Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jul 2007
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Christina Blizzard


Oh, my. It seems I touched a raw nerve in Ottawa a couple of weeks 
ago when I suggested they had a -- how shall I put it? -- okay, 
they've got a drug problem.

TV and radio stations there picked up on it and took polls to see if 
readers agreed with my assessment. Most of those who called in said I 
was right.

My e-mail filled up with comments -- both for and against my view.

Truth be told, some people were very angry and thought I shouldn't be 
writing about their city. One person told me to "shut my yap and go 
back to Toronto."

Dozens and dozens of people wrote to tell me that the situation is 
far worse in Vancouver. As if that somehow excuses it. Ottawa's got a 
really bad problem with crack cocaine being dealt openly. But 
Vancouver has a problem too -- so that makes it okay?

And, as I knew they would, people pointed out that Toronto has its 
own problems. Yes, we have a gun problem here. Four people were shot 
to death in Toronto last weekend. I have written endlessly about this 
city's gun violence. That's what I do. I write about things that need 
to change. If society sweeps these issue under the rug, nothing will 
ever get done.

Just because Toronto or Vancouver has one problem, it doesn't mean 
that I can't write about another problem in the nation's capital. 
Three wrongs don't make a right.

As for going back to Toronto, well, whether you like it or not, 
Ottawa is my city. It is the national capital. The cradle of 
government in this country. It's where I go if I want to see my MP at work.

Where do we send our children when we want them to understand the 
democratic underpinnings that keep this country great? We pack them 
in buses and send them off on school trips to Ottawa.

Like it or not, fellas, your city is the guardian of every 
institution we hold dear: The Supreme Court of Canada. The Parliament 
Buildings. The Peace Tower.

When we want our kids to pay tribute to our war dead at the national 
war memorial, that's where we send them. If we want them to watch 
national debate in Parliament, they go to Ottawa. If they want to go 
the War Museum, the National Gallery -- all those great institutions 
that are the very essence of what it means to be Canadian -- they go 
Ottawa. And I don't think we want our kids to see drug deals going 
down right across from Parliament Hill.

Some people were insulted by my column. They think I don't like their 
city. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I love Ottawa. It is one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in 
the world. What better way to spend a hot summer evening than sitting 
out on a patio having dinner in one of those superb restaurants in 
the Byward Market? Yet I had to fight off panhandling drug addicts 
clearly desperate for quick cash for their next fix.

I got countless e-mails from people who agreed with me. Those who 
work in the National Defence Building seem to be under siege by crack 
addicts. I got numerous e-mails from them. I also heard from visitors 
from overseas who had been posted in Ottawa and who had been shocked 
by the open drug dealing in that city.

It seems my column hit with a bit of a thud because it came hard on 
the heels of the city canning a crack pipe program they'd been 
funding. Crack pipes? For pity's sake! Crack pots, more like. They 
make Toronto's loonies look moderate by comparison.

Of course, some people said I'm the one with the problem. Apparently, 
by their logic, we should just hand over our capital city to junkies 
and crack addicts because, well, that's the Ottawa way, apparently.

I don't think so. By far the majority of responses came from 
concerned citizens who want to reclaim their city from the downhill 
trend they have seen. That's a good thing. Because everyone knows the 
first step to getting off drugs is admitting you have a problem.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom