Leo and George

Here’s the fundamental problem with the war stance of both George Kells and Leo Broderick: each is of the opinion that the world view of the other is invalid, and each, if they had their way, wishes for a world (perhaps even believes in a world) where everyone believes as they do.

In other words, both Broderick and Kells are members of systems with “conquer” rather than “cooperate” as their central driving force, and neither system can, over the long term, reasonably accommodate a world in which the other exists.

Until they both recognize this, and reconfigure their systems to include and embrace a plurality of world views, the inevitable consequence is the kind of violence — be it verbal or physical — that both, at their core, seek to eradicate.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 30, 2003 - 16:02 Permalink

War does polarize doesn’t it?

To those who think Kells should keep his position as the head of the Human Right Commission: Were his actions perfectly fine and acceptable in every respect, or is it that his error doesn’t rate removal?

Whether or not you think he can stay: Would the situation be any different if Kells was head of the Public Utilities Commission?

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on March 30, 2003 - 16:40 Permalink

It is an interesting question. Perhaps equally interesting might be to pose the question of who has the right to define when a public figure has crossed a supposed line of inappropriate behaviour. Is there a line? I would suggest there is, but I consider it unclear. Certainly there are comments that a public figure might make which would be offensive to some, but when we enter the arena of opinion, where is the line?

I don’t have the answer. I just know that I am not prepared to condemn either for stating their opinion. That Leo has lost all relevance in my world, and I consider him a monumental bore, or that I consider Kells to be intelligent and articulate should has no bearing in my view of the issue.

Mr. Kells is guilty of being indiscreet in stating his opinion in a public forum. That I may or may not agree with his opinion is irrelevant. I admire him for having the courage to chose a very public forum to state his opinion.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 30, 2003 - 17:48 Permalink

Was it courage or an error?

Craig Willlson's picture
Craig Willlson on March 30, 2003 - 18:07 Permalink

I have no idea what your opinion is, but I believe I said courage.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 30, 2003 - 20:07 Permalink

Has his statement proven that his future judgements might be affected by his expressed views? How often does he rule on affairs directly related to the people who support Saddam? It might have shown poor judgement to express his views in the way he did, but I am not convinced he has shown the inability to be impartial in his work.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 30, 2003 - 20:57 Permalink

My opinion isn’t in.

”..guilty of being indescrete..” : error
”..for having the courage to ..” : the other

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 30, 2003 - 21:03 Permalink

I interpret Peter’s comment as being a call for RESPECT. If you don’t get it, you don’t give it.

Dabbling in admitted amateur psychiatry here, but people with megaphones at protests, and those who adapt extreme views and strategies, seem to me, to be demanding the respect they lack in other aspects/times of their lives, and might be using organized, one-sided protests as a way to validate themselves. Other views, to these types, are often seen as threatening.

I am not, of course, refering to those who use their right to free speech, but rather about those who hold a higher moral ground on ALL issues, feel they need to champion many causes and are determined to have their agenda adapted.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 30, 2003 - 21:06 Permalink


Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 30, 2003 - 21:34 Permalink

With respect Wayne, the question “How often does he rule on affairs directly related to the people who support Saddam?” is erroneous.

How often does he rule on affairs directly related to people he describes as supporters of Saddam?”, would be a better question; if it’s a fair question at all (I wouldn’t consider either of them appropriate).

But, say my version is acceptable and fair: The one criteria he apparently used to make the grouping, believing the war against Iraq is wrong or illegal, is so broad in this case that I’d say he’s compromised himself with about half the population.

Even if your question turns out to be acceptable and fair, and no matter who you believe fits into the category, it fails too easily even then. It still comes up short because he needs to be able to rule on affairs of all persons no matter what grouping they’re in. And, keep in mind, in this case he did the grouping himself.

[everything from here on is chalkboard — this is the stuff I’m thinking but am willing to change based on the persuasions of other — well, I guess the whole thing falls into that, but below is an academic exercise]

Regardless, I am definitely not convinced he can stay, but I’m not sure booting him is the correct precedent either. That’s the problem here I think. He screwed up majorly and it does reflect that his professionalism is not suited to the job (endnote).

But, at this point his staying or leaving is a matter of public policy; George Kells himself is now completely irrelevant to the issue. The question immediately becomes more like this: The HRC Chair made insulting comments in a letter to the editor. Can that ever be condoned? Does not condoning it necessarily mean his removal?

(This is why political panels serve very little social good; half the Island seemed to apoplectic over “salacious”, ruling quite clearly that metaphor and hyperbole may not be used at the same time. Imagine attempting any paragraph from this blog on the radio!)

The situation absolutely must be abstracted from the dominant personalities involved. In fact, the committee chair who will hear this has already made comments which reflect that he feels it’s a popularity contest

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 30, 2003 - 22:18 Permalink

Certainly if Kells loses his position in the next few weeks, which is entirely possible, it would not be a stretch to say many will feel the gag order, and censorship will be a part of the lives of all public servants and those with any connection to them. If there is any justice, it will affect those who pollute the environment with bullhorns, as well.
The issue is whether the head of a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal should be able to publicly state an opinion. The short answer is that he should be able to, unless the opinion would raise a reasonable apprehension of bias in an individual who came before him in his role as a human rights tribunal. The only risk was in his descriptions of the individuals who represent an opinion opposite to his. If the PEI act protected against political belief in general as all of the other Human Rights Acts in the country rather than only protecting political belief associated with registered political parties, there may be an argument that these people would not be able to expect justice from him (if they were refused a job, for example) because of their political belief. But it doesn’t, so there is nothing in Kell

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 31, 2003 - 00:29 Permalink

Wayne, I think your first point has some ironic merit. On one hand you say Kells should be able to say what he wants (and I agree he should) but that if he is removed from his position because of that expression (and I’m not so sure he shouldn’t) that you would like the gag to extend to the bullhorn crowd. If you oppose a gaging of people in principle, then shouldn’t you remain against it for everyone it isn’t currently affecting even if it applies (presumably against your sense of fairness) to some others?

However, I completely disagree that this should be decided based on whether there is an apprehension of bias in some petitioner; even though I find the perspective substantially less repetitive than some. It is impossible to ever be able to pronounce on that, one way or the other. All someone has to do is “claim” an apprehension and then you have to take their word for it and poof! Kells is gone.

The argument which is more

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on March 31, 2003 - 01:03 Permalink

..Yes he should stay
..No, it would not make any difference

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 01:36 Permalink

I wonder if I know the lawyer you do…I have heard the same thing…but not in bars…*smile*…but, as you seem to agree, this comment is not relevent.

As far as the bullhorn, I know how intimidating this sneaky group that give the impression it speaks as as a representative of all Canadians can be…and I would bet this would not be the first time they might get their way because somebody just wants them to go away. So, if they do, I hope Kells sues…big time.

Question 1…Yes, war seems to be a polarizing thing…very intense debate among friends and family…usually ends up with someone real mad, or mutual attempts at concluding with concessions to maintain decorum.(kinda like here on Peter’s blog)

Question 2…I could not describe his actions (comments) as being what you call just “fine”, but certainly not grounds for dismissal…his error was in not being politically correct, no better or worse then all of us who are just as guilty from time to time. Certainly myself, who has no problem with occasionally being not politically correct. But, he did not make a professional mistake justifying dismissal, in my view.

If Kells comments don’t fit bias, you must acquit. (Doesn’t rhyme like Johnny, but that’s why he gets paid the big bucks)

Question 3…the seriousness of the statement is no greater or less, in my humble opinion, regardless of who owns the mouth. I value free speech like most, and if his comments do not indicate a bias, he should not be punished by dismissal. That should be enough to indicate what is acceptable with respect to voicing opinion from a man, I mean person, in his/her position. (I hate this stuff!) If he is dismissed, I hope he sues! Otherwise, we need to be clear what, in the future, defines inappropriate comments, as you indicate.(Pandora’s Box)Seems even Liberal MP’s escape with their jobs for far more inappropriate and damaging comments in my opinion.

I have tried my best to answer all your questions with my views, considering I have been working far to much with a keyboard today.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 31, 2003 - 02:31 Permalink

Craig, can I take your answer to mean, “Yes, his actions were perfectly fine and acceptable in every respect.” and, “Even if they weren’t, it doesn’t rate removal.”?


Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 31, 2003 - 02:47 Permalink

I appreciate the detail Wayne and Craig. I know these things cause some pain but they really are wonderful learning opportunities. Before reinvented this type of exchange rarely happened anywhere but on the UPEI campus and rarely even then.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on March 31, 2003 - 11:24 Permalink

No Kevin, read your opening post, and your request to Wayne to respond to those questions. I responded to those questions.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 11:38 Permalink

I agree, Kevin. This is a great opportunity to realize (sometimes with surprise)that not everyone sees things as we do, and also a great opportunity express that fundemental right of free speech.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 11:41 Permalink


Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 12:30 Permalink

Last Word

If the community affected by these comments are offended, let them voice their concern to the source. To make it a major crusade only benefits the activist group or person who makes the protest a media or political feeding frenzy. Most of the activism in political correctness circles is not to assist a community, country, race or religion, but a way for these activist groups to get media attention for their own agendas and recruitment.

Alan's picture
Alan on March 31, 2003 - 14:52 Permalink

I will jump in after a “Last Word” to reassert what I have said — I hope — all along. It is not what he said. It is not who he said it about. It is not where and when he said it. It is about how he thought it out. I do not have concerns that he is bigotted against peaceniks. I am concerned that he see the world in black and white, a display of simplicity of thought that is inapproporiate for a position relying sublte consideration. If it was a one off out of character, it is likely not something he should lose a job over. But if a person involved with making subtle distinctions and understanding an area of law as diverse and complex as human rights connot think in subtle, diverse and complex ways, there has to be an issue of capabilities. I do not know the guy and can’t answer which way he leans but it seems to me that is the question.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 15:32 Permalink

My Last, Last Word…

To me, there is nothing wrong with seeing a “black or white” issue as black and white. Where is the necessity to complicate the thought process about an issue,that is so uncomplicated?(As I see it, of course) A vote against appropriate and necessary action is a vote of support for Saddam. (Here goes the argument of what is appropriate and necessary)If I am seen to be misrepresenting anybody’s views, I am sorry. I do not mean to do so, and am guilty of what often can happen reading the written word. I just see this in the view that sometimes, sitting on the fence and doing nothing is actually a choice, with consequences. And, we need to be reminded of this fact. A financial advisor friend of mine bases his arguments for stock market investment on this premise…that their is a price to pay for NOT taking risks. I try not to listen to him. He feels it necessary to point out this fact. Kells has not revealed anything about his character other then seeing this as black and white issue…it does not convict him of poor judgement or bias beyond a reasonable doubt, in my view.

How can one be reasonably sure that it can be established that any comment is/is not off the cuff or out of character? Where is the line where comments start to define character? Where is the proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, in this issue? Considering the source, and past behavior, can we trust these Council of Canadians imposters to define these guidelines, considering their past behavior and self-interest motivations??? Should my foolish comments about snow removel in the city be allowed to reflect on my trustworthyness to make responsible decisions at work? No, and neither should it apply to Kells, unless it is certain his views block his ability to do his job, which is to make unbias decisions.

Who he said it about” sums it up. This group wants to firmly establish they cannot be critiqued by anybody. And they (Council of Canadians-Leo) want to make this point to the rest of us. It is not about bias at all.

If bios does not fit, you must acquit!” There…I made it rhyme.

Alan's picture
Alan on March 31, 2003 - 16:15 Permalink

You are right, Wayne in pointing out that the two personalities are being considered on differing criteria, which is appropriate as long as we keep consideration of Kells to his office. The COuncil is not an office and not due the same test…except when it comes to integrity.

Whether there is a test, the test is that of the population’s comfort with the job of the office being done correctly. As I do not see the issue (indeed any issue really) as black and white, I find it disconcerting when officials present themselves as doing so. Private citizens can do and think as they wish.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on March 31, 2003 - 16:39 Permalink

Who defines the populations comfort…do we judge by the comments of a group that seeks its own agenda while hiding behind another? I mean claiming this to be an issue of bios, when it is really about their desire to stifle their critics. I do not see all issues as black and white, but some are. I find it disconcerning when a loud minority claims to speak for the majority using well constructed strategy on the media to manipliate what is perceived as reality.
I am comfortable with the way he does his job, but will this message ever get considered, as I and most others, have no desire to bull-horn it?

Alan's picture
Alan on March 31, 2003 - 16:51 Permalink

This I think is the point at which PEI has a somewhat less than robust legacy in public debate. “Who defines the public’s comfort”? Well, the public does. I don’t want to be seen as slagging the culture but there is the problem of political parties fear taking a stand for fear of loss of a vote and voters who fear other losses from speaking out. When you think of the grange system of New England as public meetings on all issues as a robust example of finding out what people think on important issues (think, say of the 1980’s Bob Newhart show and the unending public gatherings), PEI tends to the other end of the scale. When presented with an issue like these statements by Kells, there is always a funk about resolving the question which is a real but cyclical impediment to getting to the question. This is critical stuff — having been refused a years old coronor’s report as “private” and having hear a senior lawyer call a court case “a private matter between the parties”, I see it causes the misidentification of and shrinkage of the scope of what is properly in the public debate.