Wednesday, June 14, 2006

So much for the checks and balances in our fine democracy

Dalton McGuinty just got a lot scarier, thanks to the efforts of Comrade Kwinter and his gang of safety goons. Bill 56 is now a reality:

Ontario's premier will be able to take advantage of extra powers granted through a "catastrophic" emergencies bill passed yesterday.

"This legislation gives us the tools that we need," Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter said.

The emergency management legislation, known as Bill 56, was prompted partly over fears of a possible bird flu pandemic but would cover such things as a terrorist attack or blackout.

[..] The province's shortcomings were first noticed in 2003 when Toronto was hit with SARS and the government didn't have the political power to quarantine people.

[..] The government would be able to grant health care workers coming in from other jurisdictions, such as nearby Manitoba or Pennsylvania, temporary licenses in order to treat Ontarians.

It would have the authority to tell office buildings to turn off their lights in the event of another blackout.

The law also fixes pricing on necessary goods to prevent gouging by retailers. As well, travel could be restricted should Ontario find itself in a dire situation, such as being hit by the avian flu virus.
Take note that this new bill applies to any "catastrophic" emergency, as determined and defined by the central authorities. Recall Paul McKeever's observations on the meaning of "emergency" as defined within the bill:
. . . under this bill, an "emergency" is given a special meaning:

"emergency" means a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise;"

In other words, (a) the "situation" need not even have happened yet (i.e., it can just be thought to be about to happen...i.e., "impending"), and (b) it is not necessary to be sure that "serious harm" will result. In other words, these powers are triggered by the mere possibility of harm, from an event that hasn't even happened yet. Therefore, this bill, if made law, gives virtually unlimited powers to cabinet to make orders requiring people to take "actions" and to "implement measures", even if it is only precautionary.
It should also be recalled that this bill "authorizes" anyone deemed "reasonably qualified" to provide health care services in a "declared" emergency. If health care workers refuse to put themselves at risk, their incentive are fines of up to $100,000 and a year in jail for each day they refuse to provide service.

Next stop: In response to Global Warming, Dalton declares a permanent state of emergency.


Dick said...

While I'm not much of a player myself, here's one for your files:

MapMaster said...

It's kind of you to be thinking of us, Dick.