I like to make it a point to join my Canadian brothers and sisters in watching the Stanley Cup finals. As many of you know, I am the quintessential Canadian NBA fan, having watched the Pistons for many, many years. However, I really enjoy Stanley Cup playoff hockey, so last week saw me in front of the television watching game seven, Vancouver versus Boston.
Of course I think you know where I’m going with this. Sure, the game was almost an aberration after Vancouver fans spread out into the streets and trashed parts of the city. Boston deserved to win that game, and it was a real shame that the Vancouver Canucks were lost in the potpourri of bad behavior, which followed. Around the world, people riot for all kinds of significant injustices. In Canada, we ride about losing a hockey game.
Let me say that I was embarrassed as a Canadian. It was only last year that Vancouver hosted the world as the Winter Olympics landed on the West Coast. I think I can speak for all Canadians, the pride we took in seeing Canadian athletes and Canadian personalities take center stage. This was all done with characteristic Canadian humility and it was something that we could be very proud of. So seeing the destruction of parts of Vancouver shown around the world after losing a hockey game was just so hard to take.
The initial exclamation from Vancouver police was that criminal anarchists and thugs who came prepared for destruction after the Stanley Cup final had instigated the rioting. However, after a few days, that changed and continues to evolve. Vancouver police now say that a wider spectrum of young people many who do not have a criminal record are being implicated in much of the rioting after the game. As of June 20th 117 people have been arrested and two people have been charged.
Rioting in 2011 is much different than rioting back in the day, not that I have had a lot of experience. The difference is social media and the preponderance of electronic gadgetry which helps expose the crime. For instance according to a CBC report, Vancouver police had received 3500 e-mail tips from the public. These e-mails had 53 videos and 718 images attached to them. There were countless You Tube uploads as well as multiple hyperlinks on social media sites like Facebook. As it stands today Vancouver police still have a plethora of evidence to sift through. You can’t hide anymore; perpetrators of the violence in Vancouver will surely be tracked down.
There were also several people who turned themselves in. For instance, there was any example of an elite Canadian athlete who played on the Canadian water polo team. He was shown in a picture trying to light a rag leading into the gas tank of a Vancouver police cruiser. He was the son of a prominent Vancouver surgeon, who promptly said the following day that he would be turning himself in. The Canadian water polo team dropped him. Simply put, that was an example of a good side of our technological revolution in exposing some of this bad behavior to the lawful authorities.
However, putting a positive spin on the post-Stanley Cup final in Vancouver riot simply can’t be done. How do you go from a joyous event like the Vancouver Olympics, which showed us in such a positive light to one where the same city erupts in anger and flames over a hockey game? Is bizarre at best and is surely causing attitudes to change around the world. One example is posted on YouTube from late-night US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and how it has affected his view of Canada. He called out “Angry Canada”. You can click on the YouTube link here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpoeMccQ6CM&feature=player_embedded
The contrast in Boston was striking during the Stanley Cup celebration. Over 1 million people lined the streets of Boston to see the Bruins ride in duck boats through the streets. The next day the Boston Red Sox hosted the Bruins with the Stanley Cup sitting on the pitchers mound while one of the Bruins threw out the ceremonial first pitch. While this was happening, our media was still full of what went wrong in Vancouver. Jimmy Kimmel said the riot kind of made him feel less bad about our (American) behaviour.
So with Canada Day on the horizon it, our image has taken a hit. Yes, it’s the long way back. However, it can start leading up to Canada Day. Sure, that Vancouver riot hit hard and was bad for everybody. Needless to say, Canada Day is almost here. Let’s show the world what Canadians are really like.