Scales of justice
The case of Peter Nicholas Mackey, a young Nova Scotian who appears headed for trial in a Charlottetown courtroom, some six years after he was charged with theft of a bottle of Powerade, has drawn comparisons to a well-known but fictional miscarriage of justice. The most obvious is outlined in Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s literary classic which exposes grievous flaws in the French justice system of 200 years ago.
Jean Valjean (i.e. the victimized Mackey) is hounded for years after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s hungry children. Attempted prison escapes sent him back to jail for years until he finally gets out.
Police Inspector Javert (P.E.I.’s justice system) decides it’s his lifetime duty to hound Valjean and put this minor, petty felon behind bars for eternity.
Valjean eventually embarks on a life of good deeds despite the injustices heaped upon him.
Les Miserables is described as one of the six greatest novels of all time and has been popularized on stage, television and movies.
The novel dealt with the degradation of man by poverty and recounts a life’s fateful journey progressing from evil to good, from injustice to justice and from falsehood to truth.
People shake their heads in disbelief at the miscarriages of justice heaped on Valjean and how the life of one man was turned into a living hell.
Yet we marvel that somehow he rises above all these misfortunes to become a good man doing good deeds even as he hurtles towards a tragic end.
Now we have a young man in a potentially similar situation. We have read his side of the story in detail as he chose to lay bare his soul, so to speak, to protest his innocence.
A trial in April will decide if he is indeed another Jean Valjean and if the store security officer and P.E.I.’s justice system are another Inspector Javert.
Mr. Mackey has spent six years with this issue hanging over his head — all over a $2 bottle of Powerade.
Yes, our justice system is built on laws and procedure — that all must be dealt with equally before the law without favour or prejudice. But it’s also based on common sense.
One must question the time, money and resources put into this case to prosecute one person over an alleged $2 theft. The argument is that if guilty, why should this person go free? Why indeed?
This matter should be dealt with judiciously and let this young man get on with his life and a career in the medical field.
Or have we all turned into a society of Inspector Javerts, more intent on punishment than justice?
City had no choice
The City of Summerside dealt with simple reality when it decided that its electricity customers would pay the same hikes facing Maritime Electric customers.
The city has a policy of keeping its rates in step with the Island’s major utility, and really, what option does it have?
Maritime Electric and the provincial government applied to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission for a rate increase.
Summerside council holds a discussion at the committee level whenever rate changes come up but it’s really a rubber stamp of approval.
There were arguments from citizens and the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce for the city’s utility to set its own rates — preferably at a lower level than Maritime Electric.
Summerside council is in a difficult situation. It has no reserve fund and would face a huge problem in the event of a disaster, such as a crippling ice storm, that could topple poles and lines and destroy transformers. It would depend on Maritime Electric to come to the rescue.
Council was told this week that 1,332 utility poles in Summerside need replacement at a cost of several million dollars.
Upgrading the city’s infrastructure has obviously been allowed to lapse.
It didn’t take long for council to OK the rate hikes once it heard that news.