A Canadian motorist who recklessly mowed down two of three Jamaican farm workers in 2005 was merely handed a slap on the wrist by the Canadian justice system on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in terms of sanctions. This individual’s name has been published as Charles Morris, a 26-year old Canadian of the so-called mainstream stock. His penalty will be house arrest for two years, suspension of his driver’s licence for a few years and the serving of a probationary period.
In addition to the alluded to facts, Jamaicans should note the length of time it took for “justice” to be effected. Even though, the driver of this vehicle, had committed this offence way back in 2005 and charged with the offence in October 2006, it was just on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 that this case was settled. Remember all this is occuring in Canada, a so-called first world, industrialized nation!
As bad as this tardiness depicts, that is the least surprising with this case. The shocker here, however, is the apparent scant regard and low value that seem to be placed on the lives of immigrants and those who are not of the mainstream of the Canadian society. The irony with the justice meted out to Mr. Morris who used his motor vehicle recklessly, is that if those who lost their lives, the farm workers, were to have crashed their bicycles into a Canadian dog or worse, maime or kill it in an accident, their fate (the farm workers’) would, undoubtedly, be imprisonment (read real hard prison) for a minimum period of time with hard labour likely, plus a fine.
The question to be asked therefore is, is it that the life of a dog, squirrel or a cat is more precious than that of a poor, black, immigrant/trade worker? This question not only merits being asked but it requires an honest response on the part of the powers-that-be both in Jamaica and Canada.
Furthermore, we need to ask the following questions: Has the Jamaican Government thoroughly investigated the manner in which these poor farm workers who travelled far, and to work under extremely tough conditions, lost their lives? Is the Jamaican Government satisfied that the sanctions given to the perpetrator responsible for the snuffing out of these farm workers’ lives, demonstrate justice? Have they investigated and confirmed that all the means are in place for Mr. Morris to in fact serve his home imprisonment for the loss of life of these Jamaican farm workers? Who is responsible for monitoring his movement? Will there be some computer device attached to his legs or other body parts, at all times? If not, how can it be guaranteed that he will remain home and not out and about, clubbing and partying as all FREE people may?
Jamaicans need to be assured that when they travel to Canada, the USA and other foreign nations to work that their families’ rights, worth and values as persons, remain intact, or are we to conclude that our own Jamaican authorities may also perceive our farm workers, etc., as lowly as they may be seen abroad as depicted by the penalty offered inthis case? Could it be that the Canadian authorities, in this case, are merely feeding from our own Jamaican culture, in this regard?
The reality is that if the local, Jamaican authorities cannot guarantee certain basic conditions in place for workers who are exported through their work programmes, they should not be party to any project that seeks to purchase their labour in a contractual manner between our government and those of foreigners.
An added fact is that the using of taxpayers’ money to ship a body home, emanated out of undesirable treatment and/or poor justice for the purpose of burial, can hardly be considered comfort for anyone who lost a dad, husband, brother, uncle, grandpa. Not even in the case of those who may be regarded at home and abroad as being members of the lesser nobilities of our society.
Justice MUST be embraced and sought. (Prime Minister) Golding, we await your commentary on this matter. Your immediate action, would undoubtedly be a welcoming Easter gift to all, one much greater than the traditional offerings of bun and cheese, obviously!
About Joshua Spencer
Joshua Spencer is an educator, author and poet. He writes out of Toronto Canada