In a Saturday morning interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Dan Albas, the Conservative MP for South Okanagan-Similkameen continued his government’s attacks on the Canadian judiciary. I feel his remarks betray a scary lack of understanding of the role of the courts in our country.
Albas claims that it is “an end run around democracy” when individuals or groups mount court challenges to federal laws or policies based on the Constitution or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He said that judges are giving what he calls “well financed” groups a way to do in court what they could not do via the ballot box. He claims the very primacy of parliament is at stake.
First, it must be said that Dan Albas, like every other Conservative MP, makes no public statement without the express permission of the Prime Minister’s Office. So when Dan Albas talks, be sure you are hearing the voice of his boss, Steven Harper, whose every statement is designed to win votes.
What Dan Albas forgets (or doesn’t understand) is that the Charter and the Constitution were approved (democratically)by Parliament and the provinces precisely to protect Canadians against wrongful actions by the elected majority. Just because the conservatives who now hold a majority of seats in Parliament, pass a poorly researched or self serving law doesn’t make it right. Canadian judges are supposed to apply the Constitution and the Charter to protect Canadians from the tyranny of the majority. It’s their job.
If Mr. Albas wants some real examples of “end runs around democracy“, how about a prime minister who shuts down Parliament rather than face a non-confidence vote? Or how about the Harper government’s so called “Fair Elections Act” which actually makes it harder for some Canadians to vote and makes it illegal for Elections Canada to encourage voting. And of course there are the omnibus bills designed to rush laws through without adequate, democratic debate.
The Harper government is tired, desperate and out of touch with Canadians. Let’s replace it.
Connie Denesiuk -- Summerland, B.C.