Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One Of Harper's Prime Directives


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.


Anonymous said...

Brent Rathgeber, an ex Cons MP, had said he would be voting against C-51. Now Michael Chong, another Cons MP, has spoken out publicly against it.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Chong will actually vote against it in Parliament, or pretend to be sick and not show up to vote.

It would actually not surprise me if Chong does actually vote FOR C-51 with his party, despite his apparent objections, as he had done with the "Unfair" Elections Act, including the motions to limit debate. Chong had also voted with his party to limit the debate on C-51.

But would it not be an irony if Chong does vote against it and the Liberals vote for it?

If this is what it takes for the Libs to get elected, how are voters to feel confident that Trudeau, if elected, will not be acting like Harper Lite? Especially since Trudeau is likely only to win a minority, if at all. Clearly, in a minority situation, he has to keep the Cons votes happy so they do not abandon his party.

In the past, successful Liberal governments had tended to campaign left and govern from the right. Apparently, Trudeau is already signaling that he may even have to campaign from the right to win just a minority, which should worry ABC voters who just want to get rid of Harper.

ABC voters may wake up the morning after and realize that they have replaced Harper with Harper Lite, eh?

Owen Gray said...

It would, indeed, be ironic if Chong voted against C-51 and Trudeau voted for it, Anon.

As I wrote yesterday, Trudeau's moment of truth is at hand.

Dana said...

Harper told us he was going to shift the political centre to the right. Remember?

Well he did. I don't like it, you don't like it, your dog and mine don't like it.

So what? It's happened and pretending that it hasn't happened is folly.

So how do you propose to go forward?

Seems to me there are a lot of people on the blogs I read who acknowledge that, yes, the centre has moved to the right but that doesn't mean we have to acknowledge that it has. It doesn't mean we have to change our thinking or strategies or tactics. We can just respond as we always have. We can keep doing what we've always done moving forward.

Take note of the oxymoron in that last sentence.

Canada has never before in it's history experienced a political context like this. Never before.

Never before have we been governed by a party that is as contemptuous of our traditions, our system of governance, our courts and even, and perhaps most especially, of us as citizens. I have come to believe that it would not displease Harper to see Canada break up.

So we've never been here before. Uncharted territory.

No one ever knows how to respond to conditions that have never happened before. Every one is making it up as they go along. There is no other way because there is no map. The map must be drawn at the same time as the territory is discovered.

No one has *the* solution. In all likelihood, as with most things in life, there is no single solution.

The one thing I know for sure is that it will take a concerted effort, many people working together and not at cross purposes, to send Harper to the dustbin. It will take many people working together, not at cross purposes, to begin to find a way to rebuild what has been destroyed.

Right now the cross purposes are dominating the efforts.

We can't keep doing what we've always done moving forward.

Moving forward in uncharted territory where we've never been before requires doing things we've never done before.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Dana, that we're in uncharted territory. All I know for sure is what you've mentioned.

We're working at cross purposes. I've suggested before that it's going to take a coalition to get rid of Harper. And, right now, nobody's building any bridges.

Anonymous said...

Irony x 1000 - upcoming election is split three ways, Cons and Libs form coalition government.

Anonymous said...

Dana I beg to differ the centre is still the centre but Steve has dragged all of our political parties to the right. Steve is as far right as anything Canada has ever seen before. My belief is Elizabeth May is the only voice of reason...

Thomas Mulcair recently stated he would undo most of Harper's ill doing Trudeau remains silent and willing to support the Harper-cons. I think you are right Owen he is banking on a Liberal Minority government backed by the Harper-cons. How foul is that? The political baseball just gets batted to the right again?

Mogs Moglio

Owen Gray said...

I don't think the Liberals would back the Harperites, Mogs. The only coalition that makes sense is a Lib-NDP coalition.

But I'm beginning to think that they'll never get together.

Owen Gray said...

Mogs makes that suggestion, too, Anon. That would be a disaster.

Dana said...

Cross purposes. Gonna be the death of us.