Saturday, January 23, 2010

Changing the law from the bench

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

In a two-to-one ruling on January 15, the British Columbia Court of Appeal held that Parliament has no constitutional authority to prohibit drug addicts from injecting themselves with illegal drugs in a public health clinic. With this bizarre decision, the Court has undermined the entire bans on drug possession and drug trafficking in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The immediate focus of the case is Insite, a notorious health clinic in the drug-infested, east side of downtown Vancouver, where nurses and paramedical staff help drug addicts to inject themselves with heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs. According to the trial judge, "No substances are provided by staff. It goes without saying that the substances brought to Insite by users have been obtained from a trafficker in an illegal transaction."

The British Columbia Ministry of Health established Insite in 2003 as an experiment in the supervised injection of illegal drugs, the first of its kind in North America. To enable the clinic to operate, the minister of health in the Liberal government of Canada at the time granted Insite a temporary exemption from the federal bans on illegal drug possession and trafficking.

Former Conservative health minister Tony Clement served notice in 2007 that he planned to terminate the exemption. "Allowing and/or encouraging people to inject heroin into their veins is not harm reduction," he said. "We believe it is a form of harm addition." He insisted that instead of fostering the injection of dangerous and illegal drugs, the medicare system should save the lives of addicts by concentrating on drug treatment and rehabilitation.

Backers of Insite fundamentally disagree with this policy. Having failed in their political efforts to maintain the exemption for Insite, they appealed Clement's decision to the courts, and won.

In a ruling on May 27, 2008, Mr. Justice Ian Pitfield of the British Columbia Supreme Court overturned Clement's policy. He continued the exemption for Insite on the ground that the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act violates the right to "life, liberty and security of the person" in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the extent that the bans on drug possession and drug trafficking prevent addicts from safely injecting illegal drugs in a public health clinic.

Now the British Columbia Court of Appeal has likewise upheld a continuing exemption for Insite. In reasons for the Court, Madam Justice Carol Huddart opined: "A supervised drug injection service does not undermine the federal goals of protecting health or eliminating the market that drives the more serious drug-related offences of import, production and trafficking." In a concurring opinion, Madam Justice Anne Rowles similarly argued that application of the provisions on drug possession and drug trafficking in the federal narcotics law to Insite "would have the effect of putting the larger society at risk on matters of public health with its attendant human and economic cost."

In dissent, Madam Justice Daphne Smith pointed out that if other provinces take advantage of the immunity granted to Insite in this case, "supervised injection sites could be opened in every city across Canada. The creation of 'enclaves' where illicit drugs may be brought for intravenous drug use, without the potential for prosecution, could eviscerate the efficacy of a criminal law validly enacted by Parliament that seeks to address the broader context and consequences of illicit drug use across the entire supply chain."

Note that instead of discussing the principles of the law and the Constitution, all of these judges are debating the wisdom of the policy adopted by the Harper government to uphold the comprehensive ban on the possession and trafficking of illegal drugs in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Upon further appeal, will the Supreme Court of Canada likewise maintain the exemption for Insite and amend the federal narcotics law? That remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that our appeal courts are still infested with arbitrary judicial activists who have no compunction about changing the law to suit their personal policy preferences.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The evil politics of envy

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

George Gilder persuasively argues in his latest book The Israel Test that the central issue of our time is not any clash of civilizations or dispute over environmentalism, but a more fundamental moral divide. He explains: "On one side, marshaled at the United Nations and in universities around the globe, are those who see capitalism as a zero-sum game in which success comes at the expense of the poor and the environment: Every gain for one party comes at the cost of another. On the other side are those who see the genius and the good fortune of some as a source of wealth and opportunity for all."

A primary focus of these clashing viewpoints is the state of Israel. Quoting Caroline Glick, an astute columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Gilder sums up: "Some people admire success; some people envy it. The enviers hate Israel"

The enviers also hate the Jews, and for much the same reason: Collectively, the Jews have been far more successful down through the centuries than any other people.

Gilder points out that Jews currently comprise fewer than one-third of one per cent of the world's population, yet over the past 60 years, they have won more than 30 per cent of the Nobel Prizes for literature, chemistry, physics and medicine.

Jews have also been outstandingly successful as entrepreneurs and financiers. Ludwig von Mises, the distinguished Austrian economist, estimated that at least two thirds of the top 1,000 entrepreneurs in Austria during the 1930s were Jews.

Hitler, alas, was not alone in his pathological envy and hatred of the Jews. A great many Austrians applauded his campaign to rid the country of Jews, despite the devastating economic consequences for Austria. Out of about 250,000 Jews who resided in Austria in 1938, only 216 survived the Second World War without fleeing abroad.

Von Mises was one of the lucky Jewish survivors. He escaped to the United States, where he concluded his brilliant career at New York University. In this case, as in so many others, the United States gained from Europe’s loss of outstanding Jewish talent.

Gilder describes General Leslie Groves, the officer in charge of the ultra-secret Manhattan Project during the Second World War, as a "stiff and conventional military man and a Christian of the sort most disdained by intellectuals." Like Hitler, Groves might have failed what Gilder calls "the Israel test:" That is to say, he could have envied the Jews and refused to employ them on the Manhattan Project.

Instead, Groves chose two Jews to head the organization, Robert Oppenheimer as director and John von Neumann as senior adviser. With the collaboration of Enrico Fermi, Ernest Lawrence and other brilliant gentiles, the talented Jews recruited by Groves enabled the United States to obtain nuclear weapons before Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Here, then, is a singular triumph of success over envy. The Jews and gentiles who worked together on the Manhattan Project literally saved Western civilization.

For 20 years following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Palestinians likewise tried peaceful cooperation with Israel. The result was an outburst of mutually beneficial economic growth. Gilder notes that despite a tripling of the Palestinian population, per capita income in the West Bank and Gaza rose to $1,706 in 1987, up from $80 in 1967.

Since 1987, Palestinian militants have periodically sent homicide bombers and Katyusha rockets into Israel. For the Palestinian people, the inevitable consequence has been ruin, especially in Gaza, which remains desperately impoverished despite having received more foreign aid per capita than any other territory on earth.

Of late, Israel and the Palestine Authority on the West Bank have reverted to peaceful cooperation for the mutual economic benefit of Jews and Arabs on both sides of the border. The same opportunity is open to the people of Gaza. But first they must get rid of a terrorist government consumed with a pathological hatred and envy of the Jews.

(PS: In case any reader is wondering, Gilder is a Christian of British ancestry.)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ringing declaration of Christian principles

The Interim
By Rory Leishman

On November 20, Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders in the United States set a splendid example for their counterparts in Canada, by issuing the Manhattan Declaration -- a ringing statement of resolve to resist the growing subversion of the moral order and the suppression of freedom of religion by secular zealots in legislatures, governments and the courts.

Included among the 178 dignitaries who have signed this historic document is virtually every major, theologically orthodox Catholic and Evangelical leader in the United States from Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, to Chuck Colson, the Evangelical founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. While avowing that "the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention," the signatories jointly affirm: "We are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions."

These problems, of course, are no less acute in Canada. Thanks to the arbitrary ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in Morgentaler, 1988, Canada, to its shame, is the only democracy in the world where an abortionist can legally kill a baby in the womb for any reason and at any time during a pregnancy right up to the last second before birth.

Currently, secular ideologues in the Parliament of Canada are pressing for the legalization of euthanasia. It's difficult to imagine any legislation that would pose a more severe threat to the lives of elderly and disabled Canadians.

In December, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench overturned a ruling by the province's human rights tribunal that fined former pastor Stephen Boissoin $5,000 for expressing his views on homosexuality in a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate. Nonetheless, faithful Christians should beware: The oppressive provision in the Alberta human rights code that was at issue in this case remains in effect and could still be used against anyone who dares to insist that all sexual intercourse outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful.
Besides, the freedom of Canadians to act on their Christian convictions is under even greater threat than their freedom to speak. In an outrageous submission to the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has warned: "A physician’s denial of services or refusal to provide a woman with information relating to contraception or abortion, for example, would be discriminatory based on sex."

With this statement, the Commission has served notice that pro-life physicians in Ontario who refuse on principle to participate in the commission of an abortion could be fined by the Commission and ultimately jailed by the courts for allegedly discriminating against women on the basis of sex.

With the praiseworthy exception of Calgary Bishop Fred Henry and a few other outspoken stalwarts, most Catholic and Evangelical leaders in Canada have had little to say in public about the mounting attacks on freedom of religion and the traditional moral order. In splendid contrast, their counterparts in the United States have have not only reaffirmed their commitment to religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and marriage as the God-ordained conjugal union of man and woman, but have also solemnly stated in the Manhattan Declaration: "We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty."

J. I. Packer, the distinguished, theologically orthodox Anglican professor of theology at Vancouver's Regent University, has signed on to the Manhattan Declaration. Would that all of the faithful leaders among Canadian Catholics and Evangelicals would issue a similar declaration of Christian conviction for Canada.