I clearly remember looking reading the Charter for the first time in the Toronto Star, expecting to see a clear statement of “rights and freedoms”, somewhat like the US Bill of Rights or the equally clear Canadian Bill of Rights that Diefenbaker enacted a generation before. Sadly, it was nothing of the sort, and as the years go by, I see more and more clearly that it has little to do with “rights and freedoms” and everything to do to entrenching Trudeau’s political philosophy in the Canadian Constitution.
What does “entrenching” mean? It means putting it beyond the reach of Parliament. Laws can be made and repealed in Parliament – that happens all the time as different governments are elected and defeated according to the will of the voters, but putting it in the Constitution, for all intents and purposes, puts it out of the reach of that democratic process by virtue of the Constitution’s amending formula being so difficult to use.
I will go through the Charter section by section to demonstrate that that is true.
- Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law . . .
Oops, Trudeau left out the Monarchy, which is not surprising because he did everything he could to undermine it.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
He didn’t have much use for Parliament, either. No Prime Minister has ever bypassed it so regularly, preferring, whenever possible, to govern by orders in council (the Cabinet) than by going to Parliament. That attitude is reflected here. Who is going to see that those “reasonable limits” are being observed? Not the Parliament (which was also a principle upon which “Canada is [or at least was] founded” but the courts, which regularly overrule Parliament, even to the point of demanding the creation legislation – a seismic shift in our system of government.
- The charter grants us the “fundamental freedoms” of a) conscience and religion; (b) thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.
But in practice, that is not true because other sections of the Charter negate them. Your “freedom of religion” goes out the window if you preach against homosexuality – an Alberta pastor was actually forbidden from doing so in his own church.
- We have the right to vote and run for office, and sets limits for how long legislative bodies can sit except in case of war, along with how often they must meet.
- Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
Also, fair enough. It’s nice to know that we don’t live in Communist Russia.
- Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right move around the country freely.
Well, that sounds good, and is hard to argue against, but how about this: there was a time when Parliament, in its wisdom, recognized that immigrants tended to flock to large urban centres, so they had to agree to live in designated areas for the first three years of their residency if they wanted to come here, after which they were free to go where they chose. A sensible solution to a real problem – just look at what’s happening to Toronto and Vancouver – and no great hardship to new arrivals, who often liked where they arrived well enough to stay there after the three years were up. A nice little bit of urban planning that is now illegal.
- There is a section on legal rights that seem fairly straight forward . . . so far as I can see.
Then we come to the bombshell of “Equality Rights”. Sounds war and fuzzy, doesn’t it? Expecting a US style “Bill of Rights” approach of clearly set out rights? Sorry to disappoint you. What we actually got was the entrenching of the philosophy that has been termed “political correctness”, right in the meat of the Constitution, where it is largely untouchable by Parliament, i.e., us.
It is so insidious that I am quoting it in full:
- 15.(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
That sounds fair enough, although the courts somehow managed to include sexual orientation in that list even though it is nowhere mentioned.
- (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
If you read carefully – something that Trudeau would not have wanted you to do – you will see that Subsection 2 completely undoes Subsection 1 for anyone who is European, Canadian born, British descent, white, Christian, male, the “wrong age” in any given situation, or able-bodied.
Subsection 2 is the constitutional justification for affirmative action which discriminates against those groups. Some call it “reverse discrimination” but discrimination is discrimination.
I have written about this at length in a recent post on problems in education, so I won’t rehash it all here, but discriminating against any race, for instance, including whites, is wrong. To go into that thoroughly would require a separate post, which I will probably get around to in time.
Interestingly, research by advertisers, who want to target their advertising buck as effectively as possible, has shown that certain groups – Chinese immigrants, for instance – are doing better than native born Canadians. Good for them! Hard work and all that. So one would assume that they will no longer be covered by affirmative action programs as they are not a “disadvantaged” group. Indeed, compared to them, whites are “disadvantaged”, are they not? Well, assume again. No such luck.
What section 2 does for non-whites, aboriginals, etc., section 3 does for the French language.
- 16.(1) English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.
That despite the fact that French is the first language of less than a quarter of the population and falling, concentrated in two provinces.
And it’s the largest section of the Charter, which shows us what Trudeau was really up to. He cynically used the Trojan horse of the Charter to elevate the courts above the rule of Parliament, advance affirmative action, and mostly, to entrench bilingualism. And due to the stringency of the amending formula – remember Meech Lake? – there is, for all intents and purposes, nothing we can do about it – ever.
Ironically, the only province that has found a way around this is the French-speaking majority province of Quebec, who have invoked the “notwithstanding clause” to trample on the rights of English speaking Quebecers.
The charter also entrenches multiculturalism (so much for Canada’s national heritage):
- 27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.
The biggest irony, for me, is contained in Section 34:
- This Part may be cited as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.