Common law common sense

- November 1st, 2012

A couple of apparently unrelated stories prompt a wish for clarity in Ottawa. Good luck with that mate, you may say. But let’s talk HIV infection and Internet surveillance for a moment here.

Huh? My point regarding two recent news stories is simply that traditional principles should still apply in modern settings.

In the first case, an Ottawa jury just convicted Steven Boone of attempted murder for deliberately trying to give unwitting partners HIV. In the second, government House Leader Peter van Loan recently suggested that Bill C-12, providing vastly expanded police powers over online communications, would be pushed through Parliament shortly.

Both cases involve odd or novel circumstances. But what has that to do with the principle of the thing?

In the case of Steven Boone, who seems a most unhappy individual, I think the jury did a good job of cutting through circumstances to core principles. If Boone had done what he did any other way he would certainly have been guilty, and the jurors put aside his unusual methods to focus on the essence of the matter. But in the case of C-12, the government seems hypnotized by the interwebs and unable to comprehend that if anyone, say a partisan opponent, had suggested creating this sort of police power over telephone or paper communications they’d have been horrified. So what difference does a tweet make?

Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, going back at least to Magna Carta, are still a good idea when the letters http are involved, just as judicial protections against deliberately harming someone are still a good idea when the letters HIV are involved.

Could we please have clarity on principles here?



Categories: Conservatives, Courts, Government, Health, Politics, Public Safety, Social issues

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