On Tuesday Rosemary Barton was on our publicly funded broadcaster discussing the riots in London, speculating that "government austerity measures" can lead to public violence. Did you hear that Canadian government? Consider yourself warned! Try to roll back the CBC's cost expenditures, and it could lead to hooligans out in the streets of Ottawa throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars. Rolling back the number of climate change jobs at Environment Canada could lead to looting and widespread civil unrest. Sure, CBC employees might have a conflict of interest when discussing government spending, but there are many historical examples where spending cuts have led to public employees gathering in large numbers to protest (with some of those deteriorating into violence).
Does this mean that we should avoid doing the right thing because a small number of hooligans might become upset? Something feels inherently wrong about appeasement made under the threat of violence. If you believe that reducing government spending is a noble and necessary cause, then you should not compromise those values because a small number people are violently opposed to the measures. I'm not suggesting that Rosemary Barton or any of her CBC colleagues are threatening violence if their budgets are reduced. For all the things I've had to say about Milewski, Soloman, or O'Malley, I would not expect to see any of them on TV setting fire to coffee shops or smashing windows (though I wouldn't be shocked to see Terry throw a garbage can at the Prime Minister's limo). Typically when public union protests deteriorate into violence, it is the result of a small criminal element taking advantage of the public gathering and intense emotions.
We should figure out the best way to isolate and separate criminals from innocents when people gather publicly, but we should not avoid "government austerity measures" because the CBC says it could lead to violence. A lack of government austerity in the United States and Europe is why our global economy is teetering on the edge of catastrophic collapse. Two words, "sovereign debt".