Letters to the Editors

Shinerama antics violates Safe Streets Act

Dear Editors,

Re: “Frosh Shine in Shinerama” (Journal, Sept. 14, 2004)

Although I commend Queen’s students for raising a significant amount of money ($23,500) towards cystic fibrosis, I have severe problems with the means by which this money was attained.

On Jan. 31, 2000, Ontario enacted the Safe Streets Act to prohibit squeegeeing and aggressive panhandling.

Since then, this piece of legislation has received much criticism from activists, the general public and those directly affected by the law as being a means of criminalizing poverty and further marginalizing the poor.

Clearly, many of the Shinerama events—although promoting a good cause—directly contravened this piece of legislation.

In fact, the Journal quotes a Gael saying, “We just sort of run to cars and guilt them into giving us money” and further noted that pedestrians were surrounded by groups of students chanting “Donate now! Donate now!” As far as I know, no bright-eyed Queen’s students were ticketed or fined as they solicited change from passersby; however, it should be duly noted that many panhandlers and squeegeers have received fines for their actions.

Although the Safe Streets Act is unnecessarily restrictive and unfair, it is a law that applies to everyone: squeegeers, panhandlers and students alike.

The tolerated disregard for the Safe Streets Act during Shinerama demonstrates that this law does not apply to rich and poor alike and can be selectively enforced on the basis of social class.

Tara Carnochan
MA ’05

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