Welcome to George Orwells Vancouver 2010
Barry Artiste Op/Ed
George Orwell’s 1984 in part, mirror one aspect of Big Brother is watching you as Vancouver prepares for the 2010 Olympics this winter.
Many Vancouverittes and British Columbias civil liberties association are concerned about the publics privacy issue over the installation of 900 Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV) throughout Olympic venues in our city.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P) charged with the 1 billion dollar security contract feel this is a necessary evil in order to safeguard the public and the millions of visitors attending the 2010 games.
Media reports Vancouver currently has 1,200 security cameras throughout Vancouver, many wonder if the addition of 900 CCTVs is excessive. The RCMP $30 million dollar contract with the Honeywell Corporation states only 60 to 70 cameras will be in urban areas, with the remaining 830 cameras in and around the Olympic venues.
The RCMP state surveillance will be in compliance with the Federal Privacy Act and removed after the games are over. Civil libertarians don’t believe it.
To borrow a quote from George Orwell, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf". Canada, long and short of it has few enemies in the world.
Canada has always been a democratic model many countries citizens wish their governments would follow. Canada, its people and the 2010 Olympics will be widely televised and watched by billions of people all over the planet, an advertiser’s dream. If one wishes to get their message across, the 2010 Olympics are a great medium. Terrorist organizations know this, abide by it and are attracted to large venues like a magnet.
Criminal organizations are also attracted to large venues, but desire anonymity. One fact is clear, British Columbia criminal organizations and criminal organizations the world over will be here to make a dollar, either in drugs, prostitution, gambling or human smuggling.
MacLean magazine didn't name British Columbia, particularly Vancouver and the lower mainland a World Criminal Superpower based on rumour, it is an established fact of life here, based by many who charge British Columbia is a land of liberal implemented criminal laws with a revolving door justice system. British Columbia crime statistics don't lie when it is said multiple repeat offenders continue to walk our streets, plying their trade.
Will Canada be visited by terrorist organizations looking to send a fatal message to the world? That fact is unclear, though if we have learned anything from worldwide terrorist acts on televised large public venues, the 1972 Olympic massacre in Munich was a wake up call to the world to increase security against terrorism for all other Olympic venues, unheard of in previous Olympic events.
Without the increased security for the 2010 Olympics, Canada and the Vancouver bid to host the Olympics would have been immediately rejected by the International Olympic committee, as well as participating countries. Ask yourself, would you visit or send your son or daughter to any country you thought unsafe? I would not think so.
Canada cannot be complacent and being prepared is a risk those in uniform are not taking lightly. Canada incurred the wrath of many countries when our military role in world conflicts switched from peacekeeping observers to combat.
Canada's previous role as peacekeepers who observe only resulted in catastrophy when Canada's military General Romeo Daillaire and his United Nations troops, outnumbered and outgunned by opposing forces watched helplessly as a they were made to witness the mass genocide of hundreds of thousands in Rwanda, Africa. Canada's new role these past years as military combat and enforcement in Afghanistan has enraged many organizations here and abroad, with some organizations who swore an oath to do us harm. What better way than to use the Olympics as a platform to send a world wide message for their terrorist bent.
Canadians have a responsibility to safeguard those who visit our country, just as other countries have a responsibility to ensure our safety as visitors.
The question of privacy invasion using security cameras belies the fact that with a billion eyes upon us, thousands of media cameras, cell phone cameras and video cameras all unbeknown to us will be capturing our daily life. Is this not an invasion of our privacy anyway? I ask what difference 900 cameras will make, if it becomes a deterrent to those who wish to commit a criminal act?
I am sure many realize video cameras can provide valuable criminal evidence, as I am sure the mother of the late Robert Dziekanski would attest.
If god forbid anything does happen and we are not prepared, one can be certain an enraged public and world governments will not be storming any British Columbia civil liberty organization demanding answers!
In a world where buzzwords such as Weapons of Mass Destruction and Shock and Awe, weapons of mass destruction can take any form. Who knew on that fateful day on September 11, 2001, one overlooked weapon of mass destruction, a $6.00 dollar box-cutter could bring shock and awe to a nation, only to have that nation, its citizens and the world rise up and begin what many believe is World War III?
Again to borrow another George Orwell phrase, “All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting”.
If it seems we are beginning to live in an Orwell style society, can we blame our government? Canada, as a global neighbour means our nations borders are open to all who wish to enter legally, both friend and unseen foes.
Perhaps the blame for our Orwellian predicament lay with those who are "unseen" and wish us irreparable harm.
Bob Dylan once sang "The times they are a changing", how appropriate!
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Redwater, Alberta, Canada