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Readers split by Vancouver riot hero's census refusal

Categories: Canada, Community

A riot officer watches as two police cars burn during a riot in downtown Vancouver, June 15, 2011. Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press.

A story where a media-heralded Vancouverite goes from hero to zero is sparking both support and anger from Canadians.

Bert Easterbrook was labelled a hero after he tried to save a truck from the destructive forces unleashed during the 2011 Vancouver riot, which rewarded his efforts with a mass beating by the surrounding mob.

Vancouver police singled Easterbook out along with a few others and praised them for their actions during the riot that broke out after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final.

Today, a CBC News exclusive revealed that Easterbrook has been charged with refusing to fill out the Statistics Canada census in the weeks following the riot.

He now faces a fine of up to $300 and up to three months in prison.

The CBC community has reacted with a split reaction - support and criticism.

Readers felt solidarity with Easterbrook, saying that such a petty offence doesn't warrant three months behind bars.

  • "I commend him for standing up to thugs on both occasions," said apollo8
  • "So my tax dollars go towards three months room and board for someone who doesn't fill out a census form? Can I opt to flush the money down a toilet instead," said chamel77
  • "He isn't the only one who did not complete the census..." said cmcrawfo1.
Or, readers peppered the comments section with disdain for his refusal to do his civic duties.

  • "Oh no, the government wants to know the population and age of the country! On no, they're going to use it to put in things like schools and hospitals and parks!" said Katherine Terech.
  • "He probably objects to the allocation of resources in the healthcare system. There aren't enough resources in his area because he and 5,000 like-minded individuals didn't fill out the census," said jwaustin.
Also, blame has been laid on the Vancouver Police Department for not holding a hero with high regard.

  • "Nice work VPD. You have failed to charge the vast majority of those who lit the city on fire and vandalized numerous businesses. Those you were able to charge too far, far, far too long. But, one guy doesn't fill out the census and you're all over him. Seriously?" asked JC_SK_CAN.
  • "The city of Vancouver should step up to the plate and pay this man's fine. They money should come from the 2011 police payroll," said Chris Van Ihinger.
And some reacted with heavy sarcasm.

  • "Thank heavens for Harper's tough-on-crime legislation so we can finally see the dangerous criminals brought to justice," said -PeBo-.
  • "Oh well then... off with his head," said Tom Finochio.
  • "I know of a few homeless people that I highly doubt have filled their census paper. Pretty sure they'd like a warm bed , hot food, good medical care, and clean clothes for at least three of the winter months," said Deanna Dunlop-Muise.
Easterbrook's hero moniker was under fire by incensed readers.

  • "Trying to save a burning truck is not a hero," said Jr.Mint.
  • "Not such a good citizen after all," said fred 9972.
And others had some creative suggestions for would-be census dodgers.

  • "You can fill out and mail-in the census, but nothing says you don't have to do it while you are sober. My answers and opinions changes after I've had a few. I also note that lawyers and politicians take 'creative freedom' with words - so I also follow their fine example when I fill out my forms," said Justme7.
Did you know that you could get up to 3 months in prison for not filling out Canada's short form census? What do you think of this law?

Tags: Community Reaction

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