A Rare Voice of Reason

Not all lawyers are clueless. Charles Lugosi of Victoria, B.C. has an opinion published in The Globe and Mail which invests a calming breath of reason in the ongoing emotional outrage that has characterized the response to the verdict in the trial of Gerald Stanley.

Mr. Lugosi relates a case in which he defended an “Indigenous” man who was tried for second-degree murder involving the death of a white man. The jury was apparently white. The accused was acquitted. There were no protests or riots nor charges of racism.

Rightly, Mr. Lugosi condemns the special interest and political interference that has permeated the response to the verdict in the Stanley trial. He defends the jury system, respects and appreciates the task performed by the jurists and the solemn instruction to juries by judges.

Thank you Mr. Lugosi.

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Judge and Jury

The National Post has rendered a service to Canadians by publishing the full instructions to the jury in the trial of Gerald Stanley for the murder of Colten Boushie.

Although lengthy it is well worth your reading to gain an appreciation of what the jury members spent some fifteen hours deliberating over before finding Mr. Stanley not guilty.

What a refreshing alternative to the emotionally charged rhetoric from myriad sources over the past few days.

Justice “Denied?”

An opinion by a Toronto-based criminal attorney may reveal much of what is wrong with Canada’s criminal justice system.

Guess what? It’s not the article’s brilliance but the revelation that it displays a lack of understanding or even ignorance of the virtue of justice and principles of logic.

David Butt, a contributor to The Globe and Mail is probably as typical a practitioner of logic as one may find in Canada through its establishment media and politics.

Mr. Butt’s reportage of the verdict in the Colten Boushie case begins with:

(Gerald Stanley) testified that his gun went off accidentally, and the jury believed him, or at least had a reasonable doubt . . .. Typical courtroom stuff.

But, Mr. Butt then clarifies his position by rewriting as follows:

 . . . a white man, was found not guilty of murdering Colten Boushie, a young Indigenous man, by a jury with no visibly Indigenous members.

Suddenly sounds ominously different doesn’t it?

Well frankly no it doesn’t to a reasonable person. What it sounds like is that Mr. Butt is framing his argument by using irrelevant, emotionally charged terms to describe the jury verdict, a verdict reached I would speculate by more evidence than “the jury believed him.” If it were that simple I doubt whether a trial would have been necessary.

Mr. Butt then states that the absence of an “Indigenous” member on the jury in a “racially” charged case lets down all of “us”. In essence, like the protesters, most of the media and politicians following the verdict, this is tantamount to charging the members of the jury with “racism”. That is their payment for this service.

The opinion is loaded with similar leaps of logic. It should be read by anyone who wonders why the reaction to this particular verdict has been so completely emotional, that is, devoid of reason. It is a microcosm of one of the things that is completely wrong about Canada.

For example, this lawyer says:

Trials are meant to deliver social peace, and allow us to move on after acute tragedies tinged with controversy lead to serious criminal charges.

Wow. I thought it was crime not tragedies and controversy that leads to criminal charges. Fundamentally, there are two types of trials in western democratic societies: civil and criminal. Unlike civil trials which are about restitution for damages relating to civil wrongs and breaches of property rights, criminal trials are about punishment for rights violations. There is no restitution of any kind possible for Colten Boushie who is dead.

The criminal trial of Gerald Stanley is or should be a solemn affair. There is a process long-established by centuries of jurisprudence rather than ” . . . accumulated life experience and common sense” as Mr. Butt has written.

The trouble with common sense is that it isn’t all that common. It is a remnant of what was once a respect for logic and reason. It is adequate for the simple reasoning of a child but not for more abstract matters such as theoretical knowledge or the complexities of evidence at trial. I would have expected a professional attorney to argue his case in terms of reason, logic, jurisprudence, rights and maybe, the facts of the case.

Colten Boushie and four other individuals trespassed on Mr. Stanley’s farm while in an intoxicated state and were apparently attempting to steal or borrow without permission one or more vehicles. A conflict ensued in which Mr. Boushie was unfortunately killed.

Mr. Boushie paid too dearly for his own criminal actions and thus it seems his individual rights were violated. But that applies both ways. Boushie was violating Mr. Stanley’s rights as well. Did Mr. Stanley overreact and was the death accidental? The police were called and they gathered evidence. A criminal charge was made.

Now it might be that the jury selection process could be improved with the consequence that there may be more “Indigenous” representation in future but the criteria for selection cannot be based on such elements as race or racial quotas. Nor is it reasonable if the current process allows race to be a criteria.

This trial, the verdict and the reaction to it reveal at least one fundamental problem with the criminal justice system and with the policies and institutions of Canadian government: they rest on group identity. The consequence is perpetual conflict and pressure politics.

The evidence is in the reaction of Mr. Boushie’s family, lawyers such as Mr. Butt, much of the establishment media and craven politicians across the party spectrum, but most particularly from the prime minister. It is completely inappropriate for Mr. Trudeau and other politicians to be commenting on this verdict or entertaining the emotional demands of Mr. Boushie’s family of “justice” for Colten Boushie.

Justice is a moral principle demanding that man judge and evaluate the things and actions around him objectively. He can be wrong of course. It is the quality or insufficiency of evidence that allows for error.

So, this verdict might have been wrong due to insufficiency of evidence and it appears that it did not meet the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. However such errors would not be cured by racist adjustments to jury selection based on the identity of the victim or the accused.

And regrettably, any prospects for retrial have probably been incurably tainted by the intense, irrational responses of those in our society who ought to know better.

Lawyers Without A Clue

In a lengthy opinion piece for The Globe and Mail, Garfield Emerson, a lawyer, informs us that corporations are merely artificial legal creations designed to limit liability and facilitate the conduct of business.

That is rubbish. Corporations are innovative business organizations that facilitate the amalgamation of capital for investment purposes. They are thus an essential component of an advanced capitalist society. They make savings and capital more efficient by pooling resources for the benefit of participants.

But that’s not enough for the likes of Emerson. The “likes” by the way, include such modern proponents of socialism as Thomas Piketty and the old “Big Kahuna” himself, Karl Marx.

The lengthy opinion piece which makes a case for a corporate “obligation” to society and more generally, the “obligation” of the wealthy to society, is nothing new. We heard it from Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren too. It echoes the idea that the productive in society owe a debt to the abstraction of society itself. Remember “you didn’t build that”.

Nothing new here. It’s the enslavement of the most productive in society to the least productive or worse, a claim on the productive by the “needy”.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. If that sounds right, there’s a problem. It raises “need” to the standard of morality. It destroys the productive and we need look no further than the bloody record of socialism in the past century for evidence.

Super Choice

Sometimes having an intellectual defending the right of individuals to exercise freedom of choice is a “mixed bag”.

For the second time Canadians will be able to watch Super Bowl advertisements in real time as they watch today’s game.

As reported there has been controversy in political and corporate circles over the decision of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) to allow the airings.

Individuals must choose in every action they take or choose not to. It is a part of their nature. What a man is as a rational being determines what he ought to do. This is fundamental.

Thus, to read this glossing over on the matter of choice as quoted from a University of Ottawa law professor no less, is fundamentally disheartening (emphasis added):

People do feel that they ought to have the right to choose, and the notion that choice is taken away doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.

No bloody kidding! The battle between corporatist media and media regulators and possibly the Supreme Court over what we can view on Super Bowl Sunday sure as hell “doesn’t sit well.”

It’s a massive understatement.

Storming Teapots

The subjugation of women and killing of homosexuals in theocratic dictatorships may not be worthy of rational treatment by the foreign policy of Canada’s government, but neutering the national anthem gets high priority.

As tempests in teapots go this is surely a stormy one indeed.

I suppose one must pick his battles carefully in the “social metaphysics” of politics but what about the virtue of rationality? How pressing can the need be to change “in all our sons command” to “in all of us command”?

And, have our political leaders opened themselves to further challenges by the preference shown to “us”?

In keeping with the influence of “social metaphysics” would it not be more clarifying to substitute with “in all genders command”?

No “News” is Good News

As commented on already, the Canadian government is poised to increase financial support to Canadian media enterprise.

It should be obvious that government support of media is an incubator for tyranny.

Yet, as revealed in this pathetic bit of journalism the issue isn’t entirely clear.

Overlooking the results of a poll that shows forty-one percent of those polled opposed increased funding of this nature, the article rambles on to cover the seemingly harmless issue of the government financing the “independence” of Canadian media enterprise.

Such is the state of the “watchdog” we citizens have to inform and protect us from the inevitable excesses of government power.

I would rather have the news of the grapevine than the sanitized versions delivered by government financed media.