Something isn’t right about RCMP “raid”

If the Conservative Party of Canada is in the midst of a confrontational legal matter with Elections Canada, isn’t it a bit imprudent for EC to use an enforcement mechanism of the state (the RCMP) to gain leverage (political and informational) against its opponent?

Let’s consider an analogy.

If I was suing Heath Canada for certifying faulty medical equipment that led to personal injury, would it be appropriate for Heath Canada to call in the RCMP to raid my office in order to gather evidence of my claim, decreasing the merit of my case in the eyes of my co-workers (or even the national media if they were called ahead of time). Since Health Canada and I have equal standing in court, would I have the power to leverage this same enforcement mechanism to help my case?

Since Elections Canada has a stake in an ongoing civil action with the Conservative Party of Canada, is conducting their related investigation in conflict with the equal standing that the Conservatives should reasonably expect in their civil case against them?

Furthermore, doesn’t a court in a civil matter have the same powers to gather and secure evidence? So, why is this being done by the RCMP and why is this being directed by one of the stakeholders in a related lawsuit?

Should Elections Canada suspend its investigation process until questions raised by the Conservative Party’s civil suit are sorted out?

UPDATE:It would seem that according to Mr. Lamothe at Elections Canada that “the Commissioner of Canada Elections is not party to this litigation”.

Who cares about policy! When’s the election?

In Ottawa this year, it seems that most parties have figured out the very fuel which drives media cycles and therefore access to important eyeballs during the dinner hour news: election speculation.

From CTV’s Question Period, to CBC’s At-Issue Panel to even CPAC’s Primetime Politics, the questions are almost cliché,

What do today’s events mean for election timing?

Will we see an election this spring or before summer?

I’ve noticed that the Conservative government has tied this number one concern of Ottawa-area reporters with the issues that they want to underscore for their constituents. Crime is perhaps the best polled issue for Conservatives and by this measure alone, it has the Prime Minister’s party towering above the others even in Liberal Fortress Toronto. Yet, it is a topic the media either doesn’t find attractive or relevant to selling ad space or commercial time. How could the Conservatives remedy the situation?

Late last year and early this year, the Conservative government made its crime bills an omnibus one and an issue of confidence. Immediately, the passage of the crime bills and Conservative-Liberal logger heads on the issue and the striking differences between the two parties on a popular Conservative issue could be highlighted. By testing the confidence of the House, the Conservatives were able to talk about their issues, but by tying it to election speculation, they had a willing open microphone in the mainstream media.

Even as polls show immobility for the Liberals and Conservatives in the electoral horserace, recent events such as the halting of the sale of MDA, the seizure of the Farley Mowatt are being seen through the lens of election timing even though most in this town have written off an election prior to the summer break. Darrel Bricker of Ipsos Reid Public Affairs tried to do his part to drive election speculation by calling the recent poll numbers as “a stalemate in perpetual motion.”

We’ve even seen opposition parties use the allure of the election story to highlight their policy differences with the Conservatives. The Liberals embarrassingly threatened to pull down the government over changes to immigration legislation by dropping a confidence motion on the government to force an election in early June. Unfortunately for Dion, the Liberal leader then proceeded to vote for the immigration legislation.

So, when will there be an election? It seems to be a matter of importance to anyone that works within the Ottawa bubble as travel schedules need to be booked, airtime reconfigured and commercials for sit-down showers benched for Lakota herbal medicine and alpaca farming opportunities. Outside of the bubble, people are concerned with real policy and how it will affect their lives. Bring on “vote-rich Ontario” and “the path to a Harper majority goes through Quebec” because if that’s how policy discussion is framed by our media framers, then parliamentarians will keep the press hounds rabid thinking Ottawa is always on the brink of election.

“Controversial” civil rights

In every struggle for civil rights, there is controversy. By its very definition, a right implies not permissibility, but rather that permissiveness is not only inherently offensive to the concept of rights, but that this frame is at the root cause of the struggle. When one has the right, it is without question.

Controversy has existed in every struggle for human rights, for without controversy there is no struggle and without struggle there is no assertion of rights.

In the fight for racial and gender equality there has been controversy. In the struggle for equality in sexual orientation, there has been controversy. For those fighting for reproductive choice and those fighting for the right to life there has been controversy.

If controversy is definitively intertwined with the fight for any civil right, isn’t it redundant to say?

In fact, when it is used selectively for some rights struggles versus others is there a values judgment and a betrayal of impartiality to one side of a rights debate versus the other?

Consider CTV’s eulogy of Charlton Heston:

“Now to the death of Charlton Heston. As an actor, he parted the Red Sea, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, won a chariot race and survived an earthquake. But his most controversial role was played off-screen lobbying for gun rights as president of the National Rifle Association.”

Canadian news reports thankfully would not do Martin Luther King Jr. disservice and would not describe him playing a “controversial role” for civil rights, nor would they describe the Famous Five’s role as “controversial” when they asked the Supreme Court of Canada, “are women persons?” The fight for free speech has caused controversy, yet no self-respecting Canadian journalist would selectively describe such a struggle as “controversial”.

Since all rights struggles are controversial, why do some merit the qualifying (and effectively disqualifying) label?