Officialdom can be a riot

Brian Jones
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The mayor's and police chief's comments would have been funny, except that louts had destroyed a considerable portion of downtown Vancouver.

The day after Lotusland's anti-celebration last week, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and police Chief Jim Chu were intent on ignoring the obvious.

They echoed the common sentiment that the rioters were not "real" hockey fans.

Evidence to the contrary was all over the news. Pictures and footage showed many participants wearing Canucks jerseys. The riot zone was a sea of green and blue.

Oh, look. There's someone wearing a vintage 1980s Canucks jersey of black and bright gold. Oops. My mistake. It's just flames and smoke rising from a burning car.

Maybe "real" hockey fans paid $3,000 to watch the game live, rather than on big screens on the street.

There is a trend among people who hold office over the masses. Whether elected, appointed or hired, members of officialdom seem to think their words are ingrained with truth and wisdom simply because they utter them.

It was clear to anyone watching the news that all those people breaking windows, looting stores and destroying cars were indeed hockey fans, albeit badly behaved ones.

Even so, Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu brought forth this whopper: the riot was instigated by "anarchists."

Perhaps the mayhem began when two guys - losing interest in the game when the Bruins' lead reached 3-0 - got into an argument about whether Berkman or Bakunin had the better critique of state-run society.

Anarchists? Chief Chu, and the thousands in the rioting mob, wouldn't know Emma Goldman if they tripped over one of her T-shirts. (Still my favourite: an image of Goldman, with her quote, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.")

Far from Chief Chu's interpretation of it, anarchism is a legitimate political theory that contemplates a society without government. It aims to "smash the state," not plate-glass windows.

Despite official attempts to cast blame elsewhere, the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot was the work of regular people who are simply spoiled brats who were never taught proper manners.

Taking the lead from the mayor and police chief, some commentators tried to bring some sort of social analysis to the situation. The rioters, according to this theory, were disenfranchised youth angry about their lack of prospects in a viciously competitive capitalist society. Whew.

Except, they weren't. First, anyone wearing a $100 NHL team jersey isn't downtrodden.

Second, consider one of the most famous pictures to come out of the riot - the kid stuffing a burning rag into the gas tank of a police car. By now, real hockey fans and other Canadians know he is a 17-year-old water polo player who is on the national junior team and has a university scholarship. News reports said his father is a "prominent surgeon" in Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver.

Asinine actions

In terms of black humour, officialdom is a riot, a reliably hilarious standup act. On issue after issue, officials say things that are demonstrably false. (See: Libya, no-fly zone.)

What isn't funny is that they continue to get away with it. Sometimes, the citizenry even reward them for it. (See: majority government, S. Harper.)

Locally, we hear the federal government say the work of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre can be done just as well out of Halifax and Ontario as out of St. John's.

At the same time, the government wants St. John's personnel to continue their jobs in Halifax - "to retain local Newfoundland knowledge," according to Wednesday's news report.

It's contradictory, illogical, nonsensical, indefensible - and a typical action of officialdom.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be contacted by email at

Organizations: Canucks, Bruins, NHL Joint Rescue Co The Telegram

Geographic location: Vancouver, Halifax, St. John's Maple Ridge Libya Ontario Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Bob
    June 24, 2011 - 15:58

    Brain dead best describes the authors of the latter points covered Brian. Rex Murphy best described the miscreants in Vancouver. Now, if only we could wake-up the judges and bar some of those nut lawyers.