The week, the law, the bylaw

The week, the law, the bylaw
Photo from I am the Magpie River (CBC The Nature of Things)

In my Ottawa Citizen column this week I talk about an idea whose time, finally, is coming: Giving legal personhood to natural phenomena worth protecting. Like the Magpie River in Quebec – the subject of a documentary that premieres Thursday on The Nature of Things by award-winning filmmaker and all-around awesome person Susan Fleming. The doc's title is I am the Magpie River and if nothing else it's worth watching just for the amazing photography, like the picture at the top of this post.

My legal writing is back in business with a piece urging (again) the federal government to do what it promised it would do for children's rights in Canada, another piece on Bill S-248 concerning advanced requests for medical assistance in dying and a third one about the post-conviction review process.

Sticking with legal themes, a long but incredibly informative piece by Emmett Macfarlane on that Federal Court ruling into the Emergencies Act that's worth your while. My fav part:

The decision then turns to the question of whether there was a threat to the security of Canada. All this requires, even under the bizarre legislative choice to refer to the definition in another statute (the CSIS Act), is “activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective…” Reasonable people can disagree over whether this applies to the convoy protests, and that is precisely my point. The government had overwhelming evidence of the potential for serious violence, and plenty of discrete examples of actual harm, all in the context of a prolonged occupation that threatened (and in some cases was actively harming) the lives and safety of people in Ottawa.
In fact, Judge Mosley spells out the government’s valid concerns (para. 277). He even agrees with the government’s explanation for why “serious” was added to “serious violence” in the CSIS Act, which was precisely to discount minor acts of political violence like throwing tomatoes at politicians (para. 278). And yet despite this, he undertakes a narrow vision of violence by characterizing it with reference to Criminal Code provisions on “bodily harm”, and emphasizes, again, the economic disruptions of the convoy without serious consideration at all of the many examples of threats of violence and actual physical and psychological harms endured by people and as evinced in the public inquiry.
To be blunt, it’s a section of the judgment that comes very close to gaslighting the people of Ottawa.
black laptop computer on brown wooden table
Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

Another article very much worth reading describes life without a home in Ontario.

Small joys: the morning cup of coffee, a fresh shave. To chance across money on the sidewalk. There are ever rays of light in every waking day. It’s the ending I fear, and the certainty: this ain’t getting better. I’m going to die poor and alone. Face that every day and see if it doesn’t break your will.

And finally, the City of Ottawa is asking for our feedback on the no-idling bylaw and I'm hugely in favour of not idling ever, except when it's very cold or very hot. Most of the time we just don't think about it, especially those of us who learned to drive in the previous century. We're so used to doing it that it feels weird not to. I want us to get used to it feeling weird to idle. Who's in?