Responding to today’s Globe and Mail editorial

August 14, 2007

Letter to the Globe - Aug 14 2007

I just sent this letter to the Globe regarding their editorial promoting tough treatment for hostile panhandlers (apologies for the small-size scan):

To the Editors:
Stiffer enforcement of hostile panhandling laws is both impractical and inhumane.

Any beggar, whether hostile or not, that is perceived as a pest by local retailers will be swept from the streets. Consequently, jail populations will grow, as the hapless perpetrators are generally without the means to pay fines. For those not placed behind bars, expect further overflow in our dismal mental health depots.

Are such results acceptable?

Forcible confinement of panhandlers, homeless or otherwise, is monstrous. This very point is explicitly recognized even by Calgary’s business community. Recently, TransAlta and Suncor — among many others — made a comprehensive commitment to finance a cure for the city’s homelessness problems. Provision of housing, along with requisite social, medical and psychological services are centerpiece of their plan. Of course, Calgary’s booming energy sector has substantially worsened that city’s homeless situation. Nonetheless, they have chosen an approach both pragmatic and compassionate.

The problem of beggar-related harassment and violence is serious. Our approach should be serious too.

Philip Stern, Toronto
Note: The author blogs at

3 Responses to “Responding to today’s Globe and Mail editorial”

  1. wondering Says:

    The sad thing is going in to local store and being ask for your change and asked again on your way out again. When you hear
    angry responds cause you had nothing to give.
    That becomes scary.
    As a disabled person living on a limited income, I have nothing to share.
    The panhandlers prevent me from going to my local store in the evening.
    So now not only being disabled and limited to where and what I can do., I cannot even go to the local store in fear of these people.
    Theres a lot to think about when talking about what is fair when it come to the panhandlers and the homeless.
    Respect is a big factor, take “NO”as the answer and leave it at that. I do believe something has to be done?

  2. […] homeless Canadian blogger responds to the recent […]

  3. Jim Says:

    Your point about the impracticality of locking up panhandlers is well taken. I’d add that panhandling is a form of free speech. Most of us would not prohibit free speech simply because it makes some uncomfortable. If it turns violent, then the issue is no longer panhandling.

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