The Forms and Limits of Persuasion

There was a very interesting piece by Maggie Koerth-Baker yesterday in New York Times magazine, about the ways in which we make up and change our minds. The immediate context to which it is directed is U.S. presidential campaign, in which both contenders (though especially Mitt Romney) have had some notorious “flip-flops.” But of course the issues it explores are relevant beyond the field of politics;  for example, they are of great importance to the law.

The law, as Ronald Dworkin, Jeremy Waldron, and others like to remind us is (in prof. Waldron’s words) “an argumentative practice.” A huge part of it involves two sides arguing their cases in front of an adjudicator or a group of adjudicators, who must then make up their minds about the decision. The parties are required to present evidence in support of their arguments, and the adjudicators’ decision is expected to be responsive to that evidence. What Lon Fuller might have called the forms and limits of persuasion matter enormously to lawyers and all those interested in the law’s operation.

But is persuasion just a pipe dream? In the final sentence of the article, Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at NYU’s Stern School of Business says that “the truth is that our minds just aren’t set up to be changed by mere evidence and argument presented by a ‘stranger.’” That doesn’t bode well for the enterprise of law. Fortunately, what the article says before reaching this grim conclusion suggests that it is, in fact, misleading.

For one thing, the tendency to ignore evidence and argument manifests itself more or less strongly depending on context. “In some cases,” says Ms Koerth-Baker, “if we want to think of ourselves as thoughtful and open-minded — we can adopt identities that actually encourage flip-flopping” – or, less contemptuously, changing our minds in response to facts and arguments. “This is why juries function,” – and judges, too, of course – “and it’s what places pressure on scientists to form opinions based on reliable data.” The ethos of a dispassionate, careful decision-maker, one who must consider and respond to facts and arguments and, if necessary, change one’s mind, can apparently go to great lengths to overcome our natural inclination to decide on the basis of emotions and partiality to our own kind.

For another, knowing that one will be giving reasons for a decision changes the way one approaches making it. “Simply having to articulate why you believe what you do can also end up changing your attitude.” Not always in entirely desirable ways. People who know they must explain their decisions will sometimes take the decision that is easiest to explain, even though they might feel it is not quite right substantively. We might guard against the danger But, suggests a psychologist from the University of Virginia, ” if you have to explain your preferences, you’re likely to adopt an attitude that makes sense to your interlocutor, even if it conflicts with your emotions.”

The way our justice system is set up helps ensure that our judges are open to persuasion by evidence and arguments. Judges believe in and are committed to the impartial decision-maker’s ethos, which suggests that they are likely to do a decent job living up to it. In order to help them do so, and also in order to verify whether they do, there is a strong expectation, increasingly taking the form of a legal rule, that judges will give reasons for their decisions. These reasons typically summarize the parties’ main arguments, and respond to them. This forces judges “to adopt an attitude that makes sense to” the parties, as well as to consider the parties’ views. This, turn, is one of the ways in which law protects human dignity, as Jeremy Waldron points out. (Perhaps, in this limited sense, reason-giving can in fact exercise a  “pull towards goodness,” on judicial decisions, a possibility about which I have otherwise expressed skepticism, assuming a more substantive meaning of “goodness.”) And perhaps our judicial selection mechanism, which means that judges are recruited from the ranks of experienced litigators and legal academics, two professions which prize and help develop one’s ability to articulate one’s thinking, helps limit the risk that judges will give insincere but easy-to-state reasons for their decisions.

Despite my usual gloomy disposition (including a lack of faith in judges, at least when it comes to their ability to develop legal rules, as for example here), I am inclined to conclude on an optimistic note today. Our courts are organized in ways that counteract human beings’ poor decision-making skills, which psychologists are now describing in ever more depressing detail. And it is noteworthy that this is the result of a gradual development of the court system, rather than of its deliberate organization on scientific lines. (Those who hear an echo of Hayek here are right.) Our individual decision-making might be bad, but the accumulated intuition of generations is surprisingly good.

Unsettling Settlement

I blogged some time ago about a settlement between an unspecified group of plaintiffs and Facebook regarding Facebook’s approach to what it calls “sponsored stories” which tell us that such and such friends “like” a certain company’s page. I raised some questions about the way in which this settlement works to create new rules, social and/or legal.  Is the influence which the plaintiffs (rather than any number of similarly situated individuals or groups) acquire over the formation of these rules by virtue of being the first to sue and settle with Facebook legitimate? Even apart from legitimacy, is it a good thing from a policy standpoint? For example, how do we know that this particular group is motivated by the public interest and, assuming that it is, capable of evaluating it correctly and of being an effective negotiator?

As the New York Times reports today, the judge who had to approve the settlement for it to go into effect also has questions, and will not give his approval until the parties come up with some answers.

As part of the proposed deal, Facebook agreed to better inform users about sponsored stories, to limit their use and to allow people under 18 to opt out of the function. The company also agreed to pay $10 million to a dozen research and advocacy groups that work on digital privacy rights, and $10 million to cover legal fees for the plaintiffs. But the settlement did not inhibit Facebook from continuing to serve up sponsored stories.

On Friday, Judge Richard G. Seeborg of United States District Court in San Francisco rejected the draft order and asked both sides to justify how they had negotiated the dollar amounts. “There are sufficient questions regarding the proposed settlement,” he wrote.

Judge Seeborg said he wanted clarification on whether there could be relief for the millions of Facebook users whose names and photographs had already been used.

From this report, it looks like Judge Seeborg is worried, as I was, about the legitimacy of the settlement as a rule-making procedure, as a “mode of social ordering,” to use Lon Fuller’s language. How do we know, he asks, that the agreement the parties reached makes sense? Is it fair to those who did not take part in the settlement negotiations but will end living by those rules with which the parties have come up as a result of an nontransparent process? Are we sure the settlement does not just benefit the parties, their pet charities, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers?

Those are sensible questions. The trouble is, as I wrote in my first post on this topic, that even if we conclude that the settlement is not an appropriate mode of social ordering, the alternatives aren’t great either. Legislation is slow and thus ill-suited to regulating an area in which change is constant and very fast. (A post by Stewart Baker at the Volokh Conspiracy, describing a proposed law that would have killed Gmail in its infancy by requiring the consent of both sender and receiver of an email for the email service to be able to scan its contents to serve up ads, shows just how ill-suited it can be. Social expectations of privacy have moved faster than the legislative process; Gmail now has close to half a billion users; and the proposed law is no more than a somewhat embarrassing memory.) And adjudication comes with serious problems of its own, which I described in the original post.

As then, I still don’t see any good way out of this conundrum.

Non, c’est non!

Mardi, j’écrivais au sujet de la demande d’injonction présentée par le chef d’Option Nationale, Jean-Martin Aussant, pour contraindre les télédiffuseurs qui organisent les débats des chefs en vue des élections du 4 septembre prochain à l’inviter à faire partie de ses débats. Le juge Jean-François Émond de la Cour supérieure du Québec a rendu sa décision, Aussant c. Société Radio-Canada, 2012 QCCS 3872. Comme je le prévoyais, il a rejeté la demande de M. Aussant.

Comme la demande vise une injonction interlocutoire, c’est-à-dire rendue avant la tenue d’un débat complet sur le fond de la question, M. Aussant doit démontrer qu’il a un droit apparent, qu’il subirait un préjudice irréparable en cas de rejet de la demande, que l’octroi de l’injonction causerait moins d’inconvénients aux télédiffuseurs que ne lui en causerait le rejet, et que la situation est urgente. L’essentiel du débat, cependant, porte sur l’apparence de droit.

Là-dessus, le premier argument de M. Aussant était fondé sur l’article 423 de la Loi électorale, en vertu duquel

[e]n période électorale, tout radiodiffuseur, télédiffuseur ou câblodistributeur ainsi que tout propriétaire de journal, périodique ou autre imprimé peut mettre gratuitement à la disposition des chefs des partis et candidats du temps d’émission à la radio ou à la télévision ou de l’espace dans le journal, le périodique ou autre imprimé, pourvu qu’il offre un tel service de façon équitable, qualitativement et quantitativement, à tous les candidats d’une même circonscription ou à tous les chefs des partis représentés à l’Assemblée nationale ou qui ont recueilli au moins 3% des votes valides lors des dernières élections générales.

Le juge Émond note que cet argument avait déjà été rejeté par la Cour d’appel (ainsi que par la Cour supérieure). Il rejette les prétentions de M. Aussant, selon qui cette décision “ne tient pas la route” (par. 33). L’historique législatif de la Loi électorale, que M. Aussant avait invoqué au soutien de ses prétentions, ne les appuie pas. (Le juge Émond ne cite pas les commentaires ministériels en cause.)

Le deuxième argument de M. Aussant était fondé sur la liberté d’expression. Comme l’observe le juge Émond, cet argument, lui-aussi, a déjà été considéré par les tribunaux, qui l’ont rejeté, le plus récemment dans  May v. CBC/Radio-Canada, 2011 FCA 130, au par. 25 (citant Trieger v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp., (1988), 54 D.L.R. (4th) 143 (ONSC)).

Le dernier argument de M. Aussant était que les télédiffuseurs ne l’avaient pas invité en raison de ses prises de positions, et que, ce faisant, ils ont violé sa liberté d’opinion. Le juge Émond considère que cette prétentions est sans fondement. Il n’existe aucune preuve de ce que l’exclusion de M. Aussant aurait été motivée par ses opinions. De plus, il n’est même pas clair que la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne s’applique aux télédiffuseurs, régis par le droit fédéral. C’est un bon point, qui m’avait échappé lorsque j’avais considéré le fond de la question ici. Peccavi. (La réponse dépendrait de l’application des règles sur les immunités inter-juridictionnelles, que j’ai récemment décrites ici.) Par ailleurs, il s’appliquerait avec autant de force au droit à la liberté d’expression.

Bref, le moins qu’on puisse dire, conclut le juge Émond, c’est que le droit de M. Aussant de contraindre les télédiffuseurs à l’inviter aux débats des chefs n’est pas apparent. Cela suffit pour conclure au rejet de sa demande d’injonction interlocutoire. De plus, le juge souligne que la prépondérance des inconvénients ne favorise pas M. Aussant, puisque l’octroi de l’injonction qu’il recherche, à quelques jours des débats, pourrait causer des problèmes majeurs aux télédiffuseurs.

En principe, un jugement sur une requête en injonction interlocutoire ne dispose pas du fond du litige. M. Aussant est libre de poursuivre sa demande. Certes, le débat aura eu lieu sans lui, et les télédiffuseurs pourraient soutenir que la demande est donc devenue purement théorique. Cependant, les tribunaux pourraient exercer leur pouvoir discrétionnaire de l’entendre quand même, puisque la question est importante et qu’elle risque de se poser de nouveau lors de prochaines élections. Il s’agit de savoir si M. Aussant a envie de poursuivre le débat, vu le rejet sans équivoque de ses arguments quant au fond de la question.

The Fantasy of State Neutrality

This is a translation of my op-ed that that was published yesterday on the website of La Presse.

***

The Parti Québécois proposes, if it wins the elections, to enact a « Charte de la laïcité » (Charter of secularism) for Québec. This charter would, among other things, prohibit civil servants from  wearing “ostentatious religious symbols.” This prohibition would, to be sure, be motivated by a noble principle, the neutrality of the state. But it is not the right means to realise this principle, and is discriminatory.

Let us grant, first, that the state has a duty of neutrality; that is, it may not grant privileges or favours to a group of its citizens that it does grant to others.

Let us grant, too, that this duty of neutrality applies not only to the contents of legislation but also to its administration. This means that civil servants and other state agents, entrusted with the application of laws, must act impartially, without favouring one citizen over another, including on the basis of his or her belonging to any group, whether religious, ethnic, or other.

Let us grant, finally, that the administration of the law must not only be neutral but also appear to be neutral. It is not enough for a civil servant’s decision to actually be neutral. It is also necessary that a citizen, at least a well-informed and objective citizen, have no reason to doubt the decision’s neutrality.

The prohibition of ostentatious religious symbols would aim at ensuring the appearance of civil servants’ neutrality. At work, at the moment of applying the law, civil servants represent the state rather than the religious groups to which they belong in private life. If they are allowed to identify with members of particular religious groups, do they not risk favouring their co-religionists? Do they not, above all, risk provoking, among the citizens they serve, a reasonable apprehension of bias?

No. The worry that, for example, a civil servant wearing the headscarf will fail to discharge her duty of neutrality is neither objective nor reasonable. The idea that the physical appearance of civil servants must be neutralized in order that they may exercise their functions impartially belongs to the realm of fantasy or hypocrisy. A person’s physical appearance usually reveals his or her belonging to all manner of groups: to a gender, to a race, to a certain age group. We would not think of imposing the burqa as the uniform for civil servants (male as well as female of course) in order to avoid letting citizens know whether they are served by a man or a woman, a White or a Black, a youth or an old person.

We know that the civil servant, the police officer, the judge whom we face belongs to one or many such groups. Yet we ought, as citizens, expect them to act in good faith and with neutrality.

Religious belonging is not different from other forms. It is, sometimes, easily identifiable. But it is no more reasonable to doubt the impartiality of a civil servant who wears a headscarf for the sole reason that she is Muslim than it would be to doubt her impartiality because she is a woman. Prohibiting civil servants from wearing religious symbols is irrational.

It is also discriminatory. Not only does it discriminate between religions, since some religions – including that of the majority of Quebeckers – do not require believers to wear religious symbols of the sort that is now sought to be banned. It also discriminates between members of the same religious group, in the case of religions, such as Islam and Judaism, which impose the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols on one gender but not the other. Thus a prohibition proposed out of a concern for neutrality and equality between men and women would prevent Muslim women, but not Muslim men, from serving the Québec state.

The ban on ostentatious religious symbols in the civil service would be irrational and unjust. It would be a simplistic measure, favouring appearances at the detriment of a real equality and a true concern for living together.

A different ERA?

The ERA – the the Expenditure Restraint Act, S.C. 2009, c. 2, s. 393 – is actually the same that was at issue in Association des Réalisateurs c. Canada (Procureur Général), 2012 QCCS 3223, which I blogged about a month ago. But the conclusion of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Association of Justice Counsel v. Canada (Attorney General), 2012 ONCA 530, is different from the one Québec’s Superior Court reached in Réalisateurs. The two cases are alike, however, in being very much about the specific facts at issue.

As I explained in the post about Réalisateurs,

The Expenditure Restraint Act sets out upper limits on the extent of pay raises that the government and a number of crown corporations are entitled to grant their employees, as part of a package of measures responding to the global economic crisis and the ensuing budgetary difficulties. Provisions of collective bargaining agreements stipulating higher raises are invalid to the extent that they exceed the limits allowed by the statute …

In  Réalisateurs, the ERA operated retroactively to modify an agreement concluded between the union and CBC/Radio-Canada. The court found that an interference with the union members’ Charter right to engage into a meaningful collective negotiation over fundamental conditions of their employment (which, it went on to hold, which not justified by s. 1 of the Charter).

The situation in Justice Counsel is different. By the time the ERA came into force, the union and the government had not yet concluded a collective agreement. Despite lengthy negotiations, they had been unable to agree, and decided to resort to arbitration. In these circumstances, the Court holds,  “the ERA had the effect of taking wages off the table for the arbitration, [but] that does not, standing alone, amount to an infringement” of the right to negotiate collectively (par. 39). That right entails an ability to make representations, which must be listened to in good faith, but no particular outcome need follow, and binding arbitration is not constitutionally required. The union was able to make representations over the course of the negotiations, and the negotiations’ failure is no proof that they were not listened in good faith. On these facts, the ERA didn’t take away from the union anything it had a right to.

The decision is thus quite narrow, because the circumstances of the parties involved are unusual. It does not tell us very much about the ERA‘s constitutionality as applied to other unions. In my post about Réalisateurs, I criticized the courts for not showing sufficient restraint in extending constitutional protection to civil service union contracts. What I had in mind were the substantive rules applied in these cases. But here is another mode of judicial restraint: deciding a case on narrow – but relevant – facts, and avoiding broad issues altogether.

Not in My Backyard

Radio-Canada reports that Québec’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the (federal) National Capital Commission (NCC) are fighting over the right of candidates in Québec’s election to post signs on Gatineau’s Rue Laurier. The NCC has taken down some signs, citing its policy prohibiting the posting of any signs the streets that form its “Confederation Boulevard,” a showpiece route on both the Ottawa and the Gatineau sides of the river, which includes Rue Laurier. The CEO says that the policy doesn’t apply to provincial elections. The NCC says its lawyers are on the case.

I think the CEO is right, but the case is not free from doubt. Living in a federation ain’t easy.

The first question to consider is whether one of the two regulations at issue here is unconstitutional. As the Supreme Court held in Munro v. National Capital Commission, [1966] S.C.R. 663, the federal government has the competence, under the “national concern” branch of the “peace, order, and good government” power, which I discussed in some detail here, to legislate and make regulations for “the development, conservation and improvement of the National Capital Region in accordance with a coherent plan in order that the nature and character of the seat of the Government of Canada may be in accordance with its national significance.” (671) I would think that includes the power to regulate the appearance of the landmarks of the National Capital Region, for example by prohibiting the posting of signs. The province, of course, has the power to legislate with respect to the use of property, as well as to provincial elections. So both the NCC’s regulation and the provincial law authorizing the display of election posters on public property (section 259.2 and, more generally, Chapter IV.1 of Title IV of the Election Act, R.S.Q. c. E-3.3) are valid exercises of the respective powers of the two levels of government.

The next question is whether the provincial law, although generally valid, is inapplicable in this case pursuant to the doctrine of inter-jurisdictional immunity. As the Supreme Court explained in Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 134, at par. 58, this doctrine

is premised on the idea that there is a “basic, minimum and unassailable content” to the heads of powers in ss. 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 that must be protected from impairment by the other level of government. … In cases where interjurisdictional immunity is found to apply, the law enacted by the other level of government remains valid, but has no application with regard to the identified “core.”

The Supreme Court stated the test for the application of the doctrine in Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canadian Owners and Pilots Association [COPA], 2010 SCC 39, [2010] 2 S.C.R. 536, at par. 27.

The first step is to determine whether the provincial law — s. 26 of the Act —  trenches on the protected “core” of a federal competence.  If it does, the second step is to determine whether the provincial law’s effect on the exercise of the protected federal power is sufficiently serious to invoke the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity.

The “core of a federal competence” consists of the powers necessary to realize the purpose of the federal power (COPA, par. 35). It’s a rather vague definition, not least because the purposes of legislative powers are not well defined. Is it necessary for the purpose of ensuring “that the nature and character of the seat of the Government of Canada may be in accordance with its national significance” to be able to prohibit the posting on signs on municipal lamp posts? I’m not sure. But let’s assume that it is. I think that the second branch of the test is more clearly favourable to the CEO.

The second branch of the test requires a court to assess the seriousness of the provincial law’s interference with the federal power. It is not enough that the provincial law “affect” the federal power; in order to be inapplicable pursuant to the doctrine of inter-jurisdictional immunity, it must “impair” that power; that is, it must “seriously or significantly trammel[] the federal power” (COPA, par. 45). Although again this is a somewhat uncertain measure, I rather doubt that this test is met here. Even assuming that, as a general matter, it is important for the NCC to control the appearance of key streets in the National Capital Region, it is difficult to believe that the presence of election posters (which, annoying though they might be, tend to be neither especially big nor especially tasteless) for five weeks every fours years is a “significant” impairment with the NCC’s power to do so. The temporary presence of election posters does not prevent the NCC from keeping up “the nature and character of the seat of the Government of Canada.” It is hardly more than a very minor inconvenience.

The final question to consider, as in all cases where two valid and applicable federal and provincial laws seem to compel different outcomes, is whether the conflict between them is such as to trigger the doctrine of federal paramountcy, which makes the provincial law inoperative to the extent of its inconsistency with the federal one. As the Supreme Court explained in COPA, at par. 64, paramountcy applies either if it is impossible for the subject to comply simultaneously with federal and provincial law, or when compliance with the provincial law, although not actually a violation of the federal one, would frustrate its purpose. Here, it is obviously possible to comply with both laws, since nobody is required to put up election posters on Rue Laurier. But can it be said the the provincial law frustrates the purpose of the federal regulation? As the Supreme Court says in COPA, at par. 66, “the standard for invalidating provincial legislation on the basis of frustration of federal purpose is high,” and – essentially for the reasons I have given in the previous paragraph – I don’t think it is met here. The interference with the purpose of the federal regulation is minor and temporary. I don’t think it amounts to frustration.

So, that’s my two cents. But the applicable tests are vague, and the opposite case is certainly an arguable one. As a taxpayer, I hope the CEO and the NCC don’t waste my money on what it is, after all, a trivial disagreement. But as constitutional law junkie, I think it might make for an interesting case.

L’important, c’est de participer?

Il y a un mois, j’ai publié un billet sur la possibilité qu’un candidat déçu de ne pas recevoir d’invitation à un débat des chefs se tourne vers les tribunaux pour tenter d’obtenir le droit d’y prendre part. Depuis, le blogue a régulièrement eu des visites de la part de gens qui ont utilisé les termes de recherche tels qu’ “injonction débat des chefs”. Si souvent, en fait, que je me demandais si quelque chose se tramait. Eh bien, la réponse est oui, même si je n’ai aucun moyen de vérifier s’il y a vraiment un lien entre toutes ces visites et la campagne de Jean-Martin Aussant qui, comme le rapporte Radio-Canada, demande une injonction pour obtenir le droit de participer aux débats des chefs prévus la semaine prochaine. La demande en injonction d’urgence doit être entendue demain.

Je suis à peu près certain qu’elle sera rejetée. Comme je l’écrivais le mois dernier,

[L]es tribuaux sont réticents à octroyer de telles injonctions. Ils ne le font que dans les cas où la personne qui demande l’injonction démontre qu’elle y a un droit plutôt clair. Si le cas est douteux, l’injonction sera refusée. C’est ce qui se produit avec les débats des chefs. Les demandes d’injonction sont faites en catastrophe, une fois la campagne électorale déclenchée et la formule du débat annoncée. Or, le droit d’un chef qu’on n’y a pas invité d’y participer n’est pas clairement établi.

Il faudrait répondre à plusieurs questions difficiles pour l’établir, même dans le cadre d’un débat sur le fond, qui ne peut pas avoir lieu dans le cadre d’une demande d’injonction d’urgence:

 il faudra trouver un équilibre entre les droits de plusieurs parties impliquées : celui des réseaux de télévision à la liberté d’expression, qui inclut logiquement un droit de choisir le contenu de leur programmation, celui des partis invités de débattre contre qui ils veulent bien (et donc de ne pas débattre contre certains de leurs adversaires), celui des partis exclus de participer au processus électoral, celui peut-être des électeurs à être bien informés… Bref, il s’agirait bel et bien d’un débat complexe et dont l’issue serait pour le moins incertaine. En fait, j’aurais tendance à dire que les tribunaux rejetteront probablement la demande d’un chef de parti exclu, ne serait-ce que parce que l’accepter exigerait aussi de formuler des critères pré-déterminés selon lesquels les invitations devraient être faites. Les tribunaux, selon moi, ne seraient pas capables de le faire, et ne devraient même pas essayer.

Peut-être conscient de ces difficultés, M. Aussant invoque un autre argument, fondé sur “l’esprit de la Loi électorale et de son article 423.” Cet article dispose qu’

[e]n période électorale, tout radiodiffuseur, télédiffuseur ou câblodistributeur ainsi que tout propriétaire de journal, périodique ou autre imprimé peut mettre gratuitement à la disposition des chefs des partis et candidats du temps d’émission à la radio ou à la télévision ou de l’espace dans le journal, le périodique ou autre imprimé, pourvu qu’il offre un tel service de façon équitable, qualitativement et quantitativement, à tous les candidats d’une même circonscription ou à tous les chefs des partis représentés à l’Assemblée nationale ou qui ont recueilli au moins 3% des votes valides lors des dernières élections générales

 Or, bien que je ne l’aie pas discuté dans mon billet précédent, ce même argument a déjà été invoqué dans le même contexte par l’Action Démocratique du Québec, qui essayait d’obtenir pour son chef, Mario Dumont, une participation au débat des chefs en vue de l’élection de 1994. Dans Action Démocratique du Québec c. Parti Libéral du Québec, 1994 CanLII 5919 (QC CA), L’éminent juge Jean-Louis Beaudouin a statué que

 [l]’article 423 lu dans son contexte législatif permet, en effet, à un télédiffuseur de mettre gratuitement à la disposition de partis politiques et de candidats un temps d’antenne pour leur permettre de faire leur propre publicité.  Il s’agit donc d’encourager la diffusion de véritables messages publicitaires conçus, préparés et délivrés par le ou les représentants de chaque parti politique, comme bon leur semble.  Il ne s’applique manifestement pas dans l’hypothèse d’une émission d’affaires publiques où le débat n’est pas laissé à l’initiative des partis ou de leur chef politique, mais imaginé, élaboré et organisé par le diffuseur, selon un scénario précis où chaque participant est tenu de répondre à des questions formulées par les journalistes et où l’initiative est prise par ceux-ci et non laissé à ceux qui se prêtent à cet exercice médiatique.

[L]e droit invoqué n’est pas apparent et, en toute déférence pour l’opinion contraire, ne m’apparaît même pas pouvoir être sérieusement appuyé sur le texte précité.

Il ne suffit pas de torturer un texte pour le faire parler!!!!

(Le soulignement et tous les points d’exclamation sont du juge Beaudouin.)

C’est là non seulement un précédent qui lie le juge de Cour supérieure qui entendra la demande de M. Aussant, mais aussi la décision logique. On a l’impression que pour M. Aussant, en litige comme en politique, l’important, ce n’est pas de gagner, mais de participer.