Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rahim Jaffer, short term focus, and opposition tactics

This whole Rahim Jaffer affair is really perplexing. What seems most
likely is that his procedural rights were violated when he was asked
to give a breathalyzer and when he was searched for drugs. Police
occasionally make mistakes and, whether we like it or not, it happens
to be grounds for the dismissal of a lot of charges. For an example of
this, see Margaret Trudeau's exoneration on drunk driving charges a
few years ago.

So, here is what is perplexing and troubling about this to me. First,
why are the Tories not making the most of this to stand up for harsher
penalties and for more rectification of rights violations at the time
of sentencing, rather than at the time of trial? Second, why are
opposition parties, who we should generally think are quite supportive
of individual rights and strict protections against violations by the
state, willing to take such a frenzied and populist position on this?
In other words, why are they willing to ferment doubt about the
administration of justice when they'll likely squander whatever short
term opportunity it gives them? And why are they doing this when their
own general positions on this issue will be undermined if this issue

More generally, why do parties pursue lines of attack in the short
term which are not generally consistent with their views and/or with
their prior statements, and which may undermine them in the future?
For another example, consider how smart it is for an opposition party
which started the mission in Afghanistan and which has a leader who
has said manipulable things about torture to stake its claims on
prisoner transfers in another country by another government.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Change the national anthem? That's sic!

I recently joined a Facebook group that wants to protect "Oh (sic) Canada" from having the line about "all thy son's (sic) command" changed. 

David Eaves, eat your heart out!

Apparently, it's not the meaning of the line or the title that's sacrosanct; just the gender of whose true patriot love is commanded. 

Our Citizenship Primer

Suppose you were concerned about whether recently arrived Canadians are sufficiently respectful of individual rights and tolerance. Suppose you wished that they received the strongest signal possible about how much we prize individual liberty in Canada. Wouldn't it be most efficient to flag for them the most recent and, by international standards, far reaching demonstration of this. In other words, wouldn't you want them to know that one of the things we value is the right of consenting adults to do as they please? Apparently not. At some point, this all goes from a bee in a bonnet to something else. That's all.