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The Rule of Law

Posted on 28 November 2012

Of all the writing to come out of the punishment of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, the most informative I’ve seen is by lawyer Bob Tarantino in the National Post. He argues in favour of the judge’s ruling because

“what is being punished, the failure to maintain the integrity of their office, is a transgression which is uniquely incumbent upon elected officials and which is best served by the establishment of “bright line” rules. Given the scope of authority and power bestowed upon them, there is little latitude for breaches of faith, particularly those which involve monetary matters. Responsibility for ethical violations is removed from the “legislature” (in this case the city council) and entrusted to the judiciary because an elected chamber may be unable or unwilling to render justice in the form of an appropriate sanction. In the worst case scenario, without the possibility of punishment meted out by the courts, a corrupt politician who enjoyed the support of a sufficient number of his or her fellow corrupt councillors could continue unimpeded and with impunity.”

Putting aside the specific of the Ford case, this is a good perspective to maintain in any number of situations. Time and time again, I’ve seen the argument that politicians (of all stripes) should basically be allowed to do whatever they want because they have the support of the electorate. But without rule of law, there is little line between democracy and mob rule. The whole column is well worth a read.

Filed under: Canada, politics

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