Maxed out 

And justice for Svend

By G.D. Maxwell

"In Canada, we don't kick people when they're down."

No we don’t. It’s one of the those things that makes us special. Of course, we might well put the boots to someone who’s up, way up, at least if their success has resulted in them becoming both wealthy and well-known. No hesitation there, baby. And if by accident we give them a kick or two too many and they do wind up being down, we’ll quickly change our tune, whip out the teat and provide them succor until they can slide back into that nondescript middle ground we righteously claim as our very own.

But we don’t kick people when they’re down. And if, by chance, we happen to wear judicial robes, we just might reach down to them, administer a cautionary slap on the wrist, a gentle kiss on the cheek and with a nod and wink, shuffle the misunderstood miscreant out of our courtroom without so much as a criminal record. Damn, we’re nice.

That’s pretty much what happened last Friday to former MP Svend "Lightfingers" Robinson.

Even though I have little regard for them – always getting in the way of a good story as they do – let us pause for a moment to revisit the facts of the case, Ma’am. Svend Robinson, Member of Parliament for the past quarter century from Burnaby-Douglas, a small enclave of liberal thought in the sprawling burbs of the Lower Mainland, went to an auction last Good Friday… as though they all aren’t. He was in the market for some bling bling for his long-time love.

A ring of dubious quality, listed in the auction catalogue as being worth something in the neighbourhood of $64,000 but being valued by the RCMP at closer to twenty Gs – and given the way cops appraise the street value of something like pot, probably worth closer to the $5,000 cutoff for a formal charge of theft over that amount – caught his eye. During a moment’s inattention on the auction clerk’s part, the ring, as the media was fond of saying, was slipped into Svend’s coat pocket. Svend took the jacket out to the car, locked it inside, and returned to the auction for half an hour or so of face time.

Then, according to everyone around him, he went apeshit, spent the long weekend frettin’ and fussin’ and finally, on Tuesday, turned himself and the ring into the RCMP, confessed, went on TV and tearfully resigned his seat as MP, stating, "I snapped."

While Svend spent the weekend with Max – not me, another Max – at their cottage in the Gulf Islands doing his impression of a crazy person, the auction people, realizing one of their very valuable rings were missing from its Cracker Jack box, watched the surveillance videos, saw Svend perform his act of legerdemain and called the RCMP. The cops, not knowing he had a cottage, called at Svend’s house and constituency office and, not finding Svend anywhere, went bobbing for Timbits for the rest of the holiday weekend.

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