Archive for December, 2010

Wikileaks, Julian Assange and irony

December 24, 2010

Julian Assange released US State Department classified material on Wikileaks and he was a hero. Well to some people. To others he was a criminal, a terrorist, an all around bad person.

But Assange had no doubt about the righteousness of his actions. He defended his actions  by saying:

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

and

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

But as is the case of so many things in life, if you’re trying to convince others of the purity of your mission, your words can all to often come back to bite you in the ass.

Which is what happened to Assange, when information was leaked to the Guardian newspaper with detailed information on the sexual assault case against him in Sweden.

Assange’s lawyers were furious.

Bjorn Hurtig, the Wikileaks founder’s lawyer in Sweden was outraged over the revelations saying the documents could hinder Mr. Assange’s right to a fair trial. In a statement to the Australian press, he said, “I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media. And I feel especially concerned that he will be presented with the evidence in his own language for the first time when reading the newspaper. I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing – trying to make Julian look bad.”
And he wasn’t the only one upset with the information leak.
Other supporters were more open, blaming The Guardian for a ‘personal smear’ and questioned the timing of the release of the documents in Saturday’s Guardian.

Although I think lawyers are paid to not have a sense of irony.

The whole thing rather brings to the fore the problem that I have with Assange and Wikileaks: Who makes the decision, and how, about what the public should know and what it shouldn’t?

According to governments, they have the need to keep most of their discussions and decisions under the cloak of secrecy. But according to Assange, he has the right, or even the obligation, to expose that information to the public at large.

The truth is, governments, whether they are local, provincial or federal find it more convenient to only release that information that puts them in a good light and are compelled to bury any material that would point out their bad decisions, their wastage of resources and their incompetence.

But there are also areas where governments need to keep secrets, sometimes in the short term and others for the long term.

And there are many cases where personal privacy trumps the need for the public to know. Even for Julian Assange.

The question is, who makes those decisions.

 

Michael Ignatieff’s self-delusion

December 20, 2010

I am often inclined to think that federal Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, lives in a much different world than the rest of us. Of course that world seems to be in his mind.

His latest is his comparison between Rob Ford (the new mayor of Toronto) and himself.

Michael Ignatieff says his Liberal Party can beat Stephen Harper by riding the same wave of voter disgust that propelled Rob Ford into the Toronto mayor’s chair.

Ford, a small-c conservative who campaigned as an outsider, fought off candidates from the political establishment in Toronto and Ontario to win Toronto’s municipal election handily.

and:

“The same people that voted for Rob Ford voted for me and they’re not crazy,” said Ignatieff, who has won two elections in the riding of Etobicoke in Toronto’s southwest corner. “I feel Rob Ford is capitalizing on something that I saw all summer and all autumn, which is a middle class that feels the elastic is wound very, very tight.”

So Ignatieff thinks that he can pass himself off as an ‘outsider’ to the voting public and divorce himself from all of the past Liberal history and current ineptitude?

This is not to say that come an election that he won’t be returned to Ottawa by his riding’s voters; it is a safe Liberal riding. But I doubt it will be because he is seen as the outsider, untouched by the politics of the past, or the saviour who will magically make everything right.

Florida School Board Shooting and self defence

December 20, 2010

I was just looking at the recording of the recent Florida school board shooting and at some comments from a few individuals trained in self defence.

I liked one in particular:

Sheep live and die at the whim of the wolves.   Lesson:  Don’t be a sheep

Tips on flying: Which many need

December 19, 2010

With so many people flying this time of the year, it might be a good idea if they were sent this 1o point etiquette list when they purchase their ticket. Peruse it at your leisure, but I particularly liked these two.

No Hand Stands
Don’t use the seat in front of you to pull yourself up out of yours. For the person in that seat, it’s a violent experience. To stand, turn your body and use your armrests to push yourself up. Do the same when sitting down. It’s really not that hard and you’ll avoid a pair of angry eyes glaring back at you from between the seats.

Decline To Recline
How do you like it when the person in front of you abruptly reclines their seat all the way without informing you, sending hot coffee into your lap or crushing your laptop? Probably not much, so be courteous and let the person behind you know you’re reclining, or at least do it slowly. And when it’s meal-time, put your seat up so they can eat without their face being in the food. On charter flights, where legroom is minimal, consider not reclining your seat at all.

Me? I’m not flying this Christmas. That’s like having another gift under the tree.

Defend yourself at your peril

December 19, 2010

The following information was sent to me regarding a case that will be going to court in Ontario. It has had no media attention to date, although the initial arson attack may have been reported in the local newspaper, although I wasn’t able to find any reference when I did a search.

A Port Colborne man was forced to flee his burning home at night this past August as three masked men threw burning Molotov Cocktails through his windows and shouted that he was dead.

He apparently has now received a Christmas present from the Welland Crown Attorney’s office in the guise of a special delivery complete with police notes and a screening sheet where the Crown indicates it wants to prosecute him to the full extent of the law and is asking for jail time.

His crime? He tried to defend himself from his attackers.

The gentleman in question has had neighbour problems and has received death threats from his neighbour, who was charged but never received any jail time.

In fear of his life the man installed, at the cost of $20,000, a video surveillance camera which did capture the Molotov Cocktail attack and him escaping his burning home as the fire bombers continued to shout they would kill him.

He was also on video allegedly shooting a pistol in an attempt to drive the attackers away.

He was charged under section 86 and was led to believe the charges would be dropped, but in a surprise move in late November another section 86 and a section 88 charge were laid. Now the official position is the Crown counsel wants to lock him away.

The man had been injured at work and is now a full time student at Brock University studying Environment Engineering.

His guns are licensed and registered, but since August they have been seized by the police leaving him at risk for another attack.

The police have not apprehended the fire bombers although believe they can charge two of them but will not do so until all three are known.

The Ontario Fire Marshal told him he was the subject of an attempted murder and he is, with good reason, still in fear of his life.

I really wonder what the police and the prosecutor expected this guy to do? Stay inside and have the house burned down around him? Go out unarmed and confront three thugs who are shouting death threats at him?

The police ‘believe’ they can charge two of the attackers but won’t until the third one is known? It would be interesting to have that explained in rational terms.

The police and the bureaucracy seem far more inclined to put the full force of the law against the victim rather than the perpetrators.

I guess the question is: What in hell has this country come to?

Maybe the answer is that we have allowed our politicians and bureaucrats to write stupid and restrictive laws that allow our justice system to find a crime in almost anything you do. The police love it and many private citizens often support these kind of laws because they think it will only be applied to the ‘bad guys’. But when they innocently run afoul of these laws they are dragged away screaming, ‘it’s not supposed to work this way’. Well yes, that’s exactly what it was meant to do.

Sure, this fellow may get into court and find an intelligent judge who recognizes the injustice and dismisses the charges. But that might be two or three years down the road and $20,000 later in legal fees. Plus the police will have had his firearms in storage for that time and even if he gets off from the charges he will have to fight some more to get the police to give them back, because they are going to want to destroy them.  And 5 will get you 10 that the guys who torched his house and threatened his life – if they have been charged at all – will have walked and will probably be laughing up their sleeves about how ‘justice’ works these days.

Read the detail (below) on Sections 86 and 88 of the criminal code to see how the weasel words allow the police and the prosecutors to proceed with charges on subjective interpretations.

*********************

Note:
Section 86.(1) Careless Use Of A Firearm – Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.
(2) Contravention Of Storage Regulations Etc. - Every person commits an offence who contravenes a regulation made under paragraph 117(h) of the Firearms Act respecting the storage, handling, transportation, shipping, display, advertising and mailorder sales of firearms and restricted weapons.
(3) Punishment – Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment
(1) in the case of a first offence, for a term not exceeding two years, and
(11) in the case of a second or subsequent offense, for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Section 88.(1) Possession Of Weapon For Dangerous Purpose
– Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.

(2) Punishment – Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

*********************

What we have here is a severe lack of common sense

December 14, 2010

I don’t really know if it has always been thus, but those with some manner of authority seem to be more inclined to go for the throat rather than deal with people in a kinder and gentler manner. The thinking seems to be that if you aren’t breaking the law at the moment you most surely intend to break it at your first available opportunity.

Reading the news it sometimes appears that this philosophy is endemic, but then in all fairness we probably don’t hear about those cases that are handled with a little more sensitivity and common sense. Unfortunately there are a lot of stories that indicate the worst case situation.

A case in BC:

B.C. Mounties are warning the public about toy weapons after officers conducted a high risk take down of a man following reports of a person thought to be loading a gun in a crowded parking lot.

Onlookers on Thursday night reported seeing a man with a pistol who made motions as if he was loading it, said Vernon RCMP on Friday.

Officers responded with a high-risk take down of the man in his Chevy Blazer and discovered he was playing with an air soft pistol, similar in appearance to a police service weapon.“Police want to warn the public to please use common sense when taking these guns in public. The citizens of any community get very concerned when they see someone with a gun on our streets and at a glance you cannot tell it is not real,” said police in a release. “Police are concerned it is only a matter of time before someone who thinks it is fun to point or show this type of gun on the streets are going to get hurt or possibly worse because of the actions they took.”

The 22-year-old man was given a warning, and the toy gun was seized for destruction.

The police didn’t charge him because he hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place. They seized his property and destroyed it when they had no legal authority to do so. Except that they probably threatened the guy, that if he didn’t give up his air soft pistol for destruction that they would charge him with mischief or some other generic crime that he would eventually be found not guilty of but in the meantime the legal costs he incurred would be more than the cost of  a trunk full of air softs. All the guy was guilty of was either naivety or stupidity in letting the gun be seen in public.

Cynical? Maybe, but I have heard of too many cases that fit this scenario to think that it didn’t happen here.

Or this one from Ottawa.

A teenage boy carrying what looked like a rifle in the streets surrounding his high school in Papineauville, Que., has been charged with careless use of a firearm.

As it turns out, the 16-year-old wasn’t carrying a rifle Tuesday afternoon near Louis-Joseph Papineau high school — it was a BB gun. And Sûreté du Québéc police said the teen hadn’t been using it to any malicious end, but had simply taken it there from home to show to a friend who wanted to buy it.

Quebec provincial police got the call at about 1 p.m. Upon their arrival, officers controlled the scene, locked down the high school and began a search of the area. A nearby elementary school continued normal operations, police said.

Just under an hour later police apprehended the 16-year-old in the streets around the school, and he was no longer carrying the BB gun, police said. No one was injured, no one was threatened and the BB gun was never used on school property, police said.

The teen was taken in for questioning and his BB gun was seized. He was later released from custody, with release conditions, on a promise to appear in court.

If the news story is correct in its facts, the kid did nothing wrong. If it was a BB gun it isn’t even classified as a firearm. When the police ran him to ground he didn’t even have the item with him. Then they seized it and graciously released him from custody on the understanding that he would appear in court. On what charge? I suppose mischief or creating a public disturbance or inciting a riot for all I know. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to say, “Kid, you didn’t break any law with what you did, but for chrissakes next time put the damned thing in a sack if you are going to take it somewhere”.

Tijssen uses his farming and butchering skills to opt out of the commercial food supply. For years, he has inspected his own meat while still on the hoof, slaughtered it himself and packaged it for later use. In November 2009 he and a friend bought a pig, intending to share it.

But for unknown reasons, a neighbour reported to the Ontario government that Tijssen was running an unlicensed slaughterhouse on his property.

It’s perfectly legal to butcher your own pig and serve it to your immediate family in your own home. What’s not legal, as a result of new Food Safety and Quality Act regulations that quietly took effect in 2005, is letting someone else take home-butchered meat off the property.

It fell to conservation officer Graham Ridley of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to deal with Tijssen’s neighbour’s complaint.

Ridley could have phoned or visited Tijssen to make sure he knew about the 130-page regulation and warned him against violating it. A responsible person like a Canadian Forces major would surely have wanted to avoid getting into trouble with the law if he knew about it.

But instead, Ridley staked out Tijssen’s home for five full days in November 2009, watching from a tree-house on the neighbour’s property, waiting to see whether anyone would leave Tijssen’s property with meat. How gratifying it must have been when he finally saw the co-owner of the pig leaving with a box of pork. At last, a charge could be laid!

Ridley sprang into action, following the friend down the road and confiscating the pork.

Tijssen, on learning from his friend what had happened, telephoned Ridley the next day and acknowledged having butchered the pig. But faced with this golden opportunity of explaining the 2005 regulations to Tijssen, Ridley once again declined.

Instead, the following evening, after dark, Ridley raided Tijssen’s property accompanied by four police cars and two MNR trucks, lights flashing. Armed police officers searched the property painstakingly and carried off 14 articles of butchering equipment — evidence of Tijssen’s heinous offence — even though Tijssen had already acknowledged in the previous day’s phone call that he had killed the pig.

Tijssen now stands charged with four offences and theoretically faces penalties of up to $100,000. The MNR lawyers quickly offered him the chance to settle for a fine of only $8,000. They then reduced their demand to $2,000 and eventually to a paltry $1,000–not nearly enough to pay for officer Ridley’s five-day surveillance and the multi-officer raid, let alone their lawyers’ services.

I think that the lawyers are of the opinion that their charges aren’t going to stick once it comes in front of a judge as per their pre-trial bargaining to try and get Tijssen to plead guilty for a lesser fine.

Karen Selick, the author of the article, lays out the real problem.

The maxim “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” made sense back in the days when the only kind of acts that were illegal were genuine crimes that caused palpable harm to innocent victims: murder, rape, theft, etc.

But with the growth of the regulatory state, every individual is now subject to thousands of pages of densely written federal, provincial and municipal statutes and regulations. The law is also embodied in innumerable judicial decisions. And it’s all in continual flux: Regulations are passed without parliamentary debate, and courts release new judgments daily.

There is probably not a single law professor, judge or legislator in Canada who has even a passing familiarity with, let alone full comprehension of, all the laws we are required to obey. The average joe doesn’t stand a chance. We are all potential offenders every day, no matter how law-abiding we might wish to be.

Unfortunately the law enforcement people work on the principle that ‘the law is the law’. Actually they take that a step further in too many cases and manufacture their own interpretation of the law and bully confused and frightened citizens into giving up their legal rights.
Just one more recent situation, this time from our neighbours south of the 49th parallel.

A Columbia Falls High School student was suspended last week after inadvertently bringing a hunting rifle to school.

Demari DeReu, a 16-year-old junior, was suspended Dec. 1 and likely faces expulsion after telling school officials about the gun she had forgotten to remove from the trunk of her car.

She had gone hunting over Thanksgiving weekend with family friends.

They had taken a friend’s pickup truck, and when they returned, the friend had put DeReu’s unloaded rifle in the trunk of her car and the rest of her hunting gear up front. She forgot about the gun when she unloaded her gear at home.

The following Wednesday, the school announced during first period that contraband-sniffing dogs were at school. Only then did DeReu remember the rifle in her car, which was parked in the school parking lot.

“I was glad I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs,” she recalled thinking to herself. Then she thought, “Did I get my rifle out of my trunk?”

She said she remembers a teacher — she can’t remember who — telling her that in some cases, the school would allow students to move their cars off school grounds if they took an absence. It seemed better than getting in trouble should the dog find the gun, so DeReu asked her teacher if she could move her car.

He said no, so instead she asked to call Alan Robbins, the high school principal, to explain the situation.

“I couldn’t get ahold of Mr. Robbins — he was checking lockers — so I told the secretary my hunting rifle was in the car, not loaded and with no ammunition, and wanted to see if I can move my car,” DeReu said. “She said she’d get the message to him right away.”

The next thing DeReu knew, Assistant Principal Scott Gaiser was escorting her from the classroom.

She said he told her she was suspended as of that moment and was facing expulsion for a minimum of 21 days after an expulsion hearing, …..

The story goes on to talk about how this could affect her college applications, etc.

What really throws me is that this happened in Montana where hunting is pretty much a way of life. No understanding of the situation from the staff?

Of course a large part of the problem is the stupidity of the US federal law that even allows this to happen.

Superintendent Michael Nicosia would not discuss the specifics of DeReu’s case but talked about the policy, which is based on state policy crafted by the Montana School Boards Association.

That policy says the school board “will expel any student who uses, possess, controls or transfers a firearm or any object that can reasonably be considered a firearm at any setting that is under control and supervision of the District.”

The policy also says students in those circumstances will be expelled for at least one calendar year, although trustees may modify the term of the expulsion on a case-by-case basis, Nicosia said.

The district doesn’t see any way around the expulsion clause, which is based on the federal Gun-Free Schools Act, he added.

The 1994 law says each state that receives federal funding must have a law requiring schools to expel for at least one year students who have brought or possessed a firearm at school.

To prevent a worst case scenario a bunch of bone-headed legislators passed a blanket law that inflicts severe penalties on students that are of no danger to their system and like most dumb, knee-jerk laws does little to no good to prevent anyone who seriously means harm.

A book could be written detailing similar incidents (and may well have already been done), but in the meantime no one in a position of authority seems aware of these abuses, or if they are, apparently are unwilling to address the problem.

It is almost impossible to go through a week (maybe a day) without breaking a law of some sort. It would seem that your best plan to stay out of trouble would be to just stay at home and avoid being noticed.

Michael Ignatieff: Offense taken

December 8, 2010

Michael Ignatieff seems a little delicate for the rough and tumble battle of federal politics. His latest cry for attention came from a remark made by newly elected conservative MP, Julian Fantino.

In the interview, Mr. Fantino – the former Toronto police chief and Ontario Provincial Police commissioner – expressed his frustration with charges by the Liberals that he had run a “peek-a-boo” campaign, avoiding public debates and afraid to address tricky issues.

He told The Globe that was simply not the case, believing the Liberals had made the allegation out of desperation. “I think they intended to hurt my campaign,” Mr. Fantino said. “The things they said … a lot of them were absolute lies. They keep repeating [them]. I call it the Hitler theory. You tell a lie often enough you hope that some people will believe it.”

In a memo circulated by the Liberals they seemed to get a bit hysterical.

“Barely four days after squeaking into office, Julian Fantino crossed the line by using an offensive analogy that compared a democratic political party in Canada to the Nazi regime,”

And on and on.

No, he didn’t compare the Liberal party to the Nazis, he equated their tactics to the ‘big lie’ theory that has been associated with Adolph Hitler.

But Hitler apparently didn’t make the statement as a matter of his personal policy.

The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, for a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler believed the technique was used by Jews to unfairly blame Germany’s loss in World War I on German Army officer Erich Ludendorff.

And then down the ranks.

Later, Joseph Goebbels put forth a slightly different theory which has come to be more commonly associated with the expression “big lie.” Goebbels wrote the following paragraph in an article dated 12 January 1941, 16 years after Hitler’s first use of the phrase “big lie,” titled “Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik” and translated “From Churchill‘s Lie Factory.” It was published in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel.

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

Anyway it appears that Mr Fantino hurt Mr Ignatieff’s feelings. It’s a tough world out there for sensitive people.

Robert Latimer: Justice gone awry

December 4, 2010

After 10 years in jail for the mercy killing of his severely disabled daughter, Robert Latimer begrudgingly, but finally will receive full parole on December 6th.

Latimer applied for and was denied early parole in 2007 because, in the opinion of the members of the National Parole Board, he didn’t exhibit sufficient regret for his actions. Latimer, answering their questions honestly, said that he still thought he had done the right thing when he killed his daughter.

In 2008 the B.C. Civil Liberties Association filed an appeal on Latimer’s behalf on the basis that the NPB had violated its own rules by requiring to admit to wrongdoing in order to qualify for parole and by ignoring the fact that he was a very low risk for re-offending.

In actual fact he was probably a no-risk case.

In February 2008,a review board overturned the NPB’s decision and granted Latimer day parole in Ottawa beginning that March.

The sad thing is, if the jury and the judge who heard the case had been allowed to do their job, Latimer would have been out of prison in a year’s time.

However the case became a cause celebre with various disability rights groups, some church groups and others who argued that unless Latimer was dealt with the full severity of the law others would be encouraged to rush out and kill other disabled people.

Even the Maclean’s columnist Andrew Coyne argued that the NPB was within its rights to deny Latimer parole because he didn’t express regret, because doing so without that requirement might encourage others to do the same.

All of which is patently nonsense.

Robert Latimer took a life and for that he had to answer to the law. But he shouldn’t have had his case effectively arbitrated by groups that have agendas that have nothing to do with justice or fairness but are meant to advance their advocacy.

Justice is never even handed and I don’t think was ever meant to be. Every case has its own story and its own specific set of facts. But when you look at Latimer’s sentencing and his treatment by the National Parole Board knowing that this man was caught up in his own moral dilemma but also knowing full well that he was absolutely no risk to the community, and then again look at other cases and how the sentencing came down, I think there is reason to wonder.

Cases in point:.

Regina teen gets 3 1/2 years for fatal May long weekend shooting

Jodie Lynn Bryant was enjoying a campfire in a Regina backyard on the May long weekend when a stranger in a passing car smiled, lifted a stolen rifle and took the 21-year-old’s life with a single pull of the trigger.

Asked by his friend what he was doing, the 16-year-old murderer replied, “Oh, just having fun.”

On Friday, he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in a youth facility on top of the six months he’s already served since his arrest, followed by three years in the community under a conditional supervision order.

“That’s a dangerous man. In three years Regina, be scared,” Bryant’s aunt Elaine Severight told the Leader-Post.

A killer, admittedly 16 years old, callously kills a girl in her own backyard in a drive-by shooting, “just having fun”. He gets 3 1/2 years in prison and then they throw him back into the community under ‘supervision’.

And among various mercy killings in Canada, a few examples.

Doctor gave potassium chloride to a dying patient who was suffering intractable pain.

1990 – Unidentified city in Quebec, possibly Quebec City – Unidentified doctor gave potassium chloride injection to dying patient who was suffering intractable pain
Charge: None (president of Quebec College of Physicians defended doctor’s action and Quebec Minister of Justice decided against laying charges)
Reference:
“Euthanasia: Quebec considering charges for MD’s role in AIDS death”
Ottawa Citizen, June 20 1992, Page A3

The case of Dr. de la Roche

In Timmins, Ontario the forty-nine-year-old chief of surgery at St. Mary’s General Hospital, Dr. Alberto de la Rocha, administered an injection of morphine and potassium chloride to his seventy-year-old patient in 1991. Mrs Mary Graham was suffering from terminal cancer of the cheek, mouth and lung. It was clear that during much of her remaining time she would have to endure great agony. As Nicholas Ionides reported in the Globe and Mail of April 5, 1993, her forty-six-year-old son, George, testified at the trial of his mother’s doctor that he and his brothers regarded his mother’s death as being “very peaceful, very dignified, and very humane,” and that it was “a beautiful experience.”

The doctor’s motives were clear — to save his patient the pain, suffering and humiliation of protracted illness. His community recognized this when they rallied to his support, as did many of the hospital staff and de la Rocha’s other patients. Initially, the doctor was charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was later reduced and he pleaded guilty to a much lesser charge, of administering a noxious substance. He received a three-year suspended sentence and was not banned from practising medicine.

Cheryl Myers and Michael Power

1993 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Cheryl Myers and Michael Power  euthanized Myers’ father who was dying badly
Charge: Second-degree murder, reduced to manslaughter
Result: Suspended sentence

It would appear that a (brief) case  study would indicate that the only certain thing about mercy killings is that if the victim is old and in pain it is ok to put them down. It seems to me that the organizations looking out for the welfare of the aged should be very concerned.

What I do think is that in the end, between advocacy groups howling for his head on a plate, a prosecutor that seemed strongly motivated to extract the severest sentence possible and his trial being turned into a media event, Robert Latimer never had a chance of finding any compassion from the courts.

There are many who still think that Latimer deserved no compassion.

I think his 10 years spent incarcerated was wrong and a waste of a decent man’s life.

An Israeli Practical Joke: 30 years to the punch line

December 2, 2010

This would appear to be a practical joke on a global scale.

Al- Arabiya reported this week that Iranian officials were outraged to discover a Star of David on the roof of the headquarters of Iran Air. Iran’s national airline’s headquarters was built by Israeli engineers three decades ago, but apparently no one noticed the symbol until a Google Earth user picked it up.

They had to wait 30 years for the ‘gotcha’.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

The realities of politics

December 1, 2010

Andrew Coyne, in a column in Macleans magazine, bemoans the fact that politicians say one thing and end up doing something entirely different.I

In Mr. Coyne’s rant he is speaking specifically about Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his conservative government.

But what is amusing is Coyne’s admission that he has always believed that, deep down, politicians try to do the right thing and just recently has realized that it’s really all politics.

Really.

And he has been writing about politics and issues for years.

Now I don’t make any claims to the background that Andrew Coyne has on the political scene. But over the years I have had the opportunity to deal with politicians and bureaucrats on various issues and came to realize fairly early on that once a politician gets elected, his/her immediate goal from that point on is to simply get re-elected.

The corollary to that is that it is important to do nothing controversial and always try to annoy the least number of people.

And Coyne is right: this is what has happened, not to just our current Conservative government, but to conservative administrations in the U.S. as well.

Once they attain power they proceed to compromise their principles in order to stay in power. In Stephen Harper’s case he needs to appeal to a wider base in order to move from being a minority government to a majority government. And the principles that he came to the party with get set aside.

I’m simply amazed that Coyne is amazed.

However it is not just conservatives who suffer from electoral compromise and who sell out their principles.

A current example is Peter Stoffer, the MP from Sackville-Eastern Shore (NS), who for years loudly and publicly proclaimed his opposition to the federal long gun registry and gave his promise in parliament to vote for any bill that was brought forward to eliminate the registry.

But when Bill C-391, which would done just that, was tabled, Stoffer changed his mind and voted to kill the bill, thus ensuring that the registry would remain intact.

Another case of a politician who either had no principles to begin with or when push came to shove lost the principles he had.

Mr. Coyne may have missed that.

I’m also surprised that Coyne seems to think that this is only a conservative problem.

Of course that may be the case because conservatives are supposed to have principles and therefore are more at risk of losing them. Whereas federal Liberals have never been considered to have principles and thus cannot be castigated for losing them.

One of the more egregious examples of this may be the 1974 federal election where the Conservatives, under the leadership of Robert Stanfield, promised to bring in price and wage controls if elected. The federal Liberals, led by Pierre Trudeau fought the election on opposing that policy and won. Then immediately after winning the election implemented a wage and price controls policy on their own. That smelled somewhat more of opportunism rather than principle.

And of course we are just talking about the politicians. We haven’t even considered the workings  of senior bureaucrats.

If one was to spend some research time on this topic I think it would very shortly become boring (or depressing), because I believe that what you would find was that expedience and opportunism wins over principles almost every time.

I apologize for my cynicism to those actually principled politicians who are out there. There are some (at least in my experience) that I could name. Unfortunately they often become pariahs in their own parties.

It is all politics.


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