Errol Mendes, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, wonders what will happen when judges start acting in secret.The old adage that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done still holds true. Bill C-51 shreds that basic principle. Mendes writes that the bill is a vicious attempt to compromise the judiciary:
Problems with the bill are many, although the one [Ron] Atkey was talking about — one that has received very little attention from politicians and the media — is in the section that would authorize CSIS agents to apply for judicial warrants that could contravene charter rights.
This section would amount to one of the most serious attempts by any Canadian government to compromise the independence of the judiciary by forcing them to be silent partners to unlawful acts. Under C-51, CSIS could apply for permission to break the law — short of causing bodily harm or undermining sexual integrity — in order to disrupt threats to the nation’s security. Court hearings for such “disrupt warrants” would be conducted in secret, with no judicial oversight or review to prevent abuses.
Harper has no regard for the courts. He has disbanded the research department at the Ministry of Justice -- the folks who used to check whether or not proposed legislation would run afoul of the Charter of Rights. And, because no one in the Harper government bothers to ask any more if a law is constitutional, the whole of the warrant process will be struck down:
The tragic irony here is that, by introducing a warrant process that is clearly unconstitutional, the Stephen Harper government is putting the entire framework of disrupt warrants at risk of being struck down. It would have been better for the safety of Canadians, and for national security in general, if C-51 had never been tabled in the first place. C-51’s drafters have not learned critical lessons from the tragedy of the Air India bombings, from the O’Connor Commission report and from our closest allies in the fight against global terror.
But Bill C-51 has never been about protecting Canadians. It's about sabotaging the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- which has always been one of Stephen Harper's prime directives.