Time For An Election: What is a Conservative World?

It is past time for an election in canada. The Conservatives must go. We – the Canadian People – can no longer tolerate their foolish corruption of Canadian Values. Privatization, segregation, discrimination, sexism, ageism, censorship… enough is enough. Some of the sick attempts to destroy Canada -Propped by the opposition too afraid to call an election – are as follows:

BILL c-10 : Here is an excellent article about this Bill.

Canadians are already familiar with the Omnibus Crime Bill that the Conservatives have tried to pass in Canada. A bill that will raise the age of Sexual Consent from age14 – where it’s been for over 100 years – to age 16 (just to please the Religious Right), while age 14 is still old enough to be prosecuted as an adult for a violent crime.
Make criminals guilty until they can prove themselves innocent, classify individual Human acts in groups and not regard those acts individually.

Read this Article below from Tousaw Law

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Submission on Bill C-2 (Omnibus Crime Control Act)

I gave the following statement to the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on February 25, 2008. Unfortunately, it appears that the Senate is going to pass Bill C-2 without any amendments, mainly to avoid a possible election. I find it dubious that the Conservative Party could actually go to an election on this. I find it incredibly weak that the Liberals are scared to go to the people.

In any case, here is what I said:

My name is Kirk Tousaw, and I am here as a volunteer Board member and the Chair of the Drug Policy Committee of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. The Association is the oldest and most active defender of civil liberties and democratic freedoms in Canada and is this country’s pre-eminent advocate on this issue. The Association has a long history of providing input to government and the courts on matters of vital importance to civil liberties in Canada, and I thank this Committee for the opportunity to speak about the impact of Bill C-2.

I will begin my comments with a general proposition concerning the role of the criminal law in our society. I will then discuss three specific points regarding Bill C-2. My comments will focus on the proposed mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offences, the changes to the age of sexual consent and the granting of new, broad, investigative powers to police in cases of suspected drug-impaired driving.

As a general matter, government should be loath to use the criminal law power and particularly cautious when enhancing penalties, creating new crimes or giving legislative blessing to significant increases in police power. This is because the criminal law represents the most coercive tool in the government’s toolbox. The civil liberties that Canadians enjoy, and that form the cornerstone of our democracy, are rarely more at risk than when the government acts in the area of criminal justice policy. Changes to the criminal law should, at minimum, be contemplated only when there exists a demonstrable social need for the change and implemented only after very careful consideration of the need and the effects of the policies at issue.

Unfortunately, Bill C-2 fails on both counts. The proposed legislation does not respond to any actual or perceived need for amendment of the Criminal Code, as many others including criminologist Professor Neil Boyd, have already noted. Perhaps worse, the process by which this Bill was pushed through the House of Commons, and the attempt by the government of the day to pressure this body into quickly passing the Bill, demonstrate significant disregard for the principles of careful consideration, reflection and debate over deeply important issues. The issues of firearms, youth sexual activity, protection of privacy and regard for due process of law are too important to be used for short-term political gain. All Canadians are done a disservice when speed is substituted for substance. I’m pleased that this body appears prepared to take the necessary time to reflect on these matters, and I urge you to stand strong in the face of political pressure for haste.

Mandatory Minimums

The Association is opposed to the use of mandatory minimum sentences. Judicial discretion in sentencing is a hallmark of our democracy and a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system. Indeed, the occasional media sensationalism on the subject of unfit sentences – a statistically rare occurrence but likely a factor leading directly to this portion of the legislation – implicitly recognizes this principle while appearing to argue for the opposite. In those rare cases where judges have imposed sentences that are perceived to be unfit – and almost always too short – the disapproval of the sentence universally takes the form that the punishment did not fit the crime. Let me be clear about something: these cases are uncommon and outside the norm for sentencing. In the vast majority of cases, the sentencing judge does an excellent job tailoring a sentence to the facts of the case before him or her. There is an old saying that bad cases make bad law which I think is applicable here. Bad stories lead to bad laws.

Unfortunately, the use of mandatory minimums will exacerbate the problem. We hear, though rarely, of cases where a too-lenient sentence was imposed for a serious crime. If this Bill passes, we can expect to commonly see sentences that are far too harsh in the context of the individual case because judges will no longer be able to use their long-standing discretion to craft sentences that take into account an offender’s degree of culpability and role in the offence. This is the experience of other jurisdictions that regularly use mandatory minimums. Other problems include (a) disparate impact on racial minorities and economically less prosperous defendants; (b) significantly increased costs associated with both the criminal justice system and with the correctional system; (c) reduced ability for correctional officers and parole boards to impact in-custody behavior; (d) an increasing tolerance for the imposition of such mandatory penalties in situations where the empirical evidence of efficacy is even more lacking than in the area of firearms offences – such as for drug crimes. This last factor is evident in the current government’s proposed Bill C-26, which seeks to add a series of mandatory minimums to our nation’s failed and harmful policy of drug prohibition.

On this issue, I would like to close by quoting from a 2002 in-depth review of mandatory minimums conducted by our Department of Justice: “The use of incarceration as a preventative measure, therefore, must be finely tuned or its counterproductive impacts may well outweigh its benefits. Therefore, MMS should not be introduced merely to placate a political constituency or without regard to a thorough understanding of infractions or offenders for whom they are intended.”

Age of Sexual Consent

The Association opposes raising the age of sexual consent. There appears to be little or no empirical evidence demonstrating any need to change the long-standing age of sexual consent in Canada. Responsible sexual decision-making is a developmental process that requires social guidance, not legislative control. Young people are already protected from sexual exploitation, internet luring, and prostitution by ss. 150 through 172.1, and ss. 212(2) and 212(4) of the Code (Sexual Offenses and Disorderly Conduct). Raising the age of consent will create barriers to sexual health information, especially among marginalized youth who need it the most. Barriers to sexual health information will result in more cases of SDIs, HIV/AIDS and pregnancies among youth. Raising the age of consent may criminalize healthy sexual relationships between young people, and places undue restrictions on their autonomy. Finally, the impact of this law is also likely to be discriminatory because its effects will be more acutely felt by sexual minorities who already face significant stigmatization as a result of their sexuality. The best way to protect children and youth is through education and empowerment.

Under the Criminal Code, the age of consent for anal intercourse is eighteen, four years higher than for vaginal intercourse. This disparity has been criticized for targeting and criminalizing consensual sex between adolescent men. When the Ontario Court of Appeal declared that this section of the Code to be unconstitutional, Justice Albella, writing for the majority, pointed out something worth considering:

“Health risks ought to be dealt with by the health care system. Ironically, one of the bizarre effects of a provision criminalizing consensual anal intercourse for adolescents is that the health education they should be receiving to protect them from avoidable harm may be curtailed, since it may be interpreted as counseling young people about a form of sexual conduct the law prohibits them from participating in. Hence, the Criminal Code provision ostensibly crafted to prevent adolescents from harm may itself, by inhibiting education about health risks associated with that behaviour, contribute to the harm it seeks to reduce.”

The legislative summary accompanying Bill C-2 points out that the average age of first sexual intercourse for young people is 14.1 years for boys and 14.5 years for girls. Many of these young people will be criminalized as a result of this legislation. Ultimately, raising the age of consent disempowers young Canadians by removing from them the ability to consent, or to withhold consent, to sexual activity.

The Association is concerned that raising the age of consent will restrict young people’s decision making autonomy, and may restrict access to health information and services for these young people. The Association questions the efficacy of legal sanctions on sexual activity. A legislative change in this direction sends a message to adolescents under 16 years that they are automatically incompetent to navigate their own sexual lives, and does not teach them how to make autonomous and healthy decisions in an inherently private situation.

At the very least, if the age of consent for non-anal intercourse is increased to sixteen, the Bill should remedy the existing discrimination and reduce the age of consent for anal intercourse from eighteen to sixteen. This would, at least, minimize the differential impact of our current scheme on sexual minorities and bring consistency and a measure of equality to the law in this area.

Drug Impaired Driving

The Association opposes the proposed changes to the Criminal Code in this area. My submission will deal with two areas: (1) the restrictions on evidence that may be tendered in opposition to BAC test results; (2) the proposed drug-impaired driving testing regime.

The evidentiary restrictions related to BAC tests are based on the faulty assumption that the BAC test is infallible. As undue restrictions on the Charter right to full answer and defence, the proposed restrictions will certainly be challenged and are likely found to be constitutionally invalid. Rather than reducing the amount of time required in court on BAC cases (one purported justification for the changes), this law will dramatically increase the burden on the criminal justice system. This legislation is good for criminal defence lawyers, but bad for the criminal justice system. The presumption of innocence and the corresponding right to call evidence in one’s defence are the very foundations of our criminal justice system and must not be casually set aside.

The proposed drug testing procedures are problematic for several reasons. I will discuss five.

First, significant concerns exist with respect to the accuracy of the DRE evaluation process itself. Second, saliva, urine and blood testing is highly invasive of personal privacy and is often a degrading and humiliating experience for the person being tested. Third, the process set out in the legislation is cumbersome and extremely time consuming, and the individual is detained by police the whole time.

Fourth, and perhaps most problematic, is that the results of both the DRE evaluation and bodily sample testing are of little evidentiary value. The DRE process, while appearing to be scientific, is actually susceptible to significant error rates; one study listed in the legislative summary accompanying Bill C-32 (the government’s last version of this legislation) suggests that average error rates are 21%. Put another way, of every 100 persons from whom a blood or urine sample is demanded under threat of being charged with an offence for refusing, 20 will have been falsely accused and improperly and involuntarily subjected to a very invasive process. Moreover, the invasive process – the forced taking of blood, urine or saliva – yields essentially worthless information. The legislative summary is clear on this point (at page 13): “Ultimately, there is no measurable link between driving impairment and drug quantity.” Put in legal terms, the information gleaned from the testing is irrelevant to the ultimate issue of impairment. The biggest burden will fall on marijuana users, particularly on legal and licensed medical users, who can and will test positive hours, days or weeks after consuming cannabis despite that they may not have used cannabis prior to driving and may not be impaired at all.

The final objection is philosophical: laws should not be promulgated in order that government may be seen to be doing something as opposed to actually doing something about a problem – real or perceived. The money that will be required to implement this new law is much better spent on educational programs designed to teach people, particularly young people, about the danger of driving while impaired. We have made great positive strides when using education rather than enforcement as the primary method of achieving our shared goals and, critically, education does not unduly infringe on the civil liberties and freedoms that are the very foundation of our democracy.

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Not to mention the slashing of programs geared to minorities and then granted to vapid religious and other special interest groups dear to the Conservatives.

Time for an election. Good-bye and good riddance Stephen Harper to you and all your backwards cronies.

Here is what it means to live in a conservative World

No separation between Church and State
Beliefs that there are categories of Human Beings according to sex, socio-economic class, sexuality, race, age etc
Higher incidents of violence as Pleasure is vilified while violence is lauded
Belief in Creationism above Evolution
Belief that the Earth was created 6000 years ago
Belief that the Earth is flat
Belief that the Sun revolves around the Earth

To the Conservatives and those that support them, these views represent the Future. To the rest of Canada they represent the Dark Ages.

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