Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jun 2003
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Brad Dietrich


The Appeal Court Justice Is Alternately Applauded, Condemned For Pot Views

Over all, I was most pleased to read Justice Mary Southin's comments on 
cannabis laws (Pot growers no worse than martini drinkers, judge says, June 
21). Court officials have had, for some years now, a more realistic 
attitude toward drug offenders than what is shown by the police, but Judge 
Southin, to her credit, is taking this even further. In fact, if her 
opinions on cannabis weren't already held by roughly half of all Canadians, 
they would be downright radical!

I am, however, concerned with her comment that she has not yet abandoned 
her conviction that "... Parliament has a constitutional right to be 
hoodwinked .. and to remain hoodwinked." Is she actually saying that our 
government has the constitutional right to be wrong, and that the public 
must simply live with the resulting bad laws? My understanding is that our 
constitution directly charges the courts with, not merely the right, but 
the duty of striking down bad laws.

I hope she also has, as I and many other Canadians do, a conviction that 
ordinary citizens have a constitutional right to be protected from 
arbitrary and capricious laws. This is supposed to be, after all, a 
pluralistic democracy. The right to be wrong is fine for kings with the 
divine right to rule or leaders of a theocracy, but has no place in a 
society wherein the political leaders are, when it comes right down to it, 
glorified civil servants.

Brad Dietrich

Port Alberni
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