Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's Driving Him Crazy

Popular wisdom holds that Stephen Harper's incandescent hatred of Pierre Trudeau is rooted in the National Energy Program. But, Michael Harris writes, it goes much deeper than that:

Stephen Harper’s real fight is not with the Supreme Court per se, but with the 1982 Constitution that created the charter. The problem for the Supreme Court is that it has the sole responsibility to assess all laws passed by Parliament against their interpretation of the charter. That means laws sometimes get struck down — although Parliament always has the option of responding with another law.

Ultimately, Harper is trying to crush a vision of Canada that sits behind the bulletproof glass of the Constitution — Pierre Trudeau’s vision, which saw the people as greater than their government. Harper can’t get at it, he can’t change it — and he can’t stand it.

And, so, we find ourselves spectators once again as Mr. Harper tries to do an end run around the Constitution in his second attempt to pick a Quebec judge from the Federal Court of Appeal:

Mainville’s appointment violates Section 98 of the Constitution: “The judges of the courts of Quebec shall be selected from the Bar of that province.”

Part of the problem is procedural hocus-pocus. Harper never bothered to ask the Supreme Court to answer the question about whether a federal judge could be appointed directly to the Supreme Court. Instead, when Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin tried to forewarn the PM and the Justice minister (really the same person) that there might be problems with the Nadon appointment, Harper reached for a mudball.

Last week, the Court informed the government that, if it wished to go fishing into Canadians' Internet travels, it needed a warrant. The Charter keeps getting in the way. And it's driving Stephen Harper crazy.


rumleyfips said...

This just in. Canadians see the Charter as one of the best things ever. They seem to like Pierre too.

Funny eh?

Toby said...

Does anyone know why Stephen Harper hates Pierre Trudeau so viscerally? It's personal. Did they ever meet? Did Trudeau spurn Harper or step on his toes? What's it all about?

Scotian said...

Harris nails it in that column, not that it is saying anything I haven't been for years now, but still. I've also been saying since Harper first became PM that Thank God for the Charter because it was the only real protection we had from what Harper wanted to do to Canada and Canadians. Harper is inherently anti-democratic, his political philosophy is blatantly anti-democratic, and he has shown throughout his political history since his early days in Reform when he clashed with Manning about the importance of doing what the public wanted by his actions his naked contempt for the average Canadian citizen. Trudeau put the Charter in place because he saw with his own eyes and actions just how far a Canadian government could go in removing civil protections and basic civic rights from citizens with a wave of the legislative pen in a majority, and he wanted to make sure we were all protected from such down the road. Every Canadian that valued Canada what it was before the Harper demolition period should be on their knees singing loud hosannas to PET for that wisdom, because it is the only protection we truly have from Harper's madness.

When Harper said about how it would be safe to give him a try because the Liberal civil service, the Liberal media and the Liberal courts would keep him in check he all but screamed out what his true hidden agenda was, and it never was about socon issues, that was the fake-out for not just his base but his enemies as well. Well, there never was a liberal media, the never was a liberal civil service in the political sense, although they used to be neutral politically/partisanly speaking although Harper has done his best to change that, and the courts have never had a political bias provable to anyone outside of partisan zealots on the far right. Of the three the courts are the only ones that have been able to resist the Harper reshaping of our nation, and that in no small part because of the Charter and the way our legal system evolved before Harper managed to come to power.

This latest move appears to be a naked slap in the face to the SCC because of Nadon and the Canadian Constitution, and MacKay appeared to telegraph that in the House yesterday. What is truly worth noting about that moment was that he was reading from a prepared script, it was not a verbal off the cuff slip, and that should ring very loud alarm bells to anyone about what this move is really about. I am glad Galati is willing to go the distance yet again, and I expect that if it turns out he lacks standing this time there will be plenty of his fellows in the Quebec bar who do have standing who will take his place to prevent this blatant attempt to end run a very significant and important part of the Canadian legal system/process.

If I had a Loonie for every opportunity Harper has given me since he became PM to say I told you so I would be a multi-millionaire, and I am not sure I am even mildly exaggerating when I say that sad to say. This is but the latest 'ca-ching' in that wallet for me.

Owen Gray said...

The word from the people Harper boarded with when he arrived in Edmonton, Toby, was that he used to admire Trudeau.

Perhaps he changed his views because he wanted to be seen as a real Albertan.

Owen Gray said...

Apparently, when the Harperites surveyed Canadians for their most cherished people and institutions, Trudeau was at the top of the list, rumley.

Isn't that a kick in the teeth?

Owen Gray said...

These days, it's the Charter and the Supreme Court that serve as our only defenses against the Harper juggernaut, Scotian.

Scotian said...

Oh don't I know it Owen Gray, don't I know it!

Steve said...

The definition of insanity, Harpers constant repeated in the same manner attempts to end run the constitution.

Its like a Pinky and the brain season.

Owen Gray said...

He's still trying to take over the world, Steve.

Owen Gray said...

Pierre must have had some advance knowledge of what lay ahead, Scotian -- or perhaps, more accurately, he had a good knowledge of recent history.

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

I really think a good part of it was his Constitutional law background combined with what he saw he could do by legislative fiat when he used the War Measures Act and he considered what could happen if someone who did not follow the usual Canadian traditions of good government and decency managed to find their way to the PMO, especially with a majority. Not that modern history probably didn't also play a role in informing him this way, and I do think he had some interests towards this prior to his invocation of the Act, but if I had to speculate based on all I know about PET I think it was seeing how fragile the protections of basic Canadian civic rights were that really lit the fire in him on this score.

Most Canadians then or now never seemed to appreciate just how little protection we had from our own government if it decided to turn against us pre-Charter. I grew up understanding this, and it was why as I was coming to adulthood watching the Charter debates and acceptance and implementations were so profoundly important and satisfying to me. As I believe I've mentioned before, where federal politics are concerned I've always been something of a process geek, and it was because of that side I recognized the truth about our system Which was also why I understood just how truly damaging long term Harper could be in even minority let alone majority, and a lot of what he has done will not be able to be undone.

Even post Charter our system of government enables our government to do a lot of things we would not normally believe of it, and Harper has done everything he can in that regard to twist this nation and its core nature/soul to suit his desires. The only true hope of preventing his success is thanks to the Charter, which is why I think it so infuriates him now even beyond the hate-on he had for it prior to becoming PM. Trudeau warned us all about this new form of conservativism before he died and how toxic it could/would be for Canada, and at least he knew he had done what he could to protect us from their worst excesses. Now it it up to all of us to carry on that legacy and make sure not only that Harper is removed, but that his true face/nature and record in office is exposed to public scrutiny. This is a government whose actions cannot be excused as just being politics as usual, this governments politics were anything but politics as usual as defined by the Canadian context.

We must make sure this experience is a true teaching moment in Canadian political history, that way some true good will come from this nightmare of horrors.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Scotian, that -- until the advent of Harper -- most Canadians didn't realize that there was very little in our system of government which acted as a countervailing force against the power of the prime minister.

There was tradition, of course. But, despite Harper's claim to be a conservative, he has neither regard nor respect for tradition.

mogs moglio said...

"crush a vision of Canada"


That has been Mr. Harper's mission since Tom Flanagan and the 'Calgary School' married to big oil invented him.

When are people gonna [sic on purpose]catch on?

When Canada becomes a dictatorial client/big/oil relationship?

Under the boys in short pants it almost already is.

My Question: is it to late to save the true North Strong and Free?

Or now are we the slaves of the oilgarcy?

mogs moglio said...


I have been trying to educate people on The First Nations in British Columbia they own the land the sea and the sky here because they never ever ceded their lands as sovereigns to the British Crown.

Most all other FN's in Canada did so through treaties. So Canada now apparently ruled by and through corporate power with their puppet Harper, want to steal what they have NO Legal Title for and can-not get.

The rest is all smoke and mirrors: if Northern Gateway goes through they the corporate ruled government powers will have quashed the last free peoples of North America and stolen the last free land.

No over my dead body and many others: vis a vis; Harpers Down fall--->


and see this:


When we say NO we mean NO.....

Owen Gray said...

The Supreme Court has delivered the same message, Mogs. Apparently, Mr. Harper isn't listening.

Owen Gray said...

That's what the next federal election is all about, Mogs. We can't claim that we don't know who Stephen Harper is or what he's about.