Canada’s courts are sick.
But there is a cure, and YOU are part of it.
Let me describe the problem, and then I’ll tell you how you can be part of the solution.
Back in 1979, Prime Minister Trudeau asked the Supreme Court of Canada to define Canada’s Constitution. The judges answered that there are two equally-important parts to the Constitution: the written document, and the body of tradition that we inherited from Magna Carta through the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
That body of tradition says that in a constitutional monarchy, all government action is in the name of the Crown, but the Crown has no direct role: everything is done through the three branches of government: the elected legislature makes the laws; the Cabinet administers the laws through the civil service; and the courts settle disputes according to the law as they find it written.
That last phrase is important. Judges interpret law, but they don’t make law.
However, in 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was embedded in our new Constitution, and that made judges the final arbiters of the law.
It wasn’t always that way.
Back in 1929, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not “persons” under the law. Five spunky ladies from Alberta challenged that ruling, taking it to the Privy Council in England. The Privy Council overruled the high court and declared that women are, indeed, persons.
But in 1947, with the Citizenship Act, Canadians lost the right to appeal to the Privy Council. That Act and the Charter, together, left the judiciary supreme. Since 1982, judges—and especially the ermine-clad masters of the Supreme Court—have become increasingly activist. And example is the recent ruling in a Quebec case that denies parents’ right to determine their children’s education. That ruling violates the decision by Canada’s Parliament to sign the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which clearly affirms those rights in Article 26, Section 3.
The Supreme Court doesn’t care. In fact, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, in a speech in New Zealand to a world convention of judges, urged judges world-wide to rely on their own judgement, rather than on laws or constitutions.
Whoa! That sent up warning flags.
So what’s the solution?
Parliament has to create a Standing Committee on the Judiciary, and give it the power to examine any court ruling, on the sole ground of its conformity to the constitution. If the committee decides a particular court decision looks unconstitutional, it would bring a Bill into Parliament to change that decision. That would make the courts accountable to the Standing Committee for conforming to the Constitution; the Committee is accountable to Parliament; and Parliament is accountable to the electorate.
This is where YOU come in: you have to write to your Member of Parliament, tell them the courts are out of control, and DEMAND that Parliament create the Standing Committee on the Judiciary.
Now the ball is in your court—the court that has final authority inn a democracy.