Thursday, March 13, 2008

How the Canadian Human Rights Commission violates the rule of law

Ezra Levant:

The opposite of the "rule of law" is the "rule of man". Canadians love the rule of law so dearly because it makes us feel safe: we know what to expect in life; we know if we follow the rules, the police won't capriciously arrest us. There will be no knock on our door in the middle of the night. We won't be arrested without a proper reason. The rule of law gives us confidence when we deal with the state and its officers, even its policemen, even its prime ministers. Because we know that they are our servants and that, if anything, they are bound by more rules than we are. They only hold the power that we give them, and they only hold it in trust for us.

We are strict with our police; maybe even too strict, but that's a better error to make than being too lax. Besides Internal Affairs officers within police departments, we have additional layers of scrutiny. For example, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit does nothing but investigate police who are accused of abusing their powers. Canada answers Juvenal's question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? pretty well.

(As a student at law, I attended a hearing of Alberta's Law Enforcement Review Board, the body that considers complaints against Alberta police, ranging from the farcically trivial to the most serious. I was impressed -- and frankly, a little bit irritated -- at the lengths the province went to ensure fairness. As an example, complaints against officers from Calgary were heard in Edmonton and vice versa, to reduce the risk of collusion or even collegiality between police and those who were investigating the police. The particular day I was there, some nuisance complaints filed by prisoners were being heard. It was clear to me that besides the thrill of causing a hassle for the police and for the justice system in general, the prisoners in question had simply found a way to get out of jail for a day and travel, at taxpayers expense, to a hearing in which they were the center of attention.)

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