The recent deaths of three young Sooke men has cast a veil of grief over the community.
Their deaths were ever more tragic by the fact that, if proper procedures were followed and the gate to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park had been closed, as it should have been, the tragedy could likely have been averted.
Those facts are indisputable.
And while casting blame will not bring back Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, another important principle is at play; accepting responsibility to prevent future harm.
When we initially reached out to the Sooke MLA and Premier John Horgan, we expected that he might respond with a commitment to at least look into the matter. He did not.
Instead we got a response that punted the issue to a future B.C. Coroners Service report, saying: “Should any recommendations call on the provincial government to make changes in policy and approach, we will do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again.”
The response was baffling.
Three young men died on property under the province’s jurisdiction after driving past an open gate that should have been locked, and John Horgan office’s best response is that they’d take action if and when someone tells them that they should.
In 1859 the English philosopher, John Stuart Mill wrote:
“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”
We are not so naive that we couldn’t recognize that Horgan and his staff were likely concerned about potential litigation, but real leadership involves accepting responsibility.
It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said that “it is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts”. That is still true today and it’s something that Horgan and his staff should have taken to heart.
Leaving the roadway to the park open, even after the tragedy, belied the expressions of sympathy flowing from the premier’s office. It spoke volumes about their priorities.
But, when the issue became public and an outcry ensued, the province had a sudden change of heart. Once the heat was on, they moved to immediately ensure that the gate would be closed every night.
One final quote.
Oscar Wilde wrote “There is no sin except stupidity.”
Perhaps that final observation is the most telling of all.