Conflict of Interest: Civil Liberties and Politicians Don’t Mix

I’m currently researching an essay on the politicization of Civil Liberties Associations. Today I found an interesting video by Stimular0r interviewing Laurence Hildes, the head of the National Lawyers Guild. The video discusses David Eby’s denouncement of the Heart Attack incident during the Olympics.

I do agree with David in this statement- after all, this incident killed the anti-Olympic movement, and was arguably the worst setback in the history of Vancouver activism. However, by making this statement, David was acting as a politician, not as a lawyer. The head of any civil liberties watchdog, nor any lawyer, should ever be making statements against his constituents this way.

Mr Hildes had a lot to say about David’s statement- he made it clear he was unhappy with their politicizing the issue:  “It is not our job to decide if they are wrong, it is our job to defend them. There are people in jail now that the BCCLA is supposed to be providing legal support for, and instead of doing that, they’re denouncing them!”

He then made the most important point I’d like to share:  “As a lawyer, I feel it is unethical and they should be disciplined by the Law Society for doing that!” So, basically what he said is that David was acting like a politician rather than a civil  libertarian. But, we knew that already, didn’t we?

As an interesting side-note, there is a conflict with what Mr. Hildes says about the lack of a presence of BCCLA legal observers. In his words, the observers were pulled-back on request of the demonstrators. But, in a blog by Geoff Meggs, it was apparently stated that they were not sent because of “safety reasons.” Unfortunately, the link on Megg’s link to the SunVincePostTai is no longer working.

I’ll be writing more on this issue in the next week or so. Until then, feel free to write in the comments and share any other examples you know where David crossed the line!

See, told you he is a politician!

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