Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« More soft (headed) power | Main | Peter won -- and so did we! »

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It's the stupid controversy

Adam Radwanski isn't the only political commentator to tsk-tsk the lapel pins we handed out at the Tory convention this weekend—both the Globe's Jane Taber and the Post's Siri Agrell took issue with them, too. As did this blogger, this blogger and this blogger. Oh, and this one, too. Radwanski's just been the most vocal about it, so far, having determined that they constituted a betrayal of the Conservative party and that our magazine's publisher deserves to have his ass-kicked for producing them (no permalink—scroll down to Saturday's post).

Of course, it's tough to be nuanced on a 2 inch square of cardboard, so I guess I can't blame these folks for missing the meaning behind our slogan "It's the Stupid charter."  And besides, the fact that all these people think we should be falling in line behind a political party shows that they entirely misunderstand the point of being an independent magazine. It doesn't surprise me when left-wing media tries to paint the Standard as the house organ of the Conservative party. But I am surprised that smart fellas like Radwanski swallow it. Guess what? It's not our job to help Stephen Harper moderate his message to appeal to Quebeckers. That's Stephen Harper's job.

What we do offer is a voice for a strain of conservatism that doesn't get a lot of play anywhere else. And most of the folks I mentioned above (at least the ones I've heard of) are hostile to that message every other day of the week, so I'm not surprised that our blasphemous little pin sent them all into such a tizzy.

So: How dare we speak poorly of the almighty Charter? Easy. Why not have a read of  our latest cover story (dead tree only till next week), in which we actually take the time to talk to the fellows who signed the damn thing. Guess what? They're not thrilled about the state of Charter affairs these days, too.

Why? Because the blessed Charter has been turned into something it was never intended for. The "reasonable limits" allows judges to decide that gun owners being forced to tell the government about their sex life is reasonable, while denying the rights of prisoners to vote is unreasonable. The Charter is interpreted by (often openly partisan) judges—selected by the Liberals, without scrutiny—any way they want to interpret it. They merely "read in" things that were never there in the first place and that the original framers, as you'll read in our story, never envisioned.

This is precisely the kind of message that Harper probably believes, and wishes he could say out loud, but cannot because the Liberals have been so successful at venerating the Charter as some kind of tablet handed down at Sinai, that criticizing the thing gives everyone the vapours. Meanwhile, the Charter's most important clause—Section 33—has been vilified by the same gang as though it were inserted there by the devil, rather than the ultimate dealbreaking clause that made the whole thing possible.

Let's stop being stupid, please. When Liberals defend the Charter, they're actually defending their hand-picked judges who can twist and bend the thing into whatever shape suits the political purpose of the day. If they really cared about the Charter, they'd stop trashtalking its most important clause. Do these people really think the Western Standard is against rights?  Have they even read the magazine?

Time to get smart about this. There's a big difference between liberty and the Charter. Canadians had a bill of rights before Trudeau and the country didn't disintegrate into chaos. Britain is the oldest  liberal democracy on the planet and it has no bill of rights. The Soviet Union, by the way, had a bill of rights, too. It didn't mean that people there were free. And the U.S. bill of rights is a far more sensible document than our own Charter and their Supreme Court appointments are open to bipartisan scrutiny—a frank acknowledgement of the fact that judges come with agendas, another truth that Canadians seem fearful of uttering aloud.

Yes, it is the stupid Charter. Only shallow thinkers assume that one cannot stand for rights and be against the Charter. How come Conservatives can advocate Health Care reform, economic reform, reforming foreign affairs, reforming provincial/federal relations, reforming the equalization formula, reforming the democratic deficit, reform, reform, reform, but we can't even mention constitutional reform without scaring all the horses in Toronto?

Posted by Kevin Libin on March 22, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It's the stupid controversy:

» "Read the Charter, stupid" from Le blog de Polyscopique
At the Liberal Party convention in the beginning of March, members of the Young Liberals have been handing out lapel pins bearing the message "It's the Charter, stupid" arguing for the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Western Standard, in a... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-03-23 3:59:55 PM

» It's not in the Charter Stupid from Colbert's Comments
OK let’s begin that I question the commitment of any of those youth that have decided to bolt to the young liberals. We need committed people that are in it for the long haul. So I’m sorry that a couple of you feel that way but good luck with your new ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-03-24 10:58:38 AM


It's not the Charter, it's the unreasonble and unrestrained interpretation of the Charter- but how do you get that on a 2 inch square cardboard.

Anyway the big ( and richly ironic ) news of the convention is that the Conservatives attempted to deal with the extremist label by adopting the Liberal position on abortion, which... in case anyone is interested... is as extreme a position as it could possibly be, to wit: No restrictions on the right to terminate the life (of the developing human being growing within) right up to the moment of birth, and the procedure paid for by the state under the guise this is an essential, not elective, medical procedure.

Snookered by MSM and how.

The euphoria over the convention will end when it is realized that the Conservatives have created a tremendous vacuum.

A lot of Canadians, including me, want a compromise on this issue. I am hardly a one issue person, but I want some representation on this issue, which, in my view, is the fundamental moral issue of our times.

Incidentally my pro life views are not informed by religious beliefs but by the following:
1. An acceptance of the fact that a foetus is a form of human life, that is to say a human being.
2. A belief that life is sacred (precious,if you will) and the state should never approve or facilitate the destruction of innocent human life.

Posted by: Terry Gain | 2005-03-22 3:29:29 PM

A little perspective is necessary when trying to get a better view of anything, especially something as recent as the Canadian Charter of Rights. While I consider my perspective in years as still very limited, as I am entering into the fourth quarter of my first century on this earth, I can claim to have lived for many years in Canada without the "blessing?" of the Charter. I can remember the seemingly endless taxpayer financed wrangling that went on after its introduction. It seemed like that unless you could get yourself identified as being a member of some sort of neglected minoity you would be left out in the cold in the rights sweepstakes that were conducted.
Funny, but I never felt my freedom was as threatened before the Charter as I do now. Of course neither did I do or say anything to elevate "Pierre Trudope" onto a pedestal or worship the very ground he walked on.
An argument against the Charter, that is as valid now as it was then, is that under "Common Law" all rights were held by each individual except those that had been taken away or circumscribed in some fashion by laws passed by duly and democratically constituted legislatures. The Supreme Court was available for those who thought those laws impinged on their rights, and if the Supreme Court agreed those laws could be declared ultra vires. Under the Charter, the state is the repoistory of all rights, and individuals are only granted those rights specified in the Charter. I have always believed that part of Trudeau's zeal to have the Charter adopted was, that in doing so, he could deliberately exclude property rights because he knew that individuals could never be properly free without them enshrined. That by itself is enough to explain my greater fears for my rights under the Charter than before it was adopted.

Posted by: BobWood | 2005-03-22 4:44:25 PM

Bob Wood is from the "purist" school of Sterling Lyons, the former Conservative Premier of Manitoba before he was fired by the people and replaced with a competent engineer. That is to say, he ideally would not like to see ANY legislation AT ALL, and wants to have "Judge Made Law" which defines the "common law". Indeed where the legal principles of "stari decis" applies without exception.

The problem with such waspish perspectives is that the "common law" over long periods of time have impounded many questionable values that we wish to change, and change more rapidly than the glacial speed of the "common law" in Canadian Courts.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is absolutely essential if we were to ever overcome the long established practices of colonialism, imperialism, sexism, and other forms of institutional abuse and discrimination in Canada. The Charter gave ordinary citizens a powerful new weapon for their self defence and preservation against the state and against Big Business that has always controlled the State.

I for one am grateful for the Charter. I have not had to personally rely upon it, yet, but you never know with lunatics like Ralph Klein in office when you might require it to defend yourself.

There is no way that the "neocon" "choice" between the Charter and Gay Marriage is a "valid" choice. What neocons seek is to destroy the charter because its "bad for business". Protecting rights usually is bad for abusers.

What the "neocons" have utterly failed to articulate thus far however, is any example of where the Charter has harmed them in ANY way, except in the context of taxation and the endless whine over paying taxes to support the country.

No one whines better than a "neocon" when it comes to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's".

I attribute it to the "neocons" actual attachment to their official atheism.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-22 5:44:56 PM

I agree that the charter is a pretty poor document, but I think the buttons (as worded) were a bad idea. The message was inflamatory rather than thought provoking. A more effective slogan would have been:

"Read the charter stupid"

It almost matches the young Liberal's slogan and encourages people to actually look at the damn thing...

Posted by: Cam | 2005-03-22 8:59:50 PM

When my posts and comments on this blog are attacked I am sometimes faced with a quandary. If my arguments are opposed by well supported and rational statements I feel something of a duty to respond. When irrational, ad hominem and unsupported attacks are made that obligation evaporates. Although it is hard to tell whether Kevin Libin was also targeted, I suspect he would feel the same as I do. If certain commenters are expecting a response I will do so when their posts meet the standards that I deem warrant answering.

Posted by: BobWood | 2005-03-22 9:13:05 PM

Way to go Bob. Don't let "demean Joe Green" get to you. As a daily reader of the shotgun I get tired of hearing him and Robert rant on their one string guitars.

Posted by: Jack | 2005-03-23 12:14:38 AM

Don't need the Charter. Canada has governments and a constitution. These forces can and should do the work for Canadian citizens. Rights and Freedoms don't even coinside with each other. One persons rights can take another persons freedom away. The Western Standard magazine is a plus for Canada. Conservative both in fiscal and social history has shown in the long run is much more often than not a better system than liberalism. Theirs too much liberal media in Canada, thus a conservative mag such as the Western Standard is needed and appreciated. Hey even Canada's first PM John A MaCdonald was a conservative person.

Posted by: Larry | 2005-03-23 6:21:35 AM

Jack wrote:

"Way to go Bob. Don't let "demean Joe Green" get to you. As a daily reader of the shotgun I get tired of hearing him and Robert rant on their one string guitars."

I made no personal attacks on Bob or anyone else. What I did write about was the fact that "common law" is JUDGE MADE LAW and there is no part in it that comes from the legislatures or Parliaments. Those that argue for "nothing but common law" are arguing for "judge made law". The pure form of precedent law is the common law and all legal practitioners of it will tell you that any laws by the legislatures or parliaments are "unnecessary" and "get in the way".

That was Stirling Lyons position, and that appears to be Bob's position. It obviously is in conflict with the "neo-con" position that opposes "judge made law".

In other words, the "neocons" oppose the "common law". They in fact support and favor the "civil law" of the type found in Quebec, California and Louisiana and France.

But they are too hypocritical to say that.

And Bob, obviously is stuck for an answer or a response.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-23 7:21:17 AM

Larry wrote:

"Hey even Canada's first PM John A MaCdonald was a conservative person."

You are right that Sir John A was a Canadian Conservative. He was an economic nationalist and brought in the "national policy" which created trade barriers behind which Canadian industry grew and prospered. He would have strongly opposed NAFTA and the FTA just as David Orchard has opposed it.

However, Sir John A was not a "neo-con". He had a healthy regard for the Creator, he had a healthy respect for Canadian independence, for Parliament, and for the spreading American Civil War. Fortunately, he and the Fathers of Confederation were successful at preventing it from spreading back into Canada.

Sir John A. also liked his gin. But gin made him funny on the stump whereas booze makes Ralph and Mike mean spirited.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-23 7:28:59 AM

Joe Green states: "Colonialism", "sexism", "imperialism", "institutional abuse."

WHAT? No "groovy"!

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-23 7:41:42 AM

Jawwss charter is the Watch Tower rag.

He is a troll. Folly to attempt a discussion with Jawsss. Jawsss has The Answer.

The Watch Tower has 144,000 trolls; Jawsss is the 144,000; ready to be pushed out by His Leader, aka Stalin, etc.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-03-23 7:58:27 AM

One of the dangers of speaking about "the individual" and "rights and freedoms" is that you create a dichotomy between the person and the collective ... by implication you create an adversarial relationship.

Since the beginning of time, human societies have laid primary emphasis upon the well being of the wider collective, and the rights of the individual have always been "earned" through acquisition of wealth, status, honour etc, and never bestowed as a simple "right".

To an ancient Egyptian or even to a Victorian in 19th century England, the idea that an individual should be accorded rights by simple virtue of being an individual with "a distinctive lifestyle" or with "special needs" would have been regarded as a lunatic proposition unworthy of serious consideration. So it illustrates how far we have come as a collective that we are prepared to cede enormous power and influence to this new abstract authority that we reference as "individual rights".

The enormous damage this can do to the collective, as defined by tradition and time honoured custom, is nowhere more clearly in evidence than in the case of religion.

As recently as the 1950's and 1960's the Anglican communion was unified in a community of faith that recognized a central liturgy and certain basic tenets of the faith. That religion, in common with many other traditional faiths, offered a collective within which the individual could find a larger spiritual meaning for his/her life. The hierarchical and paternalistic structure of the church, was for many reassuring and a reflection of ecclesiastical practice through out the centuries.

In the last few decades this collective has been ripped apart ... intercine strife, divisions, crisis of faith, liturgical and scriptural disputes have become the order of the day. Overnight the faithful have been made to feel that there is no longer any authority within the church that can be relied upon ... for many even the authority of God has come into question.

This crisis has been precipitated by the legal empowerment of a small percentage of the church membership who are now no longer mere congregants, but also "individuals with rights". They have no qualms whatever about shattering the faith and the peace of mind of the majority, even threatening the very existence of their church - in order to force their rights agenda. Their will to power apparently takes precedence over every other collective consideration, and the body of the church must reconstitute itself to accomadate their demands - often at the point of a legal gun.

Okay, the above scenario may be considered legally justified by some "progressive" Canadians within the context of Charter rights but is it ethical, is it morally correct ... and at what point do the "rights" of a minority become a form of social terror that rips apart families and communities of the faithful. At what point do we say that the gains in no way compensate for the damage incurred?

Aside from "rights" ... shouldn't the invidual accord respect and consideration to ancestoral inheritances and to his/her position within a time honoured tradition? If rights are made sine qua non of existence then we are facing constant turmoil and constant uncertainty. I believe that the price we will be compelled to pay will far exceeed whatever "gains" are made with respect to temporal rights.

Posted by: raskolnikov | 2005-03-23 9:21:26 AM

maz2 wrote:

"Jawwss charter is the Watch Tower rag.

He is a troll. Folly to attempt a discussion with Jawsss. Jawsss has The Answer."

You are afraid to debate. I gave you plenty of material to work on, from "judge made law" that all "neocons" oppose to how some Canadian politicians can handle their liquor and others cannot. You simply are without any responses because you have not thought about these questions.

So you come here and say foolish things. Like for example, "Saddam is a very dangerous man because he has weapons of mass destruction". Or that you fear waking up to a "mushroom cloud" billowing over an American or a European city.

Why is it, that "neocons" simply cannot what Thomas Watson implored all people to do which was to "THINK!"

I don't suppose that this generation even know who Thomas Watson was.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-23 10:18:05 AM

Just as a footnote to my earlier post - I should probably clarify that in referring to "rights", I am referring to "exclusionary rights" i.e. rights of small, activist minorities.

Of course, I wholly support the broader rights and freedom push when it comes for example to delivering a people from the grip of tyranny and enabling them to take control of their own lives in order to enjoy health and happiness within a free market context. These fundamental rights and freedoms pre-date our Charter and are part and parcel of the democratic fabric.

Posted by: raskolnikov | 2005-03-23 10:29:39 AM

No Joe we don't think. Why should we? Luminaries like you are here to do it all for us!

In fact, I can smell the hickory-smoke fires of you cogitative processes all the way to Mointréal's plateau district.

Have you ever thought of baking bagels on your head?

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-23 11:05:10 AM


Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-03-23 11:05:40 AM

I have to admit I didn't think the buttons were the most clever thing at the convention. I would have made "It's Not In The Charter, Stupid" because I don' thave a problem with the charter but activist judges reading things into the document that dosent exist.

That said I did take a few for my friends back home and I have put it up as part of my collection in my office.


Posted by: Brent Colbert | 2005-03-23 12:00:54 PM

I have to admit I didn't think the buttons were the most clever thing at the convention. I would have made "It's Not In The Charter, Stupid" because I don' thave a problem with the charter but activist judges reading things into the document that dosent exist.

That said I did take a few for my friends back home and I have put it up as part of my collection in my office.


Posted by: Brent Colbert | 2005-03-23 12:01:14 PM

LGF: "Good news from Iraq, where a jihad training camp was wiped out today along with 85 terrorists.

Back in Baghdad, the noble mujahideen are firing mortars at elementary schools."

Watson was Mrs. Watson's son? Thomas invented the light bulb, too. (Come here, Watson. Yes, Mr. Holmes.)
Macaroni said come here, too: Veni, v..., v... & etc.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-03-23 12:06:35 PM

Apology: Forgot the headline as posted on LGF...

"Allah abandons holy warriors"

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-03-23 1:45:47 PM

See my "P.S." to Adam Radwanski permalinked in the URL.

I just wanna draw to Kevin Libin's attention that there is an English Bill of Rights, 1688-89, that formally established in statute a whole bunch of classical, civil rights . . .

Posted by: Russ Kuykendall | 2005-03-25 2:27:19 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.