Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius


Breaking the rules

When I started this blog I had a set of rules in mind. These rules, as composed by the small rodent running around in my brain, went as follows:
  1. Avoid commenting on other bloggers.
  2. Avoid commenting on American affairs, except as they tangentially affected Canada. (All right, big exception.)
  3. Focus on Canadian affairs.
  4. Avoid the "blogger round-up" formula, if only because others can do it much more effectively.

Number 1 went out the window almost immediately. Too much foolishness out there. The rest I've been pretty good about, and even breaches of #1 have been the exception rather than the rule. All of which is a preface to telling you I'm going to violate multiple rules today.

Breaking rule #2: Tucker Carlson, whose combination of bombast and smarminess made him one of the grotesques of the American Right was canned by CNN yesterday. Somewhat tempering my glee is the rumour he'll soon be seen on MSNBC. The punditry are of the opinion that the tone and content of American political discourse will be elevated with his departure and the imminent cancellation of the CNN show Crossfire.


Breaking rules #1 & #4: Let it Bleed has summed up nicely the continuing flame war at The Shotgun. To paraphrase My Blahg, I know you all want to run over there for purposes of mockery, but that would just be wrong.

With Paul Celluci now departing Ottawa (we'll miss you, ya big lug), that's enough schadenfreude for one day. More substantially:

Breaking rule #1: Corey Wall has posted on his blog (and cross-posted to the Blogs Canada E-Group) an article concerning the use of Marian Boyd's on the use of Shari'a law in Ontario. He writes:

There is no need for the state to sanction a separate civil law for the people of any faith. If the actions that are to be carried out under these laws are truly done without any coercion then they would not need the added sanction of the state (as things are done now, a regular judge signs off on any decision made by a religious authority). Some respect for people of faith, so strong that the settlements must be sanctioned by the state. This is simply the state getting involved in internal faith politics where it has no place.

In theory, if I were Candide and living in the best of all possible worlds, I would agree that the state has no business meddling in religious disputes. The problem, of course, is that horse is long out of the barn (and probably headed for warmer climes). Both Christians and Jews have been using the Arbitration Act (which is what we're talking about at any rate, not state-sanctioned religious courts nor parallel religious law) for decades. The state can't deny Muslims use of the same law on the presupposition that Muslims will abuse the process: this comes dangerously close to supposing that Muslims can't be trusted to uphold the law. The issue of coercion is a red herring, a little rhetorical fillip. Judicial oversight is necessary precisely to prevent coercion, and it applies to all arbitration proceedings, religious or otherwise.

Marian Boyd's report recommends strengthening both the accountability of the process as well as judicial oversight to address issues of coercion. To abolish use of the Arbitration Act by religious groups would essentially place all faith-based arbitrations back into the private sphere, where there would be no accountability and no oversight. Better to have them operating inside the law than outside.

Corey Wall is right about one thing: Boyd's report has as much chance of being implemented as the NHL strike being settled.


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