Happy Canada Day For Our Visitors From The Land Of Snow!

“We live in a free country where people have as much right to express outrageous opinions as moderate ones” … Supreme Court of Canada

Today is Canada Day. We in Barbados celebrate this great occasion with pride because we are so closely allied to that wonderful country which has done so much for us. Many of us have friends there and we treasure the relationships we have with Canadians who visit and stay with us.

We also share a common history. Great Britain is one of our motherlands. We have peacefully worked with her to gain our independence in a way that has left us with a legacy of democracy, liberty, and freedom. We honour her for the guidance which has shaped our nation and given us a solid foundation to build our future.

We are reminded too that this legacy, hard earned over a thousand years of history, is a sacred trust which we must cultivate and treasure. If it is not watched over and cherished it can quickly evaporate in the hands of those who cannot see past their own self-interest. The great philosopher Spinoza, whose writings were influential to those who crafted this legacy, said: “The last end of the state is not to dominate men, nor to restrain them by fear; rather it is to free each man from fear that he may live and act with full security and without injury to himself or his neighbour.”

We are reminded too that we must emulate the way Canada has furthered and protected its democratic principles. We fear Barbados is going another direction.

Here, recent governments have favored the self interest of a selected few and encouraged policies of hidden agendas and arbitrary decision making that have overridden laws and catered to rewarding the powerful with public monies out of all proportion to the good that they have done for our country and its people.

Now there is hope of a change of direction. A new government has been elected with a mandate to set our country back on its proper course. We are optimistic that we are now going to see a regime where decisions are made that will free each of us from fear, intimidation and backlash inflicted by those in power who would see their own self-interest promoted at the expense of the common good.

Recently our new government announced promising new initiatives that will see adoption of new legislation in the areas of conflict of interest, transparency, and defamation. Let us hope that they are truly committed to these principles that this is not just a way of avoiding the earnest promises made by Prime Minister Thompson in his zeal to convince us to elect him and his party. These matters are too important to be brushed aside lightly or treated only as commodities that deserve lip service. We are at a cross-roads where if new measures designed to foster democracy through integrity and openness are not implemented and enforced it is predicted that our country will fall into decay. We will have squandered the legacy passed on to us by Great Britain.

While watching Canada celebrate another birthday we should learn. Let us study the ways that it has preserved and enhanced its democratic principles since it achieved independence. Canada and its peoples have worked fought hard to enshrine and promote the hallmarks of democracy which are crucial to its future and we can benefit from its experience.

Canada has long since recognized the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of the press as being the bulwarks of democracy. These are the foundation stones that guarantee that democracy will not wither but will prosper and flourish. Barbados needs to be very sure that it too does everything it can to be certain that the contemplated changes in laws broaden rather than restrict these principles.

Our country is woefully behind the times in this area and has suffered for it over the last 20 years. Our people are ill-informed about many public issues, ignored, chastised or rebuffed when they seek public information, and intimidated from speaking out by our oppressive defamation laws. This has to change and, if our leaders are to be believed, we are about to make this happen.

Supreme Court Of Canada Rules In Favour Of Radio Talk Shows

The Supreme Court of Canada last week issued another in a progression of decisions that reminds us how democratic principles need evolve into the 21st century. The decision, like many before it, emphasizes the fundamental need for Canadians to have access to all information they require to make up their own minds about public issues. This must include the freedom to publicly discuss, consider, and make personal decisions about issues regarding their own well being and that of our society.

The Canadian court ruled, in deciding a libel case against a radio commentator, that, while a person’s reputation is to be respected, this should not be so tightly regulated as to prevent “freewheeling debate on matters of public interest”.

The court pointed out that by now the Canadian population, like that of Barbados (where public education is encouraged and even financed right through to the university level) the populace is sufficiently well educated to differentiate ridiculous opinions from valid ones. We don’t need suppression of opinion since we are well able to separate what is worthy from what is silly.

“We live in a free country where people have as much right to express outrageous opinions as moderate ones” it said. It went further to state that, oddly enough, people sometimes view some of the more outrageous comments as entertainment rather than journalism and are very much able to tell the difference. There is an educational benefit in even the most irrational opinion if it makes people think and debate and draw their own conclusions.

The court laid down a modern test for defamation that is very relevant to the review that we here in Barbados are about to embark upon. One need only think of the ludicrous spectacle of former Tourism Minister Mr. Lynch last year bolting from a radio show because this elected public official was asked a question that was on everyone’s minds regarding his newfound wealth. We wanted to know, were entitled to know, whether his riches might be related directly to the exercise of powers he had been given by the electorate. Rather than see him account for himself, as he should have done, Barbados’ archaic defamation laws entitled him to be paid off because he said his personal reputation had been sullied by the ‘innuendo’ suggested by the question.

This type of nonsense has to be remedied. No longer can Barbados afford to maintain laws that allow public persons to avoid answering perfectly fair questions posed by their electors. No longer can we afford to allow our defamation laws to intimidate people from speaking out and questioning matters that concern us all. No longer can we allow our public officials to duck out from providing us with information about their efforts on our behalf and allow them to punish us financially if we question their legitimacy.

On this anniversary of Canada’s birthday we look hopefully forward to seeing our elected officials follow Canadian wisdom and open things up in a way that makes us better. The alternative is not healthy and will eventually see democracy in Barbados curtailed.

… Our thanks to BFP reader “Vee” for contributing this article

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31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Canada, Crime & Law, Freedom Of The Press

31 responses to “Happy Canada Day For Our Visitors From The Land Of Snow!

  1. 198.1

    Our problem is not the law; ours is as progressive as Canada’s; but it is the chilling effect of a writ for defamation and the prospect of heavy damages if one should lose. Better, the media houses reason, to keep a fund for settling matters than to fight the case in court.

    Pertinent article, BFP, I hope it engenders much enlightened discussion.

  2. To The Crew @ Barbados Free Press:

    Thorough and interesting article on Canada.

    There are quite a few Bajan-Canadians here in Bim, ay? lol

    Top of mind comes award-winning writer/editor Robert Sandiford.

    You could say I’m “cross-bred” since I describe myself as ““a Canadian-Barbadian raised writer clutching an English birth certificate”. Anyhoooo….

    I really like your blog and would like to establish a reciprocal link with Seawoman’s Caribbean Writing Opps. and another one I’m developping.

    I also would like to offer submissions at some point.

    Peace!

  3. Wishing in Vain

    Let us hope that they are truly committed to these principles that this is not just a way of avoiding the earnest promises made by Prime Minister Thompson in his zeal to convince us to elect him and his party.

    I fully support your call here and can almost certainly assure you he will take this issue seriously and it will be addressed.

  4. Barbados the Beautiful

    The first test will be whether the government take their promises seriously. So far they are not making the grade.

    The second test will be whether we get to see the drafts of the laws and discuss them before they reach parliament. Posting on the government website would be a good start.

    The third test will be whether people will be free to actually speak out even if others don’t agree. Setting up a fund to defend the first few defamation suits would even the pitch.

  5. Pat

    BFP:

    On behalf of all Canadians, Bajan born and others, Thank You. It is nice to be remembered on Canada Day. I am here watching the celebrations from Parliament Hill.

    The problem with Bajan public officials is that they see themselves as, and behave like ‘prima donnas’ and ‘divas’.

  6. Sargeant

    Great article BFP, kudos to your contributor “Vee”. I venture to guess that 99% of Bajans resident in Canada like yours truly would say it is a great country in which we live. The winters can be brutal but the other seasons more than make up for it. Today in the Toronto area the weather is great and many of us will celebrate with a barbecue and some other refreshment. Now back to my wobbly pop (beer).

    **************

    BFP says “wobbly pop” !!!!!

    I like that one. Have to tell Clive.

    Marcus

  7. J

    Dear BFP:

    Don’t you think that you are going a bit overboard here. Barbados is NOT a Canadian province you know.

  8. Bimbro

    J
    July 1, 2008 at 6:18 pm
    Dear BFP:

    Don’t you think that you are going a bit overboard here. Barbados is NOT a Canadian province you know.

    ***********************

    J, to be honest, you have a point! I did feel very jealous when I considered that they’re quite a few Bajans living in Britain but I don’t recall similar recollection of our national day – St. George’s Day!

    However, I understand BFP’s thinking: they’re probably far more Bajans in Canada than the UK, so ‘right on’ BFP!!!!

  9. Hants

    J says “Don’t you think that you are going a bit overboard here. Barbados is NOT a Canadian province you know.”

    Given that Barbados and Canada allows “dual citizenship” , I think it is an appropriate “gesture ” by BFP.

    Some of us Bajan Canadians consider it our good luck to have two of the best countries in the world to live ,work and play in.

    Nice touch and good article BFP.
    Now can you compete with the Nationnews and start a story about any breadfruit trees that have wood ants?

  10. politically incorrect

    I exiled myself from Barbados because of the unceasing corruption, irrespective of the party in power.

    I have been a Canadian citizen since 1984 but have had the privilege as mentioned above, with dual citizenship, to return to Barbados on many occasions.

    Hoping and believing that change was possible, making a contribution but being rejected because my skin colour is not that of the majority.

    I have given up.

    Canada and its people (although not perfect, nowhere is) have embraced me in a way that I never was embraced in my country of birth.

    Not only have they embraced me but more importantly my husband who is a Bajan of darker pigmentation has been equally embraced.

    To me that is more important than the sun and the sea. I will bear the brutal winters but enjoy the companionship and acceptance of others.

  11. Hants

    politically incorrect says “Canada and its people (although not perfect, nowhere is) have embraced me in a way that I never was embraced in my country of birth.”

    I have had a different experience. Barbados has always been great for me even to this day when I visit .

    Canada has been Ok for me but less so for some of my darker friends and relatives.It is generally a good country to live in and I enjoy the interaction in a multicultural city like Toronto.

    Every person has a different experience and for me Barbados is still my favourite country to live in.

    That’s why…

    “I will be back”, …soon.

    Happy Canada Day eh!

    ************************

    BFP Marcus says,

    Hants old friend…

    And I can call you “old friend” because it has been over two years since you left your first comment on Barbados Free Press in April of 2006 (!!!)

    Please tell us what this “eh” (ayyyy?) thing is with Canadians. What does it mean? They all say it and I have to work hard not to laugh in their faces. 🙂

    What is this “eh” thing?

    Marcus

  12. politically incorrect

    Hants:

    The operative word is: visit.

    Come visit me and come live with me are two entireley different things.

  13. Hants

    Hello Marcus, the best correlation I can think of is how we Bajans say “nuh” at the end of some sentences.

    …..politically incorrect says,
    The operative word is: visit.
    Come visit me and come live with me are two entireley different things.”

    I have been working and living in both countries since 1970,sometimes for as long as 6 years continuously and I do not have the problems in Barbados that some expats complain about.
    Prehaps it is because I spend most of my spare time fishing.

    I do get frustrated when dealing with Lawyers who seem to think that real estate and civil matters are their personal cash flow “business plan”.

    Sorry Barbados was not kind to you PI but I am glad you found comfort in Canada.

  14. Stella

    Marcus,
    Mmmmmm, no substitute word or one meaning for “eh”, maybe you could substitute it with a smile? My turn, what is”oh my loss” mean, lol.

  15. Willie

    Marcus:

    It is interesting that you display such ignorance. Why does it amuse you that Canadians say ‘eh’? Every country and its people have their peculiarities – are you not aware of any similar expressions in Barbados?

    You betray the arrogance of many Barbadians who believe that they can say anything to or about about anyone – after all, we are sooo perfect.

    Even the reference to “land of snow” in this post is unnecessary.

    ****************

    BFP says,

    Fine. Next year we won’t mention your Canada Day. Satisfied now?

    Shona.

  16. Hants

    Shona let Willie speak for himself.

    I live in Toronto and last winter when the snow completely covered my car I guess I was living in the land of sand.

    Some of us Canadian citizens are pleased that BFP remembered us on Canada Day.

  17. Sargeant

    If Marcus is amused by the way some Canadians end their sentences, I’ll have to introduce him to some folk from Newfoundland

  18. Green Monkey

    Willie should take a pill.

  19. politically incorrect

    Green Monkey:

    Why should Willie take a pill? What kind of pill?

    If we Bajans can’t take any type of constructive criticism we are in for a hard time.

    Ever heard that pride comes before a fall?

  20. Green Monkey

    politically incorrect
    July 2, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Green Monkey:

    Why should Willie take a pill? What kind of pill?

    Maybe a Valium would be good.

    If we Bajans can’t take any type of constructive criticism we are in for a hard time.

    Ever heard that pride comes before a fall?

    Ever heard of people getting their knickers in a knot over trivialities?

  21. Anonymous

    Canada is a great country, that has been a good friend to Barbados. Many years ago Barbados and the rest of the West Indies flirted with idea of becoming a province or dependency of Canada. This was around the time of the WI Federation. Often I wish that we had pursued the idea!

  22. Green Monkey

    Anonymous posted:

    Canada is a great country, that has been a good friend to Barbados. Many years ago Barbados and the rest of the West Indies flirted with idea of becoming a province or dependency of Canada. This was around the time of the WI Federation. Often I wish that we had pursued the idea!

    Looks like Canada’s days of greatness are drawing to a close as its treasonous politicians are doing their best to merge Canada into the crumbling and decaying US empire.

    Will Canada Last? Not if we surrender our energy lifeblood to the US.

    by Murray Dobbin

    Harper: the big sellout?

    What will it take persuade Canadians that if they do not act soon to reverse the course of their nation, there will be nothing left to save? I am talking, of course, about so-called “deep integration” and its official expression, the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

    The SPP, moving inexorably on many fronts, is nothing less than a blueprint for the gradual dismantling of one of the most successful nations of the twentieth century, and its piecemeal distribution to the decaying empire to the south. Yet there seems to be, even amongst those who have heard of it and believe it is a threat, a surreal acceptance of it. It’s like a meteor hurtling towards us: there’s nothing we can do so we might as well go shopping while we can.

    What this country needs is a little outrage — stirred by something from the package of outrages, treasonous policies and breathtaking giveaways of our country that make up the plan to append Canada to the U.S. What will it be? The militarization of the country and an industrial policy of selling arms to the world? A foreign policy determined almost exclusively by the interests of big business, from peddling asbestos, to opposing bio-diversity, to forcing Europeans to accept GMO food? The mimicking of a paranoid United States and the adoption of its crusade against the Muslim world?

    Each worthy of a good dollop of outrage. But some believe that unless you get to people where it actually has an impact on their daily lives, sustained outrage of the kind that influences elections, is too much to expect. I have never been convinced by this theory but accepting it for the sake of argument, perhaps the sell-out of our energy to the U.S. under NAFTA’s energy provisions would fill the bill.

    Betrayed from above

    No other policy, either standing alone or as part of a larger scheme, demonstrates the extent to which the economic and political elite of this country has betrayed us. Even in the age of corporate globalization in which the transnational corporation has become the dominant institution of our time, there is simply no other example of such duplicitous behaviour on the part of a national leadership. No other country in the world has or would consider voluntarily signing a treaty that guaranteed the other party an ever-increasing proportion of its energy resource.

    The perverse beauty of what is tediously called the “proportionality clause” of NAFTA is that it’s virtually guaranteed to get worse. It would have been bad enough if we had agreed to sell half of our energy production to the U.S. But the NAFTA deal says we cannot ever decrease the actual proportion of gas and oil we sell to the U.S. So, each time the proportion of our oil and gas exports to the U.S. increases (virtually every year), we are presented with the new floor. And we no longer even maintain a strategic reserve — a 20-year supply that is ensured before any oil is exported.

    There is no limit to this madness. Right now we export two thirds of our oil and 60 per cent of our gas to the U.S. Under NAFTA this means we can never reduce that proportion, even if our actual production dropped by half and we began freezing in the dark. In NAFTA there is no ceiling on what we can sell, just a floor. And each year that passes, the floor looks more like a ceiling. What makes it even worse, of course, is the new determination of the US to secure dependable supplies of oil and gas — and that means Canadian supplies.

    Continued at:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=DOB20080630&articleId=9479

    Happy Birthday Canada, it was nice knowing you.

  23. 180

    Is it too late for Barbados to become part of Canada? I don’t know much about Canadian politics but from looking at the quality of life of my two cousins in Ontario, I wish I had immigrated too. One cousin was a cook at a hospital and the other is a truck driver. If they had stayed in Barbados, they would not be enjoying the kind of life they enjoy now. They have really nice homes, good health service, their children go to university and they get to travel all over the world. In contrast, I have attained “higher” level of education but I can’t afford a decent home and I can barely afford to travel once every seven years and lets not talk about health care. Sometimes I feel that the politicians are making Barbados a prison for ordinary people. I remember hearing about the daughter of a prominent politician, who despite her status (as a professional) went to the USA to give birth so that as she put it “the children could get out easily when things go bad!”

  24. J

    Dear Anonymous:

    1. Are you sure that your cousins are not travelling all over the world on credit cards?

    2. What’s stopping your children in Barbados from attending university? University education in Barbados costs the student less (but the tax-payer more) than in Canada. In Canada students have to pay the first $4,000 in tuition per year up front. In Barbados students can enter UWI at no up-front costs, except for books. And Barbadian students can borrow from the Student Revolving Loan Fund at a rate of interest that is significantly below market rate (again courtesy of the Barbadian tax-payer).

    3. In my own family all the Barbadian youngsters have graduated from university by age 22, and ALL have earned post-graduate degrees before the age of 26 (and no we are not political, prominent, nor rich ) I wish that my Canadian neices and nephews were doing as well.
    5. The youngsters are all gainfully employed. But no they cannot expect to travel all over the world every year and get a nice house too. I doubt that many Canadians can afford annual world wide travel AND a nice house too. In this life we have to make sensible choices. And there is no point blaming the politicians when we do not.

    4. And contrary to your gripping health care is Barbados is pretty good. I can get an appointment to a GP with just a minute’s notice. Barbadian children are all immunized. The polyclinics provide truly excellent care for infants up to the age of four and for elders and those with chronic illnesses. I have raised one child in Canada and one years later in Barbados and I cannot truly say that there is a difference in the medical care received. And let me take a minute to “big-up” the excellent staff at the Warrens Polyclinic.
    5. As for the daughter of the prominent politician maybe it is time that she asked herself “not what her contry can do for her but what can she do for her country”. It strikes me that she is one of those people who want to take out without putting in.

  25. Anonymous

    I bet that J has Canadian residency (” I have raised one child in Canada” says J). Barbados is paradise ,J says,( while making sure that the Canadian passport is current).

  26. Bimbro

    Have just now read your/Vee’s headline-article properly, for the first time and apologise for my somewhat trite response earlier to a very, serious article and subject. Let us all hope that the DLP will live up to its promises because Bim is clearly in need of cathartic, reform!

  27. J

    I did not say that Barbados is a paradise. I said that Barbados is a good place to live. Like all places good and bad there is always and will always be room for improvement.

    But no I do not spend any time loooking over my shoulder hoping to be rescued by the great white north.

  28. J

    Ahh!!!!!!!!! J. is old and mostly useless. And there are not many countries which seek to import old people; Barbados being a glorious exception.

    My point was that we must encourage the young people and that even if we cannot give them cash, nor house nor land, nor stocks nor bonds (and most of us cannot give those things) that Barbados’ makes pretty good provision (I said pretty good, not perfect) for the health and education of its young people. And that the elders must encourage the young people.

  29. Independence Dreamer

    J

    We must encourage the young people … to leave this little rock and experience the wider world so that they can grow and develop. Barbados will always be here for them if and when they return.

    It is without a doubt that Barbados has done magnificiently well in terms of providing health services and education for its citizens but then what? A small island can only offer so much. CSME provides some hope of expanding our horizons but there is so much anxiety over the movement of people particularly into Barbados that I fear that this may not get any further than a plan on paper. Many ambitious and bright young people seem to be bored and depressed with their options in Barbados particularly with the small island mentality that dominates decision making. Anyone who wants to grow as a person just has to get out. It was probably always so; this is nothing new just that migration has become more difficult especially since 9-11.

    While our politicians and other elite make nationalistic speeches, they quietly make provision for their children (and themselves) to get out. What do they know that they are not telling us? It seems that in future, Barbados will be for the very wealthy and their agents and the very poor who are to be herded into dismal little enclaves.

  30. Green Monkey

    Celebrate your birthday now Canada, while you still can. Once you’re dead, the partying done fuh good.

    Here’s a new documentary (1hr 46min) on Google video, “The Nation’s Deathbed.” Note it doesn’t really really get going until around 3:38

    The Nation’s Deathbed

    Will we let the elite pull the plug on Canada’s sovereignty? A documentary exploring the Security and Prosperity Partnership and how it is a stepping stone for an eventual North American Union. The film also explores the resistance movement to the SPP and the protests of August 2007 in Montebello, Canada.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1429144751008474466&q=the+nation%27s+deathbed&ei=P8tsSOj1JJjiiQK2jqSUDw

  31. Bimbro

    Dear BFP, I’m surprised that in view of the above u did n’t see fit to mention America’s Independence Day, today. Is it because of any inveterate, hatred of the US? I surmise that the US has almost certainly, been as beneficial to Barbadians in terms of emigration as Canada!