Tag Archives: critical theory

The Carter decision: Of Power and Permission

Carter and the right to end one’s life

Last week the British Columbia Court of Appeal decided to allow the Attorney General’s appeal to the constitutional challenge of the assisted suicide prohibition: the Carter case.[1] This case featured two persons named Gloria Taylor and Lee Carter. Both suffered from intractable and progressive diseases, and wished to have the option of physician assisted suicide when their life would become intolerable (they both passed away before the appeal was rendered). However, s 241(b) of the Criminal Code makes aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide a crime.[2] Ms. Carter and Taylor challenged the constitutionality of the section alleging a violation of their right to life, liberty and security of the person, and of their right to equality.[3] One of the major hurdles they faced was that a similar issue involving the same section of the Code was challenged on similar grounds and had been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the past.[4] In Rodriguez, the plaintiff lost her appeal to the Supreme Court by a close 5 to 4 vote. Nevertheless, the trial judge, Justice Smith, found that she was not bound by the Supreme Court ruling because this case raised three new grounds: (1) the right to life was not at stake in Rodriguez; (2) two principle of fundamental justice did not exist at the time of Rodriguez, overbroadness and gross disproportionality; (3) the majority did not consider s 15 (equality) in its entirety in addition to the fact that recent Supreme Court decisions changed the applicable test.[5] She found in the plaintiffs’ favour and declared the section unconstitutional with a grace period of one year for the government.

Continue reading

Personal Political Contradictions: Utopianism

If I had to choose one word to describe my political belief it would be utopianism. Let me explain. Utopianism as acquired a bad name over the years, mainly because it is denigrated for promoting the “impossible”. It is often use in contrast with realism (ideas based on so called empirical reality, often represented by “objective” facts). Indeed in international relations theories realists gained prominence by comparing their ideas to the failure of what they called utopians. Some realists still identify liberal theorists as utopians. Realism is predominant in the political discourse of all the major political parties. Today it is “utopian” to desire a better world if it is not realizable in the immediate future and within our “means”. I however reject this negative connotation of utopianism. In fact I would go as far as saying that utopia is as realistic as any other political proposition; what is offered to us, citizens, today by the political elite is simply unsustainable, unjust, and frankly unrealistic considering the state of our world. I prefer to envisage a world where humans and nature are not desecrated on a daily basis with the tacit acquiescence of the majority (at least on a national basis). I prefer to use this “utopia” as my starting point and work to achieve it from there. After all most people consider utopia as impossible solely because they refuse to consider the idea in the first place as it is too far remove from our contemporary “reality” (as much as our reality must be far removed from ancient civilizations).

Continue reading

Video Reflections 2: Slavoj Zizek investigates the ethical implications of charity

Yes I am back, at least partially. I am still very busy but I will try to post one video reflection and one longer post each months until I find more time (probably in December). In any event, today’s video, still from RSA animate (I really love those video, I think the little cartoons really help comprehension, at least for me), is on capitalism, charity and the coming end of that system. It’s from Slavoj Zizek, my favourite Marxist and an overall excellent philosopher (even if you don’t agree with him).

Continue reading

Video Reflections 1: 21st Century Enlightenment

This post marks the beginning of a series of post that I’m trying out: Video Reflections. One out of two posts (at least for the time being) will be a short post on my relatively immediate personal reflections on a short video that encourages us to think. I highly encourage you to share your thoughts on the video through a comment. This will allow me to post more regularly as these posts require less time to write than my regular posts, and I simply thought that it was a fun idea that would change the pace of my blog. The idea germinated in my head when I started watching the RSAnimate videos on YouTube. They are basically a series of video on short 10 minutes presentation on a topic inciting reflections on what the RSA has called the 21st century enlightenment. My series of posts will thus start with the RSAnimate videos. The first video selected is a video introducing the concept on 21st century enlightenment:

Continue reading