Right Down the Memory Hole

“I’m late! I’m late!” —The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland

Jay Currie has shown his independence and appears to have ruffled a few feathers doing so.

To centrists and leftists, if you catch Jay on the right day, he can seem pretty far to the right. He’s a hawk on the war on terror, and I believe he strongly favours cutting back on multiculturalism and the welfare state. But he has already resolved to not vote Conservative in the next election because of their stance on same sex marriage. And just when you thought that that little difference of opinion was heading for the wayside, Conservative justice critic Vic Toews alienated him again with a “law and order” stance on Mark Emery’s proposed extradition.

I believe Jay favours the decriminalization of marijuana and I know that he has called the American War on Drugs an embarrassing failure, but his opposition to Mark Emery’s arrest and proposed extradition comes from the blatantly political motivations behind America’s actions. More than just trying to apply American law on a Canadian citizen when no comparable Canadian law is actively being enforced, this arrest strikes Jay as a deliberate attempt to stifle the legitimate political aspirations of Emery and those who support him. The head of the American Drug Enforcement Agency as much as said so.

I’ve already talked about how this arrest has split the traditional political coalitions in Canada. In these past few days, despite the reasoned arguments from Andrew at Bound by Gravity for respecting American laws, I find myself siding more and more with Jay’s interpretation of the case. One thing that pushed me further into Jay’s camp was the activities of those who disagreed with him.

Brent Colbert, who ran for but lost the Conservative nomination for the riding of Halton, recently went too far in his defence of the arrest of Mark Emery. Here’s a sample of his post:

I particularly like the one person who compared the “right” to smoke pot with the struggle to end slavery.

In that e-mail the person asked if I thought Canadians who aided blacks to escape slave owners and give them sanctuary in Canada should have been extradited back to the US for breaking American law.

This answer requires a certain set of circumstances and a better understanding of the laws that existed in the US at that time but if a Canadian citizen entered the US for the purpose of breaking the law, no matter how shameful that law was, they should be tried for that crime. If their actions were limited in helping people once they crossed the border unaided then I would not support extradition. We would not tolerate Americans coming north to commit crimes and then slipping back home to avoid prosecution, would we?

So the short answer to that question is yes, I guess I am not that much of a libertarian because I do believe in the rule of law and sometimes that poses ethical and moral problems when the law is wrong but the solution is not to break it but to work to change it.

I will do my part to engage in the debate and oppose any move to liberalize our drug laws in this country which is my right.

Reading this, I’m imagining an alternate universe where Brent Colbert is the Conservative candidate for Halton. And I’m imagining him saying this in front of a microphone during the campaign. And I’m imagining a room full of journalists going quiet, and the look on Brent’s face, illuminated by the winking flashbulbs, as they catch the precise moment when the Liberals won the election.

As Andrew notes, Brent probably didn’t intend to justify slavery or deride the actions of the abolitionists in the Underground Railroad, but that didn’t stop Jay Currie from expressing his disapproval, and challenging Brent on his real moral stances with regard to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Which he has every right to do.


I’ve been reading a lot on the Emery matter and I’ve been impressed with the thoughtful, lucid, legally informed analysis which the blogosphere has come up with.

But this analysis? Good old fashioned blackletter law. None of this namby pamby silliness about unjust laws or disproportionate or, perish the thought, barbaric sentences.

Better still on this analysis Rosa Parks got exactly what she deserved. No doubt Ghandi and Mandella had no grounds for complaint. Jews, homosexuals and the retarded should have recognized the fact their consignment to the gas chambers was, strictly speaking, legal and whining was futile.

Stalin’s butchery - down by law. Pol Pot, no problem - legal. Mao, a great man sometimes has to kill a few million - but so long as there is a law, no sweat.

Robert Mugabe wants to bulldoze a few huts and displace a few hundred thousand people - as long as there is a law our man Brent will be pleased to drive the D-9.

It is pretty rare in this day and age to find moral certainty and legal analysis on quite this level. And, for such mercies let us be truly grateful.

And the response from Brent has been… well, nothing. Jay’s comment subsequently disappeared from Brent’s web page, despite Brent’s otherwise open policy to comments on his blog (he has received some invective from the more intellectually challenged of the left side of the Internet, but maybe those comments serve to make him look rational and open-minded by comparison).

As Jay said:

This of course suggests that the butterhead has no rebuttal and is hoping that the whole thing will just go away. Which it won’t because I will just keep reposting it.

Which I’m told he did, until somebody deleted that comment too, and (here’s where the White Rabbit comes into this discussion) then went over to Jay’s blog, hacked into the system, and deleted Jay’s original post itself.

Jay has worked long and hard on a blog newsreader website that captures the discussions going across the spectrum in several countries, including Canada, and displays them in one easily accessible spot. This site is very new, and so Jay did not take special precautions to secure his site against hackers. He didn’t think he needed to, especially against one so precise as to remove a particular post that was embarrassing to Brent Colbert.

It gets better: Brent has since posted a blanket denial, which Jay posts here:

I do not make a habit of deleting comments and have intentionally left the offensive words in the resent comments so that readers can see for themselves the level of intelligent debate that I get from those on the other side of my position.

So what happened to this comment, I went through my spam filter to see if it was caught there but besides the countless manhood enlargement products and on-line gaming ads no “rather insulting” comments.

Understandibly, he takes some offense to the suggestion that he or one of his supporters hacked Jay’s web page:

What evidence do you have? Who else saw this post? ….If you don’t have a copy I’m sure that the “plenty of people” can search their feed readers for the original.

But not content to let that point stand on its own, Brent can’t resist saying something snide:

I suspect that you were a little bored last night while your friends were our living their lives and having fun and decided to make up this little tale to stir up some controversy, might have even sounded like a good idea while you were refilling your bong…

As far as I know, Jay is not a marijuana user.

MWW, in his comments to Jay’s post, disputes Brent’s assertion:


Well… now I know not to feel sorry for him. He’s nothing but a goddamn liar.

I did see your comment Jay over at Colbert’s site… as did London Foggers, Ian Scott and my husband.

I never thought somebody like Colbert would just outright LIE about having recieved your comment.

That is too damn funny.

It’s important to point out that the comments on Brent’s blog, and Jay’s post, appear to have been removed before Google could cache them. If they existed, we have no evidence, except for four individuals from different parts of the Internet. I don’t visit Brent’s blog often, so I wasn’t there to see Jay’s comment, but I did see Jay’s post and it did vanish. And thus far, Jay has always been straight with me. I have not been given any reason to suspect that Jay would lie.

If any of this is true, Brent’s credibility is just about gone, and Stephen Harper is breathing a sigh of relief that the press doesn’t have Brent to kick around as a Conservative Party candidate any longer.

Its a shame that Brent, or one of his supporters, or whoever else is responsible, doesn’t have the capability to respond to the issues raised by Jay or others in support of Mark Emery. Over and above this incident, he seems to believe that advocates for the legalization of marijuana are no different from the users of harder drugs, and he holds both groups in equal disdain. It’s a shame that, when caught out, he or whoever did this didn’t try to engage the argument; that he or whoever did this instead tried (incompetently) to sweep things under the rug.

I guess it’s discouraging. I myself know that my country isn’t perfect. Its leaders face great challengs and a great number of them aren’t up to the job. But it seems that too many people who shout from the sidelines, who see nothing good about the people they criticize, get exposed as empty shells.

Indeed, rule of thumb: those people who have legitimate grievances with the government and rational ideas on how to change things, who don’t get their hypocrisies exposed, generally don’t rant and call people names. They offer policies backed up by facts. They suggest. They engage. They treat people with the respect they deserve. And sometimes that gets them labelled as enemy sympathizers.

Political discourse in this country could improve dramatically if people approached things with a little more humility; if they took the time to see their opponents as real people with legitimate opinions, and crafted respectful, well-thought-out arguments. And to not run and hide when you realize you’re being trounced.

Further Reading


Well, this one is going to be one for the ages.


I guess it would be a good idea to talk a bit about my own comment policy, to wit: it’s my blog and I’ll delete comments if I want to.

Any individual who comes here respectfully and takes my assumptions on with strong arguments, will probably see the comment stay here forever. I am not afraid of honest debate, and I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong, or misinformed, or haven’t thought things through.

Comment spam gets deleted immediately. As do posts which are more invective than comment. But, ultimately, the decision is mine. If you disagree with it, be sure to keep a copy of your comment and use it as part of a post criticizing my moderating skills.

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