This weekend I attended the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference. The day began with a four hour train ride at 7 o’clock in the morning to Toronto. The journey flew by as I eagerly anticipated the conference. The conference was fantastic and it left me with plenty of interesting ideas to ponder on the long ride back home.
The speakers at the conference dealt with a wide range of issues. From the concerning practice of trading away rights of individual privacy with ever encroaching surveillance in the name of security, to the application of free trade policy between provinces. The latter issue arose from a case where a man was arrested for attempting to carry beer he brought in one province of Canada into his own province, despite the apparent constitutional guarantee of free trade within section 121 of the Canadian Constitution Act. As an Australian, I felt personally outraged.
On a far less laughable note, the conference also addressed the terrifying state of Civil Forfeiture Laws, which allow the confiscating of property involved in the performing or proceeds of crime. One such case is that of the Reilly’s. They had set up a home specifically suited to helping drug addicts to recover from their addictions, but given drugs had been consumed on their property, the state thought it appropriate to confiscate their property under Civil Forfeiture Laws.
Other shocking problems were revealed as the conference progressed, such as the violation of the right to Freedom of Expression on University Campuses. A growing number of institutions in both the United States and Canada have created 3 by 3 meter ‘Free Speech Zones’ to restrict what can be said on the remainder of Campus. There was also a hot debate on whether physicians should have the right to deny certain procedures or prescriptions to patients due to their own contentious objections.
We also made time to travel Toronto in the few spare hours we had. From taking many photos in front of Toronto’s copy-cat Time Square, the Yonge-Dundas Square, to taking many more photos 450m high in the sky from the CN tower.
Back in the office, we’re still eagerly preparing for this weekend’s Socratic Seminar, and I’ve taken over our Facebook page, so look out for plenty of corny libertarian jokes and cartoons. I also celebrated my birthday in the office this week – and walked into this lovely little set-up on my desk! I can’t brag to you enough how incredibly nice people Matt and Janet are, and I feel pretty lucky to be spending the next two months working with them.