Posts Tagged ‘BC’

Showdown: Law of the Land vs. God’s Law

April 24, 2008

The arrest of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs in the U.S. for forcing an underage girl to marry an older man, and recent removal of young women and children from the sect’s temple compound in the belief there may be more underage girls who have been married off, have again raised the question of when the British Columbia and federal governments will finally act against a similar sect in Bountiful, BC, led by Winston Blackmore.  It’s no secret that the Bountiful sect practices polygamy and that polygamy is illegal in Canada.  Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham has written extensively about the goings on in Bountiful.  It’s featured on local TV news in Vancouver from time to time and, occasionally, there’s a story about it on national news broadcasts.

So, why doesn’t anyone do anything about it?  They’re afraid.  They’re afraid any prosecution will fail because it will violate the Charter of Rights.  They may, by extension, be afraid of being sued for violating someone’s rights.  You see, whoever drafted the Charter included some stuff about freedom of religion, as opposed to freedom of views on the subject of religion, that could be construed as meaning there is no higher principle than one’s religious values.  The result is that BC’s Solicitor General, Wally Oppal, has been waiting for months – although it seems years – for advice as to whether or not prosecution would be constitutional.  I hope he gets it soon and, if it wouldn’t be, that changes will be made to the Charter.

The core conflict was summed up by one of the American sect members in a televised interview with the CBC a couple nights ago.  He said it doesn’t matter if the girls are underage.  He pointed out that the Book of Mormon instructs him to take many young women.  He then made the definitive statement, “When it comes to an issue of whether I choose to obey the law of god or the law of the land, I choose to obey the law of god.”  That is the situation in a nutshell.  Do religious rights supercede secular laws or are they subject to secular laws?  Do secular laws supercede religious rights or are there different laws for different people?

If we allow different laws for different people, how will we decide who gets special treatment and who doesn’t?  There have already been some special, and controversial, exemptions on religious grounds upheld by the courts.  Sikhs in the RCMP can wear turbans instead of hats, for instance.  On the other hand, a request some years ago by a muslim group to allow the use of Shar’ia law within their own community was denied.  That would seem to represent a precedent.  The underlying principle was that you can’t have a group of people enforcing a different set of laws.  There has to be one set of laws for all the people.  I like underlying principles.  They are something you can build on.  They are a solid foundation.

There is nothing stopping the BC government from laying charges under the current laws of the land.  Polygamy is illegal.  If the members of this particular religion want to challenge the charges under the Charter of Rights, let them.  Let it be decided by the courts.  One of two things will happen.  Either the principle that secular laws supercede religious rights will be firmly established, or the opposite will be.  If it’s the latter, I’m sure enough people will be sufficiently reviled by their Charter of Rights upholding polygamy and the partnering of young girls with old men that some changes to the Charter may actually be possible.  The changes would have to make it clear secular laws come before religious codes, that there are principles that outrank religious belief.  Those changes could even accommodate atheists and agnostics, recognizing their equal rights.  If things go really well, maybe we could even lose those opening words recognizing that there is a god.  They only serve to snub non-believers, after all.

What is the BC government afraid of?  Is it the legal costs?  Are they really going to allow some religious nuts to flout the law to save a few million dollars in legal fees?  Is it the constitutional issues?  Are politicians really so afraid of constitutional talks that they’d allow archaic traditions that exploit young girls to go on in a country that prides itself on, and, in many ways takes its identity from, being progressive?

Once again, the issue appears to be leadership.  No doubt the BC and federal governments will adopt a wait and see attitude.  Wait for the Americans to do something and see what happens.  I say go after them.  If they challenge under the Charter, fight them.  Dare to establish a precedent and a principle.  If the Charter is flawed, change it.  Bring it on.

Tickets Please – Or Else

April 18, 2008

Vancouver and British Columbia are gaining a reputation for having taser-happy cops.  Recent statistics show that you’re much more likely to be tasered in Western Canada than in the rest of the country.  BC has the highest number of taser incidents in the country, with over 500, followed by Alberta, with over 400.  The drop off to the next province is a steep one.  Ontario and Quebec, with larger populations, have had only a small fraction of those numbers.

By now, the Robert Dziekanski incident at Vancouver International Airport is world famous.  “Welcome to Canada.”  ZAP.  Maybe it’s something about transportation facilities that puts cops and security officers on edge, because now we’re finding out that Transit Police on the Skytrain are using them on people, too.  No, not on suspected terrorists.  Believe it or not, at least five fare dodgers have been tasered.  Fare dodgers!  Call me soft on crime, if you must, but that strikes me as rather harsh.

Just how they justify tasering fare dodgers is beyond me.  How great a threat do they really  represent?  If that doesn’t demonstrate that tasers are being used as a first response rather than a final measure for potentially dangerous assailants, what does?  This is just lazy policing, at best.  “I can’t be bothered wrestling him to the ground, so I’ll just zap ‘im.”  Maybe it’s worse.  Maybe it’s, “I can get away with zappin’ ‘im cuz he tried to get away”.  Give some people a uniform…

There are supposed to be guidelines for the use of these things.  The RCMP and local police forces like the VPD are supposed to have policies, anyway.  The transit police aren’t real police, though.  Who knows what policies and guidelines they have, if any?  They’ve been accused of using excessive force in the past, even before they started carrying tasers.

I don’t know if there are provincial or national guidelines governing all use of tasers.  If there aren’t, there should be.  News reports about the statistics seem to indicate that there are.  If those rules do exist, they need to be enforced.  Otherwise, we’ll have cops and pseudo-cops tasering anyone they like, for whatever reason – or just because they can.

Whisper Sweet Mortgages In Her Ear

February 13, 2008

How do you seduce a Vancouver woman?  Whisper sweet mortgages in her ear.  Every woman in the lower mainland of BC seems to want in on the property game and sees a man as a way to do it.

I met a woman in The Cascade a while ago.  Within a minute she was talking property.  She’d just returned to Vancouver from Ontario and was staying with her parents while she looked for a place to buy.  Then she asked me where I live.  When I told her she said something like, “That’s come up in the world lately, hasn’t it?”  She was starting to look on me as a potential real estate partner, which is all she really wants.

Sadly, this seems to be the primary purpose of the modern relationship here.  Feelings are secondary, at best.  With real estate prices going up and up, it takes two incomes to even dream of owning a home.  Even with two incomes, I wonder how some couples can afford to buy.  I guess they have to keep flipping them.  That reminds me, I hope the couple down the hall finishes their reno soon.  The noise is getting to me.

Vancouver has been the most expensive city in Canada to live in for most of the seven and a half years I’ve lived here and, based on what I’ve read, most of the last twenty to thirty years.  Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly the highest wages.  Employers aren’t exactly famous for their largesse.  So, women were in it for the money as it is.  Even a grocery store cashier who I always made laugh had to bring up the subject of money when I suggested we laugh somewhere else.  Sorry, not good enough.  Come to think of it, why can’t we turn the tables?  Where do you find rich women?  Where do they go for happy hour?

If this hasn’t happened in your city yet, get ready.  Vancouver is at the vanguard.  It brought you fusion cooking and mixed race couples.  Real estate partner relationships and marriages are next.

So, if you want to make her weak in the knees, lean in and whisper, “25 year variable rate closed…”  If you really want to show her you’re in it for the long haul, softly say, “40 year fixed rate closed”.  She’ll be yours and you’ll be in debt together until you’re old and wrinkly.

This post appears in the March 30, 2008 edition of the Carnival of Observations on Life.

Am I Hearing the Voice of God Or Just Crazy?

February 8, 2008

You’re walking in the desert with your child.  The sun is beating down on your head.  It’s baking your brains.  You hear the voice of god telling you to kill your child.  You’re going crazy, right?

That may seem obvious, but if you place the story long ago and call the father and son Abraham and Isaac, many people believe it was nothing more than a test of faith and loyalty to god.  The fact that he didn’t kill his son proves it, apparently.  God intervened and stayed his hand.  Just testing ya – good job.  It couldn’t be, of course, that he recovered just enough lucidity to stop himself in the nick of time, perhaps because of his son’s terrified pleas, “Please don’t kill me daddy!”.

But that was a one time miracle, you may be thinking.  It could never happen again.  Really?  Well, it did happen again – recently.  But this time, god did not intervene.  A man in northern BC, Blair Donnelly, heard the voice of god telling him to kill his wife and children.  When his wife and one daughter were out, he came up behind the other daughter and stabbed her to death.

The worst part of the story is that the man told people at his church that he had been hearing the voice of god, and they were pleased for him.  Being people of faith, they believed he was actually hearing god’s voice.  Nobody suggested he seek counselling.  Nobody questioned his ‘good fortune’.  Faith can be a dangerous thing.

Maybe, rather than waiting for god to intervene, solve problems, or sort things out, we should realize it’s up to us.  Prayers before or after the fact do nothing.  They are a poor substitute for practical solutions or actions.

If you hear the voice of god, you’re not having a religious experience – you’re losing your mind.

Here is more info on the story from someone who knows him:

http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com/2008/01/sad-twisted-tale-of-blair-donnelly.html