"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The name game

The Tellytorialist complains, properly so, on Monday:
Cheers: to labelling. Or branding. Or something. You have to like the title given to the new Conservative omnibus crime legislation by its authors. They went with the lovely title “The Safe Streets and Communities Act.” Sounds like a new, improved detergent. Other possibilities? For the next change to the country’s environmental legislation, how about “The Happy Trees and Flowers Act”? Simple wildlife legislation is so dull, so how about the “Cute Bunny and Bambi Act”? And just in case George Orwell’s “1984” has fallen down your memory hole, it’s worth considering that, in the novel, the Ministry of Truth was in charge of propaganda, the Ministry of Plenty was in charge of rationing, the Ministry of Peace was in charge of war, and, most of all, the Ministry of Love was in charge of law and order. So when the feds introduce the “Internet Oversight, Security and Privacy Act,” (or some equally pleasant-sounding variant) better watch what you say. Anywhere.
This isn't new.

Starting around the middle of second session of the 40th Parliament — that would be the fall 2009 semester — government bills started to get the "branding" treatement, including the bizarre use of something called an "Alternative Title" that must have driven the highly-competent and professional drafters at the Department of Justice completely and utterly bat.

So it was that Parliament was called on to consider C-32, the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act. C-36, the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act. C-47, the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act. C-60, the Keeping Canadians Safe (Protecting Borders) Act.

The title of almost every single government bill in the last session of the last pre-election Parliament went through the same politicization process: Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act; Jobs and Economic Growth Act; Balanced Refugee Reform Act; Fairness at the Pumps Act; Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act; Combating Terrorism Act; Increasing Voter Participation Act; An Action Plan for the National Capital Commission (sans "Act"); Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act; Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act; Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act; Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act; Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act; Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act; Copyright Modernization Act; Creating Canada’s New National Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Act; Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act; Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act; Ensuring the Effective Review of RCMP Civilian Complaints Act; Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act; Celebrating Canada’s Seniors Act; Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act; Strengthening Aviation Security Act; Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act; Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act; Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act; Improving Access to Investigative Tools for Serious Crimes Act; Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act; Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act; Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act; Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act; Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act; Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act; Improving Trade Within Canada Act; Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act; Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act; Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act (reintroduced); Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act; Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act.

There aren't enough gerunds in the Library of Parliament.

Where did this abominable practice come from?

From Ontario. From Mike Harris' version of Ontario, in fact, whither the practice was imported from Congress and state legislatures south of the border. In fairness, both the government and the opposition parties in Ontario enthusiastically embraced the cheese, whence the Freezing of Compensation for Members of the Assembly Act; Fewer School Boards Act; Taxpayers Savings Municipal Amendment Act (Ottawa-Carleton Region); Crackdown on Illegal Waste Dumping Act; Tax Cuts for People and for Small Business Act; Prevention of Unionization Act (Ontario Works); Zero Tolerance for Substance Abuse Act; Lower Property Taxes in Sudbury Act; Fairness is a Two-Way Street Act (Construction Labour Mobility); Safe Schools Act; Save Our Architectural Heritage Act; and the hysterically funny Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander Act and Balanced Budgets for Brighter Futures Act.

No word yet on whether the Harris Conservatives' Fewer Politicans Act will be answered, federally, with the More Politicians Act, when the House of Commons is enlarged.

This is a vile, tacky, appalling practice, that should offend the sensibilities of anyone who has a modicum of respect for tradition and decorum, one that should be stamped out, but one which, sadly, probably never will be.


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