Dear Mr. Harper: maybe it’s time to abolish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
You may be surprised to hear a member of the pinko-lefty Parliamentary Press Gallery backing you up on this. But before you release the hounds, Mr. Prime Minister, hear me out.
I know that you and your prairie-born cohorts have long ground axes on the idea that the elder Trudeau’s opus for a liberalized state, guarded by a contubernium of dress-wearing Supreme Court justices, needs to go, if the voix du peuple is ever to be heard.
Well, then, frig it, let’s torch the thing.
In the last year, your government has introduced no fewer than a dozen pieces of legislation that the legal community has frantically proclaimed to be unconstitutional, thanks to that pesky Charter.
Online spying bills, immigration legislation that would banish Canadian citizens, a prostitution act that criminalizes sex workers, laws to indefinitely lockup mentally-ill offenders, an election reform that could have disenfranchised tens of thousands.
It will all be undone once the Supreme Court rips out the hearts of those bills, like Kano from Mortal Kombat. All those tens of hours of debate: wasted.
All because those smug judges think that stupid piece of paper gives them power. I mean, to your credit, you’ve turned it into a great fundraising ploy.
But, Mr. Prime Minister, I believe the time has come to put up or shut up. Because this is no way to run a country. This isn’t even a way to run a Denny’s.
Either we can remain in this straight-jacket of “rights” and “freedoms” or we can break free and legislate the minority will onto the majority, like the fathers of Confederation intended!
The current limbo that you’ve left us in is insufferable. Your jimmy-rigged system is at a breaking point right now. Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s catchphrase — “We’re confident that the legislation is Charter complaint” — is starting to get laughs.
Perhaps because, as former Department of Justice lawyer Edgar Schmidt exposed in the course of his lawsuit against Ottawa, your government no longer assesses the likelihood that legislation will be declared unconstitutional. Nowadays, it gauges whether there’s any hope at all that it will stand up. According to Mr. Schmidt, it’s your government’s policy that, so long as there is a five per cent chance — or less — that legislation is constitutional, then it’s good-to-go.
Less than five includes, of course, zero.
You’ve basically turned your Justice Ministers into blue-haired Floridians at a slot machine, kissing quarters and hoping to strike the jackpot. And you’ve sunk in quarter, after quarter, after quarter, gambling on court cases.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice McLachlin is yelling “PULL!” as she steadies a shotgun, ready to blow your otherwise laudable legislative objectives out of the air.
If you want to govern as though there is no Charter, there is a way to do that. I’ll draft your referendum question for you.
May I suggest: “Do you support giving the governing party, whose members you may or may not have voted for, near-absolute control to create and pass legislation, without any real checks from the judiciary?”
It’s a slam dunk!
But hey, we won’t be lawless. We could dust off Diefenbaker’s old Bill of Rights. That document defends Parliament’s right to draft and defend even the most bone-headed of legislation.
After we abolish the Charter, we can go about hacking apart the Supreme Court Act so that you can appoint whomever you like to the Supreme Court. Not that the top bench will really matter, then, but loose strings are worth tying up.
You’ll finally be able to appoint Vic Toews as Chief Justice. Toews, the erstwhile Justice Minister who decried the Charter as “preventing elected bodies from implementing social policy.” Maybe you could even throw a bone to whichever current minister told this newspaper that the former premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba who fought the creation of the Charter for fear of diminished provincial power were “prophets.”
One thing is for sure, Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve got to do something. Simon Potter, past Canadian Bar Association President, heralded the rumblings of a coup when he addressed his lefty compatriots at some lofty lawyers summit last week. He said that your government’s “headstrong” approach would eventually lead to dysfunction.
“The system eventually breaks,” he says. “That’s where we’re headed.”
His opinion appeared to be that Canada was a tripartite Parliamentary democracy with three branches of government that worked in conjunction with each other.
But you and I both know, Mr. Harper, that your system — where there is a single branch, and the Prime Minister uses it to hit opponents over the head — is superior.
So, Mr. Harper, perhaps we can avoid lawless anarchy and just get rid of our constitution.
Because working constructively with the legal community sounds like so much work.
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