Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For the Greater Good...

"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."
-- Lyndon B. Johnson

Justice Minister Nichols (CPC) Is currently kicking around a piece of legislation that if enacted would give Police unprecedented powers. Why is are they unprecedented? Chiefly because this legislation would allow police to pull over any car and its occupants for absolutely no reason to administer a breathalyzer.

This is a practise that is currently taking place in a few European jurisdictions, the Netherlands to name one. I cannot speak for or to the laws of European countries as I am unfamiliar with them, nay ignorant of them. However I am very familiar with the laws of Canada. To be perfectly honest I really don't care what they are doing in Europe, Europe was a place not too long ago that rounded people up at the behest of a certain occupier of their countries. A place where identity cards had to be carried at all times and presented when commanded.

I have grown up with a belief that in Europe the powers that be were omnipotent and people do as they are told. Right or wrong that is my impression of Europe. Where there is a trust in their legislators and a belief in "It's all for our own good". I have this belief largely because of WW II and that democracy is a relatively new idea in many European Countries. Call it a bit of English snobbery where democracy is not so new an idea and there is a long tradition of Liberty.

In Countries where Roman Law or Civil Code are the basis of their legal tradition view things differently than Countries with a Common Law tradition. But enough said of this. As I have said I only care about Canadian Law which as it so happens is founded upon the Common Law tradition except in Quebec which the Civil Code is still used in a BiJural system.

We in Canada have the written guarantee of certain rights. Sadly many of my fellow Canadians take their freedom and their rights for granted, more is the pity many can't even name 3 rights they hold under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). I am of the opinion some days that my fellow countrymen place little value upon their rights and will allow their Government to pass legislation that slices away at their rights and in the end their freedoms.

For the "Greater Good" or for "Public Safety" seem to be acceptable reasons for "waiving" your civil rights. Many of us who go on about rights and speak of the "thin end of the edge" or the "slippery slope", always sound annoying, preachy, and worst of all BORING. Well my fellow citizens welcome to the bottom of the slippery slope.

This law if enacted will give every police officer the right to pull us over when ever they feel like it, demand that we blow into a tube whether we have had a drink or not. They do not require probable cause anymore.

Of course many people are saying "So? They are looking for drivers who have been drinking, I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear.". Thats fair, I hope their cough syrup is alcohol free or their mouth wash is. With the lower thresholds that some Provincial Governments have introduced you may blow a false positive. Now we are no longer talking about a minor inconvenience. You will then be commanded to accompany them to the station for the proper test conducted by the certified technician, or possibly a court ordered blood test. (of course they will give you a lift in the back of their car)

Did I mention that while all of this was happening you were technically under arrest? Indeed you were, in fact arbitrarily detained. Which by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not supposed to happen. Ah heck, it isn't supposed to happen in a free and democratic society with or without a charter of rights.

A small part of me wishes this law to pass, not because I think it is right, heck no,, This small part me is the "wise acre" that wants to say I told you so, when the knock comes at your door one day and its the local constabulary wanting to come in and look around and make sure no laws are being broken. You can't protest because you have already waived your rights, you waived them long ago. With each passage of a law that took away a slice of your rights. When you just nodded in silent agreement with every law that was enacted for the "public good". I hope we all wake up sooner than later for it will be too late if our democracy will have gave way to a police state.

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