Contrarians at the Gates

On responsible scholarship and engagement with heterodox ideas

Professor Newman has posted his own response to the “article” in which Stepan Wood, Meinhard Doelle, and Dayna Scott attempt to besmirch his well-earned reputation as one of Canada’s leading constitutional law scholars. As he says, “it is a serious threat to responsible academic discourse to make mistake-riddled arguments in ways that paint academic interlocutors as personally irresponsible and lacking integrity”, which, as he shows, is what Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott have done. As he also explains, while his critics purport to be concerned about “responsible scholarship”, their argument is so focused on just one article that he wrote that one cannot but “ask what the goal really was”. I will venture some speculation about the answer to this question.

To be blunt, I think that the goal is to constrain the scope of what may be said by academics writing on politically salient issues, how it can be said, and where. Now, Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott deny this. They write:

Vigorous debate and disagreement are the lifeblood of academic discourse and the engine for advancement of knowledge. To insist on rigour and fairness in such debate is not to impose “political correctness” on scholars who espouse unpopular views. Nor is it a manifestation of the fragility of a liberal academic establishment unable to handle controversial perspectives. (13)

Of course this is true, as a general proposition. But we need not take on faith the claims of those who would have us believe that they do no more than dispassionately insist on rigour and fairness. We can look at the specifics of their argument, and at the way in which it is framed. Professor Newman has mostly done the former. I shall mostly do the latter.

One striking thing about the Wood, Doelle, and Scott article is that it is not just about “responsible scholarship” as a timeless value, as Professor Newman’s response is. It’s about “responsible scholarship in a crisis” (emphasis mine). This framing is not just a flourish. The entire opening section of the article argues that debates about climate policy are occurring “in the context of an unprecedented crisis”, (2) and that scholarly commentary ― and hence the norms of responsible scholarship ― are especially salient at such times because “[a]ctors in government, civil society and business often appeal to academic expertise to diagnose and resolve crises”. (3)

The norms to which Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott appeal are not crisis-specific, to be sure (though, as Professor Newman shows, their relevance to their argument is questionable), but this framing is not innocent. It reinforces the dynamic which my colleague Allan Beever decries in his article on “Engagement, Criticism, and the Academic Lawyer”, (2017) 27 New Zealand Universities Law Review 1111. Professor Beever suggests that

academic lawyers, given their subordinate position in the legal system, are all too desperate to believe that they really matter, believing that if they matter that must be in something like the way that judges matter, thereby coming to believe that “dangerous” ideas have to be battled against in the way that they would be were they, say, influencing the decisions of the Supreme Court. (1125)

Of course, if the dangerous ideas are likely to influence the decision of a Supreme Court in a crisis, they are all the more dangerous and must be battled against all the stronger. This is why I say that Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott are seeking to limit what can be said about politically salient issues: it is the topical nature and valence of Professor Newman’s ideas that trigger their attack. And they make no bones about the fact that they indeed worried about Professor Newman’s ideas influencing the Supreme Court of Canada’s consideration of the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax legislation.

I suspect, moreover, that this “crisis” framing helps explain why Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott escalate the battle further and attack not only Professor Newman’s “dangerous” ideas but his integrity. His work, they say, “crosses a line that separates distortion and disparagement from constructive scholarly debate” (12) and “does not uphold standards of scrupulous fairness in scholarly research”. (13) It cannot be trusted and should be summarily disregarded. This makes actual scholarly debate unnecessary and indeed impossible ― there’s no point or even meaning in debating a dishonest person.

Yet this is facile and self-serving. Instead of doing the hard work of refuting the arguments they disagree with, Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott attempt to discredit the person advancing them. This is also, of course, a myopic tactic that can and is bound to be used against scholars who agree with the substantive positions that Professors Wood Doelle, and Scott would defend. Indeed I’m pretty sure that ad hominem attacks on academics have long been more of a “thing” on the political right than on the left, not necessarily because the right is somehow even more immoral than the left, but simply because the academy has always tilted leftwards, making it easier for the right to find targets there. The tilt is growing ever stronger, and as it does so the cost to the political right of attacking not only individual scholars but also entire disciplines and the academy as a whole falls ― there is less and less of a risk of making victims with friendly fire. “Progressive” scholars who make personal discreditation an acceptable way of conducting academic disputes are only helping sharpen the weapons that will be directed at them.

But regardless of political implications, what is certain is that personal discreditation destroys the possibility of genuine scholarly debate bringing truth to light. Such debate requires mutual criticism, but is incompatible with enmity. As Professor Beever writes, “it is important … to distinguish between criticism and hostility. Criticism can be extremely robust, but it always takes its object seriously.” (1125) Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott don’t want their readers to take the work they attack seriously, and so prove Professor Beever’s point that “[i]n law … hostility all too frequently prevents genuine criticism from occurring”. (1125)

Let me turn now briefly to my claim that Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott want to limit the manner in which scholarly debate can happen. They chide Professor Newman both for criticizing the work of particular scholars, for example making a point of noting that one of them is “his junior untenured colleague”. (Ironically, especially given Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott’s concern with distortions, the person in question is no longer Professor Newman’s colleague.) But then they also accuse Professor Newman of “casual generalizations [that] are examples of sloppy research”, (10) because he does not name other scholars who represent the trends against which he inveighs.

You’re damned if you do name specific scholars to criticize ― especially if they are junior colleagues ― and equally damned if you don’t. Now, one might debate how much a scholar should name the names of those he or she criticizes. Professor Beever suggests that this should be done sparingly, and widely held positions should be attacked without singling out individual representatives. I’m not sure I quite agree. But in any case it’s one or the other. Either generalizing is bad, and one should focus on individuals ― but then, it really shouldn’t matter who they are ― or one should be allowed to generalize. (I’ll note that, as a still relatively junior academic, I rather resent the suggestion that I should be treated with kid gloves by my elders and betters, at my institution or anywhere else.)

Besides, there is also something perverse about Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott attacking the tone of Professor Newman’s article and its alleged lack of fairness to the targets of its criticism in an article that is anything but charitable, and indeed quite unfair, to Professor Newman, as he eloquently shows. Yet this is hardly surprising. There is a consistent asymmetry to tone-policing in the Canadian legal community. Scholars who criticize the received wisdom and its upholders are expected to be on their best behaviour. Those who uphold it are held to no such standard.

Finally, I turn to the question of where scholarly debate can take place. Professors Wood, Doelle, and Scott write that “[a] rigorous peer review process would normally catch most problems like the ones we have identified”, (13) and add, in a footnote, that “[t]he Saskatchewan Law Review failed to reply to inquiries … whether Professor Newman’s article was peer reviewed”. (13) Some of the subsequent Twitter discussion also focused on this issue. Yet to the extent that the implication here is that “responsible scholarship” is peer-reviewed scholarship, this is beside the point.

One issue is that, just like the invocation of crisis and the call for respectful tone, the appeal to the authority of peer review is less innocent than it might seem. As I wrote here, “the peer review process is a bit of a crapshoot” for heterodox ideas. Even when they are well argued, “some reviewers will bristle and see their role as that of gatekeepers preserving scholarship from heresy”. To be sure, as I further pointed out, heterodox scholarship can make it through peer review. But the issue of excessive gate-keeping, often applying double standards, is real enough. To insist that only scholarship that has made it through peer review matters is to load the scales in favour of conformist ideas, which have an easier time overcoming this hurdle.

But the real problem is more fundamental. Peer review simply does not guarantee quality; plenty of rubbish makes it through peer review and gets published, while good ideas get rejected. When Joshua Gans and George Shepherd asked

140 leading economists, including all living winners of the Nobel Prize and John Bates Clark Medal, to describe instances in which journals rejected their papers [they] hit a nerve. More than 60 percent responded, many with several blistering pages. (165)

It would be interesting to see a similar study in law, but I rather doubt that peer review in our discipline does much better.

Conversely, the fact that an idea did not go through peer review ― for example because it was published in an American journal, or even on a blog ― does not mean that it is bad. Readers can decide for themselves. A lawyer, or at least an expert in a given field, let alone a judge assisted by a platoon of clerks, can always check for him- or herself whether an argument holds up ― whether the sources it cites support it, whether it is missing something. If one wants to criticize the defects of an argument, one should identify them, instead of lazily musing about whether the argument has been peer reviewed.

This, ultimately, is a big part of what the matter comes down to: faced with deep and seemingly consequential disagreements, are we willing to do the hard work of explaining why our opponents are misguided and mistaken? Or are we content to discredit or tone-police them, or say that they didn’t published their ideas in the right format or in the right venue, so as to avoid substantive engagement?

But the issue is not limited to the avoidance of hard work. In a crisis it is tempting to take shortcuts. The lure of sophistry is too powerful to resist. If ad hominem attacks, tone policing, and arguments from authority can help defeat the danger that wrong ideas, or wrong people, will influence decision-makers, why not resort to them? The contrarians are at the gates ― this is no time for old-fashioned notions of probity.

Yet probity, as well as curiosity about ideas one disagrees with, and friendliness to those who expound them, are the perennial values that no crisis can put to rest. Responsible scholars, tear down these walls! Open these gates!

On Responsible Scholarship

A Reply to Stepan Wood, Meinhard Doelle, and Dayna Scott

Dwight Newman, QC, BA, JD, BCL, MPhil, DPhil, Professor of Law & Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Rights in Constitutional and International Law, University of Saskatchewan

Accusations of irresponsible scholarship are a serious matter, and they have an even graver dimension when they give the appearance of being framed and timed so as to attempt to interfere with academic contributions to a major public debate.  In this post, I address a recent paper by Stepan Wood, Meinhard Doelle, and Dayna Scott attempting to challenge my well-known carbon tax article.  I must express serious concerns with their characterization of my article.  I must also express that the publication of their paper threatens academic discourse through the intimidating effects it could have on scholars.

I explain these points here and am grateful for the opportunity to be able to publish a response promptly.  The Dalhousie Law Journal declined to grant me the opportunity to publish a reply alongside the paper in their forthcoming issue. 

In 2019, I participated in what was pitched to me as a “duelling-articles debate” in the Saskatchewan Law Review after the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s decision in the carbon tax case.  For my contribution, I published a 6000-word article arguing that the carbon tax faced more constitutional obstacles than many had initially expected.  This was an argument about constitutional law—I am on record elsewhere as regretting that the federal government undertook a constitutionally problematic design for its carbon tax, as I am supportive of environmental policies that could include properly designed carbon taxes.  Constitutions are not mere debris to be run over on the road of public policy but must be respected as the rules of the road.

Last week, Professor Stepan Wood of the UBC Faculty of Law tweeted out his co-authored August 2020 Centre for Law & The Environment working paper (released in a paper series edited by Professor Wood) that is now also a forthcoming article in the Dalhousie Law Journal.  While aspects of that article frame it as an intellectual discussion on standards of responsible scholarship, (and it is somewhat longer than my own article), it is nonetheless focused almost entirely on my article. 

Both the conclusion of the paper and Professor Wood’s subsequent tweets confirm that he aimed to publish it before the Supreme Court of Canada hearing in which my article might be discussed, seemingly to try to discourage the Court from drawing upon my work by arguing that it was “irresponsible” research.  I do believe that the paper Wood tweeted out fulfilled what it set out to do and unfortunately does not contribute in any positive way to legal academic discourse.  The Wood, Doelle, and Scott (Wood/Doelle/Scott) paper paints what are reasonable scholarly points as irresponsible research, but it does so by pulling much of what I said out of context and inaccurately.  I will mention just some examples here:

  1. On p 6, Wood/Doelle/Scott suggest that I must not have read beyond the title of an article in interpreting the author as having hoped for changes in the constitution to accommodate climate change policy.  As it turns out, I had read not only the title but the article itself, as would be apparent in the fact that I engage with legal arguments contained in that article.  On the point at issue, that other scholar’s article has multiple passages referring to the need to adapt the interpretation of the constitution in light of new realities, which I am free to refer to as arguments for constitutional change.
  2. On pp 6-7, Wood/Doelle/Scott inaccurately say that I “complain” of “incoherence” in a scholar’s work where I made no such claim. 
  3. On p 7, Wood/Doelle/Scott suggest I should have read a particular article.  I actually discussed that very article and showed how it had problems in its understanding of the relationship between the legal doctrines of POGG and interjurisdictional immunity.
  4. On pp 7-9, Wood/Doelle/Scott object to my characterization of an elitist strand in some environmental law scholarship.  I cited  an article on regulatory capture (and actually did not challenge the part of the article on regulatory capture, as Wood/Doelle/Scott imply I did), and that article concludes with a three-page discussion of how academics can take a larger role in guiding the democratic process on environmental issues.  Some may think that a good idea or even a conventional one.  I simply identify its elitist dimension in a footnote that bears on the context for argument about the carbon tax.  I use accessible terms, but my footnotes make very clear that there are scholarly works that readers can consult further.
  5. On p 9, when I discussed a number of popular media pieces asserting Saskatchewan’s carbon tax litigation had no chance, Wood/Doelle/Scott say that I incorrectly interpreted the reference of the pronoun “we” in one of these pieces.  Wood/Doelle/Scott say that “we” referred to all Canadians.  I had followed the apparent reference of the pronoun “we” in the immediately prior sentence as those litigating on climate change.  Wood/Doelle/Scott could be right, but the op ed was ambiguous and was just as consistent with my reading.  To use this singular example of a different reading of “we” to claim that I made “distort[ing] statements” about media pieces is absurd.
  6. The Wood/Doelle/Scott paper also suggests that I am “unfair” to the courts because I provide a “blinkered” account of the case law (p 10).  A short article in a duelling-articles debate cannot discuss every authority at length, nor is it meant to do so.  Although Wood/Doelle/Scott criticize me for not engaging extensively with the case law in a footnote where I raise the possibility that the national concern branch of POGG is not well grounded in legal precedent, my footnote ends by saying “a full examination of those arguments would exceed the permitted limits for this article”, thus acknowledging that I was simply raising a possible argument that could be considered elsewhere.  I do not think any courts are troubled by this.

There are other examples.  Given that the Wood/Doelle/Scott paper sought to contribute to discussing the topic of responsible scholarship, it is difficult to see its contribution to that topic when it contains a significant number of errors about my article and what I say. 

A good article on responsible scholarship in a legal context could be quite interesting.  In their paper, at pp 4-5, Wood/Doelle/Scott link several quotes about norms of responsible scholarship, which might be the start of a discussion.  However, they take most of these quotes out of context, without explanation of the fact that they have done so.  In their proper contexts, these statements refer to approaches to data in scientific contexts or to internal operations of research teams.  Wood/Doelle/Scott apply them without discussion or explanation to treatment of scholarly sources and external scholars.  It would be interesting to analyze to what extent the pertinent norms for these contexts do or do not track precisely those other norms.  Discussing that would require an intellectual work going beyond what Wood/Doelle/Scott did.  In addition to considering the differences in the context of legal research, it would be important to consider the ways in which legal scholars write in a variety of different genres, ranging from more specialized academic contexts to more accessible practitioner-friendly pieces to public-facing pieces.  A strong contribution on responsible scholarship would also discuss and compare several different examples rather than focusing solely on one article combined with a few lines about another.  The Wood/Doelle/Scott paper falls short on these measures in a number of ways, leading one to ask what the goal really was.

It is one thing to make unconvincing arguments, as happens in both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed work.  But it is a serious threat to responsible academic discourse to make mistake-riddled arguments in ways that paint academic interlocutors as personally irresponsible and lacking integrity.  Obviously, I agree entirely that responsible research practices facilitate good research and the contribution that academia can make to society.  However, purporting to adjudicate responsible academic discourse in the way that Wood/Doelle/Scott did sets a horrible precedent.  A scholar who makes an argument, popular or unpopular, should be able to do so without lightly being called irresponsible.  Other scholars who have seen events unfolding even in this one instance might well feel intimidated from participating in academic discourse by the prospect that they will face attacks not just on their ideas but on their integrity.

De la connerie

Je voudrais revenir sur une chronique qu’a publiée hier Alain Dubuc dans La Presse. Faisant allusion à la une récente de Libération qui, s’adressant à l’homme le plus riche de France, qui aurait demandé la nationalité belge dans le but de payer moins d’impôts une fois établi dans le plat pays, hurlait “[c]asse-toi, riche con!”, M. Dubuc se demande si les québécois aisés seront, eux-aussi, tentés de “se casser” en réponse aux augmentations d’impôts prévues par le Parti québécois. (Étant donné la position minoritaire du gouvernement du PQ, il n’est pas certain que ces augmentations auront lieu.) Ce qui m’intéresse ici, ce n’est pas l’aspect économique (les hausses prévues sont-elles nécessaires? vont-elles causer un exode d’entrepreneurs?), mais plutôt certaines questions relatives à la moralité politique tant de la hausse proposée que du départ possible de certains contribuables en réponse à cette hausse.

M. Dubuc suggère que les mesures proposées par le PQ sont illégitimes:

Ces taux élevés posent néanmoins un problème d’équité. Les deux tiers des contribuables visés ont un revenu entre 130 000 et 200 000$. Ce ne sont pas des Tony Accurso, mais des gens tout simplement à l’aise, souvent des salariés. Avant de leur taper dessus, il aurait fallu démontrer qu’ils ne paient pas leur juste part. Et démontrer que l’effort que l’on exige d’eux était essentiel. Ce n’est pas le cas. On leur demande d’absorber une contribution santé qui visait 4 millions de personnes et de payer le gel des droits de scolarité. Il y a là un choix idéologique qui entache la légitimité de la ponction.

Je pense que M. Dubuc a tort. Certes, augmenter les impôts sur certains contribuables pour redonner de l’argent à d’autres relève d’un choix idéologique. Et alors? Ne pas le faire, c’est un choix idéologique aussi, seulement animé par une idéologie différente. Comme le reconnaît M. Dubuc lui-même, “[l]a fiscalité, […] ce n’est jamais neutre.” Quels que soient les choix qu’on fait en la matière, l’idéologie y joue un rôle, et il faudrait éviter de prétendre que nos choix sont objectifs alors que ceux de nos adversaires, et seulement ceux-là, sont contaminés par l’idéologie.

Mais si on aurait tort d’essayer de délégitimer le choix politique d’augmenter les impôts sur les contribuables aisés sous prétexte qu’il s’agit d’un choix idéologique, on aurait tout aussi tort de vouloir délégitimer le choix de certains de ces contribuables de “se casser”, à la manière de Libération (dont le titre était, on s’en doute bien, une antiphrase). Car il n’y a rien d’immoral à ce que les membres d’une minorité―et il s’agit bien d’une petite minorité, 135 000 personnes sur les quelque 5 millions d’électeurs québécois―qui, par définition, ne peuvent prévaloir dans une compétition électorale démocratique, cherchent à échapper aux prétentions de la majorité. Ceux qui ne peuvent pas faire compter leur voix ont l’option de la sortie, et l’injuste consiste non pas à ce qu’ils l’exercent, mais à vouloir la leur enlever. Et cela ne dépend pas de la justice de sa revendication sous-jacente. Même si on pense que l’état est en droit d’interdire la consommation des drogues, on ne prétendrait pas, je pense, que la personne qui déménage dans le pays voisin qui, lui, la permet, afin de s’y adonner commet une injustice quelconque. (Pourtant, cette personne-là aussi nous prive de ses impôts et de sa contribution éventuelle à la chose publique.) Il y a quelque chose de pervers, de cruel, à dire à une personne que non seulement on n’a pas la même vision de ses droits qu’elle, mais qu’elle ne doit même pas aller rejoindre un groupe qui, lui, partage la sienne.

La fiscalité, comme bien d’autres enjeux de politique publique, divise les opinions. C’est normal, c’est tant mieux même. Cependant, lorsque nous débattons nos opinions contradictoires, il ne faut pas tomber dans le piège de diaboliser nos adversaires. C’est une chose que de les accuser de ne pas maîtriser les faits ou de ne pas comprendre les implications ou les conséquences de leurs positions. C’en est une autre que de les accuser de mauvaise foi. On peut les traiter de cons si on veut,  mais pas de salauds. Car c’est ça, justement, la vraie connerie.

In Defence of Offensive Government

The Volokh Conspiracy’s Randy Barnett points to an essay by Matt Welch arguing that the more government expends, the more  it gives offence to this or that person or group, because its intervention conflicts with someone’s moral views. It’s not just penal laws and regulatory mandates (which prohibit people doing something they find morally required or require something they find morally offensive); so are various tax breaks and incentives, because “built into each tax or subsidy goodie for Hollywood (or Detroit, or the Farm Belt) is an explicit value judgment: This industry is inherently more valuable, more worthy of support, than” some other one. And that judgment is also bound to be offensive to some. Libertarians come out the worst, it seems: they “have their values stomped on by governments every day.” (Right- or left-wingers, I guess, only every other day, or election cycle.) Mr. Welch argues that we need to realize that “[a]ny power that government has to do something you like will invariably be used for something you abhor.” The way out of this conundrum is to “[r]educe the scope of government,” which limits its ability to give offence and helps “promot[e] true tolerance of diverging viewpoints.”

I have some instinctive sympathy for this argument, but it cannot take us very far. One obvious weakness in it is that government inaction is itself often offensive to lots of people. Government inaction on abortion is offensive to the pro-life crowd; government inaction on inequality is offensive to the “Occupy” crowd (and many others besides). Perhaps less obviously, but not less pervasively, there is widespread (and morally charged) disagreement over how to do even things which (almost) everyone agrees the government needs to be doing, whether its policing, raising money to pay for common defence, or ensuring that every child can and does get some decent schooling.

I don’t think that there is much to be gained by trying to get the government to give less offence. One thing we might do instead is get a little less offended. Perhaps not every disagreement over public policy is, or should be regarded as, morally charged and thus grounds for the losing side being offended. Disagreements over policy are often reasonable; and even when the other side is dumb, it is not necessarily wicked, so that its winning is cause for regret, but not offence. But I doubt that this argument can be taken very far either. Many policy questions do involve moral judgment, and many policies will not unreasonably be seen as offensive by those who disagree with them. For the most part, the only thing we can do is to grow a somewhat thicker skin. Let’s get offended if we like, but let’s try not to get so exercised about it. And let’s try to be polite with each other, no matter how offended we feel.

The A-Word

Why is it that we cannot have a sane conversation if the word ‘abortion’ comes up? It is a difficult moral issue of course, but so are others, from the death penalty to the balance governments must strike between freedom and equality, or freedom and security. Yet although debate on these issues is often heated, it seldom degenerates so much  as any public discussion about abortion quickly does.

Latest case in point, the debate on the motion presented by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth to re-open debate about abortion in Parliament, on which the Globe reports here. Mr. Woodworth’s own rhetoric is of the worst you’re-with-us-or-you-like-pedophiles kind; he claims that those who disagree with his view that abortion should be criminalized “see the child as an object and an obstacle, even a parasite.” But his opponents are no better. Both the opposition and the government Whip, Gordon O’Connor, invoke the spectre of back alley abortions, of women having “no choice” and being driven to “desperation” (in the words of former MP and Senator Lucie Pépin, in her appeal to sign a petition created by the Liberal Party.

Much of the petition’s actual wording is a misrepresentation. It claims that “In 1988 the Supreme Court ruled: ‘The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.'” The reference is obviously to R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30. Only, the language quoted does not appear in the decision―it is lifted from the headnote. More importantly, it is a summary of the concurring opinion of Justice Wilson, the only one who probably thought there was a constitutional right to abortion in all circumstances; the two plurality opinions (each supported by two judges) struck down the abortion provisions on narrower grounds, and left the door open to Parliamentary reconsideration.*

But we are told now that even talking about it would lead to horrors that “should never happen in a civilized society” (Mr. O’Connor). Really? Nordic countries are usually thought of as models of social liberalism and gender equality. Yet all of them make abortion illegal at some stage in the pregnancy. (My source is, alas, Wikipedia… I do hope it is reliable on this.) Norway―which imposes a 40% minimum female membership requirement on its corporations’ boards of directors―allows abortion on demand for only 12 weeks, and on application (which is almost always granted) until the 18th week of the pregnancy. In Sweden, abortion on demand is allowed until the 18th week, but only in very exceptional circumstances afterwards. In Denmark, abortion on demand is allowed for 12 weeks. And―though I stand to be corrected―I haven’t heard horror stories of back alley abortions in these countries we often look up to.

Of course this may well be a case where we should not be looking up to them. Perhaps they get it wrong, and the current Canadian state of affairs is right. But how can we know this if we are not allowed to have a conversation that includes the A-word?

* I have written to the LPC about this. I will update if and when I get an answer. UPDATE: I never got one.