Welcome to the police state: Calgary

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bagkitty bagkitty's picture
Welcome to the police state: Calgary

CBC is reporting that things are going to be getting a lot tougher for those people who cannot or will not subscribe for cellular phone services. As reported, pay phones in the downtown core are under subpoena (call lists being handed over to the police) and they also are going to be subjected to a 10pm to 6am curfew where they will only function to contact 911 services. Pay phones are already few and far between in the downtown, this idiotic pilot project is going to make it almost impossible for anyone without a cellular phone to make a call. The justification? "Drug dealers use these phones".

So, heaven forbid you try to call a cab or a friend for a ride if you are downtown after 10pm. Miss your bus and want to inform your parents/children/friends you might be late? Well, I guess all the respectable citizens of this miserable excuse for a city have cell phones.

I am wondering how the hell they got the authority to do this without public hearings... oh wait, it is part of the war on drugs, I guess we all have to make sacrifices. I wonder if the people at 911 are going to call a cab for me if I get stuck downtown after 10?

 

 

NorthReport

Beats tryig to flag down a cab. Wink

What about hotels? They usually have a pay phone somewhere in their lobby. Are they removing those as well.

Big Daddy

The problem is, payphones do attract scuzzy people at nightmaking their drug deals.  Perhaps they should make it mandatory that hotels, restaurants, and bars have phones available for their customers, though most do anyway...

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Not very realistic NorthReport and Big Daddy, making the general public dependent on the good-will of private enterprise. A common scene here is people missing the last bus out of downtown Calgary (service ends way too early, at least a couple of hours before the bars close, and there is NO overnight service). If the public phones on the street are "under curfew" we are supposed to depend on the good nature of the kinds of businesses you are referring to? Sorry, I worked hotel security one summer and trust me, the hotels and such are not going to put up with "non-guests" coming into the lobby past a certain time... and as private establishments there is no "right" for anyone to do so.

I think you are missing the point, these pay-phones are supposed to be available for the general public (yes even the unkempt and scuzzy) and this move by the City of Calgary is yet another assault on the public space and services. If there is a policing problem, the answer is most emphatically not to deprive the innocent of a service.

Maysie Maysie's picture

There is so much wrong with this.

The first thing that came to my mind was women and children fleeing abuse, or teens taking off and having nowhere to go. Now no shelters can be called, or friends for support, or anything like that.

bagkitty is completely right, and private businesses have no obligation to provide phones for non-customers. Women and teens in the situations I just described would certainly not be comfortable (or welcome?) going into those kinds of businesses after hours. The call list policy is also problematic, as some may not want anyone to know who they called. Remember that old thing, what was that called, oh, the right to privacy?

And I'm sorry, but because some drug dealers use phone booths to make phone calls, now all pay phones will be shut down in this way? That's from the bad school of teaching "Who threw the spitball? If nobody will confess I'm keeping everyone after class." This way "the public" blames the drug dealers, and not the idiot city of Calgary for this stupid rule.

If this is a measure to reduce drug dealing it's one of the dumbest ones I've heard of in a while.

And who uses pay phones more often? I guess that would be poorer people who can't afford either a landline or a cel. Tough patooties for them I guess, as always.

One final thing is I'm adding the word "Calgary" to the thread title so there's a bit more information before one clicks the link in the OP.

NorthReport

I'm not agreeing with the policy, I was just suggestig some alternatie possibilities which will not work for everyone as has been pointed out..

Last I heard the phone companies still came under the jurisdiction of the CRTC, and it wouldn't do any harm to make a complaint to them, although my impression is that most of their decisions side with the big guys.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Maysie and Bagkitty are right. And besides, the assumption that 'drug dealers use payphones' is ludacrous. Drug dealers do not lack for cash or cell phones; their drug-addicted customers do. This is yet-another thinly-disguised attack on the poor and marginalized in society.

And I'm betting this is being driven by the phone companies, who no longer want to have to provide payphone services. Forcing everyone in the country to carry a cell would be far more lucrative, particularly since their rates are amongst the most expensive in the entire gawddamned world.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Big Daddy wrote:
 scuzzy people at nightmaking their drug deals

And, Big Daddy? "Scuzzy people" is classist and you need to refrain from referring to people in that way.

Sven Sven's picture

I rarely even see payphones anymore.  This issue will likely soon become moot.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Maysie Maysie's picture

Yet poverty will not become moot.

Marginalized people who can't afford landlines or cel phones will not become moot.

 

Sven Sven's picture

Maysie wrote:

Yet poverty will not become moot.

Marginalized people who can't afford landlines or cel phones will not become moot.

That is no doubt true.  I'm merely noting that the issue of whether the government should or should not block payphones from being used between 10pm and 6pm will likely soon become a moot issue as payphones tend to disappear.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Yet payphones are still a valuable public service to everyone - when cell reception is bad and a landline is needed; when cellphone batteries die, or when the cell is forgotten at home or lost. When the pay-as-you-go card is tapped out unexpectedly.

Not only the poor and the marginalized use payphones.

Sven Sven's picture

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Yet payphones are still a valuable public service to everyone - when cell reception is bad and a landline is needed; when cellphone batteries die, or when the cell is forgotten at home or lost. When the pay-as-you-go card is tapped out unexpectedly.

Not only the poor and the marginalized use payphones.

Maybe there's an opportunity for you: As payphones continue to disappear, you could invest in and operate replacements.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Sealed

Big Daddy

Maysie wrote:

Big Daddy wrote:
 scuzzy people at nightmaking their drug deals

And, Big Daddy? "Scuzzy people" is classist and you need to refrain from referring to people in that way.

So I can't use this to refer to drug pushers?   Uh, ok.

It is a good point that not everyone can use hotel or restaurant phones and that, coupled with the busses shutting down early, is a problem.  Mind you, people don't have a right to phone access.  Maybe the solution is to preserve basic pay phone services with video cameras.  This ought to deter the people we want to deter.

Jingles

Quote:
Maybe the solution is to preserve basic pay phone services with video cameras.

Because the poor are borderline criminals already, we should increase surveillance of them just in case. Brilliant.

Sven Sven's picture

I wonder how people who live in real police states would look at this issue?

I think if the government was listening in to all payphone conversations, that would be a characteristic of a police state.  But, shutting off payphones from 10pm to 6am?  Com'on.  Calling Calgary a "police state" for that eviscerates the meaning of the term.  It's almost (but not quite) as hyperbolic as asserting that a society that refuses to give free ice cream and lollipops to kids is a "police state".

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Perhaps you missed this (though I suspect you willfully ignored it):

Quote:
As reported, pay phones in the downtown core are under subpoena (call lists being handed over to the police)

Sven Sven's picture

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Perhaps you missed this (though I suspect you willfully ignored it):

Quote:
As reported, pay phones in the downtown core are under subpoena (call lists being handed over to the police)

Actually, I did miss that.  And, as a civil libertarian, I would oppose that and that does have the flavor of a police state.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Big Daddy

Sven wrote:

I wonder how people who live in real police states would look at this issue?

I think if the government was listening in to all payphone conversations, that would be a characteristic of a police state.  But, shutting off payphones from 10pm to 6am?  Com'on.  Calling Calgary a "police state" for that eviscerates the meaning of the term.  It's almost (but not quite) as hyperbolic as asserting that a society that refuses to give free ice cream and lollipops to kids is a "police state".

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

 

I agree.  it is a bit over the top and your analogy is spot on.  Nobody has a right to a phone, because if phones were a basic human right, they wouldn't be pay phones.  What about all the poor people who can't afford to pay for phone usage?  This isn't infringing on a basic right here.  There has to be a solution that gives people with legitimate need access to a phone but makes it tougher on those using phones to make drug deals.  Maybe video cameras, though a better solution would be calling card access only.  

Sven Sven's picture

Big Daddy wrote:

There has to be a solution that gives people with legitimate need access to a phone but makes it tougher on those using phones to make drug deals.  

The government should leave the phones alone.  If they believe a particular phone is being used for illegal purposes by an identified person, then the police should get a judicial warrant to tap that person's conversations.

But, I stand by my earlier assessment that it's simply hyperbolic to cry "Calgary is a police state!!" over this.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

HeywoodFloyd

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Perhaps you missed this (though I suspect you willfully ignored it):

Quote:
As reported, pay phones in the downtown core are under subpoena (call lists being handed over to the police)

 

What it actually says is that phone records from those phones can be relased to the police with a supoena. That is no change. It is not saying that the phones are under permanent supoena, which would be a major civil rights and privacy violation.

In another report, one of the crown prosecutors said that they have NEVER used public phone records in trials or as evidence and that they don't anticipate that they will. The message is a deterrant/

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
What it actually says is that phone records from those phones can be relased to the police with a supoena.

 

Is that even news???

 

That's like noting that as a Canadian citizen, I can be arrested if it's believed that I've committed a crime, then running to post that "Snert Under Constant Threat of Detention By The State OMGWTFBBQ!!!"

 

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

HeywoodFloyd wrote:
In another report, one of the crown prosecutors said that they have NEVER used public phone records in trials or as evidence and that they don't anticipate that they will. The message is a deterrant/

Source?

And if true, they only want to give the impression of being a police state, without actually becoming one?

How civilized.

HeywoodFloyd

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

HeywoodFloyd wrote:
In another report, one of the crown prosecutors said that they have NEVER used public phone records in trials or as evidence and that they don't anticipate that they will. The message is a deterrant/

Source?

And if true, they only want to give the impression of being a police state, without actually becoming one?

How civilized.

 

Calgary Herald.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/City+puts+warning+stickers+Calgary+payphones+scare+criminals/1790663/story.html

 

[quote ]

But the threat of pay phone records being used in court may be more about shooing away undesirables from some community corners.

That's because records from the coin-operated phones are rarely, if ever, actually used in court.

"In a drug investigation, I've never heard of it," said Bob Sigurdson, associate chief federal Crown prosecutor in Calgary. "Most people don't use pay phones anymore. Nowadays, they use cellphones."

"(The stickers)sound like a device to discourage people from doing their dirty business on the pay phones."

remind remind's picture

So then we go back to why are they limiting telephone booth use?

HeywoodFloyd

remind wrote:

So then we go back to why are they limiting telephone booth use?

Thats's a very good question. I suppose that the answer would be based on the greater good. Is the greater good being served by limiting the use of the phones to 911 at night? I expect that the real answer will be "This is why we're trying this out."

There was a point raised earlier about calling Taxis, etc. I have extensive personal experience trying to get cabs in downtown Calgary at night. In all of the areas covered by this plan, there is a taxi stand within three blocks. They are usually at hotels but when I was there a bar strip had one too. I have never had a problem getting a cab at a taxi stand at night.

remind remind's picture

Um, walking 3 blocks at night for a woman is problematic.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

remind wrote:

Um, walking 3 blocks at night for a woman is problematic.

 

Not only that, it (the three block contention) is inaccurate (if you read the linked article and know downtown Calgary it is not difficult to name a number of spots that are the better part of a kilometer away from a hotel or cab stand), and it is attempting to gloss over the fact that this move is depriving people (and frequently people at risk) of access to what most would consider an essential service.  The paucity of public services (toilets, access to telephones, etc.), the paucity of public space itself in downtown Calgary, these are what people should be concerned about. This "curfew" on pay phones is symptomatic of a more general attack on public space and those who are not sufficiently affluent to afford the private alternatives. It is shameful, and so very predictable.

Yibpl

I have mixed feelings about this.  During former Chief Jack Beaton’s tenure the downtown seemed to become an increasingly unsafe place to be.  The Calgary Police service has expressed frustration at the “revolving door” justice system  http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2008/10/02/wachowich-catch-releas...
I can understand the CPS wanting/needing additional tools to help them apprehend criminals and protect the general public.  While I empathize with people who might be inconvenienced, I think this is worth a try.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Yibpl... how about they block cell phones downtown during these hours... so those nasty people can't carry on their illegal business using those. I realize it might cause some inconvenience, but not everyone can afford a cell phone anyway. Wouldn't that be fairer? (I WANT AN ALL SARCASM FONT)

Sineed

Drug dealers in Toronto all use cell phones.

no1important

I thought drug dealers used those pre paid cells they can toss?

fellowtraveller

Pay phones are a 'public service'?  When did that happen? 

It is true that the public pays for the rental of one for a fee, but the phone companies have never been obliged or forced to provide the service.  

Perhaps a charity could undertake a project to buy, install and  maintain community phones for the disadvantaged.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Payphones are a public service:

Quote:
In 2004, the CRTC declared pay phones an essential service however they don’t require companies provide them. Instead, they added a clause to protect existing payphones: if the last pay phone in a community is to be removed, the company must notify everyone in a high-profile way, such as running a newspaper ad.

from SpacingMontreal

fellowtraveller

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Payphones are a public service:

Quote:
In 2004, the CRTC declared pay phones an essential service however they don’t require companies provide them. Instead, they added a clause to protect existing payphones: if the last pay phone in a community is to be removed, the company must notify everyone in a high-profile way, such as running a newspaper ad.

from SpacingMontreal

So in this instance, Telus would meet the requirements of the CRTC if there was one pay phone remaining in Calgary.

I'll stiick with my original suggestion that they are not a public service, nor are they apparently an essential service, if the phone company has no obligation to provide them other than one per community where they exist at all.

I recall a time in the 90s when there were schemes afoot to purchase your own pay phone(s) as an investment as the CRTC opened the field to competition.  As I recall, it was around $10,000 per booth.   Not a good investment given what has happened with cell phones......

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

fellowtraveller wrote:

So in this instance, Telus would meet the requirements of the CRTC if there was one pay phone remaining in Calgary.

I seriously doubt the entire city of Calgary is regarded as one single community; but please, stick with your claim regardless of the facts if your opinion is that important to you.

fellowtraveller

I was simply quoting the "facts " you presented in #34.

Your options now are to revise your 'facts' or present your definition of Calgary as a community.  Flail away.

remind remind's picture

Every city, that I have ever been in,  has distinct communtiies within it, including Calgary.