Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...

The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted August 23, 1999

Are you black? If you are and you live in certain parts of Africa, your life means less than a white European's...at least that's what the Canadian government is suggesting with some recent decisions.

I say this because the Canadian government will go so far as to join a military campaign against Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic to stop him from harming residents of Kosovo -- who are white -- but invite to Canada for a conference the leaders of Togo, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Burundi, who are accused of heinous human rights violations against their citizens -- who are black.

Section 19 of Canada's Immigration Act denies entry into Canada to "persons who are or were senior members of or senior officials in the service of a government that is or was, in the opinion of the minister, engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations or war crimes or crimes against humanity."

However, Canadian Justice and Foreign Affairs officials met recently and decided to circumvent that law by using a section of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act which allows these "leaders" to come to Canada with full diplomatic immunity. Normally they would be arrested at once for their alleged crimes against humanity, but with the exemptions, they can walk around Canada freer than any of their citizens are.

Collectively, the leaders of these countries are responsible for the murders, tortures and jailings of tens of thousands of people, something which apparently is not much of a concern to Canada.

That shouldn't surprise anyone, however, as Canada has joined the rest of the world to suckle at Chinese teats while that country's leadership butchers its own citizens. Canada too deals with Cuba, another nation which does not respect the rights of its citizens. Of course, all of these people are minorities as well.

I'd like my government to answer this question. Is a the life of a minority less important then the life of a white person? Judging by their policies and behavior, it would appear that way.

Welcome to Canada.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted August 9, 1999

Occasionally you can fight city hall and win, though it will take a long time to do it. You after all, have to earn the money it takes to pay your lawyers where the government simply taxes you to pay for their lawyers.

That didn't dissuade Canadian Blair Longely of British Columbia who waged a battle lasting over a decade against Revenue Canada. About 15 years ago, Longley came up with an imaginative scheme whereby taxpayers could receive federal political contribution tax credits for contributions made to a political party, which the taxpayer could direct to be paid so as to benefit either the taxpayer or some other individual whom the taxpayer designated. This plan became known as the "contributor's choice concept" (CCC) or Longley's Loophole.

A contributor would make a $100 contribution to the Rhinoceros Party (which was an officially recognized federal political party at the time) and get a tax credit worth $75. The party would then use the money to employ, buy services from, or otherwise help the donor, often by paying a part of his or her university tuition.

Longley, facing some skepticism from people regarding its legality, contacted Revenue Canada to get written confirmation. For five years he sought that confirmation but was rejected at every stop. The problem? It was legal but Revenue Canada's lawyers thought the scheme went against the spirit of the law.

Revenue Canada contacted the Finance Department, which refused to amend the law. The legal issue centered on the fact that the rules relating to tax-deductible payments to political parties were based on contributions, not gifts, and there is nothing in law that states there cannot be compensation for a contribution, as there is for a gift.

Everyone in Revenue Canada -- and the government itself -- knew the scheme was perfectly legal but Longley was repeatedly told that the tax man didn't like it.

Well, that intransigence by the government agency will cost it -- well, the taxpayers anyway -- $55 000 in damages with $50 000 of that for punitive damages. B.C. Supreme Court Justice G. MM Quijano found last week that Revenue Canada was liable for knowingly undertaking an action for which it had no authority in law and knowing that it would cause damage to Longley.

The timing is particularly interesting in that this story took place within a year or so of the department's much-vaunted Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, which was introduced because Revenue's abuses of the public had become so egregious as to become an issue during the 1984 federal election campaign. Remember that when you hear politicians yammering about those bills of rights.

It may have began as a joke to Longley back in 1985, but his battle against Revenue Canada illustrates that a citizen can fight for their rights and win.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!

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