Thursday, September 13, 2007

Checks and Balances

When I went into grade 11 our high school established a new policy. In order to get a locker students had to sign a release giving the school permission to search our lockers without our consent or even knowledge. Their justification was that if there was a bomb threat or if they suspected drug use they needed to be able to get into a locker easily.

I opposed the policy and my parents supported me. I argued that if there was a bomb threat they would call the police and under those circumstances the police had the right to open a locker without consent. If they suspected drugs they should call in the parents and get their consent and failing that they could get a warrant. It certainly wasn't an emergency in that case.

My parents argued with the administration as well but in the end I chose to go without a locker rather than sign the consent. The vice principal told me sternly that if I stored my stuff in another student's locker that they could still search it. I told him that wasn't the point. I didn't use drugs, I didn't keep contraband in my locker. The point was that I was entitled to certain civil rights and he was infringing on them. I still think I was right.

Today the CBC reported that Stockwell Day's office is trying to make it possible for the government to gather information on people's phone and internet use without a court order. The requirement that the state has to get consent from the court before prying into a person's private life is one of the forms of checks and balances we have on their powers. The thought that this government is quietly trying to remove those checks and balances terrifies me. The stakes are a lot higher than they were in high school but the principles are the same.

2 comments:

Kevin said...

If we don't give up our civil liberties then the terrorists win! I'd rather give up my freedoms to a good, solid, Canadian official, then some Koran-beating Muslim!

;)

kgp

Erin said...

thank goodness for those emotion icons or I'd have to come over and give you a lecture on civil liberties.