Sunday, July 20, 2014

Harper Tries To Foment A Crisis

Harper has taken a surprising number of losing cases to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Most, if not all, were obviously places where the government's position is one that is in direct contradiction with the Constitution of Canada.  Even a relative neophyte in Constitutional law in Canada can spot that, whether it is Harper's desire to "reform" the Senate or the government's daft position on prostitution.  

Now we have the CPC caucus starting to trot out the "undemocratic" talking points.
Dan Albas, the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, says that while he respects the courts he also believes an increasing number of groups are using litigation to advance policies the government will not put forward. 
"Often the Plan B is to do an end-run around our democratic process and turn to the courts where it seems some judges are quite happy to engage. This can result in decisions contrary to what have been decided in our democratic process," Albas told CBC Radio's The House.
Let's see ... the government is unwilling to engage with the issues that various groups are raising (presumably on ideological grounds, given the pattern of the Harper Government), so they take it to the courts.

First of all, that means that these groups are raising issues which are not just minor problems, but in fact have a legal basis where the current policy or laws are in fact inconsistent with the fundamental principles of Canada's legal system and laws.

Second, if the government is unwilling to engage on these issues, they leave the public with little other option but to force the matter by pursuing justice in the courts.
"Basically what you're having is a judge can overturn and then cost the taxpayer a lot of money without any accountability or representation on their behalf," Albas said. 
... 
The British Columbia MP said it's important to ask whether there is the right balance between the executive branch and the judicial branch to make sure every Canadian is well-represented. 
"If citizens through the democratic process are unable to make policy decisions because of unelected judges and well-financed interest groups, I submit we collectively lose," Albas said.
Well, we already know that Harper views the Constitution of this country as an impediment to his goals.  It stands to reason that he is also going to see the judiciary and any other branch of government that would dare challenge his wisdom as a bad thing too.

The Conservatives are basically taking the stance that as the governing party, they have a right to decide what issues they are going to address and when.  This is true ... to a point.  However, the courts can declare a given law or policy as illegal / unconstitutional on a variety of grounds when a case is put before them.

This is not "undemocratic" in the least.  In fact it is one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy.  There are checks and balances in place which curb the power of the "democratic majority" (which I will point out in the last election was effectively just over 20% of the eligible voters) to run amok.

The point of an independent judiciary whose sole job it is to study and interpret the law of Canada is to ensure that the legislative and executive branches of our government cannot arbitrarily abuse the rights of citizens.  Make no mistake about it, what Harper proposed doing with the Senate abused your rights every bit as much as some of his laws.  By attempting to undermine the amending formula, he was effectively trying to set a precedent that the executive branch could propose and enact radical changes to the foundation of this country's laws without engaging with the provinces - thereby negating your democratic voice at not one level of government but two levels of government.

The judiciary in Canada isn't being "undemocratic" at all.  It is the Harper Government which is being undemocratic, and attempting to impose the tyranny of their followers on all Canadians without being held accountable.

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