Saturday, May 23, 2009

who will be shielding who?

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday heard an appeal in one of the five cases of journalist-source confidentiality that are currently on the table. Crown lawyers are arguing that allowing journalists to offer confidentiality to their sources will lead to journalists "shielding criminals."

This is an absurd attempt to restrict the freedom of the press as well as the ability of journalists to report accurately and on critical issues. The Crown's theatrical concern over the ability of journalists to "shield" criminals is nothing more than an extension of Stephen Harper's authoritarian despise for the free press. Having already tried to muzzle the Parliamentary Press Gallery, the conservative order is now trying to censor the Canadian press for reporting stories that it does not like.

If the Crown's true concern is the nature of confidentiality in shielding criminals, why not attack the Church for its confidentiality between confessor and the morally afflicted? If an individual commited the 'perfect' murder (no evidence, no way to prove it was them), and then confessed the act to a priest, the priest would still be bound by confidentiality to protect this secret. Surely the sins confessed within the Church are greater than the defamation or damage brought upon a politician through the tip of an anonymous source.

By taking away the offer of confidentiality, individuals will be far less inclined to reveal corruption or injustice to the media, for fear of repurcussions from either their employers or those in a position of higher power. Without the ability to contribute information confidentially, the entire structure of free press would collapse. Journalists would be left to report on what the government wants them to see, and there would be no way to unravel the corruption and back-room deals that plague modern government.

In other words, there would be no accountability. As any journalist or journalism student has learned, the key role of the media is to hold the government accountable. Freedom of press is a key mark of a free democratic society. Restricting confidentiality severely limits the freedom of the Canadian press. Without a truly free press, we have no democracy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

some promise

The Globe and Mail published an article this morning about the number of babies born in the developing world with AIDS. Despite a global promise to reduce the transmission of AIDS from mother to child, there are currently 900 babies born each day who have the virus.

How has it come to be that barely one third of the 1.5 million pregnant and HIV infected women in Africa receive the simple drug treatment that would protect their babies?Of this small proportion, only 8% are actually given the full course of treatment. Rather than working to spread awareness about the dangers of unprotected sex or setting up the infrastructure that could provide these women with medical treatment or abortions (both of which could save the lives of millions of women and children), the conservative world order has instead spent the past eight years throwing money at abstinence-only education. Texas alone spent an American national high of $17 million in 2008.

Let me put this in perspective. A one-year course of HIV drug treatment for one person costs as little as $92 (for a generic brand). The amount of money spent in Texas alone on abstinence-only sex ed could provide 184 782 people with this one year course of treatment!

There really is no excuse for the number of HIV and AIDS infected babies that are being born every day. If the problem was taking place on this scale in a developed country, you can be damn sure that Western governments would hop to the task of stemming the veritable epidemic. Unfortunatly, it seems to be the case that the governments of developed Western states care little, if at all, for the suffering of the developing world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

political imperialism

The continued protests of Canadian Tamils has drawn media attention as they blockaded the Gardiner Expressway last night. NDP and Liberal MPs came to the protest, promising to do more for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

This kind of behaviour from Canadian MPs is unacceptable. Jack Layton told CBC reporters that Canada has not been doing enough to stop the Sri Lankan government, and wants to put more government pressure on the Sri Lankan government to back down.

Who are we to demand this?

The Tamil Tigers are an ethnic army using violence and suicide bombers to fight oppression in Sri Lanka. If French Canadians decided to pressure the Canadian government into making Quebec independant but pursued this goal through use of terrorism and violence, of course the federal government would fight back to regain peace.

As long as the Tamil TIgers continue to use violence as a way to make their demands heard, the Sri Lankan government is entitled to fight back against a renegade army that threatens the stability of the country. The current protests demonstrate that the idea of political imperialism is growing amongst both civilians and politicians. The notion that we have the duty or right to pressure and interfere in another country's domestic affairs is ridiculous. Unless the government is unjustified in using force, there is no rational for foreign states to dictate the ways in which they are to deal with their domestic threats.

What Canadian politicians need to remember is that we are not the United States. Stephen Harper is not George W. Bush (and thank God for that!). We are not in charge of policing the world and it is not our right to make demands on a sovereign state just because we dissaprove of the ways in which they deal with their domestic issues.