An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT TOOK NO TIME AT ALL for the promised crackdown on ne’er do wells who knowingly ignore attendance rules for gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday morning, an obviously frustrated B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth laid out tough new penalties for those who refuse to toe the line.
Friday night, police in Victoria were called to a party in an apartment where way too many people had congregated. After one attempt to convince the hosts to break it up failed, they returned and issued a ticket for the new maximum fine of $2,000 plus a $300 victim surcharge.
Unbelievably, they were called back to the same location early Sunday morning, issuing a $200 fine and a $30 surcharge and arresting one person who failed to comply with orders to vacate the premises.
Yay. Nothing grabs people’s attention like a punch in the pocket book. Maybe the partiers will finally start taking this pandemic seriously.
Let them whine all they want about their rights and freedoms, about government conspiracies, about their ridiculous belief that the pandemic is really just another flu season. Let them insist they’re immune. Let them flood social media with outrage and indignation.
B.C. has been doing pretty well in comparison to other places when it comes to getting a handle on COVID-19 but not well enough. The number of active cases is edging up again and tough measures are needed.
The penalties set out by Farnworth are reasonable and enforceable. By giving authority not just to police but to conservation officers, liquor inspectors and WorkSafeBC officers to issue fines, he has made it a lot easier to crack down.
It should go further, though. Instead of simply fining the hosts and uncooperative attendees, authorities should start slapping fines on anyone found on the premises.
Don’t like it? We’ll see you in court.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.