Its 30th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the many benefits of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Building on an earlier bill of rights unveiled by prime minister John Diefenbaker, the Charter enshrined and protected the rights of individual Canadians from governments’ law-making powers. In doing so it created a society much more focused on issues of equality and legal fairness. The Charter’s mobility rights, for example, have allowed Canadians to tear down provincial employment barriers.
No to nukes
Last Friday, a North Korean satellite rocketed to 400,000 feet, splintered into harmless pieces, then fell into the sea. A successful launch would have demonstrated intercontinental ballistic know-how. Instead, even Pyongyang pronounced the missile a dud. Meanwhile, nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S. and China, were deemed “constructive and useful.” More talks are slated for next month. There’s much work still to be done, but we can all breathe a little easier, at least this week.
Playing nice in the ice
Warmer weather in the Arctic will crack open hitherto unreachable areas. It will also generate more traffic, environmental risks and misadventures no one country is equipped to handle. But last week Canada hosted a meeting of eight Arctic countries for talks that should lead to a game plan on dealing with high-north spills and thrills. In other Arctic developments, Canada and Denmark agreed to split the disputed Hans Island. This gives Canada another land border to police, though half a chunk of useless rock is much better than none.
Feeling anxious? Tight in the chest? Don’t fret. New research shows that worrying and high intelligence are correlated with similar brain activity, suggesting they may have co-evolved in humans as a way to avoid danger. Another reason for relief? A new medical device undergoing tests in the U.S. can warn of heart trouble. The pacemaker-sized device, implanted in the chest, can tell patients to call 911 if they’re having a heart attack, or warn them if they have a heart condition requiring treatment within 48 hours.
Its 30th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the many problems wrought by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In allowing wide latitude for judicial interpretation, the Charter has permitted the court system to effectively craft new laws, frequently usurping the right of voters to tell politicians what to do. A 1990 Supreme Court ruling on the right to a speedy trial led to tens of thousands of prosecutions being abandoned, to great public dismay. The same sort of activism can been seen in a recent Ontario court decision on the Charter rights of prostitutes to open brothels.
Cities across eastern Afghanistan were hit with a series of attacks last weekend, reportedly backed by the feared Haqqani network, based in Pakistan. As many as 38 insurgents were killed by Afghan forces—16 of them in the capital city Kabul. President Hamid Karzai said the attacks were an “intelligence failure” for his country and especially for NATO. They also underscored a deeper problem: there are powerful and well-coordinated forces still threatening to undo years of hard-fought gains in Afghanistan.
Anders Breivik admitted to killing 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo, Norway, and a shooting spree at a nearby youth summer camp last July, but he pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial this week, arguing he acted in self-defence in a fight against the forces of multiculturalism. His trial is likely to offer the unrepentant killer more opportunity to spew his hateful filth. It is the price we pay for an open system of justice. At least in the end, if deemed sane, he will face a maximum sentence of 21 years behind bars.
In an effort to rein in unruly NFL fans, people booted from games for bad behaviour may now have to take a $75 course and a quiz if they hope to return. The course covers topics like how to handle alcohol and how to be less impulsive. Too bad it won’t teach New York fans how to be classy. The New York Jets’ new quarterback Tim Tebow was booed at a Yankees game when he was shown on the Jumbotron. He was even wearing a Yankees hat.