Friday, June 10, 2016

Bill C-14 and the Liberals: What's up with that???

I must say that this whole assisted dying brouhaha baffles me.

First of all, it always baffles me when conservatives say that the courts are "making laws," as the 'seldom correct, but never in doubt' Rona Ambrose claimed the other day. This claim always seems to illustrate nothing more than the fact that conservatives either don't really know how our political system works or they are wilfully blind to its operations. The Supreme Court of Canada's job (as with many such courts world wide) is to interpret the legality of laws based upon a founding document or constitutions (written or otherwise). Thus, they don't make laws, rather they make laws consistent with principle. I understand that rightwingers love to whip up their base with talk of courts making laws because one thing the rightwing hates is constitutional principle. This is usually because constitutional principles are about protecting average people and minorities from the majority or the arbitrary power of governments to discriminate.

But while that is a story that is always with us, one can't help think, while listening to Ambrose, that sometimes the rightwing isn't even saying this stuff to whip up the anger of their base, but that they just don't know any better, that they don't really understand our system of government and they get hopping mad when the Supreme Court defends some basic principle that they don't like.

But what baffles me even more in the recent debate over Bill C-14 is the question of "what in the world Trudeau is playing at?" For years we were used to the Harper writing and passing bills that were clearly unconstitutional. They wrote bills that they knew wouldn't pass judicial review for a number of reasons. One, as already mentioned,  they hated the Charter of Rights (or any legal principle that protects average people and minorities). Two, they didn't like the idea that we have a separation of powers and, like a bully on a playground, they were continually driven to assert their power (a power which, we all know, they secretly wished was total and absolute). And three, they just couldn't help from acting in rabidly ideological ways; they thought that ideology should trump not only reason but legality too.

But I must say, that while we got used to the absurd actions of the Harper and his minions, even if one isn't a active supporter of Trudeau, his actions in this regard seem surprising and inexplicable. Now, I have no doubt that Trudeau can be, despite his manufactured public image, a bit of an ideologue. But then, what politician isn't an ideologue in one way or another? But presenting a bill that they know full well does not comply with a recent Supreme Court ruling, just seems weird to me given that Trudeau was a man who continually defended (at least rhetorically) the Charter and the Court's right to define laws in relation to the Charter. And then for Minister Wilson-Raybould to suggest that they would override the Senate's amendments to the bill (amendments whose only real import is to bring the bill inline with the Carter Decision) is just bizarre, and frankly puts into doubt this government's commitment not only to the Charter but to a Senate, an institution that has found its biggest political defender in recent years in Trudeau himself.

If Bill C-14 is the first real challenge of the Trudeau government, I must say that it is failing quite dramatically. And their failure here is disturbingly reminiscent of the Harper government's many failures - a failure entirely and wilfully manufactured by themselves.


Anonymous said...

Rona Ambrose I have zero time for. She apparently has an MA in PolySci from the infamous University of Calgary, but no doubt failed Grade 10 Civics if she thinks courts make law.

The Univ of Calgary, depending on faculty, seems to accept young bright folk and excrete them as Reformacon knuckledraggers with advanced degrees. Must be the water.

As for Trudeau and C-14, words fail me.


Simon said...

hi Kirby...very good questions as usual. I was going to answer you here, or at least give you my opinion. But since so many others have been asking me the same question I thought I'd write a post instead. I hope it helps answer some of your questions at least.