Saturday, April 28, 2012

Charter of Rights Adulation

On the something anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, editorial writers, columnists and guest writers virtually salivated when celebrating the benefits rendered by this document. None mentioned blatant abuses. My April 16, 2012 email to The Globe and Mail. Unpublished.

It may be well and good that other nations copy our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as extolled by seemingly endless editorial writers, retired judges and commentators  However, any export of this document must include the caution:"Contents subject to extreme abuse."

One need only examine the Charter's Ontario offspring with its over-reaching tendencies and questionable results  such as --  A UFO cult declared a religion thereby transforming a breach of contract into a more lucrative case of religious discrimination.  A coffee shop owner ordered to pay $15,000 to a disruptive customer on whom he cast a racial slur, the order forcing him out of business.
  An Ottawa lawyer created a cottage industry pursuing racists on the Internet.  A hockey association ordered to pay $18,000 to a family for failure to provide adequate dressing room facilities.

The Ontario Superior Court ordered a re-hearing of a case where a business owner was ordered by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to pay $36,000 to a dismissed employee. Immediately following the decision, the Commission obtained a writ of seizure ordering the sheriff to sell the business operator's home to enforce the payment. On appeal, the Court said it was "simply not possible to logically follow the pathway taken by the adjudicator."
  Had the accused not had the funds to appeal, she would have lost her home. And so on, across Canada, the tax-supported abuse continues.

Human rights tribunals are cash cows for the aggrieved, real or imagined. Countries importing our Charter must be so warned.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bullying -- Special Pleading?

Letter to the Toronto Star. Published April 27, 2012

Re Put our kids before politics, editorial, April 21:

This editorial fails to mention the legislation to which it refers. I presume reference is to Bill 13, an Act to amend the Education Act
with respect to bullying and other matters.  

Although the proposed amendment speaks to being "inclusive for all people, including LGBTTIQ," a careful reading leaves the impression its main, if not sole, purpose is for this sub-minority. 

Most bullying occurs because of body image -- the over-weight kid, the skinny one, the one with a skin problem, the awkward one who can't catch a ball or run fast, and so on. This major cause of bullying isn't even mentioned in Bill 13.

This leaves the impression the proposed legislation is the result of special pleading on behalf of the LGBTTIQ constituency. If not, why is it not all inclusive?

In 2006, the Toronto District School Board conducted a survey to determine the causes of bullying. The most cited reason was "body image" (38% in Grades 7 and 8) and (27 % in Grades 9 to 12), followed by "grades" (17%), "marks" (12%); "language"(7%) in all grades,"gender, religion and income" (5% or lower).  The issue of gay bullying did not register in the study. Source: The National Post, May 29, 2012.

This is reinforced by a 2012 report to the U.K. parliament which noted that more than half the British public suffered from a negative body image.  Evidence presented to a special parliamentary group suggested that appearance is the greatest cause of bullying in school.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Olympics Extravaganza, London 2012

The Olympic-branding police will be out in full force.

The Guardian reports that London games organizers will be checking every bathroom in every Olympic venue. They are empowered to remove or tape over manufacturers' logos even on soap dispensers, wash basins and toilets. Athletes will not be able to tweet home the brand name of the cornflakes consumed that morning, or mention the drinking Pepsi, or post a video message from rooms in the athletes' village. Coca Cola is the main soft drink sponsor. Pubs will be banned from posting signs such as: "Watch the London games on our big screen."

These are some of the results of the most stringent restrictions ever put in place to protect sponsors' brands and broadcasting rights. It affects every athlete, ticket holder and business in the entire United Kingdom. All this while 82 per cent of Brits believe the Games will not do them any good.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) demands its own rules. It requires host governments to enact specific legislation to protect games sponsors and IOC "rights". A breach of these rules is a criminal offence.

In a curious twist, a survey of Tweeters found that Nike (a non-sponsor) is the brand most associated with the Games, instead of Adidas, which paid £100 for official rights.

So offensive has the rights game become that, at the 2010 World Cup, 36 Dutch women were ejected from a match for wearing orange dresses, in what organizers deemed an ambush campaign by the beer company Bavaria whose symbol is women in orange dresses.

One report claims there is good reason for these Olympic restrictions. Any shortfall in sponsorship must be made up by the British taxpayer. The IOC has stacked the deck. The only losers may be British citizens who was not consulted if they wanted the Games in the first place. Given Olympic history, the taxpayer loses no matter what.

As Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins put it: "The Olympics have become an Orwellian parody of what happens when a world agency blackmails a government aching for prestige into spending without limit."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Toronto Star and the Bible

On April 4, 2012, the Toronto Star reported the banning of the distribution to Grade Five students of the Gideon Bible. The overly-sensitive School Trustees feared reprisals for their decision. According to that newspaper, complaints to the trustees constituted "hate mail." The newspaper gave no examples. It printed three letters in support of the trustees, none against. Mine was excluded. In the interests of fair comment, occasionally absent in that Toronto daily, my unpublished letter:

The Star's headline writer went over the top on this one (Bible ban at schools sparks hate mail, Apr. 9). None of the reported examples of disagreement with the Bluewater District School Board's decision to ban distribution the Gideon bible even remotely qualifies as "hate mail".

Every enlightened educator recognizes the Bible as a vital part of Western World history. Even an atheist, if he deems himself learned, must be familiar with it. One cannot grasp the basis of the English language without it. One cannot learn the reasons for Western progress and the freedoms we enjoy (compared to the non-Christian world) without a knowledge of the history of the Bible.

What do school trustees fear in such education? What does the Toronto Star fear?