Tag Archives: bianca-leduc

Private security giving speeding tickets sounds like a bad idea

Playing the Bianca Leduc card with little shame, western off-island mayors want the Quebec government to give them the power to give private security firms the power to hand out tickets for moving violations (such as speeding). They say the SQ is insufficient at the job, partially because their officers are paid so damn much.

Currently, with two notable exceptions, only police officers (municipal police, SQ or otherwise) can hand out legally-enforceable tickets to people. The two exceptions are Stationnement de Montréal (the green onions), who hand out parking tickets (but cannot ticket motorists for moving violations like going through a red light or making a wrong turn), and private security inspectors who patrol the public transit system (like the inspectors AMT hires to check proof of purchase on commuter trains), who can ticket for failing to pay a fare or other minor violations. In neither case are the agents armed, and they cannot make arrests or otherwise forcibly confine citizens.

What the mayors want is a system more like we see in the U.S., in which private companies have a limited role in law enforcement, and their actions are under constant scrutiny (to the point of having video cameras record alleged infringements).

Only one mayor, Michel Kandyba of Pincourt, has stuck out as having reservations about the idea:

Pincourt Mayor Michel Kandyba said he doesn’t agree with the other mayors that it’s a good idea to create a new category of unarmed agents to issue tickets for moving violations. More SQ officers doing more Highway Code enforcement is the better way to go, he said.

“Just imagine all the things that could go wrong with unarmed officers, given the lack of respect people have for authority in Quebec,” he said. “Imagine someone unarmed, who is not a police officer, saying to you, ‘Hey, you’re speeding, I’m giving you a ticket.'”

I think his point is very important, not because I think people are going to pull guns on these unarmed enforcement agents, but because being a police officer is more than just putting on a uniform with a big belt. There’s a reason that SQ officers are paid more than these glorified bouncers that work for private security firms, and that reason makes them much more qualified to handle the high stress situations that will arise when you stop someone for speeding.

Another reason I have reservations about this idea is because of the inequities it creates. Cities with big budgets and rich property owners will be able to afford better security. And then what’s next? Their own private court system? Private hospitals? Will their citizens get a discount on tickets compared to visitors from out of town? 2-for-1 deals?

Maybe I’m just being paranoid and silly. But can SQ officers just be replaced on the roads of Quebec’s small towns with private security officers who are paid half as much?

Another violent death story

Reporting on unexpected deaths is one of the most difficult things a reporter can be assigned to do. They involve going to a family’s home, ringing on their doorbell, and hoping that their response will be a desire to talk rather than frustration and anger at all the media salivating for a juicy quote or exclusive interview.

Then there’s the interviews with neighbours. It used to be, once upon a time, that neighbours knew everything about each other. They socialized, borrowed cups of sugar from each other, and did all of those neighbourly things we hear about in the movies.

But even in a small community like Ile Perrot, neighbours today know embarrassingly little about each other. They stay indoors and surf the Internet. Conversations with neighbours tend to take place only when both have children who are the same age.

So when 3-year-old Bianca Leduc was killed last week, after two teenage drivers lost control of their speeding vehicles and ran her over, the quotes from neighbours were less than impressive. “She was a beautiful little girl who always seemed happy, but I didn’t really know her well,” says one neighbour who wouldn’t give a name. Another, who was also the mother’s landlord, could only muster a few words about how the mother always paid her rent on time.

Neighbours of Brandon Pardi, the 18-year-old charged in the case (the other is a 17-year-old friend who can’t be named because he’s underage), were similarly uninspiring in their quotes: “like the average kid, not more, not less” was one.

La Presse’s Patrick LagacĂ© managed to track down Pardi’s girlfriend (who insists this was an accident and he would never hurt anyone) and wrote this gut-wrenchingly emotional story (even he couldn’t keep his feelings in check).

It doesn’t take long after something like this for the blame game to start. Some target the lack of police presence on the island, others blame the fact that 17-year-olds are allowed to drive, still others blame the cars themselves. Supporters of Pardi seem to prefer to blame nobody, considering this a tragic accident.

Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here, but I blame the kids. Kids who speed recklessly, gambling over-confidently that their power steering, anti-lock brakes, high-traction tires and other safety features will prevent them from getting into an accident. Then, when their disregard for common sense results in injury (most often to others), they pretend like such an event could not possibly have been predicted.

Perhaps I’m wrong about this. Nothing has been proven yet in a court of law, and nobody can say for certain if the two drivers were reckless (or, technically, even if they were speeding).

Sadly, it doesn’t matter. Even if they’re haunted by the image of this little girl for the rest of their lives, or are convicted to decades-long sentences, there are plenty of other reckless drivers out there to cause even more death.

UPDATE: It’s interesting how this story will play out, since the victim was a cute, suburban white baby, while the suspects are rich, suburban white teenagers.

Bianka already has a Facebook group with a few hundred members. Pardi’s friends apparently set one up as well, though it doesn’t seem to be public anymore.

Lots of posts related to this story on this blog.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this post listed the girl’s name as “Bianka Leduc”, based on news reports. The media seem to have agreed on “Bianca” now as the spelling of her name.