Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A message for Pierre Poilievre

For you, Pierre:

As a constituent, I am disgusted, but not entirely surprised by the latest shenanigans of Conservative MP for Nepean Carleton Pierre Poilievre. Now, it seems, he is on the warpath against the Ontario government's latest decision to reinstate the funding of sex reassignment surgeries under OHIP.

He says:

"Wait times are still too long and we need to ensure that every single dollar goes to medically necessary treatments," - Pierre Poilievre MP for Nepean Carleton (Con)
He seems to want to claim this is fiscally irresponsible but a close look at the facts shows it to be a little different than he is letting on. To put this into perspective:
  • The expected annual cost is less than $300 000. When the Mike Harris Tories removed this from OHIP in 1998, it was costing about $120 000. That works out to roughly $40 per person per year for every person in Ontario. Or about 77 cents per week, less than a small double-double.
  • The Center for Addictions and Mental Health deems this surgery medically necessary. One might note that OHIP covers the costs for "medically unnecessary" surgeries all the time - removal of cysts, fixing of protruding ears etc.
  • The procedure IS covered in most other provinces, including Alberta, Poilievre's home province (he represents an Ottawa riding only after living here for 3 months after dropping out of school...and there are questions as to whether he really lived in the riding at the time), so Ontario would only be joining the rest of the country.
So the question is, why, if this procedure is cheap, deemed medically necessary by the medical community and is covered by virtually every other province (save Quebec) is Pierre railing against Ontario? Do you suppose he is trying to pile-on with Jim Flaherty in attacking the McGuinty government for purely partisan reasons? Do you think he is trying to deflect his social conservative base away from his troubling double speak in the In and Out Scandal, including his possible invovlement? Do you think he is trying to change the channel on his own despicable treatment of Gen. Romeo Dallaire last week? Is it possible that he wants people in his riding to forget that his many announcements about getting funding for a bridge were just announcements of funds that the city had already secured, long before, without Pierre?

I'm having trouble understanding why he would make hay out of something that the CPC has traditionally argued, ad nauseum, is the sole purvue of the provinces - health care - other than to pick a fight that riles the base. I can only think that Pierre, in his typical fashion, is trying to manufacture an issue so people won't notice that his is an incompetent demagogue and an idiot.

No wonder people in this country don't like any of the parties and no longer want to vote.

PS Pierre, feel free to pass that message above on to Jason Kenney too, mkay?


As a libertarian, I do not support a state monopoly on health care, so I am not arguing for that position. I am arguing that Pierre's seeming 'fiscal conservative' concern over this is nothing of the sort. If this were not sex re-assignment surgeries for icky transsexuals, he wouldn't care. If this were not Ontario he wouldn't care (as is clear by his not caring that Alberta and the other western provinces fund this procedure). He only cares because he thinks he can use this to his political advantage, there is no principles involved.

I would prefer a truly free system where doctors aren't subject to artificial caps on their numbers and people could choose to get health coverage from both insurance companies AND from non-profit or not-for-profit organizations (like professional societies, unions, service clubs etc). Where choice is real and the market isn't slanted by state regulation in favour of corporations over cooperatives. But that is the subject of an entirely different post....

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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Principles of Fundemental Justice

This is a phrase that no Conservative or their supporters understands, it seems. It was based on this part of our protections under Section 7 of the Charter that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the reverse onus clause of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (formerly the YOA).

The decision states that provisions of the act requiring youths convicted of serious crimes to prove to the courts that they should not be treated as adults for sentencing, that they should, in fact, be treated as youths, is unconstitutional and violates the rights of due process of the Charter.

Its a good decision and very straightforward. It means that if the Crown wants to sentence a 14 - 17 year old to an adult sentence, they need to prove they deserve this sentence. Just as they need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the teen committed the crime in question, including the mens rea (literally, 'guilty mind' or intent) of the crime. This has been a requirement of our criminal justice system since at least the Magna Carta.

But, if you read the comments section on the CBC link above, you can see conservative hand wringing, pearl clutching and ignorant anger on display:

" kids know they can get away with murder."

The 'Supreme' Court has, once again, through their decisions declared open-season on the law-abiding citizens of this country."

Time to bring back corporal punishment."

You get the idea - more slack-jawed yammering from ignorant troglodytes who, curiously, have no problem at all treating teens differently and NOT like adults, when it comes to say, driving a car, buying a drink or having sex with the partner of their choice. Funny that.

Nothing in the ruling says that a teen who commits a serious crime can't be tried or sentenced as an adult, it merely states that the Crown must prove that they are mature enough to be held as culpable as an adult, rather than the defendant prove they are not (since, technically, its impossible to prove a negative). Indeed, I would posit that this ruling forces the courts to treat youthful offenders in the same manner they treat adults - that is, it is up to the Crown to prove all aspects of the case, including the appropriate sentence, rather than assuming the defendant must prove they are NOT worthy of a sentence, just as they do with adults.

The logic of the law, before the Supreme Court decision today, was this:

"Teens are mature enough to make moral decisions regarding criminal acts and therefore they must prove to the court that they are NOT capable of making those decisions, so we should treat them differently in regards to charging and sentencing"

Now lets apply the very same reverse onus logic to the way we treat teens in other aspects of life and law:

"Teens are mature enough to make moral decisions regarding sexual acts and therefore they must prove to the court that they are NOT capable of making those decisions so we should treat them differently in regards to the age of consent"

Teens are mature enough to make moral decisions regarding drinking and therefore they must prove to the court that they are NOT capable of making those decisions so we should treat them differently in regards to buying and consuming alcohol"

"Teens are mature enough to make moral decisions regarding voting and therefore they must prove to the court that they are NOT capable of making those decisions so we should treat them differently in regards to the enfranchisement"

I don't think there is a Conservative or conservative out there that would agree with any of those. It takes some kind of cognitive dissonance to think its ok to apply that logic to crime.

The ruling recognizes that we treat teens different, because they are different. They are not adults, nor are they children with no culpability. And if the Crown wants to treat them as adults, because a particular teen offender is mature enough, they ought to be forced to prove why they should, on a case by case basis, in a court (which, incidentally, was an integral part of the original YOA in 1984 and was not changed until this reverse onus was brought in - by the Liberals). Even kids are innocent until proven guilty and the sentence should fit both the crime and the offender.

Considering our crime rate is at a 30-year low, including youth crime, I'd say most of this hand-wringing by Conservatives over this is out of proportion with reality. But since when have they used reality for the basis of their dogma?

Once again, the Conservatives are wrong.

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