Friday, August 8, 1997

The whole story hasn't been told

No one loves a good conspiracy theory more than journalists. Which is why the absence of any real evidence of police corruption in the Wing Lee child pornography case is so frustrating.

Whether Arlene Hache's allegation that police ignored evidence that children were involved in prostitution and pornography -- evidence to which she directed them over the past five years -- warrants an independent investigation is a tough call.

The Yellowknife Women's Centre's executive director, or her suggestion that prominent Northerners were involved, should not be dismissed out of hand, even though the police have done so in an uncharacteristically blunt fashion. But from our point of view there is a more fundamental question that demands an answer first.

The whole Wing Lee affairs springs from a police raid one night this spring of the Five Aces Social Club, which has been running nightly poker games on a regular basis for the last 15 years or so.

The club's existence, and the fact that it has been frequented by prominent Yellowknifers, is and has been common knowledge across the NWT for years. Few seemed to have a problem with it, and why should they? After all, gambling is only illegal when the house takes a cut.

Here is the unanswered question: Why, after all this time, did the RCMP decide to raid the Five Aces Social Club? Was their discovery of 14 handguns and some 1,300 sex videotapes, many featuring underage girls, just a lucky break?

What changed? What was the trigger?

Against this backdrop, Hache's allegations assume a certain level of credibility. Maybe not enough for an independent investigation, but enough to warrant at least a more transparent explanation from police about why things happened when they did.

Striking out

The last thing that this town needs is a miners' strike.

The price of gold has recently dropped to $320 an ounce. Royal Oak's stocks are trading at $2.36, down from $5.70 in September, reflecting Peggy Witte's failed corporate strategy.

Yellowknifers are dealing with the pending impact of division of the territories, "for sale" signs are popping up on front lawns like fireweed and Caribou Carnival's future is wobbly at best.

Nobody is dismissing the Con Miramar miners' legitimate concerns -- they haven't had a pay raise in far too long -- but, as in many other aspects of life, timing is everything.

Creative grads

There are few things as pathetic as a high school graduate who either fails to secure a summer job or gives up trying to obtain one and then complains about the lack of work.

That's why Peggy Holroyd and Erika Pittman, who are bound for university this fall, are so impressive.

They created their own employment, selling T-shirts emblazoned with hand-designed logos and caricatures. The St. Pat's grads got their start with a small loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada, which they have to pay back in September. More than a money-making venture, the two learned a thing or two about entrepreneurship, too.

We already knew they have what it takes to be successful people -- otherwise they wouldn't have risen to the challenge in the first place.