Archive for March, 2011

“Reader Beware!” (A Reminder)

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Someone sent the following article to me in email –
“Parliamentary law bars Harper from re-election. Found guilty of a culture of abuse of Parliament”

Here is my response to the sender about the above article (with some minor editing – mostly minor grammar, style, and linking to other pages):

I actually find the article a little misleading. While I detest Harper to the max and will never forgive how he treated protesters during the G20, I don’t think all the legal facts are accurate or presented in this article.

For one thing, the article itself does not cite primary legal sources (these would be relevant statutes and regulations of Canada). Only the person who commented provided some links. That person also left out some legal facts as well, such as what paragraph 502(3)(a) says. It says, “(3) Any person who is convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act shall, in addition to any other punishment for that offence prescribed by this Act, in the case of an illegal practice, during the next five years or, in the case of a corrupt practice, during the next seven years, after the date of their being so convicted, not be entitled to (a) be elected to or sit in the House of Commons;” See Canada Elections Act, section 502. I shall point out that the person must be “convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act” (“this Act” refers to the Canada Elections Act). This means that the person must be convicted of an offense under paragraph 502(1) and (2) of the Canada Elections Act.

As for “contempt of Parliament”, a quick search of the http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/ site does not provide any results. It is likely that while “contempt of Parliament” exists in Canadian law, it is not necessarily a criminal offense. Indeed, the Wikipedia article on “contempt of Parliament” states that only “Some jurisdictions consider contempt of parliament to be a criminal offence.” Another point to note is that Harper alone is not found in contempt of Parliament – his government was. This alone is a big distinction.

These are some of the things to consider when reading the article you sent me. Be very careful about random online articles purporting to report on legal ‘facts’ – a lot of the time they aren’t entirely accurate (usually due to the fact that the average person does not fully understand how the law really works, which is why there are lawyers and paralegals). Ever heard of “buyer beware” in terms of shopping? Well, reader beware! when it comes to journalists and the law. Journalists are not the same as law clerks who have been trained in legal research, unless the journalist has a legal background.

Thus, I would personally be very careful about disseminating that article without a caution to the reader and additional comments.

Additionally, since the presscore article mentions U.S. law, I would like to point out that Canadian law and U.S. law are different in many ways. Although I have not studied U.S. law, I do know that constitutional law is different in both countries, not just the constitution but in terms of procedure and how the constitutions came about. Furthermore, human rights are treated differently in the law in both countries. Additionally, laws on copyrights are somewhat different in both countries. I’ve come across Canadians who cite something they’ve heard based on U.S. law, but they are completely unaware of that fact. Notably, “fair dealing” as found in Canadian law is similar though not the same as “fair use” in U.S. law. Laws in one country are very complex and can become more confusing when viewed from an international perspective.

The topic of the presscore article aside, this reminds me how important it is for people to develop analytical and critical thinking skills. As a blogger, I want my readers to think critically about what I write and to analyze the arguments and viewpoints presented. (Often, I write because I’m trying to understand something myself!) I do not encourage blind agreement, which is why I always try my best to provide citations, sources, and links in my blog articles. I expect good writers and journalists to also provide the same.

~~~C

Book Nook and Reviews

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Here are my latest reads:

The Transition of Titus Crow (published in Brian Lumley’s Mythos Omnibus) by Brian Lumley
Imperial Lady by Andre Norton and Susan Shwartz
The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I didn’t enjoy The Transition of Titus Crow as much as the first novel in the series. It seemed to have lost the ‘Holmesian’ feel from the first novel. Sad to say I was a tad disappointed, but I think the author was moving towards more science fiction. Not sure if/when I will read the third book in the Titus Crow series. There are other series’ and books I plan on reading first.

Imperial Lady is a fantasy novel based upon a legend/myth about a Han Chinese princess, Wang Zhaojun (Silver Snow in the novel), who was married off to a Xiongnu shanyu (equivalent to a king/emperor). In the novel, Silver Snow is living in North China (near the borders of the Xiongnu) with her disgraced father who was once a General for the Emperor of China. One day she receives a call to appear at the Emperor’s court because his favourite concubine died and he is looking for a new one. Although Silver Snow does not meet the Emperor at first as she and her father hoped (he gave her rare jade burial armour to present to the Emperor as a gift thereby hoping to restore his name and honour), she is eventually given in an arranged marriage by the Emperor to the Xiongnu shanyu. From there, the story tells of her rise to honour.

I was impressed by the writing of Imperial Lady. I have so far enjoyed Andre Norton’s novels, but was unsure about Susan Shwartz. The authors captured the sense of Han China, even capturing the sense of language that is used, although the novel is in English. In Chinese culture, it is considered polite to downplay your own attributes while exaggerating the qualities of the person to whom you are talking. This is even more important when someone from a ‘lower’ social class is conversing with someone from a ‘higher’ social class. I enjoyed the novel, and yes, there is a bit of magic (more in the form of shape-shifting) in it since it is labelled a fantasy novel.

The Firebrand was another enjoyable read by Bradley. Though not part of the Avalon series, the novel did read much like the Avalon books. The novel is based on the story of the Trojan War, but with Bradley filling in any pieces that are missing. Notably, the novel is told from the perspective of Cassandra of Troy – a good starting point since she predicted the war and the fall of Troy. Since little facts are known about Cassandra, Bradley had a good amount of freedom to be creative with parts of the story, especially in the beginning of the novel. This is a good read if you are a Bradley fan or if you are interested in a re-telling of the Trojan War. It is definitely a better re-telling than the movie Troy (although I respect Brad Pitt’s athletic abilities displayed in that movie).

As for my current fiction reading list:
Knife of Dreams (book eleven of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan
A Feast for Crows (book 4 of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

It’s a toss-up right now between The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. I love both series. While I personally think Martin is a better writer than Jordan, I find The Wheel of Time maintains a nice balance of mood – it’s not overly dramatic or serious. The overarching story of The Wheel of Time is interesting and while fans may have their favourite characters, they all want to know what happens at Tarmon Gai’don. Martin has a writing style that keeps you turning pages. You get to the end of a chapter and even though the next chapter changes points of view to another character, you just want to know what happens next. While there is an overarching storyline like in The Wheel of Time (‘Winter is Coming’, which may bring disaster on the continent of Westeros), there seems so far to be less emphasis on it. I do have a few favourite characters though (Arya, Daenerys, and Jon; and I like reading Tyrion’s point of view), which definitely keeps me reading.

Additionally, the first novel of A Song of Ice and Fire is being made into a mini-series on HBO. Yes, A Game of Thrones finally has a full cast and the first episode is to be aired on April 17, 2011. The fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, is to be published in July 2011, which is why I am keen on reading book four, A Feast for Crows now. I think I mentioned previously that I was going to wait for the fifth book before reading the fourth since Martin originally wrote those two as one novel, but it was turning out to be too long and he had to split it into two.

I’ll probably end up reading back and forth between The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire for a bit until I just want to finish reading one of the novels.

Seems likely that I will get to Cherryh’s novel a little later than intended. I did start it awhile back, but it was reminding me too much of Battlestar Galactica and I kept thinking of Helo, Sharon, Starbuck, and Apollo while reading (LOL). I will get back to that novel though at some point because the writing was pretty good and I wanted to read some more science fiction. Cherryh is a reputable author too and I have no complaints so far.

~~~C
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