Letter to the Editor, Vancouver Sun, September 17, 1997
Although the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is grateful for the broad coverage given our work by Douglas Todd (“Civil liberties on the firing line”, September 13, 1997), we are disappointed at the one-sided portrayal of our views.
The impression conveyed by the article is that the BCCLA single-mindedly fights for individual rights while ignoring the broad public interest. In fact, when setting the BCCLA’s position on the many controversial issues that come before it, our Board of Directors is acutely aware of the social consequences of honouring individual rights, and often concludes that the public interest is paramount and overrides the individual rights in question.
For example, we do not oppose the law giving police the right to collect DNA samples from suspects, and we do not, in principle, oppose limited community notification about child sex offenders.
What we do consistently oppose is the view that individual rights must always give way whenever upholding them carries a social cost. The preservation of individual rights is essential for the health of our democratic society. This is hardly a radical position—it is the basis for our Constitution.