Cleaning Up Calgary: Petty Crime or Profitable Contamination?

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Cleaning Up Calgary: Petty Crime or Profitable Contamination?

Last week, I shared a story about new efforts by Calgary Police to "clean up" Calgary by reducing petty crime. Minor thefts of relatively small amounts are leading to police sting operations and greater neighborhood outreach, all in an effort to make our already safe city appear safer.

This week, a news item about the difficulty in going after major corporate polluters within Calgary's borders caught my attention. It also made me wonder: where is our focus as a city, as a community, and as a society if we think petty theft is the real danger while companies make major profits by leaving us with major messes?

I'm not arguing that two wrongs make a right—that we should ignore petty theft until the pollution problem is cleared up—but it strikes me as interesting (morbidly fascinating, one might say) that law enforcement, the media, and the public at large are more upset by the theft of a stroller than they are by the potential for a nearby wood processing plant to make their children terminally ill.

When the police are busy making sure those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are being locked up while letting those at the top run roughshod over our environment and our city, there's a serious imbalance that needs addressing. I only wish I knew what exactly what should be done about it.