More Father Knows Best

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
January 23, 2018 - 5:01am Updated: January 23, 2018 - 9:34am

KAMLOOPS — Last week’s column on the perils of pot and how Father Knows Best, drew a number of responses but one in particular caught my eye. In this case, the reader felt City Hall was doing what the electorate wanted when he stated, “Jeez, maybe its (sic) because they were elected to do what there (sic) doing.”  

If I understand that correctly, the reader is pointing out that City Council was elected based on the ideas and values they held and therefore he feels the by-law is simply a reflection or extension of those values.  It is, according to the reader, simply the politician doing the job they were elected to do.

It’s an interesting point as it removes right or wrong from the equation and replaces it with political dogma as the primary test for the appropriateness or in his case, righteousness of a by-law.  It does give one pause for thought about the role of City Hall and the purpose of legislation through by-laws.  

So maybe a good place to restart this conversation is with a 1967 quote from Pierre Trudeau where he declared, “There is no place for the State in the bedrooms of the Nation”

At the time, Trudeau was referring to his recently passed legislation that decriminalized (in the lexicon of the times) homosexual interactions. It was a morality issue that came about as a result of reforms to the criminal code.  I believe it was also a turning point and the beginning of a change in attitude in Canadian values.  It would become a values and rights theme that would continue to develop and mature over the years and in 1982, reappear in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The no place in the bedrooms of the Nation statement was a recognition and acceptance that government has no place legislating righteousness, which in 1967 and in this instance, was the ethos of a relationship between two people.

Legislation based solely on matters of political doctrine, morality or even faith, are dangerous paths to start down.  I wonder for instance, if those currently supporting the City’s anti-pot stance based on their belief of government, “just doing what they were elected to do” argument will reassess that stance as the current Trudeau government enforces their new student summer employment requirements?  

Under the new rules, if your church or organization wants to hire students, there will be no subsidy from Ottawa if for example, your organization believes in or supports pro-life activities.  

If right or wrong is as suggested, based solely on the governing party’s set of beliefs then logic says it is fair.  After all, government is just doing what they were elected to do.  

On the other hand, if you let common sense prevail, toss in a dash of independent thinking and rid yourself of the restrictive blinders of party obedience, then you might conclude this new funding requirement is unfair.  

So, getting back to our by-law concerning fines for business license non-compliance.  It was my contention that this by-law was a backdoor way of legislating morality or as I think the reader implied, conservative values.  That or it was an admission by City Hall that they had dropped the ball by letting two plus years slip by without developing, as other cities had, a comprehensive policy in preparation for the pending legalization of pot.

The legalized use of cannabis products is upon us whether we like it or not and the time to debate right or wrong, moral or immoral, or delay and hinder is long gone. So no, in answer to that gentleman’s question, I don’t think they were elected to do what they did.