HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 2003's Rights And Wrongs
Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2004
Source: Westender (Vancouver, CN BC)
Section: Opinion
Copyright: 2004 WestEnder


The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has just issued one of the most 
disturbing-and entertaining-reminders that civil rights should never be 
taken for granted.

Looks like a lot of people aren't too clear on the subject.

The BCCLA awarded its annual brickbats and bouquets to many we want to 
forget-and others we'd like to remember.

The group reminds us that if former Immigration Minister Denis Coderre had 
his way, we'd all be carrying around compulsory identification cards.

Who else got a figurative slap to the head for civil-rights silliness?

Lawyer Ian Donaldson, for one, who represents Constable Brandon Steele (one 
of the Stanley Park Six) for calling the police officers' victims "part of 
a plague." Well, then, that justifies a beating, doesn't it? Then there was 
John Moffatt, a principal with the North Vancouver school district who 
banned all teaching on the Middle East after he got one complaint. More 
brickbats went to the Richmond school board (surveillance cameras in 
washrooms: hello, George Orwell). Alliance MP Larry Spencer gets a hoot and 
holler and a kick in the pants for crying out for the criminalization of 
gay sex, since homosexuals are, after all, "pedophiles who are actively out 
to seduce and recruit school-age boys." Ugh. Enough of the downers.

What about the good guys? There were plenty of civil-rights heroes in 2003, 
including rookie cop Troy Peters, who blew the whistle on the Stanley Park 
Six; Langara College librarian Judy Kornfeld, who defied the Langara 
student government and opened a room on campus for an Israeli-Arab to speak 
on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Finally, one move we may not have heard much about was made by police chief 
Jamie Graham, mayor Larry Campbell and Inspector Ken Frail. Together, they 
instituted a "do not respond" rule, Canada's first-ever policy of its kind. 
The move assures drug users that only medical personnel-not police 
officers-will respond to emergency calls of drug overdoses.

As the BCCLA notes, "drug users present at overdoses were fearful of 
calling for assistance because police might respond and lay criminal 
charges against them." A small step, but a big humanitarian move for the city.

Cashing In At The Cave

Steve-o, the star of MTV's Jackass show and movie, was in Vancouver Monday 
night at the Cave, the former Rage/86th Street club at the Plaza of 
Nations. For a jammed-to-the-rafters house, the man displayed great skill 
in cutting open his tongue with a broken beer bottle, pouring 
fresh-squeezed lime juice into his eyes, snorting a small mountain of salt 
and puking it up, bashing several beer cans onto his own skull, getting 
roars of approval with hollow pro-Canada rally cries and, yes, stapling his 
nut-sack to his leg. Fans lined up outside the club hours before the 11:30 
p.m. show, which lasted about an hour. Roughly 1,000 people paid $27 each 
to be there, and consumed what appeared to be eight drinks each. According 
to our calculations, that's $67,000 total profit for all involved, 
including performers, show promoters and bar owners.

That's a significant amount of cash being shelled out for such brainless, 
gutter-level hooliganism, yes?

'Bad Year' For Medicinal Pot

Despite the relatively progressive moves made this year by the federal 
government, a group called Canadians for Safe Access says 2003 was a bad 
year for the country's medicinal cannabis patients. "This year has seen 
both Health Canada and provincial courts continue to ignore the very real 
plight of Canada's critically and chronically ill," states a Dec. 29 fax 
from the CSA, which hopes that incoming Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew 
will show "more compassion" than his predecessor. The CSA's presser goes on 
to list the year's top five "most grievous events in medicinal cannabis." 
Most interesting is the item that details how Health Canada-approved pot 
flunked a CSA-sponsored test. The results showed the government's weed to 
be weaker than advertised-three per cent THC, as opposed to the claim of 10 
per cent. The cannabis was also high in dangerous heavy metals such as 
arsenic and lead. In disgust, recipients of the weed returned it to Health 
Canada. Smart move.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman