12:32:14 pm on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

Battle of Trent River
David Simmonds

Everyone has some sort of story about an incident in which the police get involved, unnecessarily. The other day, I learned of a 5 year old that was dutifully, at schooled, to call 911 if an adult “bothered” her. Well, the child was staying with her grandmother and they were horsing around with the water hose. Grandma sprayed her, which really bothered her, so the next thing you know the local police are in the driveway looking to rescue a child in need of protection.

I have some sympathy for the police.

The police need to stay on top of events. The police need to maintain capacity to respond to actual emergencies, without having to be bothered chasing down false emergencies. Indeed, the County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment, reported it received over 100 calls during the August long weekend, for “domestic disturbances, Liquor Licence Act calls, noise complaints, traffic complaints and enforcement and motor vehicle collisions.”

There are numerous calls regarding fraud, such as the infamous Canada Revenue Agency scan, that the OPP is only interested in talking to you if you’re a victim of actual fraud, rather than a victim of attempted fraud. “Although your intentions are appreciated, it is these calls which are at times restricting the OPP’s ability to take calls for service from the public that require a police response.” At the same time, the OPP encourage people to all in and report an impaired driver, noting that impaired driving is a crime like any other crime.

The other day, the OPP received the call that takes the cake. It was from a fifteen-year-old from Mississauga. She complainedt her parents were forcing her to go away with them on a family holiday, in a cottage on the Trent River. As reported in the Toronto Star, OPP officers visited the cottage and interviewed the family. “There was no real emergency,” they concluded. “The occupants confirmed they were all on a family vacation.” I imagine that describing the balance of cottage time, as a “vacation,” would be a bit of a stretch, in light of the recriminations that likely took place after the police left.

A case of a teenager being a teenager.

“This appeared to be a case of a teenager being a teenager,” said the OPP spokesperson, declaring the matter closed. “Although she perceived this as a real issue, it was not an appropriate use of 911.” The statement added, somewhat prissily, “Calls such as this tie up police resources which could impact the safety of others in the community who are in real need of assistance.”

Give the OPP a citation for diplomacy. They did not challenge the teenager’s subjective impression. Someone in that shop must have either been a teenager once or known one. The last thing anyone wants to tell a teenager is that her angst is trivial.

I suspect that, after this incident, the teen in question might encounter some new difficulties in such matters as cell phone privileges and curfew hours. You have to give her credit for gumption. What better way to make her parents realize that she has got better things to do than enjoy the forced camaraderie of games of Monopoly, wiener roasts or carp fishing expeditions than to invoke the authority of the OPP?

She might have lost the Battle of Trent River ....

Although she might have lost the Battle of Trent River, she might have strengthened her position in the Campaign for Teen Autonomy. Her parents bloodied, from this year’s fight, might decide that, next year, the family is all going together to the local tattoo parlour, followed by a Drake concert. Better still, they may be softened up enough to let her stay at home on her own and have a ‘few’ friends over, while her parents and siblings take a holiday lining up to get into Sandbanks Park.

As a more general matter, does the OPP comment about a teenager “being a teenager” presage a new defence? Whatever my age or offence, can I now claim the right to exoneration because I am just a ‘human being’? Are we more or less clear as to the point at which we become answerable for our own actions? A charge of juvenile mischief might be in order; her parents with forcible confinement. Maybe they could take turns spraying one another with a hose, no matter how bothersome it may be.


Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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