Stuff Still Happens, week 37: Judging the judges

This week, an Alberta judge found Travis Vader guilty in the deaths of elderly couple Lyle and Marie McCann. Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas found Vader guilty of second degree murder, despite the facts that no trace of the McCann’s has ever been found, no weapon was found, and the evidence was entirely circumstantial.

Oh, and apparently there is no such thing as second degree murder in Canada. Who knew? Apparently, not Justice Thomas.

Here’s the explanation, as far as my non-legal mind can figure it out. While second degree murder is still technically on the law books in Canada, the Supreme Court struck down second degree murder back in 1990 as unconstitutional. However, the law is still on the books, as no Parliament has bothered to update the Criminal Code. Legal experts were immediately stunned by the decision – ‘gobsmacked’ seemed to be the favoured term – predicting that an appeal was sure to succeed. And that could mean a whole new trial for Travis Vader.

Overall, this is not a good time for Alberta judges. We had the hearing for Provincial Court Justice Robin Cook and his notorious “knees together” comment. Now, the Globe and Mail has revealed that four judges in Alberta courts in the past 16 months have been criticized for using “myths and stereotypes” about rape victims.

The Teflon Don carries on

Donald Trump continues to glide untouched through the presidential campaign. Things are going so stupidly, shockingly well for the wack-a-doodle candidate that, for the first time, I can actually see him winning.

Consider this past week. On Sunday, Hillary Clinton attended a 9/11 memorial, then almost fainted. Her people first blamed the heat, then dehydration, then finally came clean – she had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. Now, pneumonia is no big deal. Plenty of people get pneumonia, and unless you are very young or very old and frail, it’s not a lot worse than a very, very bad cold. She should have taken her meds, rested in bed for a few days, and the whole thing would have blown over (except for the deepest reaches of the ‘alt-right’, which would have read conspiracy into her ‘illness’.) But Clinton has a weird aversion to being truthful, and she and her people chose to keep the pneumonia a secret, in the hope she could just carry on with no one knowing. It backfired on her, badly. Suddenly, the baseless Trump charge that she wasn’t physically up to the job got a huge boost from the candidate herself.

Meanwhile, Trump revealed his medical records, in a manner of speaking. Trump went to America’s most trusted source of medical information, the Dr. Oz daytime TV show, to show Dr. Oz a one-sheet summary of his health. Dr. Oz is a famous surgeon who is also a bit of a snake-oil salesman; many of his “cures” for what everything that ails America have been questioned. Just to top off his wonderful week, Trump went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon is late-night TV’s biggest star, and bigget celebrity suck up. He did what he does best, joking and kidding and generally kissing Trump’s ample ass.

Trump finished the week by finally disavowing his long-held claim that Barack Obama was not American born. He stated it slowly, and definitely – then proceeded to say that Hillary Clinton started the whole ‘birther’ thing. And just for good measure, he suggested that Hillary tell her Secret Service agents to disarm, and see what happens to her.

Trump has told lie after lie over the campaign, but he did say one thing that was prescient and shockingly truthful – he said he could shoot somebody in broad daylight, and people would still support him. Sadly, so true.

Trump mania comes to Canada

The political correctness of college life was on display for all to see this week, courtesy of my old alma mater, Mount Royal University in Calgary. (It was a mere college when I attended a million years ago).

In this hilarious yet sad clip, a delicate flower of a college student demands that a fellow student remove his Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ hat because “you’re not allowed to share hate language” at the school. After a heated and incredibly stupid argument, she then tells the hat guy that she has already lodged a complaint with the school. A third idiot, whose role in this is unclear, takes the hat off the guy’s head. The college, to its credit, won’t do anything about it. The girl, in keeping with the way things go today, received vile online threats.

RIP

Edward Albee, 88, three time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of classics like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe … W.P. Kinsella, 81, Edmonton-born author whose book, Shoeless Joe, became the basis for the film Field of Dreams. Kinsella chose a doctor-assisted death … Bahman Golbarnezhad, 48, Iranian Paralympian cyclist, as a result of injuries suffered in a cycling crash at the Rio Paralympic Games.

 

 

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