Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Role of the Courts

I write this a day after I listened to a lecture by and thereafter spoke to Peter Hogg, Canad'a leading constitutional expert. Hogg spoke primarily on the evolution of section 15 and the line of cases that had led to its most recent interpretive requirements. Perhaps more interestly two hours later, he spoke on the private medical insurance decision rendered by the Supreme Court later on. Hogg served as council in both the Same Sex Marriage reference and in the Chaouli (I've no idea how that's spelled) decision. While both these talks were interesting, I found speaking with him afterwards rather more interesting.

I spoke to afterwards about the confirmation process for justices in the Supreme Court. He was rather skeptical about the mail in recommendations and thereafter non-binding shortlisting that was currently being introduced. I suggested that a rigorous parliamentary confirmation process comparable to that in the US might be more desirable. He agreed that transparancy dictates that bringing the justices before Parliament is infinitely more desirable, and that by and large concerns about it destroying independence and becoming some sort of side show as for the most part that hasn't been the case elsewhere. However, he did express the concern that we'd find more consensus candidates appointed and wouldn't have gained some justices from unconvential backgrounds and dispositions. Hogg thought a diversity of perspectives was a valuable thing for the Supreme Court. I pointed out that less "colorful" candidates wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Were we to have justices in the John Roberts mold, judges and lawyers whom had a solid legal pedigree, moderate political stances and a great deal of experience - I would suspect that there would be a great deal less room to criticize the Court.

Hogg mentioned his concerns about the pervasive influence of lawyers and the courts. He stated that over the last 20 years since the Charter had been instituted, the courts had not only had a much wider perview, but he'd observed judicial restraint and deference to the legislature had erroded. He noted that the ingrained deference and attachment to precedent had significantly deteriorated, and that while the Charter is often the target of claims of activism it occurs in every other facet of our law as well. I asked his opinion on what should be done to counteract this and he responded that he had no idea. He thought perhaps the problem began in law school with the focus upon the decisions of appellate courts, when in practice most lawyers spend their time working with contracts, statutes and mediators. Although whether that emphasis will be corrected is highly uncertain.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I've been distracted for the last week or so by a dispute which has arise with an organization sullying my good name. As a result my thoughts have been elsewhere. A post unrelated to this topic will follow today or tomorrow.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Stephen Taylor's Cannes Film Festival Entry

Okay ...maybe it won't make it to Cannes but this video will leave you laughing at John McCallum's pathetic antics and feeling vaguely sorry that one of Canada's leading economists has now become a third string political hack. Follow the link there to download the video and watch Harper and my old MP Brian Pallister embarass the Minister of National Revenue.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My hockey pool picks

I joined a hockey pool through my university faculty, and just because I feel like bemoaning fate I'll disclose who the players are.

Markus Naslund F Vancouver Canucks - in my opinion the best player in the NHL right now. Foresberg is getting fragile with a questionable back, and Ignla isn't going to look nearly as good this season with so much more open ice. Jerome is the hockey equivalent of a running back who can take it right up the gut, but now the rules are slanted to make it easier to dance around the outside so to speak. From the highlights flying high in the game opener.

Alex Tanguay F Colorado Avalanche - he was a leading scorer a few years ago and biting at Naslund's heels for the lead. However, after watching Colorado and Edmonton WHERE WAS THIS GUY. He was INVISIBLE! If he doesn't turn around the fantasy GM may be fired by the fantasy ownership. However, at least he sucked while playing against Edmonton.

Mats Sundin F Toronto Maple Leafs - left the game with an injury around his eye today. Tanguay is invisible and Sundin is hurt the Fantasy draft gods spite me! But come on he's on the Leafs first line and in the new NHL they can't lose 5-0 all that often.

Shane Doan F Phoenix Coyotes - just a big solid power forward he puts in around 20-30 goals in the net a year. I think he's going to be a solid pick unless he's injured, and he's hanging around Gretzsky that has to have some sort of halo effect.

Daniel Briere F Buffalo Sabres - I've been impressed with Briere in what I've seen him play in the World Cup, he simply seems like a tremendous hockey player who flys under the radar as the Buffalo Sabres don't exactly get alot of tv time in Canada. I'm fairly sure he was a good decision.

Rick Nash F Columbus Blue Jackets - one of the best young forwards in the game today. Who knows how well this guy can do with a stronger supporting cast? I'm confident in this pick too.

Miroslav Satan F New York Islanders - how can you not have a player in your pool whose last name is "lord of darkness". I jest, he's a tremendous offensive talent and although by all accounts a jerk off the ice perhaps he and Yashin can have a "players no one really likes on a personal level but are damn good hockey players" thing going. Additionally, I have a soft spot for Miroslav Satan since I recally scoring so many goals with him while playing NHL '98 back when he was an Oiler (alas another one that got away).

Chris Pronger D Edmonton Oilers - this guy is going to be running our power play so I'm optomistic about his season this year. He seems the sort of player that can be that solid base and log a lot of minutes.

Peter Sykora F Anahiem Mighty Ducks - your fast, smooth skating European goal scorer type. I figured he'd be money in the new NHL. We'll see.

Peter Bondra F Atlanta Thrashers - pretty much same deal as Sykora.

Brendan Morrow F Dallas Star - another former Oiler we couldn't hold onto. He's a consistent performer so I'm fairly confident in taking him in my pool.

J.P Dumot F Buffalo Sabres - I had no idea who this guy was, but his stats looked okay so I picked him at random. So far it looks like an inspired choice as he has the first goal of the season.

Oilers 4 - Avalanche 3

The stars have aligned themselves in Alberta and for a brief moment the world is fair and just. The Edmonton Oilers pick up 2 points and a huge win over perenial favourites the Avs. Just to make the win a bit sweeter Calgary gets pummeled 6-3 by that offensive powerhouse the Minnesota Wild.

This is the first full game of the new season I've seen, and I'm completely sold on the new rules and the CBA. The pace of the game is so much quicker, and hasn't lost the hard hitting that gets the blood pumping. It still seems unusal to me to see the scores rolled through as 3-1, 5-3, 5-3, 5-3 but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Although the one rule change I'm rather dubious of is awarding a penalty when you put the puck up over the glass in the defensive end. It seems such a trivial thing to award a penalty of, when most of the time its simply a matter of inches along the glass.

For those who didn't catch the game there have been questions raised as to whether Shawn Horcoff is ready to carry the load as a first line center. In the past he hasn't broken 20 goals a year, but the media has noted he was huge in the Swedish elite league last year. Admittedly I'm never sure what to make of a report that someone played well in Europe, after all we always hear that David Hasslehoff is big in Germany. However, with two goals and an assist Horcoff seems to be stepping up to the plate and simply took it too the Avalanche whom aren't on my list of patsies. Is he a first line center? So far so good.

Ales Hemsky didn't manage to find the back of the net, but man alive does he ever have jets! He streaked down the wing and found open ice that made a couple defensemen look silly. Hemsky seems to have the speed of an uninjured Bure or Seleane but whether he'll develop the midas touch around the net those two were noted for is a question mark.

Special teams has been a worry for Oiler fans as honestly last seaon and in the preseason they were absolutely terrible. The power play looked shakey at the begining of the game, and if it was a football game I'm pretty sure they should have just declined the penalty or taken an offsetting minor. However, their third crack at it seemed to have Pronger taking charge and organizing the effort and the fourth power play resulted in a Stoll bullet from the point. As for the penalty kill they didn't give up a goal on the penalty kill and it looked fairly solid. As drudge would say "developing...."

Ty Conklin will continue to torment Oiler fans for the next couple games with anxiety attacks any time the opponents put the rubber on the net. Letting in 3 goals with less than 20 shots isn't going to win alot of games. Fortunately the Oiler defense were absolutely rock solid and minimized the scoring chances on Conklin but whether the Alaskan can get the job done remains to be seen. A couple of the goals he didn't have a chance on, one was deflected off the defenseman's shin pad, and another was snuck across the crease on a defensive break down to be banged home. However, the stats don't look good, but its a w and you take what you can get.

I didn't hear "Cory Cross gets beaten on the far side" tonight which is strangely reassuring. In fact I didn't hear his name all that much, which is pretty much want I want from a defensiveman low on the depth chart. You know generally if you hear his name he just bungled something up, so his invisibility is a bonus.

A Neitzschian knot

Its been said that until recently history was the study of dead white guys, one might add that philosophy is the study of the writings of dead Greco-Roman, British and German guys. I strongly suspect that were it not for the harsh economic imperatives of life I'd be off in a library surrounded by various texts and engaging in frivolous academic debate about what a particular philosopher "really meant". But being no Pannish figure or perhaps I could rely more so upon the assurance that my parents didn't raise a fool, I wasn't even prepared to make philosophy my minor. Economics and political science being far more practical as many economists are gainfully employed. While as the head of the philosophy department at the U of M remarked while lecturing "with my philosophy degree if I wasn't doing this, I'd be pointing out that this pair of running shoes also comes in a high top." On the other hand I've climbed the ladder of practicality even further to law. Make no mistake about it - lawyers are the professional equivalent of the Borg. Resistance is futile - you will need us in some capacity eventually. Run, hide, shake your fist.....we are borg.

But I digress, I studied political philosophy through both the political science and philosophy departments which was a wonderful theoretical analysis exercise and exposes one to a range of viewpoints that you might otherwise be unaware. Sadly, I'm not probably better versed in Marxist principles than the twits who set up tables at campus group recruiting days. Yet as one shifts through the sand of misguided and debunked theories there are some luminaries of the past whom reading sheds light on our present state of affairs.

Although some might think it strange - Neitzsche in my mind is the most relevant of all deceased commentators on the current state of western civilization. The man was raving mad at the end of his days, which was apparantly the result of having contracted a venerial disease but I feel no particular need to rehash comments about the fine line between genius and madness.

One of the central topics of Neitzsche's writing was the advent of nihilism. The belief in nothing, essentially the belief that all things were equal and that nothing was exclusively better than any other. A lack of any moral direction and any firm belief in anything and a prevailing skepticism about all things. This of course was written in the mid to late 1800s. I find myself taking this perspective and analyzing its relevance today and the empty relativism that gets bandied about is in truth nothing more than nihilism. The fact that there are simultainously crudes for pot and against tobacco in the works and embraced by the same political parties - again nihilism.

I could probably stretch the idea and say our current Sienfield government "the government about nothing" was vaguely nihilistic in that Paul Martin has spent every moment since he became Prime Minister attempting to be on both sides of every issue save for the desirablity of his removal from office. Paul returned to his past decisive form to clearly state "please don't fire me, I'm really sorry" on national television.

Yet a better example is the prevailing disconnect among the average person whom sees politics as being all the same, all politicians are crooks and it doesn't really matter all that much which of them gets in there. That mood of dissapointment, futility and indifference between alternatives seems to dove tail rather nicely with what Neitzsche concieved. We're a country underwhelmed by scandal, and where morality has become ethreal, where that line in the sand is a whisp that dances farther and farther away to the tune of whatever lobby group strikes the fancy of our childlike elites. One moment gay marriage is fashionable, soon we here that Belgium is adopting poligamy - I'm now waiting for constitutional scholar Peter Hogg to step forward and debase his intellectual incumin in exorting the supreme court to bring in poligamy as "we aren't going to win the gold medal on this one, Beligum and the Netherlands are already ahead of us."

Tolerance is nothing more than code for nihilism. Its a failure to be able to distinguish between the merits of competing views, its a smashing of the moral compass and a loss of direction for a society. The exclusion of the ability to distinguish that which is more worthy from that which is not colors much of our public debate. Every instance you hear some pinko NDP supporter raging against corporation and whatever percentage of the population owns x amount of wealth and demanding transfers in wealth - consider on what level it makes sense to demand such legalized theft 1) your a greedy jerk who just wants free money 2) your of the delusional persuasion that your mere existance entitles you to wealth as your no better or worse than anyone else - even if you work 2 monthes a year before collecting EI as opposed to working an 80 hour week.

Ironically it falls now primarily to the Catholic and evangelical churches, Neitzsche's favourite whipping boys, to fight some insurgent action against the collective moral shrug that has over taken western civilization. It may be Kissenger's rear guard against inevitable defeat, or simply preserving the library through a dark age for a resnassaince. Which leaves someone as agnostic as myself in an odd position, believing in truth leaves me the strange comrade in arms of organizations whom beyond my believe in enduring and factual truths I don't necessarily have a great deal of agreement with. Which puts me in a strange position perhaps somewhat akin to Christopher Hitchens. I'm not a subscriber to religion...but at least they believe in something.


For any of the squeemish sort inclined to flee the room the moment religion is mentioned, I'm not about to talk about Calvary Hilll or any such thing. My blog was dead, now it is not. *cough* I swear I mean it this time. There is simply so much to talk about these days be it a golden handshake for everyone's favorite gum expensing civil servant or the impending glory of the Edmonton Oilers season* And yes, while I've been pulling an Andrew Coyne and vanishing for long periods of time inexplicably I was watching the basketball playoffs, CFL football, playing video games, reading novels, working summer jobs and getting back into the groove in law school. But the last month or so has involved me putting on my political hat again, with all the conspiring, muttering and scheming that accompanies that - so of course I began to miss my soap box. So back by popular (my) demand my musings on life, politics and sports!

* Presuming one of there goaltenders recalls the object of hockey is to keep the puck out of the net.

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