Thomas Mulcair wants to abolish the Senate outright. Stephen Harper wants to kill it through neglect. Both men propose to ignore the Supreme Court's direction on how change -- or abolition -- should be accomplished. But, if either man pays any attention to polls, he may want to re-think his position. BJ Siekierski writes:
Across the political spectrum, Canadians trust their top court more than they do possibly any other Canadian institution, and certainly more than Parliament. And though they may not always agree with every decision, a majority think the Court has generally had a positive effect on the country as a whole as it protected their rights and freedoms.
The poll, which was done by Angus Reid, reveals that:
[m]ore than twice as many Canadians express ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the Supreme Court as express such levels of confidence in Parliament (61 per cent versus 28 per cent,
“Confidence in politicians (12%) and political parties (13%) is even lower, but the institution in which Canadians have the least faith is the Senate. Just one-in-ten respondents (10%) have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the scandal-plagued Red Chamber.”
Notwithstanding a level of confidence in the Senate that barely registers, however, 50 per cent of Canadians agreed with the change-inhibiting Supreme Court senate reference from April 2014, compared to only 20 per cent who disagreed. The remainder were unsure (10 per cent) or unaware of the ruling (20 per cent).
In the Court, it would seem, they have considerable trust.
Mr. Harper's contempt for the Court -- and Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, in particular -- is well documented. As a lawyer, Mulcair should know that he tangles with the court at his own peril. Mr. Harper has been reminded everyday of late that his contempt for courts has serious consequences. What matters is how they interpret facts, not how he interprets them.
As much as Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair may be galled by the men and women in robes, we are still a nation of laws, not men.