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Eat your peas

My Tuesday National Post column is a workmanlike attempt to set context for Alberta's controversial (and inevitably Supreme Court-bound) tort reforms on soft-tissue injuries. Like much of my work, it is not a polemic for or against a particular policy, just an effort to encourage straightforward thinking about it. It is odd that when it comes to healthcare, the Canadian right has sometimes been quick to embrace the "judicial activism" it ordinarily laments, and the Canadian left often seems willing to let individual rights stand in the way of central planning for efficiency (which is the opposite of the inherent logical premise of medicare). And I'm not sure my own thinking about tort reform is any more coherent through-and-through. But as the column indicates, I am reluctant to regard the right to sue for wholly subjective pain-and-suffering damages (which, unlike pecuniary damages, could conceivably be multiplied or divided a thousandfold without impinging on their supposed rationality) as anything but a historically contingent policy choice that governments should feel free to reverse.

A disclosure note I couldn't work into the text: the lawyer for the plaintiffs is Fred Kozak, who is a dominant figure in Canadian media law and has fought on the side of press freedom in many if not most of the important recent cases, including ones to which the National Post was party. He is someone journalists should be naming their children after, and fully deserves to be on any hypothetical shortlist for "Greatest Living Edmontonian".


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Comments (15)

I'm not going to lie, Mr. Cosh: when I saw on Twitter that you'd written an introductory note to your latest column, I was hoping it would explain how that court goring an ox metaphor worked. I mean, don't oxen usually do the goring? Is this the modern editorialist's "man bites dog": man gores ox?

I mean, Google acknowledges that it exists as a simile, even if it's mostly a vehicle for tepid Al Gore puns. But this is bugging me far more than events critical to the judicial future of the country I live in ever could.

I don't really have a good answer for you. The metaphor is a dead one and I failed to screen it out (or at least make sure it was in some sense "alive" in my head). I will try to do better.


This was Colby's cry for help. I'm worried about him. Out of concern (and a small commission), I am submitting his name to A&E's "Intervention". Colby, in time you will come to understand that the camera crew in your bathroom is there because they care.

When you're a newspaper columnist, you can always just cry for help by typing "Help" 750 times and e-mailing it to your editor.

James Fulford:

I emailed the Post article to Walter Olson, and he's linked it at at PointOfLaw.com.


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