A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Cons V The Courts!

Andrew Coyne wonders if the Harper Regiem is deliberately challenging the Courts with their various 'unconstitutional' pieces of legislation in order to get them to overstep their bounds and make a federal “not withstanding” exception to our charter more acceptable.

Not only is the government making no apparent effort to “Charter-proof” legislation, that is by seeking the advice of Justice department lawyers on its constitutionality in advance of its introduction, as it is required by law to do, it seems if anything to be taking advice on how to offend it.
It is impossible to read the several dubious provisions of Bill C-51, the Conservatives’ anti-terrorism legislation — allowing the police to detain people on suspicion an act of terrorism “may” be about to occur; permitting intelligence officers to break the law, bizarrely, with the permission of a judge; banning the promotion of terrorism “in general” — in anything but this light.
Certainly the manner in which they proceed in parliament seems to indicate that they have no tolerance for anyone who questions their judgement and a clear disdain for any process or restriction upon their proposed new laws.

It is no secret that many Conservatives have long chafed at the notion that acts of Parliament should be subject to constitutional override. It wasn’t the Court’s judgment they questioned — it was the whole concept of judicial review. For these Conservatives, the remedy, short of abolishing the Charter, has always been the notwithstanding clause: Section 33, allowing governments to pass legislation in defiance of the Charter, provided they declare openly they are doing so, and with the stipulation that the legislation must be renewed every five years to remain in effect.

As Andrew says, once the precedence has been set then they will have no compunction with using such means to get their own way again, as has been shown time and time again over the last few years. It is this slow nibbling away at our democratic processes that has let them gradually destroy the check and balances upon power to the point where we teeter on the edge of a dictatorship.

The stated ambition of many judicial conservatives, then, such as the panel of legal scholars that appeared at last week’s Manning Conference, has been to revive it: not merely to invoke the clause in this or that case, but as often as possible, and thus to re-establish the primacy of Parliament, as they see it, over the Charter, and the Court.
I do not think it is too far-fetched to suppose that that is the Harper government’s objective. They will pick their opportunity carefully. They will not do so, I do not think, over the assisted suicide decision, where they are on the wrong side of public opinion. But on something unassailably popular, like a crime bill, or an “Anti-Terrorism Act”? And once they’ve broken the taboo, it is not hard to see them doing it again, and again, until the point has been made.
Given the past behaviour of this regime it is not much of a stretch to believe that they would consider such a move to circumnavigate our existing laws, the courts and our constitution.

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Owen Gray said...

I believe that Coyne is on to something, Rural. One way or other, they intend to destroy the crowning achievement of the Trudeau years.

Rural said...

No room for compromise or listening to alternative views with this lot, Owen. We are right, ram it through and damn the consequences is their way of governing.

rumleyfips said...

I agree that Harper is deliberately producing unconstitutional bills but I think he is playing the hise base more than contradicting the court.

What he seems to miss is that the reformers , who are the only Charter haters in Canada , never went above 18%. The other 14% con vote is more moderate. The Supreme Court had high approval ratings that verify this split. Most Canadian voters can spot unconstitutional legislation and support trashing it. Many think the court is too passive and too slow.

Sociopaths often escalate bad behaviour until they collapse into failure. Baiting the court may be an important factor in Harperès downfall.

Unknown said...

He has a pathological hatred for the Charter of rights and Freedoms because it was created by Pierre Trudeau and he has a pathological hatred for Trudeau, also because he is a dictator and dictators despise judicial process. He will do anything to trash liberals as irrational as that is Harpers Liberal/Trudeau hatred is actually the motive that drives him in much of his behaviour. The psychology of this hatred would
be an interesting study for any
psychologogist.How ironic it would be
if the man he despised Pierre
Trudeau's son Justin Trudeau won the
election in October.The combination of hatred and tyranny is at the core of Harpers identity. It's who he is!

Rural said...

Pamela & Rumley, whatever his motivation or mindset it is clear that he and his regime has little respect for the Constitution, the Courts or our Parliamentary Democracy.