Rule of Law
Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is essentially a rule of law goal. Rule of law is required as a framework to achieve and maintain peace and good governance and is inherent to the achievement of equal access to justice. Access to justice in its broadest sense reflects and encompasses the need to ensure equality, inclusion and accountability in the implementation of all the other SDGs if development is to be truly sustainable. Rule of law creates an enabling environment for development ensuring mechanisms are in place to facilitate access to justice and other development outcomes.
The world is littered with women and men who feed on the misery of entire societies, who have grown fat in their spoils and comfortable in their impunity, sheltering behind national jurisdictions and national institutions they have been able to twist to their benefit. But there is a higher law. There is a deeper justice. And we will stand up for it.
Kim Davis, claimed that her "conscience will not allow" her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- In late August, a Calgary a bus driver named Jesse Rau refused to drive the Calgary Transit's rainbow bus. Both individuals raised religious objections. These are interesting normative positions. Can an individual refuse to obey a law if it conflicts with their personal interpretation of a religion? Does it matter if the individual is an elected official or a private citizen? To sort this out, let us engage in a thought experiment.
Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun are accused of having written and published books and articles, and of having given lectures at universities, on such subjects as taxes, law reform, and environmental protection, with funding that included four foreign sources. They are just two of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens, but their work represented all that is hopeful and optimistic about China. Rather than jailing them, the government should free them, tap their confidence in their country and their dedication to their fellow citizen, thaw the chill that has accompanied their incarceration and help the country thrive.
In sum, while Magna Carta certainly represents the enduring nature of our legal order, it also underscores just how fragile the rule of law is. As we rightly celebrate what we have held onto for so long, we must also recognize what could have been lost. Magna Carta, like our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is by itself only a document and is therefore only as good as those who are tasked with interpreting and enforcing its provisions.
Why hasn't my Facebook feed filled with at least the same level of indignation about our government's disgraceful treatment of our Veterans as it was about the a tobogganing hill? We must learn to calibrate our anger so it's proportional to the injustice or slight. Let's fight for the things that make life fun for us like tobogganing while also fighting the things that make life miserable such as payday loan companies, multinational corporations, venture capitalists, a failed War on Terrorism and the self-serving hacks in the media and government who enable it all.
The recent killing of two Canadian soldiers by self-professed, radicalized young men who became enamoured with a violent interpretation of Islam will bring up multiple assertions about the "root cause" for such attacks. Economic freedom and the institutional "pillars" that undergird it matter.
History tells us the worst laws are hastily made in the heat of crisis. It is far too easy to create greater police powers, while our civil liberties are eroded in the process. Speed can be a dangerous thing in this regard. It would be premature to enact laws when not all the facts are known.
With the recent Russian-inspired tragedies in eastern Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, much of the world is understandably focused on those regions. But another continent, Asia, is worth watching, particularly Chinese government action vis-à-vis Hong Kong.
The current state of government surveillance, the massive intrusion into our privacy, is not going to change anytime soon. A chance to move the debate constructively forward was missed. State surveillance, the collection of metadata, and some type of infringement of our right to privacy is going to continue. The only questions are to what extent and under what circumstances -- the law's never-ending search for proportionality. That is the debate that needs to be had, urgently.