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Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Have a happy and prosperous New Year, everyone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

War in Iraq far from over

There was a time when Americans could boast of never having lost a war, but such a boast would ring hollow in the wake of a string of U.S. defeats broken only by a victory in the 1990/1991 Gulf War. Americans may not have won the War of 1812, but neither did they lose it. And while they may not, as often claimed, have won the First World War—they did tip the balance in favour of the Allies and played a pivotal role in the final two years of that conflict—they certainly were on the winning side.

Since the Second World War, however, America’s war record has been spotty. Did they win in Korea in the 1950s? Not really—that war ended pretty much in a stalemate. The Vietnam War ended in a miserable defeat for the Americans. The Afghan war, which began on October 7, 2001, is still not settled, and many claim it will end as the Iraq War has with the Americans “claiming” victory and pulling out their troops.

Which takes us to the recent withdrawal of U.S. military personal from Iraq and President Barack Obama’s pronouncement at Andrews Air Force Base that the war is over. Of course, President George W. Bush famously claimed victory in Iraq on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln way back in 2003—in the twenty-first century’s most unfortunate display of braggadocio by a world leader.

Might President Obama’s claim of victory be just as premature as was President Bush’s? I fear it might.

As journalist Michael Harris recently wrote, “By every rational measure, the war in Iraq was an abject failure.” I will add that it was also a miserable, avoidable, mistake in the first place. According to Harris, the butcher’s bill included:

Forty-five hundred dead soldiers on the American side, another 30,000 wounded. On the Iraqi side, somewhere between 650,000 and 1,000,000 civilian and combatant deaths, depending on whether you believe the prestigious British polling agency Opinion Research Business or the Lancet Report.

There is more to come. President Obama had barely declared victory when Iraq’s Shia-dominated government started going after its rivals, starting with Iraq’s Sunni Vice-President. And last Thursday, opening salvos in a civil war between the minority Sunni—former rulers—and the governing Shia majority were fired:  16 bomb blasts in Baghdad (72 people killed, 217 injured).

Iraq’s Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has taken refuge in the semi-independent Iraqi region of Kurdistan. Iraq’s Kurds have rejected Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s authority over them. They are mostly Sunni Muslims, like the Sunni Arabs whom Hashemi represents—while Maliki, like most Arabic-speakers in Iraq, is Shia.

In short, the “Iraq War” may be over, but war rages on in Iraq.

I close with these prophetic words from Michael Harris, “the true political legacy of the Iraq War will [now] unfold—a bloody battle for supremacy between the fighters of the Sunni Awakening and the Shia majority with its new taste for power and its longstanding ties to Iran.”

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How serious are Tory intentions in the high north?

The Royal Canadian Air Force has considered expanding operations and facilities at Resolute Bay, Nunavut to make it a main operating base for Arctic operations. According to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen and reported on in the National Post, “The construction of a 3,000 metre paved runway, hangars, fuel installations and other infrastructure has been proposed as part of an effort to support government and military operations in the North.”

The RCAF, apparently, is also considering a forward operating base on Ellesmere Island, which would require the expansion of current facilities at Eureka, Nunavut. In so doing, our Forces could rebuild the existing facilities at Station Alert on Ellesmere Island, which is currently used for the interception of communications.

I’m all for paving and lengthening the runway at Resolute Bay—it currently has a 1,981-metre gravel runway—to allow fighter aircraft to operate in the far north and search and rescue operations to be centered there. And expanded operations at Resolute Bay would also be a key element in any Arctic development we undertake as we reinforce our sovereignty over this strategically important region.

I hope this is not just another Arctic proposal with more to do with attracting votes than enforcing sovereignty in the North. This has been a speciality of Conservative governments for far too long. It is unacceptable that Canada, which owns so much of the Artic, has virtually no effective naval, military or aerospace presence in that region. In this respect, we lag behind other countries that claim strategic interests in the Artic.

I’ll not feel comfortable with the level of our Conservative government’s commitment to the Artic until I see high-sounding words turn into action. Our leaders talk a good game, but are they really players?

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I’ll be doing less blogging over the Christmas and New Year season. I’ve had another wonderful year blogging about politics and such. When I started Russ Campbell’s Blog it never occurred to me that it would receive tens of thousands of visitors and page views, with several of you taking the time to leave comments.

It’s not much fun writing if no one reads your stuff, so a big “thank you” to all you readers, and I hope you’ll return next year. This is the season for concentrating on family, so I’ll be doing just that.

 

To all, good cheer and good health.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Happy Hanukkah and
a Happy and prosperous New Year!

Debating the unmentionable?

The Tory MP for Kitchener-Centre Stephen Woodworth said in a recent media release that Canadian laws governing human rights of the unborn need to be re-examined because they are out-dated. Now I read that his fellow Conservative, Essex MP Jeff Watson, supports Woodworth’s call for a debate on whether to give human rights to the unborn.

It’s about time this debate was held in parliament and each and every member stood up and stated his position on the subject.

To be clear: no government can give anyone a “human right.” Human rights are ours whether or not our government recognizes them. Furthermore, life begins at conception, period. This is a reality of biology and no man-made legislation or lack thereof is going to change that.

Our government, however, could (and should) redefine what Canada considers a “legal person” to include, at least, some of the unborn. Currently, one has to be independent of the mother’s body to be a legal person—i.e., a person has to have been “born” to be a legal person under the law. So we are not talking about biology, but legal distinctions.

In my view, an unborn baby who could survive outside the womb as, say, a premature baby can, should be considered a legal person and receive all the protections, rights and privileges the rest of us Canadians enjoy. This is probably around the end of the second trimester of a pregnancy, and terminating a child’s life after that point should be illegal.

I also believe in a woman’s right to choose. But like every other Canadian right, there should be reasonable restrictions.

A mother could still have the right to chose whether she wishes to terminate her pregnancy, but—assuming no medical reason to do otherwise—the state should assume responsibility for the child’s life, if viable, at that point. The state provides housing and other necessities of life to murderers, pedophiles and others guilty of the most horrible crimes, so why deny life to these vulnerable, parentless babies.

Just because a woman decides she does not want her pregnancy to go full-term, that does not mean her unborn child should not be given a chance to live out its life. For a woman to decide not to have her child is one thing, it’s quite another to “kill” that child.

For the record, I am not a religious person. It’s been decades since I believed in the Christian concept of God, belonged to a religious denomination or attended any church or other place of religious worship. I do believe, though, in human decency. And, to me, claiming a child is less than a human being just because it has not been “born” is barbaric and nonsense.

If a mother allows a child to be removed through Caesarean section before the 39th week it is considered “born.” But if a woman demands an abortion before the 39th week the child is legally not born and can be destroyed. We really should be ashamed of ourselves.

Bring on the debate.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Dust-up on Sun News Network: Lilley cuts off Kinsella’s mic

Avideo posted at the BC Blue blog shows the dyed-in-the-wool Liberal Warren Kinsella and Sun News’ Byline host Brian Lilley having a verbal dust-up until Lilley asks that Kinsella’s microphone be cut off. Yes, really. They cut off Kinsella’s microphone.

I am a regular watcher of Sun News, though I find programs like The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News better than anything Sun News offers. I thought, however, that Sun News prided itself with bringing both sides of an argument to the table. The Byline show’s Webpage boasts, in part:

The Byline showcases irreverent journalist Brian Lilley as a cultural warrior, a connected journalist who is on the side of Canadians who value their individual freedoms and responsibilities over intrusive government. … Tune in for insight, opinion and long-overdue discussion of topics that matter to average Canadians.

Apparently the “insight” and “opinion” referred to is subject to the host’s censorship. Well, I suppose all TV shows reserve the right to censor when a guest becomes extremely unmanageable or says things that could cause legal problems for the network. Lilley’s censorship seemed not to have been prompted by anything like that, however. In fact, it was Lilley who seemed to be losing his cool. I thought Kinsella handled himself with restraint.

This episode reminds me of an interview I saw when Krista Erickson, another of Sun News’ hosts, rudely bullied a guest. I’ve also heard Erickson berate the CBC—not such a bad thing of itself—but she happily pocketed her paycheques from the CBC for several years. Hypocrisy, it seems, is alive and well at Sun News.

As I see it, if one hosts a show with guests, one needs to be sure one can take as much as one gives. Bullying guests or turning off their microphones doesn’t seem to fit the image Sun News seems to be trying to project.

Warren Kinsella doesn’t need me to defend him, but I believe he held the high ground on this one.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PM Netanyahu's Christmas Greetings 2011

How encouraging it is to see that there is one democracy in the Middle East which does not hate Christians. By contrast, According to FoxNews.com, in a textbook for ninth-graders in Saudi Arabia, the students are taught the annihilation of the Jewish people is imperative: “The hour (of judgment) will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. ... There is a Jew behind me come and kill him,” it reads. [Source]

Merry Christmas! and Happy Hanukkah! Israel.

Score 1 for provincial rights, 0 for federal overreaching

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously against the federal government’s attempt to create a national stock market regulator, because the legislation presented to it “overreaches” into provincial jurisdiction. Thursday’s decision should end Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s plan, which called for the dismantling the current system under which the 13 provinces and territories regulate securities under a “co-operative passport system.”

The government had argued financial markets are now so critical to our economy and so interwoven with the world’s economy that Canada needed a single voice to more effectively represent its interests. The government also maintained that a single regulator would be more effective in detecting and policing fraud.

To help his case, Flaherty used examples of fraudsters such as Earl Jones in Montreal and the perpetrators of the Bre-X gold mine swindle suggesting they might have been caught sooner had single-regulator policing rules been in place. Critics, however, have rightly pointed out that a single regulator did not prevent Bernie Madoff, Enron and other stock manipulation scandals in the United States.

The court, however, left Ottawa room to continue playing a role in securities trading regulation, such as in setting minimum standards, and in guarding against systemic risk whereby a failure of one player creates a “domino effect” setting off a chain reaction affecting the greater financial system.

Hat’s off to Canada’s top court for reinforcing that we live in a federation and that provincial jurisdictions are to be adhered to. We have a constitution which lays out the boundaries of federal and provincial jurisdiction. If such boundaries are no longer in our national and provincial interests, then change the constitution. Until then, respect the boundaries.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Ontario minister whines about Flaherty’s ‘imposed’ health care deal

The minister of finance for Ontario was one of the provincial representatives who whined most to the media after hearing details of a plan for how much federal health care money will be transferred to the provinces in the future. “It’s no present at all; it’s a lump of coal,” Dwight Duncan is reported to have said.

I’ve learned not to expect better from this blowhard of a politician. All bluster and truth shaping; not much substance. Duncan’s idea of getting the province’s finances back in balance is to make sure he picks a timeframe ending well outside his term in office. Under his and Dalton McGuinty’s leadership we’ll never see a balanced Ontario budget unless, of course, outside pressure forces their hand.

On TV, Duncan went on about how “tradition” called for the federal government to negotiate with provincial ministers over health care transfers. But how much negotiation went on when the Chrétien-Martin Liberals slashed health and education funding to balance the federal budgets in the 1990s?

In the past decade, Billions of dollars have been transferred to the provinces at rates of increase far exceeding either inflation or the growth in our economy—i.e., at unsustainable levels. Now federal finance minister Flaherty has said health transfers will continue to flow at the same six-per-cent increase rate they have been, but by 2018, the increase will be tied to the rate of nominal GDP, which is the measure of economic growth including inflation. Sounds both prudent and generous.

If Duncan wants more money, he could raise Ontario taxes to get it—he has nearly as much taxing authority as the federal government. That’s the adult way, but it’s easier to puff himself up and blame the feds.

Better still, the Ontario government could show the courage and gumption to insist the federal government backs off and stays out of provincial jurisdiction. Our constitution gives Ontario the right and obligation to provide for the health of its residents. Ontario’s political leaders know that this means funding as well as delivery. If we governed within the constitution, Ontario would not have to depend on Ottawa for these sorts of handouts.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beware the wakened giant

The passing of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, last Saturday reminds us of how dangerous a place the world is. One had hoped the end of the Cold War might have given a peace-dividend of a more lasting nature, but clearly, that is not the case.

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamist terrorist attacks on the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom, musings of nuclear attack from leaders of North Korea and Iran, sabre rattling from Russia and China, and internal conflicts in the Middle East have made the opening decade of the twenty-first century no less than a bloody mess.

Kim Jong-il was not even in his grave when North Korea conducted a missile test, signalling that nation’s commitment to continue its late leader’s policy of threatening to wipe out Seoul, the prosperous South Korean capital, or the Japanese economy, not to mention millions of their people. With some 1.19-million men under arms, North Korea possesses one of the world’s largest standing armies with a massive arsenal of conventional weapons, supplemented by nuclear weapons, while its people are forced to endure a permanent famine.


China Military 2011

Perhaps even more worrying, though, is North Korea’s primary (only?) international sponsor, China. While most in the West focus on the very real threat posed by Islamist extremists, China has poured ever-increasing billions of dollars into its armed forces.

Here’s an excerpt from a story USA Today published last summer:

For two decades China has been adding large numbers of warships, submarines, fighter jets and—more significantly—developing offensive missiles capable of knocking out U.S. stealth aircraft and the biggest U.S. naval ships including aircraft carriers.

At the same time, China has announced that its territorial waters extend hundreds of miles beyond its shores, well into what its neighbors and the United States consider international waters. It has installed more than 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, a democratic island nation and U.S. ally. Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan all have complained to the United States about confrontations on the high seas with China.

Much of China’s new military and naval build-up is in offensive weapons like its first aircraft carrier—and there are unconfirmed reports of China also building two nuclear powered aircraft carriers. Such warships are not generally considered defensive.

Tensions run high in the South China Sea where China and others have unresolved differences.

Few remember that China briefly invaded Vietnam in 1979 with combined casualties of  over 60,000. Furthermore, China and India have had disputes over their borders, resulting in three military conflicts: the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Chola incident in 1967 and the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish.

Moreover, the relationship between China and Japan is increasingly strained despite their deep economic ties and a doubling of their bilateral trade in the past five years. This has dangerous implications for the United States and the world at large. Eric Calder, writing for Foreign Affairs a few years back, had this to say:

Some liken current Sino-Japanese relations to the Anglo-German rivalry prior to World War I. As with the United Kingdom and Germany a century ago, the contest for regional leadership between China and Japan today is creating new security dilemmas, prompting concerns over Chinese ambitions in Japan and fears of renewed Japanese militarism in China. Both states are adopting confrontational stances, partly because of rising popular involvement in politics and resurgent nationalism exacerbated by revived memories of World War II; mutually beneficial economic dealings alone are not effectively soothing these tensions. Fluid perceptions of power and fear, Thucydides observed, are the classic causes of war. And they are increasingly present in Northeast Asia today.

Canada too could find itself at odds with China. As I wrote in August, China feels entitled to a share of the Arctic’s natural resources and wants to see as much as possible of the region remain international territory. And, if the U.K.’s The Telegraph is correct, Russia plans to “increase naval patrols in the Arctic Ocean to defend its interests against nations such as China seeking a share of the area’s mineral wealth.”

Should Canada be any less concerned than Russia apparently is?

Moreover, the Vancouver Sun reported earlier this year that a “massive” cyber attack was launched against the Canadian government by a foreign government, and that the infiltration of computer systems of two Canadian agencies were also likely perpetrated by a foreign government.

Which “foreign government” might that be? Why, China, of course.

Napoleon Bonaparte once famously said of China, “Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” Methinks the giant has awakened.

Except video, © 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Monday, December 19, 2011

Imbeciles too can own TV stations

The video that follows is an example of the truly stunning ignorance of what passes as intelligent discourse in the Arab World. In it, an Egyptian presidential candidate, Tawfiq Okasha, describes Michael Coren as a Freemason and Coren’s Sun News TV show as “the leading channel in America” and says Coren’s show “is one of the most famous in America.” Coren, as most readers know, is a Roman Catholic and would unlikely be a Freemason. And clearly the man lacks even a basic level of knowledge about North American geography and international affairs.

As to Okasha’s imbecilic comments about Jews, I’m left without words to fully describe the extent of his idiocy.

Tawfiq Okasha has no excuse for such a display of ignorance and blatant anti-Semitism for he is and educated man and the owner of Al-Faraeen TV. Surely this is a further evidence a cultural war is being waged against us in the West when a prominent citizen of a significant country like Egypt openly displays such bigotry and misinformation.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Except video, © 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Politician of the year: Stephen Harper

PM Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper gets my vote as best politician of the year 2011, despite the success of the late Jack Layton and his New Democrats in Quebec. Stephen Harper has had a terrific record since he became leader of the united “right,” and proved that he can garner enough right-of-centre votes to form a majority with little or no support from Quebec.

Jack Layton seems to be the sentimental favourite of many for politician of the year, but I don’t see it. True, he improved his party’s fortunes in last May’s election, but his best efforts still left the New Democrats short of victory.

Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Party is decades younger than the NDP, yet has grown from a modest prairie movement in the mid-eighties to the governing party of Canada and has replaced, some believe, the Liberals as Canada’s natural governing party.

Jack Layton’s political record pales by comparison to Stephen Harper’s.

The prime minister has led our country through some of the most trying economic times and nearly a decade of war. He is well into a program of rebuilding our armed forces—Canada now has the finest small army in the world—and under his leadership Canada has assumed a prominent position among mid-size nations. Canada’s relationship with the United States has been better under PM Harper than under any previous prime minister in over half a century—except, of course, for Brian Mulroney.

During 2011, Harper’s government has won an election and initiated a transformative agenda, especially in the areas of international trade, immigration reform, criminal justice and U.S.-Canada relations. Canada’s economic record and international profile far exceeds that of other countries of similar population size: Canada has the 35th largest population, but is ranked 9th in GDP by the CIA World Factbook (10th by the International Monitory Fund and the World Bank). Given the tumultuous and uncertain economic times of the past three years, Prime Minister Harper’s prudent management must be given much of the credit for keeping Canada hitting well above its weight.

Leading up to the May 2 election, here’s what the Globe and Mail—an openly Liberal newspaper—said when it endorsed the Conservative Party:

He [Harper] has built the Conservatives into arguably the only truly national party, and during his five years in office has demonstrated strength of character, resolve and a desire to reform. Canadians take Mr. Harper’s successful stewardship of the economy for granted, which is high praise. He has not been the scary character portrayed by the opposition; with some exceptions, his government has been moderate and pragmatic.

High praise indeed from what amounts to an “opposition” newspaper. By a wide margin, Stephen Harper is Canada’s best politician of 2011.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is poor NDP performance allowing the Bloc to recover?

The abysmal performance of the federal New Democrats seems to be giving the demoralized Bloc Québécois room for hope of making a recovery in Quebec. So Jack “The Bloc-slayer” Layton’s hard work in Quebec could soon be for naught after the lacklustre performance of his party under the interim leadership of Nycole Turmel.

As reported by The Canadian Press, a recent “Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates the NDP’s support in the province [Quebec] has plunged to 26 per cent—tied with the Bloc Quebecois and down 16 points since the NDP swept 59 of Quebec’s 75 seats in last May’s election.” The Bloc, Liberals, Conservatives and Greens all seem to have made gains since May.

Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg explained that support for the New Democrats has been in decline in Quebec since early October and that the downward trend has accelerated in the last few weeks, notwithstanding the fact a leadership race to choose Layton’s successor is underway. Gregg said that he can’t recall a party ever losing so much ground during a leadership contest.

Nycole Turmel may be the least effective leader of the official opposition in memory, but I expected the NDP leadership campaigns would offset her poor performance. Apparently not.

With this poll as a backdrop, its amusing to read Nycole Turmel’s prediction that her party will defeat the Conservatives in the 2015 election. Doesn’t she know this is the Christmas Season, not April Fool’s?

It is disappointing, though, to see the Bloc on the rebound.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More than poverty inflicts victims of Attawapiskat

The NDP member of parliament for Timmins-James Bay, Charlie Angus, has done Canadians a great service by bringing the plight of residents of Attawapiskat First Nation to their attention. Mr. Angus is the local MP for the Attawapiskat First Nation reserve and responded quickly by getting the word out about, and the spotlight on, Attawapiskat after that community declared a state of emergency earlier this fall.

For many (perhaps most) Canadians that was the first indication some of the 2,000 or so residents of that Northern Ontario community were living in such deplorable conditions. And we can all applaud the Canadian Red Cross for its prompt response to the crisis, and be grateful that our federal agencies too are getting directly involved.

I believe also that Prime Minister Harper himself is now on this file and will have a role to play in the long-term solutions that will presumably be found in the coming months.

There are, however, troubling aspects to this story that seem to have been ignored by Mr. Angus and the rest of the official opposition and, perhaps, even been somewhat distorted.

How, for instance, did Mr. Angus arrive at these figures he wrote about when he pointed out “that $50,000 per person [federal transfers] divided over six years, works out to about $8,300 per person per year”. The $50,000 seems to refer to the prime minister’s statement that we [federal government] have paid $50,000 to “every man, woman and child in the community.” Fair enough, but why divide the prime minister’s figure by 6 (years) to arrive at a misleading $8,300 per year for each individual?

Would it not have been more sensible to have used the community’s own figures contained in their audited annual financial statements? According to these, Attawapiskat First Nation had revenues for the year of $34.3-million and spent $31.1-million leaving a surplus as at March 31, 2011 (about nine months ago) of $3.1-million. Most of these revenues, I might add, came from the federal (50%) and provincial (13%) governments. There is not enough financial details in these statements for anyone to assess how well these revenues are being deployed on the reserve, but I believe it is safe to say that this is a lot of money for what amounts to a small town of about 2,000 residents.

These unfortunate people do need our help and will get it, but it is quite fair for Canadians to ask whether they are doing enough to help themselves—financially or otherwise, for far more troubling than the housing crisis, are the allegations by a former resident of Attawapiskat of substantial wrongdoings in the community, including child molestation, sexual abuse and incest as outlined to CTV.ca on Tuesday.

“The most frightening part is people know,” Jocelyn Iahtail told CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian. According to CTVNews.ca, “Iahtail alleged the abuse began when she was only four, and continued until she was 13. She says the abusers were people that she trusted, including relatives of some council members.”

And this shocker from Ms. Iahtail, “I would become so overcome with nausea and vomiting. Just the simple act of brushing my teeth, because of the oral sex that I was forced to perform.”

Social worker Sylvia Maracle, from the Ontario Federation of Friendship Centres, is reported by CTV.ca to have said, “Sexual violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities affect 75 to 80 per cent of our girls and women,”

The CTVNews.ca article concludes with this:

Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said that the abuse issue is one of the reasons why the entire system of reserves needs to be dismantled.

‘This is why First Nations are calling for transformative change—to smash the status quo,’ he responded.

According to [social worker Sylvia] Maracle, school officials have cautioned her about the issue, hinting that the abuse is so widespread that resources simply aren’t available to deal with all the cases.

These allegations are distressing in the extreme. Sounds to me like we have a far more serious set of social issues at Attawapiskat First Nation than a housing crisis.

I can hardly wait to hear how the NDP turns this into another political issue and blames the federal government for the apparently rampant sexual abuse and incest.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

In Canada we jail peaceful grandmothers and lionize “occupiers” who destroy public property

The current Supreme Court challenge undertaken by Linda Gibbons highlights how uneven and mean-spirited the Canadian justice system can be at times. Ms. Gibbons is a 63-year-old grandmother who has been arrested about 20 times and spent more than nine of the past 20 years in jail for protesting peacefully in front of abortion clinics. On Wednesday she appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in a bid to have her most recent conviction quashed.

Six years after Canada’s abortion law was struck down in 1988, authorities in Toronto sought a court-ordered “temporary” injunction ban against protesting directly outside an abortion clinic. There had been incidents of intimidation, including violence, near abortion clinics and the ban seemed reasonable as a temporary measure until things cooled down a bit. That was almost 18 years ago, however.

Since then the Alberta-born Torontonian and anti-abortion crusader has been arrested about 20 times and has spent some eight years behind bars for protesting too close to abortion clinics—though she has never been accused of threatening or abusive behaviour.

Time and time again we have sent this woman to jail yet we have allowed the “Occupy” Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver protests to violate city laws, damage public property and disrupt nearby businesses. The Occupiers we politely leave alone for weeks on end; Ms. Gibbons we arrest and lock up.

Doesn’t sound fair to me.

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

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