Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slowly But Surely

Shining the light on truth is sometimes a slow and arduous task. It involves peeling back many very cleverly laid layers. It also requires a willingness for those who either do not care or are unwilling to accept the truth, to cast their gaze in that direction.

One other aspect is also helpful. That is when those who are attempting to hide the truth, get a little sloppy through their own arrogance. I think we are seeing some of that now.

The man who has been sentenced to death in Montana is now suing the government. When Rob Nicholson stood in the House and actually defended the Conservative Government's position on this, I not only thought it was outrageous and wrong, I thought it was a mistake on their part and a big one.

The Con's are very good at justifying their position through obfuscation capped off with catch phrases. Their tactics involve defending their position by painting whomever is questioning them with a lie and a smear.

When first asked about this matter, the Con's attempted to paint the Official Opposition as supporting, mass murderers being set free. Ludicrous of course, but media carried it.

I think the Con's got just a bit too cocky on this one. If you watch QP, do you ever notice just how often Nicholson looks down at the floor? He did it all day answering the Schreiber questions and he does it on this issue too. When do you do that in your life? The only thing that comes to mind is when you are trying to defend something you don't believe in.

I don't know actually whether Nicholson believes in capital punishment or not. What I do know is that many is his party do. There's the whole "eye for an eye" group and there is the "we are tough" crowd.

Neither position comports with Canadian values as expressed in our Charter. They have taken a position that is fundamentally contrary to what the majority of Canadians think and they the Con's, have arrogantly exposed more of their ideology. Remember, they asked for a poll on this issue recently. Why would you do that unless you thought you could capitalise on the result? Sadly, it did not turn out in their favour but I suspect their hope is to continue to frighten Canadians with crime and terror bills, in order to get us to rethink that opinion.

It's a waste of time. In fact it's turning the passage of time, progress and adopted values on it's head. Their regressive and old world face is peeking out at us, in spite of the control that Harper is trying to maintain while appeasing his base.

Their argument is ridiculous. You cannot be against the death penalty here and support it there. You cannot honestly be against the death penalty for some, but not all. You cannot uphold Human Rights or the Charter for that matter, only when it suits your agenda or ideology. You are either against it or you are for it and it is about bloody time that a reporter with guts insisted on the answer to that question.

They are not being asked that question outside the House often and when they sort of are, reporters are content with the answer, "the law in Canada is clear". The question back should be, "...but you've blurred that clarity, does this Government believe in it or not?" Insist on an answer and watch them dodge. That is what Canadians need to see. When I see reporters just playing a 1950's steno role every time a Minister answers, it's infuriating, no, it's insulting.

From proroguing the House only to re-introduce the "Tough on Crime" bills, to blatantly ignoring all legal opinion re' the power that the Minister of Justice possesses with respect to the Schrieber affair and now this case, the Government is exposing themselves in small increments. Well, I suppose they've done it all along, but now it's being done in a way that is garnering some attention.

Will that attention last? I don't know, but to see some light shed on what is truth is a good thing.

I've said for some time that their arrogance would catch up with them. Slowly but surely perhaps it finally is.


Gayle said...

KNB - Nicholson is a lawyer, and while I know lawyers do not get a lot of respect, the fact is many of them believe it to be an honourable profession.

If Nicholson is one of those people, he must be very uncomfortable with the line he had to sell in the House today. The Committee got a legal opinion that held Nicholson had the power to delay the extradition. It seems the legislation is clear. As a lawyer, he would know that, but as CP MP he had to stand up and say the opposite in the House.

The same goes for the death penalty issue. I for one am very happy to see Smith apply to the Court to compel the government to intervene.

As for the tough on crime legislation, I recall a couple weeks ago Goodale said that the Justice Minister could sign a declaration he believes, as a lawyer, that the proposed legislation is constitutionally sound, and that Nicholson had not done that with the omnibus bill (because the dangerous offender provisions violate the Charter). I can see what a difficult position Nicholson would be. He has a duty to his profession to act honestly and honourably - and as such he cannot declare the legislation is constitutionally valid unless he believes that to be true. I am recounting this from memory however so may not have the details correct.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, Nicholson has a history of being pro and voting FOR the death penalty.

Scotian said...


Interesting comment, and you raise an issue that many people tend to discount where those politicians that are lawyers are concerned. Indeed, it is because of those same legal requirements to their profession that is one of the reasons I think Mulroney made some serious mistakes in how he handled his testimony in the 1995 libel lawsuit. For an officer of the court to mislead through omission (the money from Schreiber that he got despite part of his libel claim being that he never received any money/had any business dealings with Schreiber) and apparently by commission as regarding his relationship with Schreiber is no small matter under both the rules governing the profession AND in terms of the court itself since no lawyer that has passed the bar can claim any ignorance regarding testimony requirements.

Nicholson is someone I have problems with regarding how he is handling his job, be it reluctantly or not, especially as regards to Schreiber's extradition. I find it remarkable that the Justice Minister and the man setting the terms of inquiry are both open to at the minimum the appearance of conflict (Nicholson was a Parliamentary Secretary in the Mulroney cabinet, Johnson was directly appointed by Mulroney to head a commission on the environment) yet this government appears to have no problems with such appearances of conflict of interest.

So it is no surprise to me that Nicholson is looking uncomfortable while he does his master's work (Harper) even when it runs contrary to the proper legal protocols/precedents as in the death penalty issue, let alone his conflict in Schreiber's case. It does not though appear to be stopping him from doing what he does. At least though as KNB noted in her post some of this sleazy and slimy approach to writing/enforcing our laws by this government is coming to light for the general public while it is still the minority, it would have been much more worrisome if this had been successfully hidden until Harper got his majority that he clearly is lusting after before all other considerations.

Gayle said...

anon - Nicholson may be in favour of the death penalty, but as a lawyer he knows it is unconstitutional here in Canada.

Scotian - a lawyer friend of mine believes Mulroney should be disbarred in Quebec. I wonder why no one has reported him to the law society there?

knb said...

Gayle, if Nicholson is indeed defending his party at the expense of his own convictions, that is beyond sad and squarely places him in the first camp of lawyers you describe.

As to the crime bill, I'm pretty sure Nicholson said he felt it was constitutional in Committee the other day.

I don't know how to obtain transcripts though.

Anyone who does, let me know.

knb said...

Thanks anon.

Scotian. At one time, I thought Nicholson was pretty decent. I was surprised to see this change with time in this parliament. His cheap shots in and out of the House have increased and now this apparent compromising of his ethics, certainly don't speak well of his character. As you say, given his position, I'm glad it's coming out now.