You have the right to remain silent but police don’t have to tell you

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that police don’t have to tell you about your right to remain silent.

image: Stephen Gustitis

This is only true if you have not been arrested -which is a critical point in your conversation with police.

If you’ve watched enough cop shows, you’ve probably heard the phrase:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.”

If it’s an American show you’re watching, the above warning is called the Miranda rights after a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said failure to read accused person their rights violates the United States Constitution.

It took Canada a little while to catch up but after the Brydges case in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled something similar. Failure to read Canadian suspect their rights constituted a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But your rights don’t have to be read if you are not under arrest. If you are just having a conversation with police, no warning need be given.

A booklet published by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association outlines how a friendly conversation with police can lead to an arrest.

If you’re like me, you cooperate with police. As a former teacher, I often found myself policing my students as much as teaching them so I automatically identify with police.

A friendly conversation with the police could involve an incident that they are investigating. If they don’t alert you to the right to remain silent, something you say could implicate you with the incident.

Suddenly you have slipped from being cooperative to being a suspect under arrest.

Because they don’t have to, police will not stop you from singing like a canary. For them to say: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court,” would get your radar up. To keep the conversation flowing, it’s to the police’s advantage not to warn you of your right to remain silent.

“If you don’t like the questions the police are asking, ask: ‘Am I free to go?’ If the answer is yes, you can leave. If the answer is no, you are being detained,” says the BCCLA handbook.

In the recent Supreme Court decision, an Alberta man was not told of his rights during a 105-minute voluntary interview. He came in voluntarily and cooperated with the investigation of the shooting of a friend. He was not a suspect.

The interview gradually turned adversarial. Police asked him to prove he did not commit the murder.

What? They might as well asked him where he hid the body.

His statements proved important in the circumstantial case against him and he was convicted.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Alberta man’s conviction would stand despite the slippery slope he fell down in the absence of warning.

Bottom line: when talking to the police, be polite but say as little as possible.

Advertisement

Export of Canada’s hydrogen to Germany by 2025 is a pipedream

I admire Germany for doing so much to reduce greenhouse gases. Too bad that the initiative has left them dependent on the import of natural gas –half of it from Russia.

image: Utility Analytics Institute

Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, came to Canada and signed a “Declaration of Intent” that would see hydrogen exported to Germany by 2025. Dream on.

Talk of hydrogen during Scholz’s visit has set Newfoundland abuzz with plans to build wind turbines to generate electricity and produce green hydrogen for export. But no turbines have been built, nor plants to produce hydrogen from electricity, and no facilities to convert the hydrogen into ammonia for transport.

Scholz also wants our liquefied natural gas. The chances of exporting of LNG from the east coast are close to zero.

First of all, there are no LNG export terminals on the East Coast. And even if there were, there is no pipeline to supply them. In fact, there are no operational LNG export terminals in all of Canada –the only one under construction will ship LNG from Kitimat, B.C., to Asia.

Another idea being floated is the dual use of LNG plants for compressing hydrogen. That’s also unlikely say Johanne Whitmore, chair in energy sector management at HEC Montréal and Paul Martin, a chemical engineer:

“However, hydrogen-ready LNG terminals do not actually exist today because both gases have different properties which require different infrastructure. Repurposing existing infrastructure would require extensive retrofitting at great expense. New infrastructure will take years to build, which won’t help Europe meet near-term energy needs, or abate its emissions (Globe and Mail, August 8, 2022).”

Hydrogen can be made from natural gas or electricity. When made from natural gas, it is classified as “grey” if none of the carbon produced in the process is sequestered and classified as “blue” if at least 90 per cent of the carbon is captured. When hydrogen produced from renewable electricity sources is classified as “green.”

It takes a lot of energy to make hydrogen. The use of natural gas to make hydrogen is more polluting than LNG without carbon sequestration. And most of the hydrogen produced in Canada is grey. Canada’s ambitious Shell Quest sequestration project has carbon capture rates of less than 50 per cent, well below the threshold that would classify it as blue.

Exporting liquid hydrogen is not only technically challenging, there are huge energy losses using natural gas production (30 per cent, compared to LNG’s 8 per cent).

 “As academics and engineers with decades of experience in energy,” say Whitmore and Martin, “we are concerned that Canada’s dash to build new LNG infrastructure in the hope of exporting hydrogen is not only scientifically baseless, but risks locking both Canada and Germany into a fossil-based economy.”

Newfoundland’s concept would overcome the shipping problem, somewhat, by transporting hydrogen as ammonia. But more energy would be lost in converting ammonia back into hydrogen at the end.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was dreaming when he told a G7 in June that Eastern Canada LNG infrastructures could be expanded on the basis “they could then be used for hydrogen exporting,” thereby “keeping it consistent with Canada’s longer term climate goals.”

Dreams and hydrogen have one thing in common: they are both lighter than air and float away.

A chapter closes in Canada’s worst mass murder

They parked their SUV at 7:00 in the morning of July 14 in front of his family business and waited for him. When Ripudaman Singh Malik arrived a few hours later, he was shot dead in a volley of gunfire.

While little is known of the motives of the two arrested and charged in connection with the killing, Malik is known for his acquittal in Canada’s worst mass murder.

image: dailyO

Canadians might be hard pressed to remember what Canada’s worst mass murder was.

Here are some hints.  It was the biggest terrorist attack in Canada’s history. It was the most expensive to investigate.  Relative to our population, as many Canadians died on June 23, 1985, as did Americans on September 11, 2001.

It was the Air India bombing in which 329 people died, including 280 Canadian citizens and permanent residents, 86 of them children. The flight originated in Vancouver and exploded off the coast of Ireland.

Canadians can be forgiven for not knowing much about the terrorist attack. Even Prime Minister Mulroney at the time seemed a bit confused. He gave condolences to the Indian prime minister, as if it was mostly Indians who died in the attack.

Air India flight 182 took off from Canada to England, destined for Mumbai (Bombay) India. All seemed normal for the passengers who awoke after a long overnight flight.  What they didn’t know was that a time bomb was ticking in a suitcase stored in the forward cargo hold.  The suitcase had been loaded by a “Mr. Singh” in Vancouver who was suspiciously not aboard. The flight ended violently in the early morning of June 23 off the coast of Ireland.

Now, of course, that wouldn’t happen. Passengers can’t load unaccompanied luggage –a lesson learned from the explosion of Air India flight 182.

Three were charged with the bombing but only one was convicted. Inderjit Singh Reyat served 30 years for lying during two trials and for helping to make the bombs in his Vancouver Island home. He was released in 2016.

In 2005, Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, a saw mill worker from Kamloops, were acquitted of mass murder and conspiracy charges in connection to the Air India bombing. A judge determined that two key witnesses used by the crown were unreliable.

A public inquiry issued a report in 2010 that blamed the failure to prosecute on a “cascading series of errors” by police, intelligence officers and air safety regulators and prompted then-prime minister Stephen Harper to apologize to the victims’ families.

Gunfire justice is not uncommon in the disputes between Sikh militants and India.  

Two newspaper publishers were gunned down after they met with Bagri in London few months after the bombing. Tara Singh Hayer, a publisher of a Vancouver newspaper, and Tarsen Singh Purewal a British newspaper publisher were killed after they renounced extremism and printed newspaper articles critical of Sikh militants.

Talwinder Singh Parmar, said to be the mastermind behind the Air India bombing, was killed in a gun fight with Punjab Police in 1992.

Malik’s son said that his father devoted his life to Sikh teachings of love, honesty and the betterment of humanity.

Rest in peace, Ripudaman Singh Malik.

Dr. Day’s marathon to commercialize health care

He may be down but he’s not out. Dr. Brian Day has lost court case after court case but he’s not giving up. I’ve got to hand it to Dr. Day for his perseverance.

image: Eoin Kelleher

He started 13 years ago and isn’t finished yet.

He started his mission in 2009. In echoes of today’s economic turmoil, the Great Recession cast a cloud over the land and Stephen Harper was prime minster. The number one song in Canada was I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas.

Dr. Brian Day launched his lawsuit after he learned his clinics were going to be audited by the B.C. Government. The audit was triggered by dozens of patients who complained that they’d been illegally overbilled at Day’s Cambie clinic.

Dr. Day figures that the best defence is an offence. As soon as he learned that the province was going to check into his illegal billing, he launched a court case arguing that B.C.’s Medicare Protection Act violated patient’s freedom under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It’s so typical. Whenever someone is up to no good they throw up a smoke screen. The guy who’s caught speeding? He’s not breaking the law; he’s taking his terminally ill child to the hospital.

After years of legal delays, the audit by the B.C. Government in 2012 uncovered 170 instances of extra-billing to patients which were contrary to the Act. The audit only sampled 468 services over 10 years, so there were probable many more.

The investigation also uncovered 93 instances of “double-dipping”, in which 19 doctors including Dr. Day charged a total of $66,734 to the province while charged patients $424,232 for the same treatment.

Oh no, said Dr. Day in his defence, we don’t charge patients for treatments, we charge them for “consulting fees,” and “facility fees” for equipment and staff. And no, we don’t pay doctors extra beyond what any doctor would bill the provincial Medical Services Plan.

Financial records later filed in court showed that wasn’t true.

They showed that clinics, including Dr. Day’s,  paid 140 people, mostly doctors, $1.5-million or more per year in “consulting fees,” over five years. That included a total of $1.36-million paid to Dr. Day during that period.

Dr. Day is soldiering on, determined to create a two-tiered health care system in which doctors are pulled out of public health care into lucrative private practices.

British Columbia’s highest court recently upheld a lower court’s ruling that countered Dr. Day’s claim that Canadians should have the constitutional right to pay for private health care. B.C. Supreme Court ruled that Dr. Day’s model would undermine the very basis of universal health care.

In the ruling, the B.C. Supreme Court supported the value of public good.  It’s a concept that greedy heath care salesmen don’t understand. It’s like those “freedom fighters” who don’t get the concept of public good. Public health during a pandemic is paramount; individual rights to refuse a vaccine are outweighed by the need to protect all.

But Dr. Day will continue to try to undermine our health care system which, while struggling, is superior to any private system.

Doctors’ cozy club limits our health care system

Canada doesn’t have a shortage of doctors; we have a closed shop that prevents foreign-trained doctors from practicing. The medical establishment prevents them from relieving our doctor shortage.

Image Stat News

About 5 million Canadians don’t have a regular family doctor. As a result, hospital wait times continue to grow. One study revealed that Canada has fewer physicians per capita than comparable nations: 2.7 per 1,000 people.

That puts us at 26th in countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It’s not a lack of trying from foreign-trained doctors. They spend thousands of dollars to become certified as doctors.

To become licensed in Canada involves verifying one’s medical degree and previous practical experience, passing a language-proficiency test, and completing a Canadian medical residency or practicum. This can take up to a decade to complete and can cost as much as $28,000, including lost income from when they could be working.

Despite the effort, about one-half of the 1,000 doctors who immigrate to Canada every year abandon their medical careers (Walrus, May, 2021).

Doctors are retiring at an alarming rate. By 2026, 20 percent of Canada’s doctors will be 65 or older, according to the Canadian Medical Association.

The medical establishment ensures that Canada is short of doctors. The number of residencies for foreign-trained doctors is limited. And even when a foreign-trained doctor gets one of the rare positions, the chances of getting a license is low. Last year, Ontario had licensed only about two dozen spots — a negligible sum in a province with 31,500 practising physicians. British Columbia licensed zero.

The method of determining the number of residency positions is arcane. According to the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, “Provincial and territorial Ministries of Health determine the total number of residency positions available, the specialties in which they are available, and the proportion open to CMGs [Canadian medical graduates] versus [foreign-trained doctors].”

Investigative reporter for the Walrus, Jagdeesh Mann, attempted to find out how the quotas are calculated in B.C.:

“But attempting to understand how exactly quotas are calculated each year in B.C., for example, proved to be Kafkaesque. Starting from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., I was redirected to CaRMS and the University of British Columbia, then to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, and finally to B.C.’s Ministry of Health.”

Meanwhile, the already limited number of residency spots granted to foreign-trained doctors has declined since 2013.

The problem is about to get worse. By 2026, 20 percent of Canada’s doctors will be 65 or older, according to the Canadian Medical Association. Many doctors will be retiring soon.

When my doctor retired two years ago, I went without a doctor for over a year. I only got one after a referral from a friend.

The medical establishment is racist. Of the residencies that did go to foreign-trained doctors, most went to doctors from Europe. Only 15 percent went to those from Asia and another 15 percent to Africa. This, despite the fact that many immigrants would like to have doctors who are familiar with their customs and language.

Doctors hold a lot of power in determining the number of residencies. A doctor shortage ensures that they are in demand but they could loosen their grip on the number of foreign-trained doctors without damaging their fragile egos.

Trump’s great idea: rake the forests floors clean

Former President Trump has come up with another great idea. Everyone agrees that the source of wildfires is the buildup of flammable materials on the forest floor, so the obvious solution is to clean it up.

“I see again the forest fires are starting,” Trump told a rally in Pennsylvania. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”

Well, duh. With B.C.’s forests littered with flammable materials, just clean them up.

Trump is very wise. He listens to world leaders. Trump said: “I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have, much different, we are a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.”

The Finns are so negative, people like Malla Hadley who tweeted: “I grew up in Finland. a) it rains all year round. b) we have a lengthy and cold winter. c) Finland is a sparsely populated country with just over 5mil ppl, with land size ~3/4 of CA and most of it forests and lakes. d) no friggin body is raking the forests.”

But why not accept great ideas? Make Canada Rake Again!

Get the school kids out of their stuffy classrooms and into the forests this winter with their rakes. Let them commune with nature in a productive way.

Hard work builds character, contributes to success, and promotes happiness. Once the kids lift their faces from their screens, they will be liberated by a work ethic.

Giving kids trophies and high grades without effort has negative effects. When kids are rewarded without making the effort, it reduces confidence, promotes dependency, and robs them of their personal dignity.

It takes the right person to set up these work camps for kids, someone with the moral authority and integrity of Donald Trump. Since the former president is busy restoring the once great Republican Party, we’ll have to find someone in Canada.

That person is Maxime Bernier, leader of People’s Party Of Canada.

Bernier can set kids straight on role models. We certainly don’t want kids following wimpy young people like Greta Thunberg. Of her, Bernier tweeted: ”@GretaThunberg is clearly mentally unstable. Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”

Environmentalists plan to radically transform our society through hysterical fear that the end of the world is coming. We must defend our freedom to burn fossil fuel and preserve our way of life.

Bernier’s work camps for kids would instill pride in the way that Canada was before the immigration of non-whites. But, in a demonstration of magnanimity, there would be camps for white kids and camps for non-white kids.

Songs would be composed for the kids to sing while raking the forests, songs of the glory of the Aryan race.

Kids would carry little red books with the sayings of their great leader, Maxime Bernier. In quiet times of contemplation, they would be inspired by the truths within.

A stronger federal government makes a post-pandemic Canada stronger

Two developments have strengthened Canada by making the federal government stronger.

The first was a Supreme Court ruling that determined the fed’s carbon pricing to be constitutional.

image: OECD Development Matters

Opponents of carbon pricing like to call it a “carbon tax” but, of course, it isn’t. A tax is a levy for public services rendered. As in B.C.’s case, carbon pricing simply means that burning fossil fuels costs more and that it’s is revenue neutral: total revenues collected remain the same. To emphasize this point, P.M. Trudeau said that if provinces couldn’t come up with a carbon pricing scheme, he would collect it anyway and return it directly back into the pockets of citizens of the affected province.

Because of the Supreme Court ruling, Canada is stronger much to the chagrin of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario who claimed that the feds were encroaching on their provincial rights.

A friend of mine in Alberta is very upset. He told me that Alberta should separate because the feds could now “do whatever they liked” to the provinces.

Well, not quite. The Supreme Court ruling was exceptional. The ruling was based on Canada’s obligations under 2015 Paris Agreement and the real threat of climate change.

 “Climate change is real,” Chief Justice Wagner wrote in his reason for the majority decision. “It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future. The only way to address the threat of climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The feds can’t do whatever they like. Under our federation, provinces have considerable powers that cannot be arbitrarily overturned.

Canada is also stronger because of the leadership role of the federal government in saving the economy from certain collapse because of the pandemic.

In 2008, the feds bailed out the financial sector. In 2020, they bailed out the entire economy. Had leaders followed supply-side economists, the pandemic would have unravelled the economy worse than the 1930s Great Depression.

Canada’s federal government provided extraordinary leadership during the pandemic.

David Macdonald, Senior Economist for the Canadian Centre for Alternatives says:

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has required government leadership on a scale that’s unprecedented in modern Canadian times. Including liquidity and unallocated funds, federal and provincial governments have announced almost $600 billion in spending commitments across 849 measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Of that $600 billion, only eight per cent is coming from the provinces on average. However, some provinces demonstrated greater leadership than others.

In his report for the CCPA, Macdonald found that B.C.’s contribution was the highest of the provinces -at 16 per cent of the total provincial allocation. The B.C. government stands out as providing the highest per capita individual supports, eight times higher than the next highest province, Quebec.

Albertans, on the other hand, are receiving the highest level of per capita COVID19 spending, worth $11,200 a person—93% of which is on the federal tab. Alberta receives $1,200 more support, per person, from the federal government than any other province.

It seems to me that Alberta is doing very well as a member of the Canadian federation and Alberta Premier Kenney would do well to shut up and cooperate on mitigating climate change.

QAnon Canada: quieter, subtler

QAnon in the U.S. has taken on the militaristic quality of a religious crusade with Q as the prophet and Trump as the Messiah.  In Canada, the response has been more muted.

image: National Post

QAnon has been wildly successful and expanded beyond what the apocalyptic prophet Q intended. The identity of Q is speculative s/he could be the online avatar of the American pig farmer Jim Watkins or someone connected to Watkins. Supporters are called “Anons.”

The success of QAnon has been its skill in connecting unrelated ideologies into a tangled narrative.

QAnon has brought together incoherent groups into a big-tent scheme, complete with flowcharts of the “theoretical functional relationships” of the supposed cabal of pedophiles that is operating an international child sex-trafficking ring, and a Sephirot Map of the Pharaonic Death Cult. British writer Hari Kunzru explains the appeal of QAnon:  

“Yet despite its incoherence, there is, in a strictly aesthetic sense, something sublime about it, or at least about the experience it is trying to represent, the experience of scale and complexity, of a world that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to apprehend (Harper’s magazine, January, 2021)”.

At the gut level of QAnon is a primal fear that children are being murdered and trafficked for sex.

This gnawing primal fear is not new. The groundwork for QAnon was laid in a 1980s book titled Michelle Remembers. The book sparked the “Satanic Panic” —the belief that Satanists were hidden among us, abusing and murdering children. One sensation case took place In Martensville, Saskatchewan, where nine people were charged for being members of a satanic pedophile ring. One man was eventually convicted of sex-related charges, but no such satanic ring was found.

QAnon in Canada still has the sex trafficking of children angle at heart but is subtler. The organizer of the QAnon Canada Facebook group is a mild mannered auto-glass repairman in Elliot Lake, Ontario. Blain McElrea told Walrus magazine that his passion is “an information project” that builds bridges between truth seekers. His inclusive vision of QAnon’s prompted him to start subgroups for religious devotees, New Agers, and UFO-believers.

“Basically, all of the bad things that the New York Times says about us—I am making sure that I’m not plugging into any one of those negative labels that they’re talking about,” said McElrea.

QAnon Canada is quieter, softer. Marc-André Argentino at Concordia University has discovered a new phenomenon he calls “Pastel QAnon.” It evolved from lifestyle influencers, mommy pages, fitness pages, diet pages and alternative healing. The pastel-coloured websites express pro-Trump, racist and anti-Semitic views.

Canada’s Anons are community leaders. In the Maritimes, a yoga teacher interrupted her Instagram feed to post a four-minute lecture to her more than 1,400 followers about a coming mass spiritual awakening—after COVID-19 is revealed as a distraction—and how the satanic cabal is about to be overcome by Trump, who belongs to the “team of light.”

McElrea had 4,000 members in his QAnon Canada group before Facebook shut it down. When I tried to find it, the following message popped up on Facebook:

“This search may be associated with a dangerous conspiracy movement called QAnon. Experts say QAnon and the violence it inspires are a significant risk to public safety.”

Canada’s housing agency tries to slow the exodus from big cities

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is attempting to curb the outflow from big cities.

iamge: HuffPost Canada

Toronto saw a net loss of 50,375 last year as people moved to surrounding small cities; places such as Oshawa where the population increased by 2.1 per cent according.

Municipalities around Montreal also experienced growth with Farnham seeing an increase of 5.2 per cent.

People are migrating out of Vancouver to small Interior cities, as well. In Kamloops, home sales totalled 3,044 units last year, up 6.4 per cent from 2019. Sales were brisk with homes on the market just of 2.6 months on average, compared to 5.8 months the previous year.

The pandemic has resulted in millions of new workers from home. As of December, 2020, 4.8 million Canadians worked from home. For 2.8 million of those, working from home was a new experience.

The influx of highly successful, mid-career professionals and knowledge workers has an effect on the character and culture of a small city. On the plus side, professionals have more to spend and support the arts making small cities more vibrant. Conversely, they drive the price of houses up making them less affordable for low-income wage earners.

CMHC, a Crown Corporation responsible for affordable housing, is promoting big cities. In a two-page ad in The Walrus magazine, they point to the advantages of living in denser communities:

“CMHC is also increasingly recognizing that intensification, or creating denser communities, can play a positive role in addressing not only housing affordability but other challenges — such as access to services, health status, and climate change — that factor into where people choose to live.”

Part of the appeal in moving out of a big city, it seems, is the seemingly lower rates of COVID-19 infection. But most infections in big cities have been among those working in high contact jobs, not home-work environments. And the Kamloops region is now experiencing a spike in infections.

It might seem like commute times are less in smaller cities but Vancouver isn’t much different than Kamloops. In Vancouver, the average commute time by car was 26 minutes last year. While I don’t have averages for Kamloops, most drivers had a commute time of 15 to 29 minutes according to Statistics Canada. And fifteen per cent of Kamloops drivers had commute times longer than 30 minutes.

Big cities attract medical talent to specialized clinics, making health services superior in dense urban centres. Michel Tremblay, VP at CMHC says:  “You simply can’t offer the same level of service in smaller centres; it is just not economically justifiable,”

Everyday needs such as groceries, libraries, and community support services are not only more numerous and varied in a big city, but also easier to get to by walking, cycling, or public transit. People prefer to go on foot, which is the basis for an inherently healthy, active approach to living, CMHC argues.

Personally, I’m not convinced. Despite the disadvantages of living in small cities, Kamloops was a big draw for me when I moved to here from Calgary. I like the slower pace of life and living close to nature.

But I wonder what motivates CMHC, a housing agency, to promote big cities? Is it because they are worried about a collapse in big city housing markets where they insure the mortgages?

A reliable postal system is an indication of a country’s democracy

I’ve found that you can determine how well a country functions by how well its postal system works. When I lived in Australia, I could count on letters getting back to Canada. When in Mexico, not so much.

image: Maple Ridge News

During the pandemic, especially, a functioning postal service is proving to be vital.

Even before the pandemic, the mail served as a great leveller in communication. Anyone, regardless of whether they have an internet connection or not, can communicate with anyone else. In a country as vast as Canada, that’s especially essential. For the price of a stamp, I can mail a letter to Tuktoyaktuk or across town in Kamloops.

Too often, a postal system is measured in business terms: whether it makes money or not. The value of a postal system is that it’s a public service, like public transit. A reliable mail system is a hallmark of a democratic country.

And the internet seems like an obvious replacement to mail until you realize just how insecure it is. Yes, bank statements can be sent electronically but so can fraudulent messages that dupe people out of money. The internet can’t be trusted for something as fundamental to a democracy as voting.

The postal system in the United States is under attack.  

There are mounting concerns in the U.S. over being able to vote by mail in the upcoming presidential election. President Donald Trump has continued his attacks on the United States Postal Service, stripping it of funding and blocking a nationwide mail-in voting in the next presidential election.

Mailboxes were ripped up in Democratic states just one day after Trump threatened to sabotage the USPS. Residents of Oregon and Montana witnessed mail boxes being removed. The same was happening in New York City.

USPS defended the move, saying that they were removing boxes that didn’t receive much mail and so they cut the cost of picking up mail in remote locations. Their defence is lame considering that the new Postmaster General, a major Trump ally, overhauled the Postal Service’s corporate structure and reassigned 33 top executives.

The Trump administration is not interested in a reliable postal service as a vehicle of democracy. He clearly cares not a whit about the needs of citizens with accessibility issues, disabled veterans, the elderly and those in rural communities who rely on USPS.

Meanwhile in Canada, elections are proceeding without any doubts about Canada Post being able to deliver mail-in ballots. I have requested a mail-in ballot for the upcoming election in B.C., -as have one-third of eligible voters concerned about the pandemic.

The internet doesn’t cut it when it comes to voting. Melanie Hull of Elections BC said:

 “While online voting would help ensure physical distancing, unfortunately there are still significant security concerns with this method of voting. It’s not something we recommend for a provincial election in B.C.”

The mail-in ballots in the upcoming elections in Canada and the U.S. will test our democratic institutions.  

After the pandemic is over, I’m curious to know whether a letter I send from the U.S. will make it home.