What kind of message are we sending to our kids?
B.C. Premier Christy Clark posed this question when she berated the parents whose 11-year-old children were allowed to join in the Kinder Morgan pipeline protests at Burnaby Mountain.
In November, Kate Fink-Jensen, friend Naomi Cech and mom Kim Fink-Jensen were arrested for crossing the police barrier established through a court injunction for the benefit of Kinder Morgan. The women were released soon after without charges. In fact, the BC Supreme Court threw out all initial civil contempt charges because the injunction granted to Kinder Morgan was based on incorrect GPS data provided by the company. While this didn’t speak well for Kinder Morgan, Clark chose to shame Kate and Naomi’s parents instead.
“Teaching your kids that it’s OK for them to break the law when they’re 11 years old isn’t OK,” she commented.
While the girls’ parents did not comment on the social legitimacy of the controversial law utilized by Kinder Morgan, they did take offence with the premier’s criticism.
Kim said her daughter had her own reasons to oppose the pipeline proposed to go though their community, and her daughter’s presence at the protest followed thoughtful consideration at home.
“Finally she said, ‘Mom, I’m not old enough to vote and people don’t listen to kids. The strongest statement I can make is crossing that line,’” Kim told the media, adding she finally relented on the grounds that she would accompany her daughter to ensure her safety.
Kim did take a return shot at the premier’s parenting skills, however, referring to the incident in which the premier ran a red light while driving her son, Hamish, to his goalie clinic.
There’s more to this story, though. First off, Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie was also in the vehicle. Secondly, the decision to run the early-morning red light was premeditated. Hamish challenged his mother to go through the light, to which she replied, “I might. Don’t test me.”
As the goading continued, Clark replied, “Would you go through? You know you shouldn’t because that would be breaking the law.”
With the car now passing beneath the red, Hamish replied, “You always do that.”
What kind of message does that send to our kids?
Well, here’s another one from the premier: teenagers are lazy.
Speaking at a recent BC Liberal fundraiser, Clark apparently threw her 13-year-old son under the party bus for cheap laughs and political points.
“My son is 13, and when you look at a 13-year-old, a teenager, generally. I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to my mind is lazy,” said Clark, who, ultimately, was setting up for a BC NDP take-down.
“When your son is 31 years old and he’s still sitting on the couch and he’s asking you to clean up after him and he doesn’t want to get up and do anything, and he doesn’t have any ambition for the future… he is no longer a teenager. He’s a New Democrat.”
Though I’m not yet the parent of a teenager, the generalization that teenagers are “lazy” doesn’t sit well with me. It’s tactless stereotyping of a demographic already dealing with a lot of pressure and change, both socially and physiologically. That said, I’ve chatted with and photographed many kids/young adults in that age range from Parkview Elementary and Eagle River Secondary who have bowled me over with their energy, ability, heart, initiative and general awesomeness.
The message I get from the Fink-Jensens, the Cechs, and all the amazing youth I’ve had the pleasure to meet/write about in my career is maybe it’s time to lower the legal voting age in B.C.
I’d be interested to see how Clark’s shtick goes over with an audience of “lazy” 16-year-old voters.