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Richard Chevalier Weilbrenner November 5, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/363162/outrage-au-peuple
The cup of injustice runneth over. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is considered a criminal by the Superior Court of Quebec. And, barring an appeal overturning the judgement of the first tribunal, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will forever be branded as having, “knowingly incited […] disobedience of the orders of the Court, including those of judge Jean-François Émond of May 2, 2012, thus committing a contempt of court.”
It’s as if we are in a nightmare, but we are awake, and we read right. The tribunal, basing its decisions on principles of law and jurisprudence, gave reasons for its decision. One can wonder how the student Jean-François Morasse took the news. His cause prevailed. Is his heart joyful? Is he a little ashamed? Deep down, it doesn’t really matter: to ask these questions is to answer them, a little bit.
The question is whether the tribunal’s decision respects our system of administration of justice. The answer is yes, if you consider only the legal arguments. But the answer has to be no, if it is based on the natural feeling of what is just and what is unjust – that is, if you answer the question based on fairness.
In this case, the distance between “justice” and “judiciary” is striking. The former has to do with fairness; the latter has to do with the ability to distinguish true from false and carries a judgement of law. It is simple for a judge to base a decision on “justice.” That is what we expect from judges: if the rule of law is respected, we can conclude that justice has been done. But the case we are dealing with is not so simple.
The beliefs held by the citizen Gabrield Nadeau-Dubois did not materialize out of nowhere, but out of an unprecedented climate of confrontation between a peaceful protest movement and a government of patently bad faith who turned a blind eye to the excesses of the forces of order. It was a government that took great care to never talk of the student “strike,” insisting on speaking of the “boycott” of classes (a word which is found in the Émond judgement, to the diminishment of boycotts). It was a government that obscured the line between vandals and the larger protest movement. It was a government that was severely criticized by a large part of the population, the press and observers of social phenomena.
There are many attenuating circumstances that judge Émond could have considered to render a more nuanced decision, he did not, opting instead for a strict application of the law. Far be it from me to say this was to send a message.
But I can’t help but think that justice might not have been done as well as we would have liked. Nor was there an attempt made to bring the two sides closer after such contempt of the people, for which Jean Charest is responsible: Jean Charest who, under cover of defending democracy, instead kneecapped its fundamental principles, and who insulted the intelligence of the people by his distortions of the facts and his grotesque, ridiculous statements.
What is more dangerous to society: challenging unjust laws, refusing the play the same game as the professional manipulators, going to the barricades if need be? Again, to ask these questions is to suggest their answers.
The contempt Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is said to have displayed is nothing compared to the contempt of “Badge 728” who spit in the face of the entire people. It’s not just the “red squares” who were on the receiving end of this contempt. All of society was held in contempt by the scorn poured out by the government of Jean Charest, and by the foul language of Badge 728.