Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The State of the Canadian Constitution eh?

 

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST OF IT ALL

A century that began with children having virtually no rights, will likely end with children having its most powerful legal instrument--our Constitution--have virtually no effect at all as our Charter regulators are outsourced. Equality before the law will now cost you a pretty penny (oops)--or should we equate that to--ah pretty loonie


Most people are not aware that all our laws are based on Constitution Acts, 1867-1982.[1] The Bill of Rights was approved in 1960 and later expanded in 1977 to include the Charter. The Charter is there to protect our fundamental freedom and rights: democratic, legal, equality and protection from discrimination. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are responsible for making laws in accordance with the Constitution for each province.


Remember when Manitoba Provincial Government's motto was "At Your Service": When you could speak to a civil servant and expect a response in regards to your rights and the law? A time when a live person could be held accountable to you -- you, a valued stakeholder. If appropriate, you could escalate an unresolved issue and that action had consequence.
 

Please be advised of new changes, already in effect.


Change 1: Work formerly done by civil servants under the direction of a Minister answerable to Parliament is delegated out to the Executive branch.

Change 2: Executive functions are now delegated to administrative tribunals: labour tribunals, pension boards, licencing boards, immigration appeal boards, and human rights (and more). These tribunals (independent oversight bodies) are not answerable to Parliament, or the oversight's body oversight body: The Provincial Ombudsman. (Confused? Let me explain.)

With the new changes in place, if you have a problem with the tribunals' action, or lack of action, you are required to take your complaint to court--bearing in mind, not everyone has the mental capacity, or the financial resources to fight a Charter Rights claim.

As the Chief Justice of Canada, Right Hon. Beverley McLachlan stated in a November 22, 2004 report [2]
It is not for me to say whether the present allocation of power and responsibilities between the Legislative and the Executive is the best one to meet the needs of Canadian democracy today. This is a matter best left to our elected representatives. But in this debate, it is essential that each branch of government continue to acknowledge the commitment of the other to act in accordance with the Constitution.


God keep our land glorious and free ...Prot├ęgera nos foyers et nos droits [3] 
 


VALUE LOST IN CONVERSION
Schmidt Happens!

Parliament requires the Minister of Justice, and Deputy Minister, ensures any proposed new legislation conforms to the Charter and Bill of Rights: To that end, they have federal lawyers to brief them accordingly.


Toronto Star's January 19, 2013 article, “Government Lawyer Edgar Schmidt Courageously Blows the Whistle"[4] tells the story of one man, a lawyer who has gone against the status quo in an attempt to persuade his superiors that what they were doing was not consistent with the law, and not in accordance with the Constitution. This article takes us to the root of the problem, the beginning of the end of democracy--the consequences already realized.

See related posting from: A Bullish Government Monkey with Rules--Get a Monkey on your back:Apr 11 2012:

One should question the effectiveness and integrity of such a Society who, without question or investigation, sides with the lawyer and firm of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman against Marielle whose mental disability required minimal accommodation in order to move on to new employment. The Law Society (and courts) by denying her an opportunity to correct the wrong is essentially blaming her for having a mental disability and treated her without any mercy, compassion or dignity. (read more)


Despite the risk to his reputation and livelihood, federal lawyer Edgar Schmidt spoke out against the Federal Government's practice over the past decade, passing bills that he believes violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Frustrated about not being able to get anyone to listen, he decided to sue the government. This resulted in an immediate suspension from work without pay.


Excerpt from the Toronto Star article states as follows:
"Before a federal judge last week, Schmidt maintained that government lawyers are instructed to raise possible Charter conflicts only when the violations are unambiguous. Even if a bill is deemed to have a 95-per-cent probability of contravening the Charter, as long as some argument, however dubious, can be made in its defence, the minister is not to be notified."

The judge made the following comment in response to the disciplinary action against Schmidt in court:
"... the day after filing of the statement (by Mr. Schmidt) bang, you're suspended. It's unbelievable. Your client (Federal Government) has done everything it can to kill this thing...The court doesn't like that...We see that in different countries that we don't like. ...Canada is still a democracy."
As stated in an interview on CBC Radio's "As it Happens" Schmidt said he decided to take the matter to court after a recent trip to Egypt which impacted on him "how fragile democracy is and how much it needs care and tending."
 
Bear this in mind: As tough as it is on Mr. Schmidt for coming forward, this man is a senior lawyer with the Federal Government. Consider for a moment what would it take for you to be able to have your day in court?
 

Are you an able body up to the task? Because we seem to have an overabundance of applicants for the highly paid positions of:   EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, AND NOBODY.

 
There was an important job to be done and everybody
was sure that  Somebody would do it –
so no one followed up on the fact that those
 most vulnerable had no help. 

Anybody could have done, what they knew—

by law—had to be done: The facts and evidence 
were all there, but nobody did it.

I’m very sure that Somebody got angry about that
 
because it was their job. Everybody thought anybody
could do it, but nobody realized that nobody cared
enough about ‘those people’ to do anything about it.

It ended up that everybody

blamed Somebody
when nobody was to blame
for what Somebody said
an independent body had done.[5]
 
 


  1. Supreme Court of Canada, Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada Conference on the Law and Parliament Ottawa, Ontario Monday, November 22, 2004.-  
  2. "O Canada" -- A Canadian Heritage was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880.
  3. See complete January 19, 2013 article on Toronto Star website “Government Lawyer Edgar Schmidt Courageously Blows the Whistle” 
  4. Adapted from http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/pronouns-notmyjob.html

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