Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canada, Justice and equal rights for all? Sort of

As Canadians we like to think that our justice system treats all individuals equally and fairly regardless of their heritage, gender, or religion. Canada is a country where the law is applied impartially to all of its people and we take pride in the fairness of our justice system. In fact the average Canadian takes great offense when we feel that an individual is being unjustly treated or harshly sentenced based on a perceived bias against the individual or a group they belong to.

After all, "Justice is Blind" right?
Well, partially anyways, it appears that recently Canada's Supreme Court has instructed our justice system to "keep one eye open"  when meting out justice to individuals of a certain heritage. How can this be in a country that prides itself on fair handed treatment for all, why would one group be singled out for specific punishment? This racist undertone is not something any of us would expect from Canadian courts.

By now your undoubtedly wondering what any particular group of people did to be treated in such a harsh manner, why would the courts unfairly base sentencing on a persons heritage, and what can be done to prevent this miscarriage of justice against these poor unfortunate individuals.

Well dear reader do I have a surprise for you.
First, the group in question is Canada's aboriginal people, and secondly rather than sentencing this group more harshly than other Canadians, the high courts instructions were in a nutshell to "take it easy on them as they have been thru a lot"!

The country's top court ruled on the Gladue principle, a directive originally from Parliament which requests that judges recognize that a history of colonization, residential schools and cultural repression has affected generations of indigenous men and women, resulting in a severe over-representation of aboriginal people in Canada's prisons. In plain English, our jails have a lot more aboriginals than non-aboriginals but it's really not their fault, the real culprit is the treatment they received over the last two hundred years or so, and in some cases more the way their grandparents were treated than anything they may have experienced personally. I think I got that right.....

In a ruling handed down in late March, the Supreme Court stated that not evaluating the historical context of aboriginal offenders would represent a breach of sentencing guidelines."Systemic and background factors may bear on the culpability of the offender, to the extent that they shed light on his or her level of moral blameworthiness" the ruling states. "Failing to take these circumstances into account would violate the fundamental principle of sentencing — that the sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offense and the degree of responsibility of the offender." Again, in plain English..... It's really not their fault that they commit crimes, they were treated badly by society.

So what does actually mean when it comes to sentencing?
Well apparently it is not supposed to mean  a "get out of jail free card" for Aboriginal offenders or avoidance of minimum sentencing guidelines. In fact the supreme court clearly states that in their decision and while specifically addressing aboriginals they clearly state that "there in nothing in the Gladue decison which would indicate that background and systemic factors should not also be taken into account for other, non‑Aboriginal offenders." Once more in plain English, the Gladue principle should apply to all. 

gladue decision, 718.2 (e) of the criminal code, aboriginal rights
However, by the same token they also clearly state that the "sentencing judge has a statutory duty, imposed by s. 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, to consider the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders". This is the part that bothers me, let's face it in Canada's history the aboriginals are not the only group that at some point got the short end of the stick. During WW2 Japanese Canadians had their property confiscated and were interned for the duration of the war. Prior to that at the turn of the century the Chinese received a pretty rough ride from Canada's government, including a "head tax" to even enter the country. Yet somehow or other both these groups are not specifically named in the Gladue decision or the courts ruling. One would have thought that they too should receive special treatment due to the hardships they suffered. In fact maybe we should include women, the Irish, Newfies, and any other group who we now feel may have have received less than satisfactory treatment over the last few centuries. Now I believe the real difference lies in the fact that most other groups of a particular heritage or gender have come to realize that the sins of the past, are just that "of the past". Sure some of them have requested redress for treatment imposed by the government, and in some cases rightfully so, but we don't see them filling up our jails.

My point here is that while I feel bad for any group that may have been treated harshly by society or government at one time this simply does not justify giving them any form of preferential treatment under the law. Even worse is the fact that they are being specifically identified within the law. How can a justice system or government claim fair and equal treatment for all when by their very own actions they place on group of individuals above others simply based on their heritage. At the end of the day this is just unfair to all Canadians and clearly illustrates that in Canada "Lady justice is not Blind", apparently her eyesight is fine if you are of aboriginal decent.

Here is a more detailed excerpt from the ruling, written by Justice Louis LeBel for the majority:

When sentencing an Aboriginal offender, courts must take judicial notice of such matters as the history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools and how that history continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of substance abuse and suicide, and of course higher levels of incarceration for Aboriginal peoples.  These matters provide the necessary context for understanding and evaluating the case‑specific information presented by counsel.  However, these matters, on their own, do not necessarily justify a different sentence for Aboriginal offenders.  Furthermore, there is nothing in the Gladue decision which would indicate that background and systemic factors should not also be taken into account for other, non‑Aboriginal offenders.  The parity principle which is contained in s. 718.2(b) means that any disparity between sanctions for different offenders needs to be justified.  To the extent that the application of the Gladue  principles lead to different sanctions for Aboriginal offenders, those sanctions will be justified based on their unique circumstances — circumstances which are rationally related to the sentencing process.  Counsel has a duty to bring individualized information before the court in every case, unless the offender expressly waives his right to have it considered.  A Gladue report, which contains case‑specific information, is tailored to the specific circumstances of the Aboriginal offender.  A Gladue report is an indispensable sentencing tool to be provided at a sentencing hearing for an Aboriginal offender and it is also indispensable to a judge in fulfilling his duties under s. 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code
The sentencing judge has a statutory duty, imposed by s. 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, to consider the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.  If the sentencing judge fails to apply the Gladue principles in any case involving an Aboriginal offender this would run afoul of this statutory obligation.  Furthermore, the failure to apply the Gladue principles in any case would also result in a sentence that is not fit and is not consistent with the fundamental principle of proportionality.  Therefore, application of the Gladue principles is required in every case involving an Aboriginal offender, including the breach of an LTSO, and a failure to do so constitutes an error justifying appellate intervention.


  1. A heartfelt post, very emotional, lacking any facts or substance, but emotional none the less. A good solid rant all around, tugging at all the right heartstrings. I bow to the “Master of the Rant”.

  2. Master Yoda, that really means something coming from you....

    Wait a minute, I wrote that about as a comment on your blog, all you did was cut and paste it as a comment on mine. Sigh.... there is so little creativity or originality left in the world today.

    In the future, please feel free to cut and paste any of my writing that you feel will help you with your own blog over at http://thelimingview.blogspot.ca/

    On the other hand, if you like I could simply write your articles for you, save you cutting and pasting

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Dear Readers,
    You may notice that I have removed the above comment, I could have simply deleted it completely however it is not my practice to do so. However on this one I removed it because we have some childish antics taking place, our friend Anonymous who runs his left wing liberal blog (http://thelimingview.blogspot.ca/) does not like the comments that I post in response to his rants on several syndicated blog directories, so to combat that he cuts and pastes my own comments into this blog as comments. He feels this will discourage me, little does he know Frustrated Joe, he has simply waved a red cape in front of the bull.

    I do feel sorry for the individual, most of us write our own comments, unfortunately it appears this gentleman has taken my previous offer to let him use some of the material from the Dwindling Empire. Although when I made the offer it was to help him provide some rational well thought out material for his own blog rather than the dribble he posts, not so that he could cut and paste my comments onto this site. Sigh....another example of how the school system has failed to provide so many with basic skills such as writing.


Here at Dwindling Empire we welcome your comments. Although we ask that you refrain from profanity, sexist, racist, or comments of a sexual nature.

However you can poke fun at Frustrated Joe all you want, but we warn you if your going to disagree with him try to do so with some facts, this will garner you a lot more respect from everyone.
Greatly Appreciated