Amici Curiae: The Fixed Election, Adulterous Advertising, and “Mmm, Lion Meat!” Edition

Degree of Responsibility on the Line As Google Goes to Court

Google has gone to court in Spain to appeal government demands that it delete links to websites containing information about certain individuals. While Google has shown itself willing to remove content in criminal contexts, the Internet search giant fears a ruling against it in the civil context would have the effect of turning it from a simple intermediary into a publisher, responsible for the masses of material available online.

This case arose after certain individuals in Spain complained they were unable to legally force the initial publishers of the relevant material to remove it. While the case is a novel one, Google is no stranger to taking on foreign governments over issues of censorship and privacy of control, having significant disputes with governments ranging from the European Union to China.

Fundamentally, the case begs an important question: how much responsibility should simple search engines bear for the content they relocate searches to? Given the usual delays of such high profile cases, it will likely be a number of months before we hear the Spanish judiciary weigh in.

SCC Refuses to Hear Fixed-Election Dates Case

The Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to a case charging that Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party broke their own laws mandating fixed elections by calling a snap election in 2008. The case was initiated by Canadian group Democracy Watch. After losing at both the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse leave should not come as a major surprise.

The case concerns a challenge based on the Canada Elections Act, SC 2000, c 9, which was amended in 2006 in order to provide ‘fixed’ election dates as part of the Conservative party’s democratic reforms. The intention of the legislation was supposedly to prevent the common practice of so-called “snap” elections. The relevant sections hold that,

56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion”

“(2) Subject to subsection (1), each general election must be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force being held on Monday, October 19, 2009.

Based on s.56.1(1), the court accepted the submission that the legislation had not, in fact, abolished the ability of a Prime Minister to call snap elections and was only meant to provide guidance.

While the commitment to fairness as regards the calling of elections is commendable, meaningful change to the elections process in Westminister Parliamentary systems such as Canada is unrealistic without significant constitutional overhaul.

Super Bowl Says No to Adultery Ad

The NFL Super Bowl has always been an effective marketing tool for companies that are willing to pay an average of $2,974,000 for 30-second air time. However, a Toronto-based adultery website that attracted more than 4.5 million cheaters and philanderers has had its Super Bowl commercial rejected by Fox Broadcasting for play during the 2011 Super Bowl. The video can be viewed here.

Noel Biderman, the founder of the dating site which offers “guaranteed affairs” to married people, told The Globe and Mail that marriage does not have to be monogamous and that “many cultures are still happy to condone [polygamy as a standard].” As reported in CBC news, Biderman says “it’s ridiculous to think people who are happily married would watch it and decide to commit adultery.” He also said his business is “at the forefront of a changing tide around matrimony and how people behave around monogamy.”

Ontario Will Not Ban Smoking in Apartments

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has banned smoking in many public places, including in restaurants and in cars containing children under the age of 16; yet he is putting a brake on the current legislation and says that he will not ban smoking in apartments.

Smoke could spread from one apartment into their neighbours, and some apartment dwellers have complained that they suffer second-hand smoke. However, McGuinty is not banning smoking in private home because it will possibly infringe on people’s rights.

“I think when you get into people’s homes, you’re crossing a line.” McGuinty said in The Globe and Mail. “There’s still something important about the principle that a person’s home is her castle.”

At a cost of $2 million, Ontario has created 200 family health teams to help residents quit smoking. This seemingly lavish amount is actually economical compared to the $1.93 billion the province spends each year on tobacco-related health care problems.

U.S. Restaurant Offers Lion Tacos

Would you like a side of guacamole with your lion meat tacos?

In Arizona, a taco restaurant is now serving African lion meat tacos. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, lion and other game meat can be sold as long as the species isn’t endangered. African lions are listed as vulnerable and are on the protected list, but they are not endangered. Previously, the restaurant has served python, alligator, elk, kangaroo and rattlesnake.

Last year, an Arizona restaurant owner served an African lion meat burger, inspired by the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. For that restaurant, the owner ordered the lion meat from a free-range farm in Illinois that is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture.

What do you think? Is it any worse eating a lion than it is to eat a cow?

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