Notwithstand up for your rights

Elling Lien isn’t really a paranoid conspiracy-theorist, he just plays one in The Scope.

NOT THE NOTWITHSTANDING SANTA

You know, people in the rest of the world look to Canada with envy.
   
We have national healthcare, we have clean water, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal, and we have a strong Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
   
But things aren’t quite so simple, as you and I know.

Take the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s a document that allows for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and stuff like that. It’s a good thing to have to protect you from crappy government.
   
But if you were to read section 33 of that document, you’d notice a clause that allows provincial or federal governments to make rules which override some of those freedoms.The notwithstanding clause.
   
Although the clause can only be enacted for five years at a time, it’s renewable, meaning at the end of those five years the government could turn around and do it all over again. Its most famous use was in the french language sign laws in Quebec in the 80s.
   
No federal government has used it before, until – possibly – now.
   
On December 6, the boys in Ottawa voted on whether or not to reopen debate on gay marriage. If debate is reopened, legal experts argue that in order to revoke the marriage rights of people of the same sex, the federal government will have to enact the notwithstanding clause.
   
No matter what your perspective on gay marriage, isn’t the federal government undermining the Charter of Rights and Freedoms a little scary?
   
Well, I guess it hasn’t happened yet, and many people argue reopening the debate (with the intention of later having a free vote in the Commons) is only a way for Stephen Harper to wash his hands of the issue.
   
But, really, isn’t it a little extreme to threaten the Charter over something that has been voted on three times under three parliaments?
   
In the words of Laurie Arron, national co-ordinator Canadians for Equal Marriage: “Even people who don’t like (the idea) understand that the equal marriage ship has sailed.”
   
Get in touch with your MP to let them know how you feel about all this. Norm Doyle (St. John’s East) at Doyle.N@parl.gc.ca, or Loyola Hearn (St. John’s South) at mp@loyolahearn.nf.net.

WE DON’T KNOW ANYONE NAMED CHAD

Speaking of votes, the results from The Scope’s 2006 Best of St. John’s Readers’ Survey have been tabulated and the winners are being contacted. Thanks to all the people who cast their votes.
   
You’re all invited to the awards ceremony on Sunday, December 10th at The Ship Pub. There’ll be snacks, and music by DJ Russtafari, so be sure to drop by. Starts at 8, and it’s free to get in.
   
Remember: if you don’t come, you won’t find out who won until we publish our month-long January issue.

THE BRITISH ARE COMING

I don’t know about you, but if I had 500 bucks and a bit more for taxes to spare, I’d be up for a trip to London.
   
That’s how much Astraeus Airlines will be charging for a round trip ticket to Gatwick airport, according to  Mandy Cook’s article in The Independent.
   
Air Canada used to charge about $1,300-$1,400 return. Isn’t that crazy?!
   
That will be starting in January, so seats will go on sale shortly. Keep checking flyastraeus.com for details.

MOONSPIRACY: 2024

When NASA recently announced they were going to build a station on one of the poles of the moon, I admit, I was pretty excited. I thought back to when I was little and I would tell my mom I wanted to live on Mars. (I decided to stay in Newfoundland when I realized it was far weirder here than anywhere else in the universe.)
   
Then I started thinking: What about mining the moon?
   
Is there oil on the moon?
   
Will Newfoundlanders soon have someplace other than Alberta to fly to for work?
   
Is Danny Williams somehow involved in all this?
   
Or, alternately, is the US planning a mass-exodus from Earth in the wake of environmental catastrophe? With our crappy environmental record, shouldn’t Canada sign on?
   
Important stuff to consider.