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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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5/20/2004

Free Speech, Not in Canada Thank You

Colby Cosh is all over the horrible decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Harper v. Canada Here is part of Chief Justice McLauglinès dissent.
The effect of third-party limits for spending on advertising is to prevent citizens from effectively communicating their views on issues during an election campaign. The denial of effective communication to citizens violates free expression where it warrants the greatest protection--the sphere of political discourse. Section 350 [of the amended Elections Act] puts effective radio and television communication beyond the reach of "third-party" citizens, preventing citizens from effectively communicating their views on election issues, and restricting them to minor local communication. Effective expression of ideas thus becomes the exclusive right of registered political parties and their candidates.

Because citizens cannot mount effective national television, radio and print campaigns, the only sustained messages voters see and hear during the course of an election campaign are from political parties. The right of a citizen to hold views not espoused by a registered party and to communicate those views is essential to the effective debate upon which our democracy rests, and lies at the core of the free expression guarantee. Any limits to this right must be justified under s. 1 of the Charter by a clear and convincing demonstration that they serve a valid objective, do not go too far, and enhance more than harm the democratic process. Promoting electoral fairness by ensuring the equality of each citizen in elections, preventing the voices of the wealthy from drowning out those of others, and preserving confidence in the electoral system, are pressing and substantial objectives in a liberal democracy.

However, the infringement of the right to free expression is not proportionate to these objectives. There is no evidence to support a connection between the limits on citizen spending and electoral fairness, and the legislation does not infringe the right to free expression in a way that is measured and carefully tailored to the goals sought to be achieved. The limits imposed on citizens amount to a virtual ban on their participation in political debate during the election period, except through political parties.
Unlike most of my blogging compatriots I tend to rather like judges and judge made law. Largely because I prefer reason to pandering. However, the Supreme Court missed a classic opportunity to put forward a reasoned defence of the critical importance of free political speech. If there was no other reason to vote for the Conservatives in the coming election, simply electing a party whose leader was the plaintiff in this matter is enough. The one saving grace of the decision is that this law can be repealled.

(Blogging will continue to be light for a few more days until our housing and my internet connection resolve. And, by the way, where is Andrew Coyne.)

5/17/2004

Missed one - WMD found

Of course this will be dismissed as a plant, a dog wagging and all the rest; but the discovery of sarin in a roadside bomb is the first in what I suspect will be a long list of such discoveries in Iraq and in Syria.
"The Iraq Survey Group has confirmed today that a 155 (mm) artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found. The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) that was discovered by a U.S. force convoy," he said.


"A detonation occurred before the IED be could be rendered inoperable," Kimmitt said, adding that two members of an explosives team had been treated for exposure to the substance.


Kimmitt said the round, designed to mix the sarin in flight, belonged to a class of ordnance that the ousted government of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) claimed to have destroyed before the 1991 Gulf war.


"It is a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time, and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED... when it exploded it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it," he said. "The Iraq Survey Group has confirmed today that a 155 (mm) artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found. The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) that was discovered by a U.S. force convoy," he said.
reuters