4 October 2013

My alma mater scares me

My old university is having an advertising campaign. Basically, students predict a rosy future for themselves where they find cures for cancer, launch Mars missions, do good deeds, that sort of thing. Oddly enough, no one is predicting that five years after graduation they will be begging Mickie D's to let them flip hamburgers again, even if only so they can eat the customers' leftovers, thus proving that the students are still out of touch with reality.

But there have been two, one last year and one this year, which the university has been touting both in print and on their website as really exemplary visions, that rally scare me. Last year's, and unfortunately I no longer have the exact wording, was a young woman predicting that in the not so distant future, she, as a lawyer or legislator, would write legislation ensuring women equal representation in parliament. This year's is similar. A young woman of colour has written: "2026: As a lawyer, I help write legislation that ensures our judiciary reflects Canada's diversity."

What is so terrifying to me about these positions, you may well ask? I answer this: each statement consists of two parts. Let me tell you which part I do not find scary: The part about women having equal representation, and the part about our judiciary reflecting Canada's diversity. Quite frankly, I have only one vote for one representative, and that is the only representative I have any say over. If the rest of the country votes for a legislature that turns out to be ten percent, or twenty, or fifty, or ninety, or even one hundred per cent female, so be it. I had my say, the rest of the country had theirs. I may not agree with their decisions but it was their choice to make, not mine. I abide by their decisions as i trust they abide by mine, and hope the government doesn't do too much damage between now and the next time we get to vote. With the judiciary, again, I don't care. A qualified judge is a qualified judge, whatever their skin colour or plumbing or preference. If it turns out that the only qualified judges are black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or aboriginal, so be it. So that is not the part that frightens me.

No, the part that scares me is the part where these two women wish to enact legislation. That frightens me. How, exactly, does the first woman propose to legislate equal representation in parliament? The only way that I can see (and I admit that perhaps she may see another) is proportional democracy. As I said before, proportional democracy sounds like a great theory, but I suspect it would be terrible in practice. Either we end up voting for no one in particular and the parties will provide us with acceptable (read: fawning party bootlicker) reps of acceptable and proportionate gender, or the legislation will dictate some other way for whom we may vote. The woman who desires this equal representation is someone who, not content with having one vote for herself, wishes to control the votes of others as well. All in the name of greater democracy, of course.

Similarly with the one who wishes Canada's judiciary to reflect our diversity. On the one hand, our judiciary has sidestepped so far from their job, so that we have many judges who, rather than interpret and enforce the law, are inventing the law, that I think this could hardly make it worse. But it's possible. We would be picking judges to fill quotas, which is what would happen under this legislation. Can you see this happening?:

One: How about Wilson for this opening? She's excellent, has twenty years experience, never had a decision overturned, has a reputation for toughness tempered with compassion, but has always worked within the framework of the law.

Two: Yeah, but unfortunately, she's black, and our diversity numbers already reflect the number of black women.

One: She's also a lesbian.

Two: We're topped up in that field, too.

One: Oh. (pause) So, what are we looking for this time, then?

Two: Well let's see....hmph. Oddly enough, we need a white man. What about Harris?

One: Harris? He's a moron. Worst possible candidate. Graduated last in his class, and in six years on the bench has had two thirds of his judgements overturned on appeal and the other third are making their way through the appeals system as we speak.

Two: But he's white, right?

One: erm, yes.

Two: Good. Done, then.

So, yes, these starry eyed kids with their bright vision of the future do cause me concern, because, effectively, not content with letting me make my own choices, they want to enact legislation that ensures the choices I make are theirs, and meet with their approval. As I said, all in the name of greater democracy.

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