Canada’s Nutty Notwithstanding Clause

September 17, 2018

       “Petty dictators love the Notwithstanding Clause, because they are able to make bad law, have it declared bad law, and then ignore that it is bad law.”

In 1982, Canada made a law that allows both provincial and federal governments to circumvent the rule of law. Great idea!

And then, they made that law the supreme law of the land, part of our constitution. Another smashing idea.

Why have laws in the first place?

Is the idea of law to control or conscript people? Or perhaps, to limit abuses by governments?

The Notwithstanding Clause(s. 33) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes all Canadian law meaningless. It allows basic human rights to be abused by nefarious, or even well-intentioned, legislators. Is that what we want in Canada?

It is not what I want.

Decades ago, I contested a municipal law in court, claiming that it violated the Charter(amongst other reasons.) The judge overseeing the case did not uphold the Charter claim. I concluded that people in authority often like the power they possess and are hell-bent to prevent citizens from claiming their rights under the law.

Aside from not siding with me, the presiding judge, in what can only be described as retribution, ordered me to pay maximum court costs for my intransigence of seeking a remedy under the Charter. Delightful.

There was no need to have a Notwithstanding clause in my case, as the judiciary acted perfunctorily on behalf of legislators.

Before we fast-forward to 2018, we only need to look at previous behaviours of the Quebec government. Here in Quebec, political leaders truly like the Notwithstanding clause. They have invoked it and during the current election campaign party leaders proudly boast that they would invoke it if their discriminatory laws were ruled unconstitutional.

Petty dictators love the Notwithstanding Clause, because they are able to make bad law, have it declared bad law, and then ignore that it is bad law.

How wonderful. Not!

The citizens of this nation are not slaves without rights. Yet, the existing Charter subverts the rights that are duly articulated in the Charter. It is pathetic really.

Immigrants and refugees come to Canada in the hope they might be able to prosper through the enjoyment and practice of their rights. And many do. However, heavy-handed governments across the breadth of our land like to keep us peons in their place. And the peons may be long-time citizens. It matters little whether one is a newcomer or a multi-generational Canadian. Power corrupts.

And the Notwithstanding Clause allows no remedy for citizens whose rights have been stripped away.

Because of the Notwithstanding Clause we are all Smith-Out-Of-Luck.

It is like buying a car without any warranty. Buyer beware.

And citizen, be aware that Charter Rights are not written in stone. Nor are they often recognized by the judiciary. On occasion, by the benevolence of nine, ermine-skinned robe-wearing justices, rights are granted reluctantly.

However, the costs of launching a challenge, and persisting against governments funded by the public purse, makes it hardly worth the fight. We know this.

Government not only can reverse the highest court in the land, but they make the rules of court so onerous that standing up for one’s rights is next to impossible. The rules are slanted against.

And government persists in making it difficult. They take sweet pleasure in knowing that their authority can rarely be challenged. It is sickening.

We have laboured far too long under the thumb of incompetent, often careless, self-serving legislators.

By taking away the only avenue of recourse to right a wrong, our provincial and federal legislators have failed us. Notwithstanding the latest efforts by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government in Ontario, all Canadians are denied legal remedies when the rule of law can be tossed aside like a toothpick.

-30-

Advertisements

Sunday Poem: State Of The Union

September 7, 2018

Today my ink cartridge ran dry …………………..

It was in the middle of printing an anonymous …………………..

Op/Ed for The New York Times— …………………..

For the record  …………………..

This is a Fake Poem

 

 

 

Sunday Poem: Let’s Face It

September 1, 2018

Let’s Face It

There are poets more skilled than I

Who own a more developed ear

Who sing mellifully from the mouth

Did they study Shakespeare, who knows?

Mr. CAQ, Frankie Legault

August 30, 2018

Men are naturally drawn to politics
and sex
Most are drawn to one, both, or the other
It all depends on how breast fed by mother
The factors involved are very complex

In the case of Frankie Legault leader of CAQ
One would have to go back to his gestation
to track
Whether his mother read the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal
the Journal de Montreal, or Le Devoir
Aha, you correctly guess
La Presse

Poem for Pundits

August 27, 2018

I read a Montreal Gazette headline today forecasting the 2018 Quebec election campaign. “Quebec election: CAQ headed for comfortable majority – poll analysis“. Poppycock I say. Thus, I carved out a sonnet, my Poem for Pundits:

As political pundits caress their crystal ball

They reflect opinions of their bias

They cast black shadow with gusto and gall

Words illuminative—my ass.

Predictions, predictions, then more predictions

They fill up their notebooks with predictions

Then disseminate them as if verified

Cast far, misinformation she’s multiplied.

We voters are left with foundation of sand

A footing slippery forever shifting

When all I want is to understand

To ascertain who is and who is not shoplifting.

I want an honest, reputable critic

So I don’t have to breath four more years mephitic.

 

Sunday Poem: Blueberry Pie

August 25, 2018

250px-Best_Blueberry_Pie_with_Foolproof_Pie_Dough

Blueberry Pie

I made blueberry pie, blueberry pie
Actually I made two blueberry pies
Two is better than one and I’ll tell you why—
Leaving one for tomorrow is very wise.

Naturally

August 18, 2018

When I want a cup of water
I take a cup
And naturally just add water.

But when I want a cup of water
free of pesticides
free of insecticides
free of radionuclides
free of bull-shiticides
I take a cup
of gasoline
put it in a bottle
and wonder whether
Vyacheslav Molotov
ever wrote poems?

Sunday Poem: Sweet Potatoes

August 12, 2018

An election is scheduled for Quebec on October 1, 2018. What better time than to post a poem called Sweet Potatoes. Enjoy.

 

In sultry August voters hardly care

That King Couillard’s cupboard is quite bare

But come the last week of September

Voters, precious voters, will become aware.

 

They will grow aware and will remember

The dysfunction of their flaccid member

For Liberals have a particular knack

For forgetting constituents in November.

 

In every Democracy there is a crack

That offers power to crook and quack

This time is the time for Legault to go

Merrily down le Trois-Rivières track.

 

And poor Jean-François and Manon Massé will show

That social democrats have more fields to hoe

There must be a severe drought, I swear

Before sweet potatoes in Quebec may grow.

 

 

Sunday Poem (2): Letter to Raif

August 5, 2018

 

Dear Raif, I hope you are keeping well

Imprisoned by sheiks rather tender

Saudi Arabia, desert fiefdom, Hell.

My nose of freedom allows me to smell

The blooming of nastiness in all its splendour

Dear Raif, I hope you are keeping well.

When oil and justice are controlled by cartel

Anyone who opposes is considered an offender

Saudi Arabia, desert fiefdom, Hell.

They have given you shelter in a hostile hotel

With your liberty deprived, your hope is slender

Dear Raif, I hope you are keeping well.

Now your sister keeps you company in an adjacent cell

Injustice defiant knows no gender

Saudi Arabia, desert fiefdom, Hell.

I wish the ugly truth I could dispel

But Canada’s priority is to remain a vendor

Dear Raif, I hope you are keeping well

Saudi Arabia, desert fiefdom, Hell.

August 5, 2018

Sunday Poem: The Last Poem Of F.R. Scott

August 4, 2018

This past week saw the first Frank Scott Poetry Day held in the sluggish province of  Quebec. I say sluggish, because in February I had asked both the mayors of Westmount and Montreal if they would proclaim the day. A simple task. Neither took up the challenge, so I had to invoke the authority granted by Percy Shelley, who said poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. I exercised my unacknowledged authority and proclaimed August 1 as Frank Scott Poetry Day. For the celebration I wrote the following poem, The Last Poem Of F.R. Scott.

In restful Mount Royal Cemetery lies a plot
Where British and French foot-soldiers fought
Today the bones of Francis Reginald Scott
Occupy a nation going to pot.

But the last poem of Frank’s ought
To have taught us a helluva lot
Because it was spot on, on spot.
But now his poem is gone, is gone.

He had given his subject considerable thought
For law should halt the exercise of brawn
Though in his later years injustice was brought
Because scurrilous scoundrels had sought
To levy, cast heavy revenge upon
The bilingual map our founders had drawn.
But now his last poem is gone, is gone.