Well, it seems pretty clear now that those of us who have been questioning the Liberal's commitment to the constitution were right. Sorry Simon and all the rest who have been so eager to give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt. It seems fairly clear to me that Minister Wilson-Raybould has settled it.
In a so-called 'background paper' sent out by the Minister on Monday, Wilson-Raybould says fairly unequivocally that the Liberal government is above the law. When the Minster says that her government does not have to comply with the Supreme Court's Carter ruling the message is clear. Wilson-Raybould says that the issue is not whether Bill C-14 complies with the Carter decision but whether it complies with the Charter, she is saying very clearly that she and her government are the final arbiters of the Charter rather than the Supreme Court. There is no way for Liberals to parse their way out of this conclusion for the simple reason that the Carter decision IS a reflection of the Charter. The Constitution is not that complicated. The Court is the final arbiter of the Charter not the government of the day. And when the Court unanimously handed down the Carter decision, they were telling the government what the Charter had to say on the issue of assisting dying. They weren't saying "Well, this is how we feel, but the government should interpret the Charter the way it sees fit"!!! Wilson-Raybould should resign immediately because she has just made it clear that she is believes, to quote another oligarch, L'Etat, C'est moi.
Here's the thing - if a Conservative minister have even hinted at this position, liberal bloggers would have spared no vitriol in condemning him/her. If Peter Mackay, Rob Nicholson, or Vic Toews had floated this idea, every progressive blogger I know in Canada would have gone crazy. And any that deny it are just being hypocritical.
I see no reasonable way to misinterpret this. Wilson-Raybould is simply saying the Government doesn't have to listen to the Supreme Court on matters of Charter interpretation, but rather only has to be responsible to itself on such matters. This is exactly the kind of thing we spent years fighting against the Harper government for.
One doesn't need to be an expert like Josh Patterson or Peter Hogg to understand that the Liberal Government has pushed the envelope here into very dangerous territory, territory that violates the very principles of our system of government.
Of course if the Government rejects the Senate amendments to the Bill, and the Senate refuses to comply, we will be at a stalemate that will de facto mean that there is no law at all governing assisted suicide. If the Senate capitulates and the Trudeau government has its way, the SCofC will smack it down the very same way that it continually smacked down the Harper government on similar issues. If I had any doubt before, I have less doubt now, for the simple reason that the Government is de facto saying that it is above the Court on such matters and the Court, to ensure its authority, will, if called upon, rule on the issue with renewed vigour.
Until that day comes, we will continue to have a government that appears to think it can make any law it wants because it will decide what the Charter means. For those who have been eager to give the Trudeau the benefit of the doubt, I think it is time to review that optimism in light of a Minister of Justice who thinks she IS the law.