Category : Uncategorized

Constitutions: Polished Wood or Living Tree?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This paper started with readings on the death of US Supreme Court Judge Anton Scalia.  Prior to his death, I had dismissed him as a judicial right-wing extremist, applying a reactionary philosophy of judicial interpretation called ‘originalism’: E.G., “everything was fine in 1776: why change?”  However, I found even centre left

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We need a referendum on electoral reform

The essence of democracy is the right to vote, electing a representative to govern. But that representative does not gain the right to change the rules by which he or she is elected. The right to vote is logically, morally and politically prior to the right to change the system by which we vote for

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Trudeau’s Truthiness

Truthiness shortage: Letter in the Globe and Mail of April 22 Re Ottawa Killed Appeal Of Settlement Ruling (April 21): Seems to me that Canada’s new government has started to be somewhat “economical with the truth,” to put it charitably. First, this government claimed it had no choice but to honour the contract for the

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Are the ‘Laws of Thought’ Merely Theories?

You might wonder about the title of this talk.  I know I did.  Titles are important.  To illustrate that, I’ll start with a story told me by the late Jim Mac Adam, my tutor and mentor as a Trent student.  Jim MacAdam told of a scene from his time as a student at the University

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UBER

The City of Ottawa will make recommendations about taxi licensing and UBER within the next few days.  We have all read of the tensions, unpleasantness and occasional violence between licensed taxi drivers and UBER contractor drivers.  While it would be good to see a peaceful settlement between licensed and contract drivers, if the settlement is

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Rails and Trails

Let’s start with some, I hope, basic facts upon which we all can agree.  There is a railway corridor running from Gatineau, through Chelsea, to Wakefield.  In Chelsea, the corridor is owned by the municipality: it is public land.  Following collapse of part of the railway road bed, the former tourist steam train cannot run

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Why are churches a tax tree zone?

We start from the principle that owners of property should be expected to pay taxes to their local government. In part the taxes are charged to fund municipal services, regardless whether those services are provided or consumed.  Individual home owners pay taxes, as do business owners. Charitable organization and non-profits pay taxes at a reduced

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Compulsory Social Housing

“Cities will soon be allowed to make developers include “affordable” units in new developments that need rezonings, the provincial government says” Reeveley, Ottawa Citizen   http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-forcing-affordable-units-into-ottawa-condo-towers-wont-be-easy   One could hope for some positive social developments for low income earners in mandating mixed-income micro-neighbourhoods: better services and opportunities would possibly result, while the character and construction

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Apple’s Misdirection

Apple likes to say it’s protecting the privacy of its customers in refusing to unlock phones for US law enforcement. It’s an issue of principle, so we’re told. One might well be cautious when a multi-billion corporation invokes ‘principle’ in an argument. Let’s consider the context. In Canada and the US, law enforcement – with

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Will Québec Bring Back Canon Law?

My apologies for the provocative title. However, the Superior Court of Québec – the highest trial court in Québec – has made a rather extraordinary pronouncement. The Court has ruled that a member of the clergy of a church is not obliged to inform the civil authorities that a religious marriage has taken place. So

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