid commenting on American politics on general principle because I have plenty of targets here in Ontario, but every once in a while comes a WTF moment that can’t be ignored. Such was the case earlier this month with the comments of Ben Carson. Something about immigrants coming to America in the holds of slave ships, working hard for less and dreaming of starting a new life for themselves. No Ben, just no. This is the sort of thing Kellyanne Conway would no doubt call “alternative history”.

Ben, these people were in the holds of slave ships because guess what? They were slaves! They were treated as cargo, not passengers. Once they arrived in America, they were property, not immigrants; not people who chose to come to America in hopes of a better life. They were ripped from their comfortable lives in various African countries and forcibly shipped to your fair shores. As property, they could be bought and sold, just as the plantation owner could buy and sell horses or cattle. And in many cases, the livestock was better treated than the slaves.

If they were dreaming of anything Ben, it wasn’t of making a better life for themselves in America. I’m just guessing here, but if they dreamt of anything, it was escaping, making contact with the Underground Railway and finding their way to Canada, where they could truly live as free people and make a better life.

Ben, I understand revisionist history is common in the administration of which you are part, where your president denies saying things he has been recorded as saying and other members deny speaking with the Russians despite proof to the contrary, but really, calling slaves “immigrants” is too much of a stretch. Immigrants indicates to me, at least, they came willingly, whereas slave ships did not carry willing, paying passengers. History texts are not printed in a looseleaf format for a reason: the past can’t be changed and is not subject to being altered at will by you or anyone else. . And “alternative history” is properly called “fiction”.

So, no Ben, just no.

Cat.

Raandom thoughts inspired by television

1 – Winters in the west can be especially nasty. Just ask anyone who lives in Manitoba or Minnesota if you doubt me. It wasn’t a fashion statement that the Winnipeg police wore buffalo hide coats in winter, it was because they were warm. Yet this week alone about 50 people have braved sub-zero temperatures (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) and walked across snow-covered field in hope of finding refuge in Canada. These people are, or were, all refugees living in the US, some of whom had already been granted the right to live there. They are taking this difficult trek and risking hypothermia because they are aware that if they presented themselves at the border crossing at Emerson Manitoba they may be refused entry. In this particular area, there is no physical barrier separating our two nations, so it is easy to gain entry to either country.

When asked, many of these refugees state they are afraid of what is happening in the States right now and don’t feel safe. And given this week’s shootings in Kansas and Washington state, I don’t blame them. The election of Donald Trump appears to have triggered a wave of xenophobia among many of his followers and emboldened them to the point these followers feel they can shoot or kill anyone who looks or dressed differently with, if not impunity, expectations their actions will be feted by others with the same mind set

Had these people tried approaching the customs house at Emerson, they would have been refused as I wrote above. There exists an agreement between the US and Canada that in essence says that refugees who arrive in one of these two countries cannot use that country as a jumping off point to the other. I’ve heard on the news this may be called a doctrine of “First Safe Country”. But, these people no longer feel America is a safe county, hence a two hour walk across snowy fields in temperatures as low as twenty below F – around -35 Celsius – to seek sanctuary in Canada.

On the news this morning I heard an interview with the Canadian Immigration Minister who stated both the RCMP and Canadian Border Security Agency have sufficient resources to deal with these arrivals. But rather than round these people up and ship them back to Minnesota, the Minister (and this makes me proud to be Canadian) has given the town of Emerson $30,000 to help with the costs of hosting these new arrivals. Further, the news reports that most of these refugees do qualify for Canadian residency. There may be charges after the applications are processed for entering Canada illegally, but I don’t think these people are worried about that too much. We the north – home of the free.

2 – Earlier in the week I watched a documentary on the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the subsequent manhunt for those responsible. Just after this happened, I wrote a piece in which I voiced the view that we, journalists, bloggers and anybody who writes opinion pieces are also Charlie. Charlie Hebdo is a publication that relied heavily on satire and while we who also write may not resort to that particular form of writing, we sometimes venture into sarcasm or some other form, such as allegory, to make our point. As someone who is willing to put their point of view “out there” for others, we are bound to upset some of our readers. It may be said that if we’re not upsetting someone, we aren’t doing our jobs properly. In the gatherings after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo many people held signs reading “Je suis Charlie”. For people who write and post their views and opinions on various topics, and I include myself in that group, I think we could modify that sign to read “Nous somme Charlie”, for in our own way we may be just as controversial.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – Canadian justice pending

He’s coming back. According to an article in today’s Jamaica Observer, George Flowers has lost his final appeal against extradition to Canada. A representative of the Toronto Police Service will be travelling to Jamaica to escort him back to Toronto to face justice in a Canadian courtroom.

I must admit I have mixed feelings writing this. On the one side, I have some concerns for his accusers; that they will have their carefully reconstructed lives ripped apart by his lawyers in court; that the secrets they’ve been hiding for many years will be exposed. On the other side, that George Flowers will finally face the justice he so richly deserves is satisfying. Full disclosure here: I know people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive, so I am finding it difficult to remain neutral in this, but I will do my best.

His sexual assaults date back at least twenty years and he has played the Jamaican legal system for at least three years. Finally though, he has run out of options and the Jamaican courts have said to Canada “you can have his ass, just come and get him”.

I’ll write more when I have more details, but in the meantime I ask for your prayers for his victims.

Cat.

Information – don’t leave home without it

I found the following in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday: Police Called as American Tourist “Shocked” to Discover Canada has its “Own Currency” from a site called “Failmuch.com fmnews”.

According to the article, a tourist from Indiana was in Vancouver and purchased something in a store with US funds and received her change in Canadian money, which is usual. It didn’t state if they gave her exchange. She apparently freaked out at the Canadian money and demanded they give her “real” (US) money and the police had to be called. This article appears to be fake for various reasons.

She is quoted as saying she thought Canada, or at least British Columbia, was just another state, like Washington. Not buying it. Surely she would have realized something was amiss when she had to produce a passport to clear Canada Customs at Vancouver International Airport.

While the story is phony, unfortunately the attitude detailed is not unusual. I am fond of a show called “Border Security” which covers the activities at several British Columbia ports of entry. These ports, especially the land crossing at Douglas Highway, make for some “shake my head” moments because Douglas Highway is the main port for Americans driving to Alaska or Port Roberts Washington. One incident in particular stands out.

A couple from Texas wanted to drive to Alaska. Unfortunately he neglected to check on Canada’s gun laws before he left home. At customs he admitted he was carrying a sidearm. When told he couldn’t bring it into the country, his response was “I thought carry laws applied everywhere.” Dummy, they may apply anywhere in Texas, but you’re now in a foreign country that doesn’t necessarily recognize American, especially American state, law. The weapon was confiscated for later destruction and he was fined. I’m not sure if this incident was the result of ignorance of Canadian law, or simple American arrogance.

All too often on this show, people from California will be stopped and found to be in possession of marijuana, claiming they have a state issued permit to use it. Sorry dude, that piece of paper is worthless in Canada. The usual result of this is arrest for smuggling drugs into Canada.

People, and by people I mean Americans intending to visit to Canada, before you plan your trip, take some time and get some information on Canadian laws. You can’t bring your sidearm into the country. A long gun may be permitted provided you complete the proper paperwork and it isn’t a type banned. In other words, leave the AR 15 at home unless you want it seized. Medical marijuana permits are another thing. They are only valid in the state of issue and mean nothing to Canada Customs. Bringing weed into the country will restrict your site-seeing to the inside of a jail cell.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Neither is the arrogance I see displayed by so many people on “Border Security”, who seem to feel that being American gives them leave to do whatever they want. Doesn’t work that way and that arrogance could land you in the cell next to the drug smuggler.

Learn something about our laws before you come. Oh yes, don’t lie on the entry documents or to the Customs inspector because they could refuse you entry.

Other than that, welcome to Canada and enjoy your stay.

Cat

Arrogance or ignorance?

Recently I’ve been watching a television show called “Border Security”, which details the daily lives of the Canadian Border Services.  The show covers mainly some of the ports of entry in and around Vancouver – the airport; the harbour, and some of the road crossings between Washington and British Columbia as well as the international postal station.

I spend much of my time watching this show shaking my head at some of the things – and excuses – I see people trying at Canada Customs.  From watching this show now for several weeks, it appears some people, especially from the Orient, insist upon trying to bring in suitcases filled with foodstuffs, foodstuffs they didn’t bother declaring.  Minimum penalty for this is confiscation of the goods and an $800 fine.  Another tactic that students from the Orient appear to use is flying into Canada to study without bothering to get the proper paperwork before leaving home (this is a real case of “don’t leave home without it”), expecting to apply for it once they arrive on Canadian soil.  Every single one of these “students” has been on the next flight home.  Point of interest: If you’ve been convicted of an offence in the US, and there is a comparable offence in Canadian law, you will not be admissible to Canada.

I’m not certain whether this next lady truly didn’t know the requirements for visitors to Canada, or just thought she could live off the system.  She flew from Paris to Vancouver to meet her boyfriend.  She had no funds available to her and planned on staying in a hostel.  It turned out her boyfriend was homeless and living in a shelter.  After some investigation – and being cursed out in French – the lady was put on the next flight back to Paris.

The land crossings are where I really ask myself whether some of the things are done from ignorance of Canadian law, or simple arrogance that because they are American, they can do what they want.  I don’t know how many people I’ve seen arrested for smuggling drugs into Canada because they have a medical use marijuana card from California.  That card has no legal effect in Canada and bringing your own supply into Canada is illegal.

The one that I really have to consider arrogance was on one of last night’s shows.  A man was at one of the border crossings and was pulled aside for secondary inspection.  When he entered the office, he appeared quite upset.  When questioned he said “I expected to just drive through.”  He seemed even more upset when the Customs Agent told him that he was a foreign national and subject to inspection. The officer later further added that entry to Canada was a privilege, not a right and subject to certain criteria.  He was eventually cleared for entry, but not until after a thorough search of his vehicle.

One thing Americans do seem to be very conscientious about is declaring their firearms.  Considering the great differences between American and Canadian gun laws, I’m impressed by that fact.

Mail arriving from certain countries is automatically subject to examination.  Drugs have been found in everything from picture frames to wedding invitations.  Such discoveries are turned over to the RCMP for further investigation.

Another time where people feel they won’t get caught is bringing money into the country.  People can bring in all they like, but if it’s over $10,000, it must be declared to Customs.  Failure to declare excess funds will result in Customs taking the money and issuing a fine as well.

Canadian travellers returning from other countries don’t get an easier ride than visitors.  They are subject to the same stringent examinations as every other arriving person.  One of the more interesting (and weird) cases here was the Canadian citizen returning after two years in Thailand.  Among the things he brought back was a toilet.  Can’t remember what reason he gave Customs, but after an examination of his unusual souvenir, he was welcomed home.

As I said, I’m not sure if some of the things portrayed on this show are the product of people’s ignorance or their arrogance.

Cat.