A Real Eye Opener-and an Unexpected Education

Special FeatureTHUNDER BAY – I participated in one of our “society systems” this past week that I had never been involved with before, as a witness at a criminal proceeding in a small north-western Ontario community and what an education it was, for a number of reasons, mostly for the proceedings prior to why I was there in the first place.

I would like to suggest to you, that you may want to take the time someday to attend an Ontario Court of Justice proceeding, as it will provide an

unexpected education and snap shot into society today and how the province is dealing with the present, which is supposed to prepare for the future.

I was requested to attend at 10 am, although I was not called to provide evidence for the issue I was a witness to, until 3:30pm. I decided to take the high road and not dwell or complain on this scheduling problem and in retrospect; I am glad that I did stay. I did leave with more questions than answers however. I therefore became a witness of our current judicial system, and the individuals who are lost in this system.

So there I was at 10 am, sitting amongst a group of approximately 30 individuals who were there to answer charges for a variety of crimes. I was dismayed to realise that they were all in some way related to drugs and alcohol. By drugs I mean prescription drugs and with the alcohol, it hit home to me that these crimes are all one way or another related to our province that is in the booze and prescription drug business.

If there was a crime outlined regarding gambling we would have everything covered that the province is involved in.

I was also dismayed at the ages of these people, most appearing to be under 25 years old. I was further shocked to find out that many of these kids, had kids of their own!

Shortly after I sat down, a young woman sat down beside me with a contingent that appeared to be family. I mentioned it was 10 am, yes well she stunk of

booze, and she was facing a hearing for her crimes!

One after one they were called in front of the court to answer for their crimes and one by one they were all remanded to another time a month or two

later, and some of them have been going through this for almost a year. So the system is not dealing with them are they? The system just keeps putting

the issues to the side.

It really struck me that if prescription drugs and alcohol were not so prevalent that there may be no need for this travelling Court of Justice. I even approached one of the attending OPP constables and this was confirmed to me that without problems of drugs and alcohol, they would be out of business. These OPP Staff spent the entire day there and there were four in attendance from this detachment.

I left with a feeling that this seems somewhat hopeless. These kids have real problems, and as the court keeps remanding their issues, they are not dealt with, therefore no cause and effect. A lot of these kids have kids of their own, how is that setting them up to be successful? What chance do they have?

Maybe I am naïve. Sure I read about crime in the media but I never realised how rampant it is in our communities. I have heard that prescription drug abuse is a problem but never witnessed how much of a problem. Alcohol has been a problem for a long time so I knew about this continuing issue, but now it is combined with these new drugs. Why are these prescription drugs being prescribed in the first place? What did we do before they were invented? We survived.

I couldn’t help think that our own province is in the prescription drug business, as they monitor the medical fraternity, and drugs they prescribe.

What if they weren’t available? Alcohol is legal and sold by the province. Then the province has a judicial system to deal with the people that commit

crimes due to the abuse of these provincially monitored drugs and alcohol.

Something is wrong with this picture.

I urge you to consider taking the time to witness an Ontario Court of Justice hearing in your community. See for yourself how we are dealing with the issues in society today. It was an unexpected education that is most disturbing to say the least.

Mike Shusterman