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Monday, October 08, 2007

A kingdom of judges

A potential Western Standard cover story from earlier this past summer:

She warned us she was going to do it, and now she’s gone and done it.

On December 1, 2005, Beverley McLachlin, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, told a legal conference in New Zealand that she and her colleagues not only had the power but also the duty to invoke “unwritten values” not actually put down on paper in Canadian law, and then to employ those values as justification for inserting new, formal rights into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There exists,” McLachlin opined, “fundamental norms of justice so basic that they form part of the legal structure of governance and must be upheld by the courts, whether or not they find expression in constitutional texts.” In other words, the chief justice suggested that, even in circumstances in which it was clear Parliament had purposely omitted certain rights from the Charter, she felt fully justified in believing that her court could override a democratically elected body to insert such rights into law.

That was the warning shot across the bow. A full judicial salvo hit the side of the ship of state on Friday, June 8 when McLachlin and the majority of Supreme Court justices struck down a five-year-old B.C. Liberal government law which had unilaterally rewritten costly health-worker contracts signed by the previous union-friendly NDP government. In so doing, the McLachlin court invented a new Charter right, the right to collective bargaining.

The court said the offending legislation, known as Bill 29, was illegal, but suspended its ruling for a year to give the B.C. government time to figure out how to meet its now-constitutional obligation to collectively bargain a contract that the province’s health-care unions vehemently opposed. No one knows exactly what the government will do. Some observers have estimated that it could cost the treasury up to a billion dollars of taxpayer dollars to satisfy the court’s requirements. Health Minister George Abbott has downplayed the consequences, and has promised to begin consultations with the unions.

But the B.C. government actually has a way, albeit a controversial one, to essentially tell the McLachlin court to get lost: Premier Gordon Campbell could simply have his Liberal government invoke Section 33 of the Charter, the famous notwithstanding clause, which would nullify the court ruling. No one is talking publicly of tripping the Section 33 wire, but British Columbians should be reminded that the province would never have accepted then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s idea of an entrenched Charter in 1982 were it not for the clause’s inclusion. Moreover, if today’s Campbell government truly feels that the democratic rights of the people of B.C. have been trampled by the McLachlin court, it is entirely within its rights to invoke the clause.

The contentious labour legislation which got the government into hot water with the courts led to the layoff of 8,000 unionized health-care workers, according the Hospital Employees Union. Their work was then contracted out and they were replaced with lower-cost, non-union employees.

The Supreme Court based its union-friendly ruling on the fact that Section 2 of the Charter makes freedom of association a Charter-protected right, and that collective bargaining flows from that right. Furthermore, the court declared, “The history of collective bargaining in Canada reveals that long before the present statutory labour regimes were put in place, collective bargaining was recognized as a fundamental aspect of Canadian society.”

The judges continued, “Canada’s adherence to international documents recognizing a right to collective bargaining also supports recognition of that right in [Section 2]. The Charter should be presumed to provide as great a level of protection as is found in the international human rights documents that Canada has ratified.” Finally, the court explained that it felt that that protection of collective bargaining is “consistent with and supportive of” the values and purposes of the Charter as a whole.

Naturally enough, HEU communications director Mike Old applauded the ruling, but would not say how he expected the B.C. government to respond. “You know, I think at this point, both sides are still trying to determine, legally, and in terms of any potential meetings, what we can do,” Old says. He notes that questions have arisen over whether the ruling is retroactive, “and our legal counsel and their legal counsel are looking at those issues.” Ultimately, he says, the government has “a year to untangle the mess that’s been made by Bill 29, and clearly it would be prudent for them to talk to the unions that represent the affected workers as they start [doing this].”

Abbott did not respond to repeated requests from the Western Standard for an interview on the subject, but he told a public-affairs TV talk show in July that he did not think the B.C. Liberal government was under any obligation to tear up the bill and start from scratch. Furthermore, when asked if he believed the laid-off health-care workers had to be compensated, he answered, “No, I do not.”

Regardless of how the B.C. mess is untangled, the fact remains that a court, already heavily criticized by conservative groups for judicial activism in such areas as homosexual rights, has moved sharply against the wishes of an elected legislature, and as such has raised new questions about the proper role of the courts in modern Canadian society.

“In this case, the Supreme Court is basically saying [to the B.C. government], ‘We think you are governing wrong, so we’re going to create this new right,’” says Gerry Nicholls, senior fellow of the Democracy Institute, an international public-policy think tank. “And this is done without any sort of [public input]. There’s no political party running on this platform. There’s just a group of unelected judges making this decision.”

Nicholls says that, if the ruling ultimately forces the B.C. government to compensate laid-off workers, the effect on British Columbians (and, by extension, all Canadians) would be to have taxation without representation. “We have an unelected body setting public policy,” he says. “And I think when it does that, it’s stepping beyond the line.”

In other words, it’s judicial activism of the sort that has long worried court watchers in the age of Charter. “This demonstrates that we no longer have the rule of law in this country,” says London, Ont. journalist Rory Leishman, author of the 2006 book Against Judicial Activism. He points out that every previous legal ruling, even including one 20 years earlier by the Supreme Court itself, had supported a government’s right to do exactly what B.C. did in imposing a new contract on government workers. “Now, what the judges are saying is, ‘We’re changing the law.’”

Leishman believes that judges, no less than legislatures, are bound to uphold the rule of law so that people can have a clear, fixed idea beforehand about what they can or cannot do. “And so here the government has been snookered,” he continues. “They obeyed the law, and the courts have changed it. And so we’ve got the rule of men, not the rule of law—the rule, I guess, of judges.”

John Carpay, executive director of the Canadian Constitutional Foundation, a non-partisan legal watchdog group based in Calgary, sees an interesting implication arising from the court’s “radical” ruling. If the court truly believes that it can and should create Charter rights based on international agreements and “fundamental” aspects “of Canadian society,” then logically it can and should want to entrench individual property rights in the Constitution. “But you’d have better luck, I think, trying to predict future electoral outcomes in provinces than you could in trying to predict future court decisions,” he says.

What then of the idea that B.C. could invoke the notwithstanding clause? Carpay believes, “This would be a good example of a case where a government could choose to use it, particularly when it involves the expenditure of public funds and the running of the public health-care system.” But Nicholls points out, “Section 33 is really kind of like the nuclear bomb of constitutional politics. It’s there, but nobody really wants to use it.” Ironically, even though a government would use the section to protect democratic rights, he suspects “a lot of people would regard it as being somehow undemocratic to use this to overturn a court ruling.”

Nevertheless, Nicholls agrees that, if the government were to face an unaffordable expenditure because of the June ruling—a fiscal crisis so acute that public health-care were threatened—then, “I think they might be able to use the notwithstanding clause. But it would still be a pretty risky political move, and that’s just basically the constitutional climate we’re in these days.”

For now, though, Premier Campbell has until next June to figure out how to cope with the effects of having nine, veto-carrying activist judges sitting around his cabinet table.

--Terry O'Neill

Posted by Terry O'Neill on October 8, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

I doubt that Campbell has the guts to take on the Supremer Court -the only Provincial Premier with the guts and Judicial skills is soon to be re elected for life Premier Daniel Williams PC,MLA, QC, Llb Hons Oxon -Perhaps Canada's smartest Barrister -he certainly is the Smartest Premier -Williams in the natural heir to lead the New Conservative Government
some day, although it appears to me PM Harper is on the verge of long time tenure. He has virtually destroyed the once mighty Red Machine, not that they will be easily defeated, but here in the Picture Province most Liberals look as though they were advised that their illness is indeed terminal. MacLeod
MacLeod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-10-08 12:24:02 PM


At least she is being open and honest. Her message needs to be made known all across Canada, for perhaps then enough people will rise up to insist on an end to this travesty. If not, then we might as well cease electing politicians and save the money we spend on their salaries and expense accounts.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-10-08 1:11:04 PM


She has no choice but to be "open and honest" but, maybe she is, and then again she may well have a hidden Agenda -I'm sure there were people in Germany who described Hitler as "open and honest" but watch out for his fat friend, Herman. She should read the judicial opinions of PM MacKenzie King, who was an outstanding Labor Lawyer, prior to his conquest of the Liberal Party of Canada, "Collective Bargaining" is not a right -it is a strategy, but then what would an Alberta farm girl know about labor unions?
-don't have too many unions in the farm belts. But I doubt she will be challenged at the political level -Former Premier Gerald Augustus Regan, PC, QC. knows a lot about "collective bargaining", consider how he screwed the CAW when they attempted to Unionize Michelin in Nova Scotia. Even the Socialist Supremes could not unravel that legislation which is a model for protection of manufacturers from overt union organizers, who have been known to tell untruths, sometimes called lies. Irony is the famous Automobile and Truck tire manufacturer is unionized in France by Communist dominated labor unions. Macleod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-10-08 1:34:02 PM


The supremes should be reigned in. They do not have a mandate to make laws. We elect MPs, our representatives,and have a parliamentary system to enact laws.

Posted by: Ed | 2007-10-08 2:49:16 PM


The supremes should be reigned in. They do not have a mandate to make laws. We elect MPs, our representatives,and have a parliamentary system to enact laws.

Posted by: Ed | 2007-10-08 2:53:19 PM


The Court must be reigned in - as well as the Leftist media.

I just noticed that CTV no longer solicits comments for its web site articles. I guess their chicanery became to obvious for it to continue, what with censoring people's comments by deleting parts of them or ignoring the conservative ones altogether.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-08 3:11:40 PM


Considering that all Judges including the Supremes are appointed by Political patronage the only way one could be sure of a non politicized judicial process is to recruit former members of the Sisters of Charity or the Grey Nuns -appointments to be made by a panel of citizens and certified tax payers.One or two should be established Barristers, but I agree with Ed -indeed they do not have a mandate to make laws, they are ultimately, servants of the public,
thus their activities should always be in the "public interest"

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-10-08 3:13:17 PM


I've yet to see Bev McLaughlin exercise the mystic inherent empathy with "fundamental unwritten justice" that would make me trust this jurocratic pharisee with the unaccountable powers she arbitrarily claims.

Long past time we took these robed gods of the bench down a few pegs...their judgement is insular and as fallible as anyone's...they just are more prone to compromise personal ethics...as they did to get the political appointment they have in the first palce.

Another reason not to trust unaccountable appointed power.

Posted by: WL Mackenzie Redux | 2007-10-08 3:21:12 PM


If Harper could get a couple of majorities over the next eight years, I think things would change for the better.

One can hope.

Posted by: John | 2007-10-08 4:05:25 PM


If Harper could get a couple of majorities over the next eight years, I think things would change for the better.

One can hope.

Posted by: John | 2007-10-08 4:05:43 PM


The most Bolshevik, totalitarian machine functioning in Canada appointed all of these judges. They are not there to follow rules - they have an agenda!! The agenda is the Mo Strong 'Habitats for Humanity' scheme to rob all people all over the world of their individual rights to freedom and property.

PMSH has put a wrench in the motor of that agenda machine; the fanatical people haters will try every trick in their filthy bag of tricks to undermine the people of Canada (and the rest of the free world) and our Prime Minister.

This woman should not be in any position of authority, she certainly should not be given credibility or consideration by rational people. Campbell should not even hesitate to defeat this law.

Posted by: jema54j | 2007-10-08 4:06:19 PM


Wait until Shrillery has a chance to appoint US Supreme Court judges. We can see what kind of judgment she has by her decision to appoint convicted felon Sandy Burgler as an adviser to her campaign:

"I think it’s a bad move," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaking with FOX News. "He stole documents, classified documents, from the National Archives, destroyed them, lied about what he did (and) is not the kind of adviser that you would want surrounding a candidate for president of the United States. I think it’s a bad decision."

"I think anyone who would surround themselves with advisers like that is demonstrating bad judgment, and I think Sen. Clinton should reconsider," he added.

And Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said: "I am not surprised but I think it's a very inappropriate choice."

Hoekstra said Clinton's campaign "should clearly distance themselves from Sandy Berger. This person should not be a key adviser to one of the leading presidential candidates in 2007."

And Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz added this shot: "It is beyond belief that Hillary Clinton would have someone advising her campaign who has pled guilty to stealing and destroying national security documents. Sen. Clinton tries to sound tough on national security issues, but it seems that repaying old friends like MoveOn.org and Sandy Berger is her real priority."

Berger was Clinton's national security adviser from 1997 until 2001. In 2003, while preparing for the 9/11 commission hearings, he took copies of secret documents from the National Archives and later destroyed them. He was caught a few days after absconding with papers from the archive's College Park, Md., facility, and lied to investigators.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-08 4:32:57 PM


McLachlin said: "There exists fundamental norms of justice so basic that they form part of the legal structure of governance and must be upheld by the courts, whether or not they find expression in constitutional texts."

You said: "In other words, the chief justice suggested that, even in circumstances in which it was clear Parliament had purposely omitted certain rights from the Charter, she felt fully justified in believing that her court could override a democratically elected body to insert such rights into law."

Yes, those are other words. In fact, they don't mean the same thing at all. You assume that the "fundamental norms of justice" she spoke of are ones that were intentionally left out BECAUSE the government CONSCIOUSLY decided to overlook them. But that need not be the case. In fact, when she talks of such norms of justice being "so basic that they form part of the legal structure of governance" what she is saying is that they are not EXPLICITLY mentioned because their existence either goes without saying or are IMPLIED by that legal structure that they form a part of. Nice try to twist her words, but it won't wash.

Additionally, you declare that the court "invented a new Charter right, the right to collective bargaining." But if you read the decision, yo will see that they did no such thing. What they did do was strike down a law for violating the EXPLICITLY STATED charter right of freedom of association.


You don't have to agree with the decision or like it, but must you lie about it? So sad when sore losers are such ... losers.

Posted by: Noel | 2007-10-08 4:40:27 PM


McLachlin and her band of Red Robers are anything but friends of our current government. They are well aware of Harper's stance on unelected Judges so they'll be sure to throw their weight around while they can and cause as much trouoble as possible.

McLachlin is showing herself to be one of the worst antagonizers in the job in memory. Beyond playing out her own Lefty agenda and being the smiling social butterfly at key events in Ottawa, she's just not fit for the job. In fact she's out of her league.

Posted by: Liz J | 2007-10-08 4:41:04 PM


The circulation numbers for the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail are up, meanwhile, The National Post's numbers are down and the Western Standard has folded. The market and the people of Canada have spoken. More bad news for Steve W. Harper. They will never get their majority and what's more pathetic is that they are nearly even in the polls with the Liberals, despite them having internal strife and a mis-understood leader. You pieces of shit should just give up your Canadian passport (which none of you deserve anyway) and move down to Texas with the rest of the greedy, cultureless, racist pieces of shit. HAHAHAHA!!! Hey Ezra, I hear that they want to start a Nazi Party in Canada, have you filed your leadership intentions yet?? Maybe this time you won't get your riding away from Steve W Harper. Maybe because of his cool hair cut.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 5:10:58 PM


Americans have the same problem - activist judges reading 'rights' into their laws.
Fortunately Canada does have a "notwithstanding" clause built in as constitutional right to override laws ( judicially activist invented) deemed unacceptable to parliamentarians - Providing they ( parliamentarians) have the balls to use it.
In five years the issue then must be revisited, as I understand it.
Will the Supremes in the unelected Judicial Party care to write into law "property rights", for Canadians?
I won't hold my breath on that one.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2007-10-08 5:30:26 PM


Lefty:

It sure would be a good idea for Ezra to lead the revival National Socialist party and impose its eugenics master race theory on ... Jews.

Yep, that's the real ticket.

Now, George Soros, there's a real leader for your party of godless commies.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-08 5:39:01 PM


Sorry Noel but you are wrong. Even the still living "framers" of the Charter have confirmed that they purposely choose to leave out certain things that these judicial activists have included such as sexual orientation.

The fact is that Canadians had more rights prior to the Charter than they have now.

Furthermore it is interesting that these judicial activists have not decided to read in private property rights. It is however to be expected since they are cut from the same cloth and members of the religion of the Left.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-10-08 5:46:26 PM


Why do we even pretend that we elect politicians to govern? We are ruled by non-elected judges who used to be lawyers. Why do we even bother having elections? Oh, I forgot we are ruled by a "Charter of Rights" that WE the people did not get to vote on!! And so this farce continues that WE live in a "democracy."

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2007-10-08 5:52:53 PM


You're an idiot, SYF. One day you'll realize that.
BTW, being godless doesn't make you a communist, it makes you logical and sensible, something righties are not.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 5:59:16 PM


lefty:

Name-call this.

My IQ was tested out at 136.

That's about twice what I assume you and your self-admitted commie comrades to be.

Give me one example where the system you have now publicly stated you would wish to see imposed on us actually works.

The Soviet Union, Cuba?

Sorry, bud. You godless commies are being exposed and your source of funding through which you can practice judicial activism in your quest for your irresponsible behaviour is going to dry up.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-08 6:15:23 PM


"freedom of association" is a natural right based on individual liberty. a group of individuals must have the right to form a "union" and the freedom to try and coerce any private institution to give them what they want (by sheer numbers, if possible) without help from, nor the hinderance of the State. the only thing a "union" of individuals shouldn't be allowed to do is infringe on the institution's private property rights, or prevent anyone from freely accessing the property, with the property's permission.

freedom of association is a Charter protected right. well, duh! no one is going to tell me with whom i may associate. ever. Trudeau was either a clever fascist or an idiot, and he's suckered a generation of people like lefty-99 into his statism. keep this in mind lefty-99: fascism and communism are brothers. they are both socialist, and they both rely on people like you to hold them up.

the idea that collective bargaining flows naturally from the right to freely associate is madness. how does a thinking person connect these two concepts? allowing collective bargaining by a group of people who are paid by the citizenry is worse. there should be no unions attached to the State. Mclachlin is living in a fairyland of subjective and ideological hubris.

lefty-99. you are a half man, hiding behind the apron strings of the State, afraid to stand alone.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 6:19:13 PM


. . . and living in Mom's basement.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-08 6:26:32 PM


SYF, even if your IQ is 136, which I doubt it is, and which is still lower than the 140 I tested two days ago on a facebook application, that doesn't mean that you are clever enough not to be brainwashed. Also, the fact that you think you read things that you don't and that you don't understand the concept of communism, leads me further to believe you are bullshitting about that IQ number.
I don't recall ever saying that I am a Communist. The Soviet Union and Cuba are not communist. The US might tag those counties with that name, but they are not sticking 100% to the ideas written by the genious Karl Marx.
I also find it amusing that this garbage paper has been victimized by the very thing that it promotes: capitalism. "for financial reasons", as that meathead Ezra said. Haha, justice is served.

Posted by: lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 7:05:13 PM


lefty:

Ah, the old ... Soviet Union and Cuba are not true to Marx's ideals argument.

Well, then, after 150 years of existence, where has plugging humans into a pre-determined economic system ever been better than one which offers freedom and opportunity for responsible individuals?

None. Zero. Nada.

Human nature cannot be evolved. It will always be what it has been.

Humans love freedom. They are creative.

Give them an opportunity and they will surprise you.

Congratulations on your high IQ result.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-08 7:15:00 PM


Sad that the lefties in this world cry about giving up freedoms when its about the war, but are all for it when it furthers their own lefty agenda. I wonder if they realize that lefties turning on themselves is only a matter of time and topic. Do they think the fanatics that use them to destabilize North America will grant them clemency when they behead all the homosexuals and non-Islamic fundamentalists? Do they think the armed forces they emasculated will be able to assist them? Do they think this bastard Charter will protect them? They live in a world where they can only see 10ft in front of them and when they realize there is a wall in front of them it will be to late to turn. The left has made bed fellows with those that use them for now...it will only be a few short years until they turn on them too...

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-08 7:29:19 PM


Again SYF you forget to read. I AM NOT A COMMUNIST!!! Why do you continue to argue against communism when it means nothing to me? Are you so stupid to believe that anyone who doesn't share your ultra right wing, christian conservative ideas is a communist? You may want to read up on a little thing called McCarthyism. You may also want to check out the Salem Witch Hunt as well. I feel sorry for you man, you are so fearful and full of hate, when meanwhile you live in one of the best countries in the world. There's a reason the Liberals have dominated Canadian elections and that is because they have built this country and have done a damn good job finding a balance between protecting human rights, allowing business to flourish, and maintaning a role of national identity. I say, if you are anti-Liberal, then you are anti-Canadian. Move to the States buddy, you can enjoy your crime, private health care, and fear-mongering down there.

Posted by: lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 7:31:42 PM


Wow...so much for freedom to speak freely Leftie...I wonder what will happen when you say something that the loopy left wont agree with. I mean its only a matter of time before you yourself are at odds with some left policy...will they expel you to another country? Dot you realize that you are acting in a totalitarian way and and it was always said about dogmatic thinkers that when you believe you are absolutely right, then you close the doors of learning and become absolutely wrong.

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-08 7:36:51 PM


For your information, Sean, there are a lot of left wing ideas that I, not necessarily disagree with, but think are impractical. Its impossible to discuss the topic of "freedom" with you people because you think that farther right wing you go, the more freedom you have, when its actually the opposite. The word Liberal comes from the french word meaning freedom. If Liberals didn't believe in freedom, then they would consider themselves Liberals. You also think that the further you distance yourself from communism the more free you are, but that is wrong too. The only difference between communism and the polar opposite, which is about where you people sit, is economics; the authoritarian aspect is the same.

Posted by: lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 7:46:59 PM


lefty:

Name-calling is your defence when you run out of coherent arguments, huh?

Am I entitled to my opinion that traditional values are the best way human beings can thrive, can exercise freedom and creativity?

Or is the central committee the arbiter of what I am allowed to think?

As I read it, you seem to be arguing against individual rights and believe in collective thinking.

My viewpoint has stood the test of time ... your viewpoint is fairly new and relies on honest, responsible people keeping their mouths shut while they are subjected to theft.

Have you learned nothing about how the Liberal Party operated in Quebec? Does it come as a great shock to you the Libs are now virtually broke since they cannot steal from the taxpayers any more?

They were entitled to their entitlements.

Since you claim you are not a communist (the NDP regularly send delegates to Socialist International meetings), then may I safely assume you are a Liberal?

That would explain much.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-08 7:53:24 PM


syf: you took the words right out of my mouth. socialists have an incredibly naive view of human nature. instead of accepting human nature for what it is, and leaving everyone alone, they believe that private property rights can be righteously torn down and replaced with publicly owned economic structures. then, instead of living in a competitive environment, human nature can finally be set free after all these years to blossom, and be allowed to become "good", it's original and natural state. what airheadedness. what typically... Marxist idealism.

has there ever been a nation, based on Marxist principles, that has flourished the way Marx intended? no? why not? because Marxism is a flawed ideology. it's based on a false premise. it simply will never work because human nature does not conform to Marx's theory of what human nature should be. Marx meant well, and his naivite may be forgiven because his theory had never been put into practice before his time. too bad countless tens of millions of people had to die before their time, to prove it doesn't work.

to call Marx a genius after all the suffering caused by nations with Marxist roots (and they all have their roots in Marxism, despite the fact they didn't stick with his principles), pretty much proves people like lefty-99 have a bovine stubborn streak in them, and are capable of commiting intellectual suicide.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 7:59:29 PM


Most of your last comment made no sense, since it didn't apply to my previous comment at all, so I won't respond to it. ALthough:
"Since you claim you are not a communist (the NDP regularly send delegates to Socialist International meetings),"
By that statement, you meant one of two things, both of which are equally idiotic on your part. You either think that the NDP are communist, or that communism and socialism are the same thing. Which idiotic idea did you mean? I am, however, getting accustomed to your senseless statements. I guess that IQ test was broken, eh buddy?

Posted by: lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 8:00:10 PM


So if you realize you are at odd, and you realize the fascist way in which most of the puppet masters of the left operate on a good or evil only mentality(Right is evil, left is good), then surely you realize that one day you will be given the option of toe the line or become a threat to them...
Back to the original point of this blog though... Judges. To further my points though, when one small group of people or one person controls all laws, thought and speech...I would classify them as a dictator.
I am a moderate libertarian, I personally dislike any measure of control. That is why we must allow the MAJORITY of people to control the land and not minorities or judges, or dictators.
Giving up your rights to elect law makers basically gives up your rights as a free person.
I would have thought that as left leaning person you would fear these judges and their dictatorship methods. We have an elected government for a reason...

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-08 8:02:08 PM


I do agree with you Shel that Marxism won't work because of human nature; Mr. Marx actually says that himself. I do not agree, however, when you imply that Marxist states committed more atrocities than the opposites. The Nazis, the Catholic Church, the USA, Great Britain, Spain, etc, how many murders between just those? The explorations and colonizing by England and Spain along resulted in the death of millions of native Americans. What about the slave trade? Don't try blaming what Stalin did, on Karl Marx. Anyone with any sense of history knows that Stalin suffered from extreme paranoia and he's control of the state actually got him his own politcal realm.

Posted by: lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 8:06:40 PM


Yep, communism is flawed in the way if forgets one very important human nature...greed. Private property gives people a pride in what they have, and as we have seen from most welfare programs and handout programs around the world that this results in no personal pride and a entitlement system. Why treat that property with respect...I dont own it, they will just build somthing better...

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-08 8:07:51 PM


Sean, I have a friend who is also a diehard Libertarian, and I just can't get on board with it. But I totally respect it because I like the general theme of human freedom and choice, and the anti-authoritarian aspect. I have much more regard for a Libertarian than I do for some ultra right wing readneck.
You're also right about the whole "the right is evil and the left is good". It works both ways, the right say "the right are smart and the left are stupid". A Liberal says "the right are evil and the left is stupid".

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 8:21:44 PM


I am getting the feeling here most people here have read the McCarthy edition of the Cliff Notes on "Das Kapital" which consisted of one line:

"Godless Communism is bad, 'mmkay?"

It shouldn't astonish me anymore that it seems the "conservatives" on this blog think there are only "lefty tyrants" while all people to the right are gun totating, freedom loving, democratic people.

Newsflash: ANY ideology can be turned towards good or bad, and both ideologies will have fallen in the past over the same thing: Human Greed.

Ideologies will never work in the real world because the real world isn't ideologic.

A Socialistic System with Democracy at it's core is probably the best we will ever get. It balances both sides against each other and will (if done successful) prevent deep valleys and peaks that seperate the ones who have from the have nots.

Unlike what the "conservatives" on here think this is not "stealing" from them, it is a price you pay to live in a society where you have general peace and stability. The only industry war is good for is the weapons industry.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-08 8:23:29 PM


Sean, you're bang on.

lefty-99, you've proven my point. the State is the cause of the majority of trouble in history. that's why the State must be limited. why then, do you attach your agenda to the State?

and if you agree Marxism won't work because human nature won't let it, and that Mr. Marx agrees, why do you call him a genious, when he says himself his philosophy won't work?

there is no perfect political system. however, i err on the side of private property rights, free speech, and the right to bear arms. these liberties must be protected from the left, from the State, and from people like you.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 8:26:16 PM


jeez, is this lefty-99 a reincarnation of that frothing at the mouth ROGER rthat used to post here? i certainly wouldn't want to sit next to him on the bus, might swing his arm in a piqed moment and stick a sharp implement in my eye.

Posted by: jt | 2007-10-08 8:36:53 PM


Of course the state is the cause, (as well as monarchs, emperors, etc) but that does not mean we can do away with government. Libertarianism is a great concept, like marxism, but it runs into the same problems.
Who said anything about wanting to take away your right to private property or free speech??
However, you should not have the right to bear arms. My right to walk around in an environment where I won't be shot is more important than your right to feel manly, and powerful because you have a small cock. If you the right to be dangerous to my life, then I have the right to smoke wherever I want, its the same thing.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 8:38:43 PM


Snowrunner, i wish i could agree with you. i'm a conservative with a strong libertarian bias, so i'm not a "closed system" ideologue like you may believe, and i think i can safely say these other guys aren't either (i hope i'm not being presumptuous and stepping on anybody's toes here!). however, i see what's happening in Europe these days. these nations are following your balanced "social democratic" ideology and are slowly dying a death of a thousand cuts, or should i say, "a death of a thousand liberty killing laws". a social democratic state becomes too intrusive, i'm afraid.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 8:44:26 PM


Shel, go live in France for two years and tell me that they live a worse life than Canadians. Tell me if a 35 hour work week, six weeks annual vacation, two hour lunch break, and an identical cost and quality of living is worse. Tell me that great food, nice weather, passionate and sexy women, and a place where the government actually fears the people as opposed to Canada is less preferable. How about Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Belgium, all countries ranked higher on the UN Human Development Index than Canada? Hmm, seems social democracy is working quite nicely.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 8:52:06 PM


lefty-99: you should have the right to smoke whatever you want (and i'm sure you do, judging from your posts). if drugs were legalised, organised crime would tank. but that's a debate for another day.

do you like George Orwell? everybody does. he had a lot more experience than you or i, dealing with harsh reality. i like his quotes. here's one: "that rifle hanging on the wall of the worker's flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. it is our job to see that it stays there". i respect Orwell, don't you?

i respect libertarianism, although i'm not a hardcore. hardcore libertarianism, like Marxism is, as you've said, an unattainable dream. again, why do you call Marx a genius? he got it all wrong. did the roots of libertarianism slaughter countless people? no. did the roots of Marxism? yes. libertarians and conservatives are brothers. but conservatives are too smart to adopt libertarianism fully.

you asked "who said anything about wanting to take away your right to private property or free speech??" you've read the Manifesto, right? taking away private property rights is at the heart of Marx's philosophy. where the hell do you stand?

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 9:10:09 PM


Snowrunner, France is going deeper and deeper into debt, has a sinking French population rate being replaced by a growing Muslim population with a radically different political philosophy, has one lowest rates of economic liberty in the Western world, and has just elected a president on the right end of the spectrum to try and counteract the political system you advocate. they realise they have been living in fairyland for too long and must change or suffer the consequences later.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 9:27:49 PM


Shel,

Just to "stake my position" I considermyself a liberitarian-socialst. I do believe in individual freedoms, but I also believe that as individuals we have a duty to contribute to the society we are living in, be it in taxes or be through other services.

Now, as for Europe, I grew up there, although I do live in (Western) Canada now, Germany to be precise. There are MANY issues in Europe / Germany, but as far as Germany goes, let me bring you up to speed.

Germany until the late 70s was ruled by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), think of them as the Liberals of Germany, then in the early 80s there was a change of guard and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took power, think of them as the CPC before the merger with the Western Alliance, helmed by Helmut Kohl who also became chancellor and was until the CDU lost in 1998.

Many of Germany's problems can be traced back to Kohl's rule, there are still investigations ongoing into bribery and similar breaches of trust, there is even a Canadian Connection. A business man in Ontario named Schreiber is fighting is extradition to Germany on charges of bribery and a few other things which all trace back to the era Kohl.

Anyways, after the fall of the Berlin Wall Kohl was adament about getting the reunification done as quickly as possible. Simply put, he wanted to be the guy who goes down into the history books as the one who reunited Germany. The only one who wasn't caught up in the Euphoria of the moment was the then SPD leader who said that at best the East Germany could hope for the equal to the west in 20 years, but he considered this an optimistic assessment. Looking at the numbers today he is right, the gap is still big, on average people only earn 70% of what the people get for the same job in the former West Germany part of the country (where I grew up).

When the CDU got kicked out of office in 1998 and the SPD took power they started at looking at all the problems that the Kohl government had left them behind. Simply put: The only thing Kohl did was cut taxes in upper brackets but didn't do anything to make up for the shortfall (it's more complicated than that, but I simply don't have the time to get into detail here). So the SPD build something called "Agenda 2010" which was their plan to completely revamp the entire social support network that existed in Germany, it wasn't popular, the then Chancellor Schroeder had to fight for it and in the end they lost a confidence vote in the Bundestag and lost the next election to the CDU again in 2005.

Despite the loss during the poll though the Agenda 2010 IS moving forward and it has made some important changes that the CDU didn't want to do because they knew it wouldn't be popular, the ones who are right now reaping the benefit is the current Government (a coalition between the CDU and SPD). To sum this up: Germany is not bleedy dry with their social network, changes have been made, and Germany probably wouldn't have been in such a bad place in the first place if Kohl wouldn't have been so eager in making his mark on History.

Now to the "loss of freedoms", as far as Germany is concerned MOST of the limits on personal freedom in the last few years were brought forward by the CDU, in fact, most of the most lunatic suggestions as to what the new law should look like and how they should be implemented are coming from the right side of the spectrum, most of these are eerily modeled on the paranoia induced US administration, not really too surprising if you read the charter of the CDU.

But to make this short and sweet, the loss of personal freedoms in Europe isn't a side effect of the socialist state, it is the side effect of (mainly) conservative Governments that want to have a more control over the populance, disguising it as "improving safety" for the citizens, but somebody else said that one rather well:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"
—Benjamin Franklin

The problem with politics and democracy is a simple truth: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolute.

So to that end I am happy to have a minority Government right now, it will not give Harper any fancy ideas and hopefully the balancing act can continue.

My BIGGEST fear though is something else entirely, a democracy can only work well if you have an informed populance, cutting funding to schools and other things that essentially dumb down the populance will only lead to a totalitarian Government in the long run, and NO country is safe from that, regardless on how the citizens think of it.

To that end, I don't want any more tax cuts in Canada, the taxes aren't killing me, and for the future of the country, and it's well being, we do need this money.

Before you tell me I want the Government to waste it, no I still think there needs to be accountability and I don't LIKE paying taxes, but I consider them a necessary evil to some degree.

As a final word, I CHOSE Canada, and (just to piss the "conservatives" off here), I chose Trudeau's Canada. The man was faulted, he didn't always make the right choices, but at least he had spine and stood up for what he believed in. He was even able to admit when he was wrong and tried to right the wrong he made. Canada DOES need another Trudeau now, it doesn't matter what party s/he belongs to, but I think it's time again.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-08 9:29:50 PM


Just because I defend Marx doesn't mean I'm a communist. I think the Oilers made some good moves this year to improve their team. I'm Flames fan and I hate the Oilers, but I can still say the Oilers made some smart moves.

I wasn't talking about smoking drugs, I meant cigaretts.

Honestly, I don't know enough about Orwell to form an opinion, but that doesn't change that guns are unnecessary and dangerous. If it isn't about guns, but rather about freedom, then choose something else. What I don't understand is that its ok to walk around carrying a loaded gun, but yet I get a ticket if I walk across the street on a red light. Can you explain that one to me?

Just because a theory can't be put properly into place, does that mean its still can't be genius? Have you seen some of the drawings of ideas that Da Vinci had that were totally impractical for his time? You can't compare the roots of Marxism and the roots of Libertarianism. There has never been anything close to a Libertarian society in modern times. Even ancient, primitive cultures had a hierarchy of some kind. But I can imagine the destruction if there was no authority and total anarchy. BTW, you should be careful saying the Libertarians and Conservatives are brothers. Being called a conservative or even implying possible conservatism is very offensive to many people.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 9:30:56 PM


Snowrunner. sorry about that. i didn't realise lefty-99 sent that post.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 9:32:20 PM


Shel,

as far as France is concerned, a lot of the problems they are currently facing with the "muslim population" is that France was never willing to include the people from their colonies. There was an idea about "French Purity" and thus they alienated entire generations.

Is it a problem? Yes, deeply so, but I doubt that a hardline like Sarkozy will be able to change that.

It's not a problem of the socialist state, it's a problem of many Governments (and French people) who didn't want to deal with the people they brought into the country. This will be a generational effort if this is ever going to turn for the better, I doubt a Hardliner though is going to be doing this with the needed "finesse".

It is, btw, interesting to note, that in a time of (perceived) crisis people tend to turn to (perceived) leaders, which usually are of the right or ultra right spectrum, creating a "rallying cry".

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-08 9:34:28 PM


One of the things that we often forget is that democracy is a process, not an ideology. There are a number of variables within democracy and the idea that majority rule is a panacea is wrong. The glitch is that it may lead to majority tyranny. Ergo, the need for checks and balances. Therein lies a problem that relates to the topic of the post. Where is the check on the power and activities of the Supreme Court. The Notwithstanding Clause applies only to the Charter of Rights and thus is inadequate.

All of the drivel about political positions is simply empty rhetoric and unworthy of attention. Stick to the point.

Posted by: DML | 2007-10-08 9:37:44 PM


Snowrunner. thanks for the info. i know and recite that Franklin quote a lot to my long suffering friends. i agree with some of your points. here's mine. judge a government by it's actions. i know i'm sounding like a broken record, but if a government doesn't respect private property rights, free speech, and the right to bear arms, it simply is not a conservative government. lip service means nothing.

but Snowrunner, the term "libertarian-socialist" is a contradiction. a libertarian wants his rights protected from the State and doesn't want help from the State. a socialist wants his rights protected by the State and wants the State to help him economically. these two philosophies can't be reconciled. i think the term you are looking for is "social-liberal". that's more in line with social democratic values. i'm not dissin'ya. :)

anyway, it's 10:00. gotta go to work in the morning.

ps: another Trudeau? God help us.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-08 9:55:23 PM



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