Friday, May 12, 2006

Did you see that? Did you see them repressing me? That's what I'm going on about. If only people would listen...

Things did not go well for poor Mr. Vellacott, the pol who suggested the courts are claiming god-like powers. No doubt after a warm chat with an imposing gentleman from the Prime Minister's Office, he resigned as chair of the House aboriginal affairs committee.

His replacement is a former mayor of Salmon Arm, nationally famous for recently calling for locking up journalists who publish "misleading" information about the Conservative Party. An all round win for freedom of speech.

This change has, naturally enough, been greeted with great approval by the national media, still at large.

The Site Meter tells me I get a number of American visitors, and I prefer to believe that some of you are not spam bots. This little incident, along with Northrop Frye's theory that literary criticism should never criticize anybody, can tell you all you need to know about the English Canadian preference for politeness over honesty.

Personally, I care not a whit for Mr. Vellacott, who appears to be an anti-abortion zealot. But I'm a little bit worried on the whole "first they came for the communists" basis.

Every society has propositions, which have reasonable support on the evidence, but which only bad people believe, or are even willing to give a hearing. So it is and so it should be. I don't want to argue about the merits of genocide or big-ice hockey.

But just because I recognize we must have taboos, I don't want things I think are true, and important, to become those taboos. The courts *are* claiming god-like power. There are lots of reasons for this, and the judges often resist the real enthusiasts. I know some judges personally, and they are lovely people - workaholics, reasonable to a fault, Inclined to understated humour. My impression of Beverley McLachlin is that she is one of their number. I can hardly imagine a better benevolent dictator. But they get way too much respect for the democrat in me. And they are changing basic institutional understandings way too fast for my tory half.

I don't think this week has provided good signs about the health of my country.


Septentrionalis said...

As one of your American visitors, I give you a piece of advice, in large, friendly letters: DON'T PANIC.

The courts of the United States have been claiming god-like powers for two centuries now, and exercising them for more than a century and a half; and our judges are not, in practice, removable by the legislature. Still, we have survived; the Supreme Court does eventually follow the election returns.

PithLord said...


I appreciate your reminding me that there is much ruin in a nation. We hyper-ventilating anonymous Internet types often forget that.

I don't think McLachlin's SCC is substantively particularly radical. It follows the election returns very closely indeed. But it still pisses me off that she and her colleagues can pull off a constitutional revolution, and the only people who notice are evangelical hicks from Saskatchewan.