May 25, 2007

Michael's other awards

Considering Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant's recent award from the Canadian Association of Journalists (the Code of Silence Award) for heading up "the most secretive government body in Canada", I thought I'd point you to one of my favourite past articles suggesting other possible awards for Ontario's most hated politician.

Click here to read my suggestions

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PLEASE ATTEND COURT - JUNE 28 10:00 AM

PLEASE ATTEND COURT - THURSDAY JUNE 28 AT 10:00 AM

Either 361 or 393 University Avenue in downtown Toronto.

When I confirm the address and room number, I'll post it here.

We want as many people as possible to be there, please.

As I understand it, the arguments will be about how to implement the judge's decision on the challenge of DOLA. The judge must decide the best course of action now that the law has been substantially eroded.

Be there. Let the Ontario Liberals know that you will not accept the erosion of Canadian charter rights, the legislated second-class citizenship of law-abiding people, and the extermination of unoffending dogs.

Click here for an earlier article on this subject

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May 24, 2007

No pets please, we're PETA(ish)!!

I know some readers are having trouble wrapping their minds around the possibility that various animal rights organizations are not only anti-breeding, but can also be anti-<place breed name here>, anti-dog, and anti-pet.

So, I'm going to try again.

  1. Not all animal rights organizations are BAD and not all of their members are BAD PEOPLE!!

    Many are truly concerned about the welfare of animals, but may be not aware of some of the behind-the-scenes (and sometimes not so subtle) activities within their own organization or within organizations after which they have modeled their own group.
     
  2. Typical animal rights objectives include the end of all pet ownership, after existing animals have died off without being replaced. The leaders (or former leaders) of some of the largest animals rights groups in the world have been directly quoted regarding their opinions on pet ownership.

    If you want your eyes opened quickly and harshly about their agenda, see this article.
     
  3. Breed bans are a method of ending pet ownership..

    Here is an article by Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, in support of "pit bull" bans.
     
  4. Mandatory spay/neuter by breed is a method of slowly eliminating as many dogs as possible by first targeting the "media demons", the ones that few people are going to stand up and defend.

    Here's an example of HSUS's support for this method.
     
  5. Mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs is one of the most effective anti-dog program that animal rights groups have come up with to-date. It affects ALL dogs, not just specific breeds..

    It sounds good to the average member of the public, even dog owners, because there is a perception (sometimes accurate, often not) of massive overpopulation with strays running loose in droves.

    Spay/neuter is the solution to this overpopulation, so it supported by politicians, by the media, and by Joe Public, without careful thought as to what our pet situation will be in ten or twenty years if nobody's breeding!
     
  6. PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have assisted authorities and testified in court cases (generally as intervenors) AGAINST "pit bulls", FOR breed bans, and FOR the destruction of existing dogs that have not demonstrated any aggression.
     
  7. PETA members have been convicted in cases involving taking dogs from shelters under the premise of adopting them out elsewhere, killing them in their van in the shelter parking lot, and dumping the bodies into dumpsters in the same town.
     
  8. The HSUS publicly advocated the destruction of newborn puppies from a dog breeder, puppies that had not yet had the opportunity to be affected environmentally.

    Thus, their only criteria for promoting this option must have been the breed of the dog (in this case, "pit bull" types).

    This directly contradicts their organization's policy on dangerous dog legislation:
    "The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed...While breed is one factor that contributes to a dog's temperament, it alone cannot be used to predict whether a dog may pose a danger to his or her community."
  9. Mandatory microchipping and registering is a method of tracking dogs that ultimately results in tracking dog owners, along with their personal and private information, locations of residence and employment, and breed ownership.

    Once this information has been obtained, there are little or no guarantees of privacy. This information can easily become available for enforcement of future bans or spay/neuter laws.

    Read this article to understand the ramifications of mandatory microchipping.
     
  10. The solution promoted by animal rights groups that is probably the most dangerous to dog owners is the gradual movement away from the concept of "ownership" towards "guardianship" in the law, under the guise of fighting animal cruelty.

    The argument is that, if pets are no longer property, then the government has more power to prosecute and prevent animal abuse.

    Read here and here to see how this can affect your ability to make decisions regarding your own pet's health, training, and welfare.
     
  11. Finally, in response to a reader's comments that the Ontario "pit bull" ban was NOT engineered or assisted by animal rights activists, I invite you to consider two things:

    First, Attorney General Michael Bryant's ONLY statistics during his "banned, banned" press conference came from Animal People News, an extremist anti-"pit bull", anti-Rottweiler, animal rights magazine.

    Second, read this article for an analysis of his "Where's the humanity in that?" presentation to the Legislative Committee. It is clearly driven by an animal rights agenda.

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Attorney General of Ontario wins Code of Silence award

I may be wrong, but I think this is the first time I've seen a newspaper article about the Ontario Liberal government's "code of silence". It's about time.

You can visit the Toronto Star article, but this is such an important issue, I've included the full text of the article below. My apologies to the Star, but I don't want this one to disappear into the archives.

Also see a similar response from the Attorney General's office to the Ontario PC Party regarding the costs of implementing and defending the province's "pit bull" ban.

These guys have clearly forgotten that they are public servants, accountable to the people. On October 10, I, for one, will be making sure they remember.

Arrogance of this magnitude should not be rewarded with success at the polls.



Original Toronto Star article May 24 2007:

Attorney General wins Code of Silence award

May 24, 2007
Tracey Tyler
LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER

His government charges fees for the right to look at a public court file.

It also has a policy that blocks access to important documents filed during trials.

And today, for keeping up a wall between the public and the justice system, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant will be presented with the Code of Silence Award, which recognizes "the most secretive government body in Canada."

Bryant will be handed the brass padlock by the Canadian Association of Journalists at its global investigative journalism conference at the downtown Hilton.

He was singled out for imposing the highest fees in Canada for public access to court records – $32 to simply view a file.

Bryant's ministry also charges $2 a page for photocopying documents – fees that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars, a sum beyond the reach of many members of the public and journalists reporting on the courts.

Association president Paul Schneidereit calls it "a public issue, not a media issue."

"The bottom line is, do we want to have a democracy, or do we want to have a chequebook democracy – where democracy and what it stands for is only available if you can write a big enough cheque?" he asked.

Court files contain "some of the most fundamental public records" and should not be hidden behind "outrageous" fees, Schneidereit said.

Bryant was named the recipient of the award last year. He agreed to collect it in person today at the conference – the first recipient to ever do so.

"He is pleased to be invited," said Greg Crone, his chief of staff. Ironically, Bryant created a Justice and the Media Committee last year for the purpose of increasing openness and access in the justice system.

At the CAJ conference, Bryant plans to update journalists on the Justice and the Media Committee's work and make an announcement, Crone said.

Schneidereit said Bryant has also agreed to answer questions during a "town hall" session.

Nominees for the 2007 award include the foreign affairs department for denying the existence of documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees and Transport Canada for fighting to keep aviation safety data under wraps.

The Ontario government is also in the running, once again – this time for refusing to give the provincial Ombudsman the power to investigate hospitals. Ontario is the only Canadian province where hospitals are not open to such scrutiny.

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May 22, 2007

Property

In a previous article, I mentioned the concept of dogs just being property, so Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels seem to think it's okay to do what you want with them.

I want to make sure that readers are perfectly clear where I stand on the issue of property, so that I don't get lumped in with animal rights groups that think nobody should own pets.

As far as I'm concerned, it should be legal to:

  • own dogs, responsibly
  • breed dogs, responsibly
  • train dogs, responsibly
  • work with or play with dogs, responsibly
  • make health and welfare decisions about your dogs
It should be (and sometimes already is) illegal to:
  • fight dogs
  • torture them
  • abuse them
  • fail to care for them
  • breed them without conscience or concern
In Canada, we don't even have property rights in our constitution, but in the United States, the right to own property does not equal the right to do what you want, when you want, with whatever you want, regardless of the pain suffered by others or the consequences caused.

We have the right to own cars. We don't have the right to race them.

We have the right to own land. We don't have the right to build whatever we want on that land without respect for the environment around it.

We have the right to raise our children and make decisions for them. We don't have the right to put their health and welfare in jeopardy while making those decisions.

In other words, in many areas of law and life, we have the right to do something, within the boundaries of reasonableness.

Animal ownership is reasonable. Animal abuse is not.

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Definitely all brawn and no brains

It's not enough that Michael Vick is being investigated for dogfighting. Now two of his NFL co-Neanderthals are defending him.

Now, considering the concept of "innocent until proven guilty", I could understand comments like "I don't believe that Vick would do that" or "He didn't know what was going on", etc.

But, no, in an MSN article and video, Clinton Portis, the Washington Redskins' version of the missing link, says, "It's his property. It's his dog. If that's what he wants to do, do it."

In other words, feel free to break the law and torture animals. No problem. That's your right.

And a teammate of Vick's, Chris Samuels, is right there in the video defending Vick as well. I'm not sure why the newspapers are focusing only on Portis, because it's clear that Samuels also thinks it's just fine.

What strikes me the most about the video is how funny these jokers think this is, to take two animals, stick them in a pit, and watch them tear the crap out of each other. But hey, who cares, they're just property, right? Do whatever you want with them. Illegal? Oh, well, dogfighting doesn't really count, according to Portis and Samuels.

Kevin Hench has written a great response to this video. Thanks for saying what I'm sure a lot of us feel, Kevin.

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New date for Ontario legal remedy: June 28, 2007

Lawyers for both sides will be back in front of the judge on June 28, 2007.

When I find out time and location, I will post it here.

The basic decision of the judge, as far as I understand it, is that the following parts of the law are unconstitutional:

  1. The phrase "pit bull includes";
  2. The phrase "pit bull terrier" as a definition of a restricted dog;
  3. The use of only a document from a veterinarian as proof of breed, thus placing onto the defendant the burden of the costs of cross-examination and calling of experts to refute the document.
The full text of the judge's decision is here.

Here is a plain English interpretation of what could happen, courtesy of the Fundamental Freedoms Project:
The Charter is a part of Canada's Constitution, and is included in the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 gives courts the power to say that a law that violates the Charter is not valid. You can ask a court to make such a declaration. When applying section 52, a court might:
  • strike out the part of the law that violates the Charter
  • interpret a law narrowly so that it fits Charter rights
  • 'read in' features to the law so that it meets Charter requirements
  • declare that you are not covered by the law that violates your Charter rights (a 'constitutional exemption')

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May 10, 2007

When do we start asking why?

At Yahoo news, there was a small story about a dog that severed a child's ear in Surrey, British Columbia, near Vancouver, last Tuesday.

The breed of the dog (Rottweiler) was mentioned five times in the tiny 160 word article.

Neighbours were reported as being "shocked" that a Rottweiler was living on their street, as if the dog were a convicted sex offender or mass murderer. One neighbour was quoted as saying, "If they've got Rotties here, we'd like to know since we live across the street".

When are people going to start asking why an attack happened, instead of just chalking it up to the type of dog? When are newspapers going to start including dog bite prevention tips, as recommended by the jury in the Courtney Trempe inquest and by the American Veterinary Medical Association, instead of just reporting the attack?

As someone involved in dog training and in dog bite prevention, it pains me to see comments like those above. This dog did NOT tear off a child's ear because it was a Rottweiler. A very small dog could do the same thing just as easily. Have you ever seen some of these small guys catch a squirrel or a rabbit? Not pretty.

This dog bit for any number of the following reasons:

  • Child in a friend's home. The number one scenario for dog bites, often because the dog is not used to children or is not used to that particular child or doesn't see that child as part of its pack;
  • Child petting a dog that (clearly) didn't want to be petted. Very common situation. Thank God most dogs let it happen without retaliating. In the dog world, an unsolicited approach is often considered bad manners, worthy of a reprimand (with teeth).
  • Older dog. Often older dogs have health issues, perhaps arthritis or an ear infection, that can cause irritation and pain.
  • Did the dog have a bone or a toy?

These are just a few of many possible reasons for this bite, none of which have to do with breed.

Statistics show that the vast majority of bites (and deaths) happen to a child under 12 in their own residence, a relative's residence, or a friend's residence and by every breed on the planet. Often, the child and dog are unsupervised.

A little common sense. A little reading on the Internet or at the local book store. A little recognition that a dog is an animal, not a human with fur. A little bit of admitting that your child doesn't know how to act around dogs or that your dog doesn't know how to act around children. A little brain usage, please!

One more scarred child. One more dead dog. Not because of the type of dog, but because human parents and human dog owners didn't use their brains.

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Get your own government grant!

Tired of watching all these Liberal cronies, both federal and in Ontario, raking in OUR cash with impunity?

Want to get your hands on some of that dough?

Click here to apply for your own Ontario government grant.

Legal note: This is tongue-in-cheek, of course.

Thanks to caveat.

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May 09, 2007

Animal rights? Sorry, you've got the wrong guy!

If I see one more newspaper article about impending anti-dog legislation describing opponents as "animals rights activists", I think I'll be throwing red paint on that reporter!

To reiterate:

Most animal rights organizations, such as PETA, have, as one of their ultimate objectives, the end of all pet ownership, regardless of the species or breed of animal. They see breed bans and mandatory spay/neuter as a means to that end.

Accordingly, they fully support the implementation of breed-specific legislation. Not only don't they fight it, but they often provide behind-the-scenes advice to those legislators to include as many restrictions as possible on owning and breeding dogs of many different types.

Publicly, they will not come right out and support the killing of existing dogs, although that is a natural consequence of breed banning. In reality, however, they are more than willing to get their hands dirty "euthanizing" dogs of any breed, as shown in the following articles:

PETA kills animals

PETA cruelty trial

Animal rights groups are a danger
Animal welfare organizations are concerned with the proper treatment of owned animals, whether they are pets, working animals, farm animals, or animals ultimately destined to become food. They are also heavily involved in rehoming lost, abandoned, and surrendered pets.

Dog legislation activists tend to focus on the rights of people rather than the rights of animals. They are often active in animal welfare roles as well, but the focus of their legislation activism is the right of a citizen to be treated the same as any other citizen, regardless of the dog that they own.

This includes the right to own property, the right to be safe from arbitrary and discriminatory search and seizure, the right to live where they want to live, the right to walk down a street without fear of vigilantism and harassment, and the right to be unmolested by authorities because of their dog's appearance.

Media people, please get it right!

I am not an "animal rights activist". In fact, that's getting pretty close to libel, because I do not ever want to be associated with organizations like PETA and I believe that my own reputation, and that of my colleagues, is damaged each time a reporter gets it wrong.

Don't misunderstand me. I am absolutely against any form of animal cruelty, regardless of species or breed. Throughout my life, I have fought to save numerous pets and I believe strongly in effective anti-cruelty legislation.

But, please, don't lump me in with PETA, or the badly named Humane Society of the United States, or Animal People News, or Animal Advocates of British Columbia. We are NOT the same animal!

  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that is dedicated to ending the ownership of all pets.
     

  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that secretly kills dogs when pretending to be rescuing them.
     

  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that is willing to lie, steal, and cheat to prevent me from owning the dog of my choice and that, given a fraction of an opportunity, would take that dog from me and kill it.
     

  • I do not want to be associated with any organization that uses its contributors' funds to do the exact opposite of what many of its members believe is being done.

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May 05, 2007

Attacks on letter carriers in Winnipeg: not a "pit bull"

A pet owner in Winnipeg now has to pick up his mail four kilometres away from his house because of the animal's aggressive behaviour towards letter carriers.

Here are some of the descriptions from the news story:

"aggressive and threatening the letter carrier"

"unsafe for the letter carrier to deliver the mail"

"we have quite a history with this [animal]"

"it has attacked letter carriers three times"

"letter carriers have been growled at [and] stalked"

"because of its aggressive behaviour, we're not sure if it has rabies"

"when a CBC camera operator returned to get more pictures, the [animal]...bared his fangs"

Actually, it looks like someone may have simply recycled on old "pit bull" story.

Click here to read the whole CBC story


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May 02, 2007

The worst Canadian

The Beaver, the online magazine of Canada's National History Society, is asking Canadians to suggest the worst Canadian.

I chose Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, for the following reasons.

  • Violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of average Ontario citizens;
     
  • Created a law that can put people in prison based on the "best guess" of a completely unqualified person;
     
  • Caused the deaths of thousands of adult dogs, as well as newborn puppies, without proof of harm or even potential harm;
     
  • Publicly made false statements to support his view;
     
  • Asked for, and then completely ignored, overwhelming expert advice against his proposal;
     
  • With the help of the leader of the Liberal Party, Dalton McGuinty, forced all party members to vote in favour of his proposal, even though many of them did not understand the Act or its far-reaching consequences to human rights and average law-abiding citizens;
     
  • Ignored the pleas and testimony of victims of bites by many other non-targeted dogs;
     
  • Wasted millions of taxpayers' dollars chasing a non-existent breed of dog and defending that decision against a constitutional challenge, then claimed "lawyer-client privilege" to avoid having to reveal to the public the true cost of his discriminatory campaign;
     
  • Publicly stated that his law has been successful in reducing bites by certain types of dogs, when it is scientifically, statistically, and legally impossible to obtain that information;
     
  • Publicly stigmatized average Ontario dog owners as criminals, drug dealers, and gangsters;
     
  • Overstated and exaggerated the public image and danger of a particular group of dogs, knowing full well that this would promote vigilantism against law-abiding citizens;
     
  • Created a law that allows the suspected existence of a particular dog to override constitutionally protected rights against unreasonable search and seizure and that allows police to enter ANY private home without a warrant;
     
  • Made my life hell, simply because my dog MIGHT look like something that someone, somewhere, is afraid of.
Please visit the Beaver website and let's send this man to the top of the list of really, really bad people.

NOTE: The website says that you can vote three times, so please do.

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© Copyright 2007 Steve Barker