Retribution north of Smokey — conflicting views

The Cape Breton Post has a thoughtful followup to my post about Victoria Standard publisher Jim Morrow’s refusal to name the members of a police advisory council in Victoria County for fear they might face retribution in the district north of Cape Smokey. Morrow portrayed the area as rife with retributive justice and public fear, and asserted that new houses cannot be insured there because of widespread arson.

The Post noted that accounts of the social fabric in Northern Cape Breton often conflict:

Delilah Delores Dixon and Peter Sheldon MacKinnon, who were recently ordered out of their Bay St. Lawrence Road home under the province’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, were alleged to have been using and selling illegal drugs, and playing host to a group dubbed “Society’s Rejects.”

Now, try to square that image with one painted by Dina Waik and Debb Bertazzon of Toronto in a letter to the editor published on Sept. 4, 2010. The two were trapped in Meat Cove after a torrential rain storm on Aug. 22, 2010 washed out that community’s roads and bridges.

“Allow us to thank the wonderful residents of Meat Cove who helped us in every way and opened their homes to us when we were in need,” ran part of the letter, which depicted how the two tourists were fed, lodged and entertained free of charge.

“We were absolutely inspired by their thoughtfulness, consideration and insistence that our needs be put before their own, despite what they had already lost.”

It’s difficult to square the two images, because one is of a community at its worst due to a few dealing with chronic adversity and the other is of a community at its best in the face of acute adversity.

In further mixed messages,. the Post said Johnny Buchanan, municipal councillor for the area, refused to speak with the paper on the record about the arson problem. Given the long history of arson, I wondered whether more sophisticated policing was in order. Already in place, says the Post:

The Post learned Wednesday that the Ingonish Beach RCMP detachment’s allotment of five officers has been augmented by four Mounties brought in specifically to investigate arsons. Seemingly, once those files are cleared up, the four will leave. But the root problem will remain. Police can’t be everywhere a ne’er-do-well flicks a lighter, but a permanently bolstered force would help.

For its part, Information Morning Cape Breton, first to take note of the concern, had a reporter in the area Wednesday, and plans to follow up on the story tomorrow.