Stephen Harper and his minions have been complaining loudly about the power of "special interests." But, Steve Sullivan writes:
When Stephen Harper headed up the National Citizens Coalition, he filed a constitutional challenge against the Elections Act. He claimed the law’s spending limits on third-party advertising during elections was an infringement on his freedom of expression rights as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
According to the logic offered up by many Conservatives lately, what the boss did back in 2000 amounted to an attempt to undermine Parliament. Dan Albas, the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, recently told CBC that interest groups are trying to “… do an end-run around our democratic process and turn to the courts where it seems some judges are quite happy to engage. This can result in decisions contrary to what have been decided in our democratic process.”
The Harperites are nothing, if not hypocritical. They would prefer that there was no Supreme Court to second guess their decisions. However:
The courts play an essential role in our democracy by interpreting and applying the laws passed by government — acting as both check and balance on the other two branches of government, the executive and legislative. No true democracy anywhere in the world gives governments unlimited powers. In Canada, the job of the courts is to make sure that what the government does is consistent with the charter and the Constitution. Our legal rights mean precisely nothing if governments can override them simply by passing a law.
While they loudly celebrated the anniversary of the War of 1812, they let the 25th and the 30th anniversaries of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms pass without notice, even though,
time and again, Canadians have told parties and pollsters that they treasure the Charter of Rights — that it’s part of the bedrock of our society, something that unites us.
But Stephen Harper has never been about uniting us. He has found success by dividing us. And, if he could abolish the Charter, he would.