Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday drive-by blogging

1. Here's your what-kind-of-democracy-is-this-we're-living-in item of the day: "Barring the media bad move by PC candidate." The Tory candidate in Lambton-Kent Middlesex, Monte McNaughton, barred the media from a town hall meeting the other night. Where do these people think they're living? Honestly. A sign of things to come from the Hudak PCs?

2. Harper makes a New York Times week in review quiz and not in a good way!
5. Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada reportedly unveiled a new diplomatic strategy last week. To get the Brazilian president to agree with him at a meeting, he did what?

A. Threatened to cut off Brazil’s supply of maple syrup.

B. Locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out.

C. Performed an a cappella rendition of ‘Girl From Ipanema’ over and over again.

D. Defeated her in a match of Canadian Rules Thumb Wrestling.
All of which seem ridiculous, right? The answer:
5. (B) According to a Brazilian newspaper, the president of Brazil wanted to do official speeches and toasts after lunch, but Mr. Harper wanted to do them before. To bolster his argument, he locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out until the president gave in. Officials from both countries denied this story, refusing to come out of the bathroom until it was retracted.
All completely untrue, of course, as the Harper flacks have reassured us this week. But nevertheless the story ends up all over the international media. How ever do these consummate Conservative media spinners manage to produce such international tales? Just amazing.

3. Great blog post: "Ontario Election 2011: This is, and must be, a referendum on green energy." "I believe that this coming election must be framed about the green energy issue over all others and that this equates to a vote for the Liberals."

4. Chief Justice McLachlin stands up for an independent impartial judiciary:
In a speech to the CBA’s governing council, McLachlin said:

“I was certainly — and I think all judges were — very pleased when an issue arose earlier this year when a minister of the Crown seemed to suggest that some judges were insufficiently solicitous to government policy. We were very, very gratified to see your president writing a powerful public letter to the minister in question, reminding the minister of the importance of public confidence in an impartial judiciary, that bases its decisions on the law and not on government policy.”

In a controversial speech last February to the law faculty at the University of Western Ontario, Kenney said Federal Court judges, who preside over immigration cases, weren’t doing enough to help the government remove immigrants with alleged criminal pasts, and other unwanted refugees, from Canada.
“We live in a society with a strong commitment to the rule of law, and one of the elements of our commitment to the rule of law is a deep, cultural belief in and confidence in the judiciary.

“This goes beyond a general idea that we have good judges of integrity, it’s the confidence that brings litigants to choose the courts as a forum for resolving their disputes … and it is what allows them to accept the resulting judgments.

“Citizens have to have the confidence that whatever their problem, whoever’s on the other side … they will have a judge who will give them impartial justice and not be subject to pressures to direct their judgments in a particular way.”

Speaking to reporters after her speech, McLachlin said she has not written or spoken privately to the government about Kenney’s comments, nor will she.

“It’s very important when the Bar speaks out and says this is an important, institutional, democratic value, an independent judiciary, and we need to preserve it. And we’re grateful to the CBA for doing that.”
Exactly. Not the first time in the Harper era that a Supreme Court justice has spoken up for judicial independence in relation to this government.

5. While the McLachlin-Kenney item garnered a lot of attention, see also the other major story out of the CBA conference in the Globe yesterday, where greater attention was given in their coverage to the access to justice failings in Canada: "Canada's poor ranking in access to courts should be wake up call, Chief Justice says."
"...Canada placed ninth in a recent ranking of 12 European and North America countries. The finding - by the World Justice Institute - underlines the fact that justice is increasingly available only to the wealthy or small minority who are so poor that they qualify for legal aid programs, she said."
Those who cannot get legal help to fight criminal charges tend to get the most public attention, she said. However, ordinary citizens who suffer a personal injury, need to draft a will or encounter. mortgage problem frequently have trouble obtaining legal advice, Chief Justice McLachlin said.

“They feel they cannot take the step of finding a lawyer or launching a lawsuit or doing whatever is necessary to protect their legal rights,” she said. “They fear expense. They fear delay.

“In the family area, they can get mired in processes that actually exacerbate the dispute and have bad consequences for the children involved and for preserving as much of the family assets as can be preserved,” Chief Justice McLachlin said.
6. I was wondering what happened to Lawrence Cannon. OK, I wasn't really. Still, fun report on so many levels!

7. Andrew Sullivan on Michele Bachmann's win in Iowa yesterday:
Michele Bachmann, fortified by two strong performances in the two most recent debates, kinda shares victory with Ron Paul, but will win the headlines nonetheless. I suspected she'd win because she is almost perfect for the kind of Republican you find in Iowa's base: a native of the state, a hard-core anti-gay Christianist, and a big believer that the US should have defaulted on its debts, rather than raise any taxes at all (even while lowering marginal rates).

She is to the right what ... well it's hard to come up with a viable politician among the Democrats who can even begin to match her ideological extremism. Maybe if someone actually wanted fully socialized medicine on the British model, top tax rates at 98 percent, and affirmative action for gays in Hollywood.
Not in any way determinative of the ultimate winner, McCain didn't even mount an effort there last time round. But still, she's in the lead...heck of a dynamic.