Saturday, 24 November 2012

Dying Dogs, Dying Children, and Irony

History repeats and irony is alive and well in British Columbia.

During a week in 2010, two major stories broke simultaneously in British Columbia.  The first was a report by Child Advocate, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond that during the build-up to the 2010 Olympics, 21 children died in BC as a direct result of poverty.  The second story was the killing of 56 sled dogs by an employee of Howling Dog Tours after a slump in post Olympic business.

The deaths of 21 BC children faded into the background while the deaths of 56 dogs went viral and was carried by media outlets around the world.

And here comes the irony ...

This week, two more stories broke in British Columbia; The first was a story out of Vancouver that a group of over 30 impoverished children in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood had formed a Suicide Pact.  The second story is that Robert Fawcett - the man who killed the sled dogs - received a sentence of 36 months probation and a $1,500 fine.

Once again, the story about the impoverished, suicidal children is being swept aside as news services pick up the Fawcett sentence and editorialists, radio talk show callers, and citizens are screaming foul for such a light sentence.

Now don’t get me wrong - I am a dog lover.  I’ve happily shared my home with dogs all my life. In some cases, I prefer dogs over humans.  Some of the finest critters I’ve met are dogs.

But where are our priorities?

Two years ago, 21 - let’s emphasize that: TWENTY ONE children died in British Columbia as a direct result of poverty.  And they died while our Provincial Liberal government slashed social supports that could have saved them in order to spend $10 Billion on the Olympics.  They threw a party while children were literally starving to death in the shadow of the Olympic Village.

In 2010 Turpel-Lafond called for the Provincial Liberals to take the lead in reducing child poverty in her report; “Fragile Lives, Fragmented Systems: Strengthening Supports for Vulnerable Infants”.  She was ignored then as were the children of British Columbia, and she is being ignored now as I wrote in my last article, Dying Children - Taking a Stand.  Our Province now holds the distinction of having the second highest child poverty level in Canada.

And consider this most recent story out of Vancouver - try to imagine a group of children between the ages of 12 and 15 who see their lives as so hopeless that they consider Suicide as the only escape from their daily pain.  Where are the headlines for these children?  Where are the editorials?  Where are the callers to radio talk shows demanding justice for them?

We live in a society that does not value children.

I’ve taken a great deal of criticism for that statement in the past, but the evidence is in once more;

Dying dogs matter.

Dying children don’t.

Aaron D. McClelland, RPC -

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