- Robert Marshall - Put sharp edge on knife justice - Robert Marshall - Put sharp edge on knife justice

Wed, August 8, 2007

Put sharp edge on knife justice

By Robert Marshall

You can read the stories anywhere.

"A 13-year-old Vancouver boy is dead and 15-year-old teen is in jail after a stabbing on Saturday ... " "A 35-year-old man from the Prince Albert, Sask., area is in serious but stable condition after he was taken to hospital with a knife sticking out of his head ... " In Winnipeg, "a woman was fatally stabbed at an apartment block at the corner of ..." The very next day, "a 23-year-old man was taken to (hospital) in critical condition after being (stabbed) ... meanwhile a 22-year-old man was in critical condition after a stabbing behind the ... " Knife violence is commonplace and what we read is just the tip of the iceberg.

We talk about it, debate endlessly whether violence is on the rise or in steady decline. Academics and some political types point to numbers on a chart and espouse that violence is really about perception, even imagination. Others, like Winnipeg police spokesperson Kelly Dennison says that "we're experiencing more and more violent crime every day ... we can't hide that fact." But like the weather everybody talks about crime. Few do anything about it.

An exception is Winnipeg's Floyd Wiebe. And Jack McLaughlin.

There are others like Paulette and Rod Moffitt from Brockville, Ont. Their son, Andy, was murdered almost nine years ago, just two days before Christmas. Trying to do the right thing, he was stabbed to death by a drug dealer who was then sent to prison for just three years. The consummate justice failure.

Since that killing, Paulette has written more letters than she cares to think about, lobbying the feds to do something about knife violence. To somehow create the deterrence needed to sideline those who see violence as a means to an end. And that deterrence must include a time-out. A mandatory one where the individual has time to think and evaluate his path.

She got the attention of Conservative MP Gord Brown who introduced Bill C-393, seeking minimum guidelines for violent crimes committed with knives.

She has the support of leading authorities like Chief Bill Closs of the Kingston Police Service who has recognized the growing trends in knife violence and whose police services board has sent a formal resolution to the federal government asking for action.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is tuned in, but with a minority government the usual suspects, who embrace the "hug-a-thug" philosophy, are forever stalling any legislation that recognizes the need to toughen up.

More than 80 print articles, rooted in Andy Moffitt's murder, have appeared nation wide, most decrying the nonsense that is passing for justice. And while media outlets may advocate the principles of judicial independence, the slant of the stories and columns is a clear recognition of the crisis. It can no longer be left to the absolute discretion of judges, too many of whom relish their activism, unaccountability and plutocratic-like position.

For those who promote tackling root causes -- economic disparity and cultural malaise -- think about the decades needed for that game.

In the meantime we're at zero hour and action is required. Bill C-393 provides that.

People need to know that if a knife is used to cause harm that there will be serious consequences. And that the offender will be removed from the rest of us.

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother