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).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our court system is full of surprises, sometimes even good ones

How often have you read an article regarding a legal decision made by one of our public judges and shook your head in disbelief wondering if any sanity still remains within our justice system? Unfortunately it has become far too common an experience to pick up a daily newspaper and read about a court decision that seems to fly in the face of public safety or even basic common sense.

Thankfully, once in a while a judgement is rendered that actually seems to make sense even if it's one that doesn't have a major impact on society as a whole. This particular tale begins in 2011 in the city of Toronto, a place in years past that was often referred to as "Hogtown", (based on the many slaughterhouses in existence at the time, not the residents) but in today's world  it is in fact considered the center of the known universe by many of those that live there.
A happy Toronto Resident
In 2011 Toronto City Council overwhelmingly passed a bylaw banning shark fins and foods containing the product such as the Chinese dish shark fin soup. This action followed a heated debate which saw members of the local Chinese community call the idea of a ban discriminatory (I wonder if they meant against the Chinese or the sharks?). Councillors cited environmental issues and inhumane treatment of sharks as reasons for supporting the move. Now I suppose their hearts were in the right place (even if their heads weren't) as shark fin use has been subject to some controversy in recent years because of the way the fins are harvested and fears that overfishing is putting shark species at risk of extinction.

I imagine that there will be some reading this that will applaud the action of the city in defending the poor maligned and misunderstood shark and making the worlds a safer place for these man-eaters. But seriously, if that is the only issue you see here you've missed the point entirely. Civic government has a defined task laid out in front of it, sure it may vary a bit from city to city, but the general gist of it is to keep the city functioning in a safe and orderly manner for the populace, not to make the streets a safer place for the Great White and their kin. To my knowledge there is not a whole lot of shark fishing taking place within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), in fact the shark fishing industry in the region is probably right on par with say the state of Kansas.

So what does this have to do with my renewed faith in our justice system?
Well, just last week Ontario Superior Court Justice James Spence struck down Toronto's ban on shark parts and stated in his ruling that the city bylaw fell beyond the city's jurisdiction. Can you imagine...

Naturally the Canadian branch of animal rights group Humane Society International was quick to react saying the judge's ruling ran counter to the views of councilors and many Torontonians" (probably the average shark as well). "The court's decision nullifies the will of many residents in Toronto, including prominent Chinese Canadians, who want to make sure that their city does not contribute to the shark fin trade," campaigner Gabriel Wildgen said in a press release.

As well it should come as no surprise that Cohn. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who co-introduced the bylaw, said an appeal of the ruling is being considered, according to a release by the advocacy group.

So while some will see this overturning of the bylaw as a travesty of justice and inhumane towards the poor hammerhead and his cousins I view it as a step in the right direction. Trust me, I personally have no animosity towards the shark, (unless the body of water we are sharing is bigger than a soup bowl, of course) but I truly enjoy seeing civic government officials put in their place and reminded of their limitations. Now if these elected officials feel a continuing urge to protect natures oldest predator they should personally contact their own Member of Parliament or possibly some committee or another at the UN (on their own time, and on their own dime) as this issue is really more of a Federal or an International one than a civic one. In the meantime maybe they could direct their focus to more mundane local issues, things they were actually elected to do. You know, fix a few roads, look after ensuring there are adequate resources for the fire and police departments, repair some crumbling infrastructure, etc, etc, etc.

On a last note, I imagine that any New Yorkers reading this are wishing that they could experience some of Justice Spence's common sense, so once again they could suck on the straw of a 32 ounce "Big Gulp" at their local 7-11. If only life were so simple.

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