Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

and some pertinent quotes on the 25th anniversary of the signing of said Charter...

"As an instrument in the battle for the hearts and minds of Quebec, the Charter was brilliant. As an article of fundamental Canadian law, it has been a disappointment. It invites every gimcrack judge in Canada, (a large infestation in our court houses, unfortunately), to become social tinkerers, self-righteously empowered to remake society along trendy or idiosyncratic sociological lines. The Charter has vastly increased the volume of litigation and the justiciability of secondary issues, with no discernible increase in individual liberties, rights, or freedoms. Any federal initiatives in the key areas of property and civil rights can be vacated by the vote of a provincial legislature in that province, leaving the rights and freedoms the Charter defends rather moth-eaten." ...Conrad Black

"A new poll on popular attitudes toward the Charter, reported this week in the National Post, reveals a strange paradox. A substantial majority of Canadians broadly support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- despite having absolutely no idea of what the Charter does.

But maybe the paradox is not so strange. After all, if more people understood what the Charter did, they might not like it nearly so well.

The problem with the Charter begins with its name. The Charter supposedly protects both "rights" and "freedoms." The trouble is that the "rights" protected by the Charter often contradict the "freedoms."

For example, Section 2(b) of the Charter declares that everyone possesses "freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of expression." That seems clear enough.

But wait! Section 15 of the Charter simultaneously declares that every individual is entitled to "equal benefit of the law without discrimination." And while that certainly sounds fair, Canadian courts have consistently interpreted the Section 15 equality guarantee to include a right not to be spoken about in offensive ways.

It is not easy to reconcile your freedom to speak with my right not be spoken about in a way I don't like." .......David Frum

"It's revealing that when classical liberalism was nearing its zenith in the 19th century, outstanding constitutional scholars such as A. V. Dicey (1835-1922) opposed codifying rights and liberties. They maintained that an unwritten constitution, such as Britain's, offered better protection for individual freedom and the rule of law than any written reduction of liberties possibly could. Why squeeze rights and freedoms into a charter and limit them by the very act of listing them, when individuals were intrinsically free and had a natural right to do everything not expressly forbidden by statute and common law, and even those prohibitions could be pitted against the unwritten constitution of British liberties and challenged in court?

n 1885, when Dicey published An Introduction To The Study Of The Law Of The Constitution, this made eminent sense. Dicey's was an age when freedom was genuinely blowin' in the wind. A hundred years later, when Canada's constitution was repatriated from Britain by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, what was blowin' in the wind was statism (with Trudeau himself as one of its trumpeters.)"......George Jonas

I respect each of these commentators and take note of their comments, even while agreeing with the 26% of Canadians who feel that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is pointing us in a dangerous direction, - straight down the Garden Path.

From the Magna Carta onwards I recognize that Charters are all about Rights and Freedoms, but I think that as they become more liberal the dangers lies in excluding the concept of Responsibility. Conferring Rights and Freedoms on citizens without demanding a corresponding personal responsibility for the liberties and restraints which the Charter bestows is leading us into a slough of irresponsiblity and a general malaise in the field of morality. To say nothing of the loss of a Canadian identity within the chaotic multiculturism our society has become. As a descendant of Empire Loyalists I find myself in a minority when I state that I am a Canadian. What a short time between the requirement for citizens to omit from the census the country of their origin (i.e. English-Canadian, Irish-Canadian) and the present situation where almost all immigrants preface Canadian by the name of the "old country" - which makes one wonder where their hearts lie.

Is it too much to ask of immigrants who enjoy the benefits of Canada to adopt and respect the customs and culture of this country? And while taking advantage of the social largesse to also recognize their responsibility to place this country first in their loyalties?

The lack of personal responsibility for one's own actions, and the expectation that the State will support and carry us through all difficulties is not confined to any one segment of Society, but seems to be a general failing running like a flawed thread through the fabric of the present. God help us if in the face of a disaster we have lost the power to take responsibility and to think and reason for ourselves.

The hysteria about global warming, and the blind and unreasoning adulation given to its Canadian "hero" makes me despair of the strength and intelligence of people who accept these concepts without questioning the history of climate change throughout the centuries, and the ability mankind has had to adapt.

If the consequences of trying to meet the demands that Kyota makes on industrialized countries didn't augur such disasterous effects on the economics of the west it would be almost hilarious to watch the "sky is falling" pageant. But this is a dangerous game we are playing. The billions of dollars that we would pay for credits to meet our Kyota commitments would be paid directly to those countries who are hostile in their regard of North America. In addition, the trading of money and credits does not guarantee any actual lessening of emissions throughout the whole world. In reality, it appears that the scheme will bankrupt the countries who are productive, while filling the coffers of the nations who have little or no industry to clean up. And with no resulting effect in the diminishing of greenhouse gases. It truly bewilders me that intelligent people can be so apathetic about having the wool pulled over their eyes.

How can we take the reports and demands from the UN seriously when it is controlled by countries who have no conscience when it comes to human rights??? And how can we ignore the deniers of this theory of an impending catastrophic climate change and not suspect the promoters of seeking more research funding? Are we all to rush down to the sea, like lemmings, - or like children who follow the piper who plays the fearsome tunes of climate change and catastrophe?

To delve into the problem further, from a psychological point of view, consider the concept of the environment becoming the New Religion, with all that portends. There is a vacuum in our Secular Society, just waiting to be filled, and so many are prepared to sacrifice our economic way of life to embrace the Way of the Pure but devastatingly Poor.

Stewardship of the earth is of great importance, and the control of emissions should be undertaken with the greatest diligence, but the fool hardy acceptance of the concept that cyclical changes in climate are a significant result of man-made industry boggles the mind! How the Sun must be shaking his head at our pious self importance.

Most disturbing of all are the opportunists and their hypocritical political ploys that are being promoted to advance those looking only for power. It is a situation which must make the thinking person sink into cynicism and despair.

And with that I will gather up what hope I have and go and see what luck I have at playing cards with Husband.

1 comment:

Donna said...


Wow - you should send this post to every newspaper and blog in the country!!!

Truer words were never spoken - hopefully if more of us speak out, the liberal biased media in this country will have no choice but to start to do some actual reporting on the facts instead of jumping on this "enviro-bus" - although their "GOD" (Suzuki) is, after all, one of them.

Guess hosting a Nature program gives you the same credentials on the enviroment as naming your dog, Kyoto.