Before getting to his criticism of my case against the war in Afghanistan1, Professor Barry Cooper spends the first half of his article on his various objections to libertarianism. In his first paragraph, he asks, “What is libertarianism?” and adds, “Henderson does not provide us with an account of what he means.” There’s a reason I didn’t define libertarianism: I never used the words “libertarian” or “libertarianism.” That was a word that the editors of this publication put in the title of my article.
“If there is one constant theme in the scholarly literature concerning American and Canadian constitutional laws, it is that the two nations are quite different.” That opinion, from which the authors of Judging Democracy will dissent, is the scholarly consensus formed around the notion that the American constitutional tradition “promote(s) individual rights and place(s) substantial restrictions on the capacity of government to legislate for the common good. By contrast the Canadian Charter is much less individualistic in both text and interpretation.” The authors then explain that they “have written this book in part to refute this analysis.”1
No one can know what our society would be like if we changed the law to make access to cocaine, heroin, and PCP easier. I believe … that the result would be a sharp increase in use, a more widespread degradation of the human personality, and a greater rate of accidents and violence.
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was released from hospital last week after emergency surgery. In a mostly hostile review of Bob Plamondon’s Blue Thunder: The Truth about Conservatives from Macdonald to Harper, Scott Reid relates how Mulroney was able to outbid the Liberals for the non-ideological centre.
Should governments run deficits to pay for ‘stimulus packages’? ‘Of course!’ say many Democrats, liberals, socialists and others who flatter themselves that they are ‘progressive’. ‘Heaven forbid!’ say many Republicans, libertarians and others in the USA and Canada who like to think of themselves, quite wrongly in some cases, as ‘conservative’. On occasion, these opinions, whether ‘left’ or ‘right’, may rest on some understanding of how a market economy works. But all too often, it seems, they are mere gut reactions—nothing but the result of prejudice and ideological bias.
There is a long standing debate in Canada about whether substance abuse should be treated as primarily a health or enforcement issue. While is ample evidence that alcohol and other drugs play a significant role in crime, the efficacy of “getting tough” with substance-involved offenders is often called into question by critics who suggest that punitive approaches may not be the best way to respond to these problems. The high rates of re-arrest among offenders who are dependent on alcohol or other drugs certainly add credence to this argument. However, does this mean that there is never a legitimate role for coercion when addressing substance-involved crime?
It is a moral question that we are facing. And there is every reason to believe that keeping marihuana illegal is not just immoral, it's deeply, profoundly irrational. From a rational public policy perspective, marihuana prohibition is, to be charitable, unwise. It may very well be the most unwise public policy around. At least, it is difficult to find public policies that cost so much, benefit us so little, and destroy as many lives as marihuana prohibition. Or so I will argue.
Conservative leadership frontrunner Peter MacKay has said that as prime minister he would not re-criminalize pot. There is a non-partisan case against weed legalization, however. As Rory Leishman explains, science points to serious health risks associated with the recreational use of cannabis, including growing evidence of a link between its use and psychosis.
Are Western governments doing enough for their citizens by intervening in the markets during the current economic crisis? This was the question posed by Ed Broadbent in a speech earlier this year at York University. The former federal NDP leader argued that after decades of deregulation, a return to more active involvement of the state in the economy was necessary to boost economic growth and restore “social rights”.1 However until very recently it was environmental issues and especially global warming that were top of most Canadian’s minds.2