On Monday morning, July 12, around 10am, two armed men walked into the Proxim Pharmacy on Main Street, Vankleek Hill, and demanded prescription painkillers. The pharmacy was full of customers, but no one was physically hurt.
The two brainiacs left a few minutes later with enough OxyContin and HydromorphContin to make spending the next six years in jail, and giving a dozen innocent people night terrors for years, make sense, I’m sure.
The two very, very stupid men, were spotted by a local restaurant worker pacing between their car and the pharmacy for several minutes before the robbery. She knew something was wrong and when they left the crime scene, she quickly wrote down their licence plate number and called the police.
The cops stopped the car and arrested a man and a woman just outside Grenville, Quebec. There was no sign of the drugs, or of the second man.
Grenville is a village just across the bridge from Hawkesbury, Ontario, a small city where, just a day earlier, the Liberal Party of Canada dispatched their leader in a bus which would, after all the speeches were done, break down near Vankleek Hill, on it’s way to Cornwall.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is on a cross-Canada bus tour giving Canadians one last chance to love him as much as the Liberal delegates at the leadership convention who voted him in as leader. No… wait, something about that feels wrong somehow.
So the Liberal Party of Canada dispatched their leader directly to the poorest region in Canada (off reserve), where he announces the policy initiatives which will be the cornerstone of his tour.
According to the official site for Julie Bourgeois, the poorly named Liberal candidate for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, the topics for discussion in Hawkesbury included:
“The core message… is simple… a Liberal government will freeze corporate tax rates and generate savings of $5-6 billion a year. The Liberals will reinvest these savings in deficit reduction and initiatives that address the challenges we face as a country… including literacy, training and innovation; health, pensions and home care; clean energy, the environment and trade China and India.”
Here’s the connection between the two events. This is the poorest (again, off reserve) region in Canada. That means drug and alcohol addictions, that means mental illnesses go untreated, that means illiteracy and learning disorders, that means abuses.
And thanks to thirty years of successive federal and provincial governments all of that has become just a background hum around here. It’s the hum of power lines in the suburbs of Toronto and Ottawa. It’s always there, but eventually you just live with the smell of crack or weed or you just stop walking down certain streets.
This region started handing Don Boudria massive majorities starting in the Bronze Age and lasted until he retired a few years ago (1984–2006). For ten of those years he was one of Chretien’s most trusted MP’s. For most of those years he stayed up all night searching the archives for ways to defend his party during Question Period. He actually became known as “Binder Boy”.
For the thirteen years the Liberals were on the governing side of the House they could have at least attempted to fix Hawkesbury. Put together some kind of Provincial-Federal commission. But they didn’t. In fact, they made what had to be conscious decisions not to help the people in this region, the problems are that fucking obvious.
People in this country make fun of Americans because Washington DC is such a screwed up city, where just blocks from the White House you can pick up a hooker and coke for $20. First of all those people have never been to The Byward Market, but just travel another sixty kilometres east from Parliament Hill and the average income for single mothers is welfare.
Hawkesbury’s rate of low-income households — an income less than $20,000 / year — is over 20 percent. If an educated workforce is considered an essential investment in a community, only nine percent of people living in the small city of Hawkesbury have graduated from university, compared to 25 percent in Cumberland, a community halfway between Hawkesbury and Ottawa.
One in four people living in Hawkesbury live below the poverty line, toss in those people living at or just above the line, and almost 60 percent of the people living there are living paycheque to paycheque.
The Liberals had thirteen years (1993-2006) to fix something, anything, around here, but didn’t. And now their party is as fucked up as anything around here, and they’re coming to town in their broken down bus, asking us to vote them into power at the next opportunity so they can… what? Help us?
They came to the poorest piece of this country with nothing except the bullshit boilerplate from the pamphlet they’ll be leaving between our doors everywhere across this country, and what happens?
The Liberals get knocked off the front page of all six weekly papers in this region by two fuckups desperate for some hillbilly heroin.
Sources: Wikipedia: Don Boudria, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Prescott-Russell; Official Site for Julie Bourgeois; The Review: “Hawkesbury and Cornwall residents have lowest incomes in Eastern Ontario”, “Armed robbery catches pharmacy, neighbours by surprise”, “Ignatieff bus stops in Hawkesbury, later breaks down”; Prescott-Russell Social Services
Disclaimer: I like Don Boudria, I’ve interviewed him twice and met him a few more times. My mother was a reporter, and later editor of the local paper when Don was first starting out, and they were on friendly terms for a long time. I don’t blame Don for the lack of initiative, but I do blame the thirty years of ineffective Provincial and Federal Governments. And I have no doubt I’ll be as pissed off with the lack of solutions when the Conservatives are replaced.