Playing the poor card

Indigent residents shouldn't have to pay fines, say Vancouver councillors

A crackdown on anti-social behaviour—urinating, jaywalking, loitering—on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has unleashed a debate over whether the poor should be spared the fines they were handed. The blitz by city police in the depressed neighbourhood was roundly criticized as unfairly targeting the indigent: most won’t be able to pay the $200-$300 fines for their alleged misdeeds. But does that mean, as at least three councillors have argued, the city should tear up the tickets? Miro Cernetig, a columnist with the Vancouver Sun, says no. Stupid as the crackdown may have been, he writes, tearing up the tickets undermines a fundamental priniciple of citizenship, namely, that we are all equal under the the law.

The Vancouver Sun

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