Thursday, March 17, 2005

WHERE WAS THE JURY?

I have no strong opinion on the Air India trial verdict. I didn't follow any news of the trial mostly for two reasons. One, the incident occurred in that nebulous zone of time long enough ago that I don't remember it happening (yeah, I'm only 23) but is too recent and not significant enough to count as 'modern' history. Two, I generally don't follow any criminal trial proceedings as the coverage tends to be sensationalized and rarely are the details of one trial any more important than another, exept of course for the individuals involved.

So, knowing very little about the Air India trial and larger portions of the justice system in general, I have just one question.

How is it that a trail of such magnitude was not decided by a jury?

I find it slightly disconcerting that a trial this large and complex, covering the murder of over 300 people was not subject to the deliberations of a jury. I have the utmost respect for the Canadian judiciary, and from my brief reading of news stories covering the verdict the judge in this particular case does not seem to have acted improperly. Yet, to my mind, the jury is the most purely democratic institution of western society. It is central to our justice system and for years has been the citizenry's garuantee of receiving fair trials and was one of the earlies forms for checking the power of the state. Trials without juries are an affront to democracy.

That a trial of this magnitude was decided by a single elite man seems simply wrong.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:10 PM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

YES, IT'S A MINORITY PARLIAMENT

I watched Don Newman covering today's vote on the Conservative amendment to the budget, which was defeated handily 205-85. I spent the last 20 minutes trying to come up with some kind of analysis before realizing my inability to do so was likely a result of this being an entirely non-event.

So my only two observations are this:

It was pretty amusing to watch Don Newman speculate about the possibility of a government defeat and potential election, when he knew full well that the opposition was not going to allow that to happen.

It was also pretty amusing to watch the Conservatives hold a dozen members out of the House on a vote for their own party's budget amendment so as to ensure the survival of the government.

Conclusions: Todays Parliamentary intrigue was mildly amusing to watch but seemed largely insignificant.

Update (about an hour later): CBC's banner headline now declares - 'Government Stands.' Whew, that was close, but the status quo continues.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:32 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, March 07, 2005

SPECTOR ON BLOGGING

In his Globe and Mail column, Norman Spector today writes, "Canadian Bloggers have no one but themselves to blame."

I was unaware that Canadian bloggers were blaming themselves for anything or were in turn being blamed by someone else for something. After reading Spector's column I was going to make this post nothing more than a question: What is Norman's point here? Because as far as I can tell he fails to make any concerted coherent argument.

I found, however, that over at the e-group blog, quite a discussion is going on about Spector's piece. The consensus seems to be that no one is quite clear what Spector's point was. Spector himslef entered the discussion briefly to provide this cryptic answer to everyone's question:

Canadian bloggers have no one but themselves to blame for their achievements to date and, more important, for what they will achieve in future.
Uh... thanks for that.

What I think that Spector's column does do is support a point made recently by Matt Yglesias (and I'm sure many others). Yglesias' argument, which I believe is a good one, was that blogging will not destroy MSM journalism; bloggers rely far too much on professional journalistic content for that to ever happen. What blogging does threaten is the MSM punditry. Spector's piece today exhibits that the writing of many professional columnists is often little better than what can be read on many blogs.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:57 PM :: (3) comments

Thursday, March 03, 2005

DRUG WAR TRAGEDY CONTINUES

Reports out of Alberta this afternoon indicate that four RCMP officers were shot and killed during a raid on a marijuana grow-op in the tiny village of Rochfort Bridge. The suspect is also reported to have killed himself.

Obviously this is an utter tragedy for the Mounties, their families, and the nation. As an RCMP spokesperson said:

"You'd have to go back to 1885, to the Northwest Rebellion, to have a loss of this magnitude. It's devastating."
This statement itslef says something significant about the Mounties and the level of violent crime in Canada, yet this event is still devastating beyond words.

It is an even greater tragedy because of the utter senslesness of the conditions that created it. Every year across North America incidents such as this occur as a result of the "war on drugs."

When are our legislators and our society at large going to seriously weigh the social and economic costs, not to mention the cost in lives, against the supposed benefits of our current anti-drug enforcement regime?

The costs of the drug war are spinning out of control at an exponential rate: from the unnecessarily imprisoned with their attendant social and economic costs, to the marginalized and untreated addicts, to the deaths that occur in associated drug violence.

The four officers who were killed today died performing their duty, enforcing the law and order of our land, for which they should be commended and memorialized. However, when do we ask if specific laws are worth that cost? When do we ask what type of order we are attempting to maintain?

The Liberals will be debating a proposal on the decriminalization of marijuana at their upcoming convention. One would hope that the four murders and one suicide that occurred today will cast a long shadow over that debate.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:04 PM :: (1) comments