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Archive for June, 2008

And it rocks!

Every once and a while, I need to be reminded of why I joined the Liberal Party in the first place. This is one of those times where I am reinspired and reinvigorated. Good policy can be sold to anybody, and it looks like the plan to sell this is working well. Between the disaster the Tories had with Oily the Splotch, and the hope-inspiring music and rhetoric that we are using to sell this, combined with the fact that there is no tax on gasoline, makes this a juggernaut of a policy.

I like the clapping hands ad. All I can say about it is that Bob Rae looks ‘a little’ nerdy in it, but what can you do.

Can we sell it? Yes. Will it be sold? That depends on our hard work. WE can make this happen – we can get lower taxes for Canadians, and improve the disasterous record this current governemnt has on the environment. It will be good for the planet, and good for the wallet.

Do Canadians want real action on Climate Change? Yes. But that action cannot come in massive governemnt programs. By manipulating the markets rather than supplanting them, we are unleashing the marketplace of ideas upon this problem – the free market will triumph here, as it has in developing cures for deadly diseases and improving our lives with the numerous technological marvels we have at our fingertips every day. By forcing us into demanding with our wallets the change we know in our heads to be neccecary, this plan will do more for the environment than governemnt program ever could.

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So, the BC Human rights tribunal closing arguments was today, so I decided to head on down to the courthouse and check it out and see how free speech is under attack today. These courthouses are part of the Robson Square complex, and boy is parking expensive. However, I couldn’t have posted this live. Apparently, as you can see on Andrew Coyne’s blog, liveblogging is like broadcasting. So, these notes are like a liveblog, but all time delayed. (So, really, they’re just a blog.)

Macleans One question that seems to permeate this issue is one of constitutionality. After the representatives of the Canadian Islamic Congress filed this complaint under section 7.1.B of the BC Human Rights Code, a ruling in their favour could arguably be a significant limit on publications who wish to express editorial opinions. With that in mind, I kept the following question in mind: Would a pro-CIC ruling be grounds for a Charter Challenge against the BC Human Rights Code, based on the ‘unreasonable limits’ (as opposed to the ‘reasonable limits’ on rights expressed in section one) being imposed, and would this imposition pass the Oakes text?

9:36 – I arrive with my two friends at the BC Courtroom where the hearing is being held. I would have actually have been there on time had the damn parking lot been more intuitive. Or I’m an idiot. Probably the latter. Anyway, the hearing has started and it is full, which means that we have to wait until the first break at 11:00 to get in.

11:04 – The break is done, and we’ve finally been ushered into the tiny courtroom.

11:07 – The Panel enters and most people rise. She is seated in front of a crest, but I don’t know what it is. It’s neither of the BC or Canadian Coats of Arms.

11:08 – Macleans Closing Submissions Commence

This seems to be submitted mostly in writing, and two large volumes of appendices. The primary argument that this does not contravene 7.1.B BC HRC by inciting hatred and contempt. This article has apparently been misrepresented in proceedings. To clarify, I wasn’t allowed in the room during the complaintant arguments, so I have no first hand knowledge of if that is true or not).

I have to wonder where people get the feeling that they are entitled to speak on behalf of huge groups without any kind of democratic legitimacy behind their name. Could someone explain to me how this Ontarian doctor is entitled to speak on behalf of “all Muslim residents of the Province of British Columbia”.

Hah. A student of one of the lawyers representing the complainants was called as a witness for his own teacher earlier in the proceedings. Because there’s no potential for conflict of interest there. None at all.
Apparently, Macleans is unable to cite ‘innocent intent’, ‘responsible journalism’ or ‘consideration of the public good’ because these are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Two fun quotes from the counsel’s statement:

“With all due respect, he’s wrong” (On Joseph, the CIC Laywer)

“I am interested in the way [Mark Styne] writes because it is interesting.”

There is barely a ripple of complaints in terms of Islamophobia, etc. This article did not stir the crazies in the blogosphere to life. As one of those crazies, I can attest that nothing needs to get us going.

I do have to wonder where Dr. Elmasri is. I would have assumed that he would have been here, but apparently he felt that this was unimportant enough not to show up. Really, what a waste of the time and money of the taxpayers – if this man actually believed in the complaint, he would have showed up.

The counsel has made a very good point in stating that this is calling for a complete rethinking of speech regulation. He cites the old Socred laws in Alberta to ensure ‘truth in journalism’. Really, the Boston Globe had it right in 1935 when they declared “ALBERTA GOES CRAZY” (And it’s never looked back).’ This would also define activities that are not illegal to be impermissible speech, and does not require them to be hate speech, which would have to be specifically identified by the Attorney General.

It delves more into legalese here, but basically it cites the Taylor Case of 1990, which enumerates specific and extreme definitions for hatred and contempt, which are the two things being cited by the complainants.

At this point, they moved on to the “Objective Test”, which I will post tomorrow. The remainder of all of this will be posted over the next few days.

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Well, this happens from time to time, but I do disagree with the party on this one. Bill C-484, the act to criminalize certain acts of violence against a mother which result in the death of the fetus.

Now, my views on abortion are, at least from what I have seen, fairly mainstream. I believe in unrestricted access to abortion, but I believe that abortion is a tragedy that shouldn’t have to happen. I think that the opinion of some on the right to restrict both abortion and sex education (this being more of an issue in the United States) is counter-intuitive and will result in more unwanted pregnancies, not less.

But on to this Bill. I read the text of the bill, and it makes very clear that this is not trying to outlaw legal terminations of a pregnancy. What this bill does try to do is add additional penalties against those people who commit crimes against the mother, and, in addition to traumatizing her and her family, also manage to kill the unborn baby that she is carrying. What’s wrong with that?

This law does not put the same penalties on a fetus-crime as it does for a person-crime, and while it is troubling that this refers to the fetus as an unborn child, the overall spirit of the bill makes sense.

This law is pro-choice. Women have the right to self determination over their own bodies in most any circumstance. This is no exception – what this law does is codify that there are criminal acts with violating that right to self determination. If a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, she should have the right to do that. If a woman wants to keep her baby, she should have the right to do that as well, and I don’t think that it is unreasonable that we criminalize those actions that violate a woman’s right to do what she wants with her baby.

This legislation is not perfect, but the reaction has been alarmist and, frankly, centered around a slippery slope argument, a logical fallacy if I ever heard one. Women have the right to control their bodies, and it’s time to punish those who violate that right.

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