Volume 94, Issue 97

Friday, March 23, 2001


3-yr. degree revision hot topic at Senate

Literacy linked to income

London and Western communities get together at the breakfast table

Calgary wants photo IDs for panhandlers

USC promises a fruitful listening tour

McMaster measles scare prompts clinics


Is it time to opt-in to the USC?

His Royal Mintiness

Calgary wants photo IDs for panhandlers

By Clare O'Hara
Gazette Staff

Panhandlers in Calgary are now going to be forced to wear photo identification in order to walk the streets for change.

Calgary City Council has initiated a proposal stating the photo ID plan will be both beneficial to the poor and the overall public.

"This plan will help people work within the system instead of getting themselves into trouble," said Katie Black of Calgary City Council's community strategy division.

"We will now have a public education system. This will reduce the nameless, faceless sense of fear that people feel towards panhandlers," she said.

The new by-law will ensure everyone will follow it by choice, she said. "We have the intention that people can live with this by-law and will rightfully follow it. With these rules in place it will show society that aggressive panhandlers will not be tolerated," Black said.

Michael Lynk, a Western law professor, said there is a very persuasive argument that panhandlers are bringing forward which will go against this by-law.

"Most panhandlers and squeegee kids have been announcing to the courts that they have freedom of expression within Section 2-b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Lynk said. "The onus then goes onto the government to prove that they have the proper objective to restrict these rights."

These by-laws can potentially become legal difficulties due to the government's responsibility to prove an individual's rights are restricted only minimally. Once this is proven, the by-law is allowed to follow through, he said.

Yet social groups feel this is just another measure on the war against the poor. "The government is once again targeting the most vulnerable group in our society, they are trying to control any kind of freedom that poor people have," said John Anderson, senior researcher for the Centre for Social Justice.

"This is not an effective solution to help the less fortunate, this is a way to eliminate panhandlers. The fundamental way to control this would be to provide housing programs, welfare cheques and job training."

Social groups are working hard to help solve the economic problems faced by lower income citizens and are upset the Calgary would want to sweep these issues under the carpet, he said.

"The government is not looking at the fundamental causes, they are only trying to control the results of poverty," Anderson said. "No one is in favour of panhandlers, but this is a matter of dealing with the causes and not attacking the victims of poverty."

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