Since its inception by Trudeau’s liberals in 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights has received praise from people and politicians alike. Its virtues have been extolled as perfect. Its motto is: “The Charter. It’s ours. It’s Us.”
In my view, the Charter is anything but perfect. Sure, it has benefitted many, of that there is no denying, but what has the cost of this law been, and has it been too great? Has the Charter been the defining piece of legislation in our history as some would have us believe, or has it been the knife that has torn the fabric of our country?
While I have admitted that the Charter of Rights has helped many, I am not of the belief that the results are always worth the costs. I believe it was written too hastily, and not enough thought was given to the long term consequences of its implementation.
One can not argue that sometimes watching the news is frustrating. Whether it is a criminal from abroad who has the right to appeal his deportation for years, the convict who is receiving a university degree from prison, or another Canadian tradition being scrapped, it seems as though everything these days is either protected by or forbidden by the Charter of Rights.
This one piece of legislation fundamentally made Canada a different country than it was the day before it passed into law. The old Canada was put to rest and a new country was born. Lawyers and judges assumed the roles of power, and voters lost much. It is no wonder our institutions are crumbling. Our judges, I might add, are appointed for life, they are not elected. Maybe it is time we change that. In our country, our legislators and politicians are elected to do our will, they make our laws to reflect our beliefs and standards, and if we don’t like the way they legislate, we can fire them at the next election. This is a fundamental principle of a free country, “…for the people, by the people.”
This is in reality, however, not how things work anymore. Our legislation is being overturned by lawyers and judges, on the basis that the will of the people is being ruled unconstitutional. Our leaders can’t govern without being usurped by the courts. It seems that we are no longer a democracy, and no one is declaring such. In a democracy, the majority rules, period. In our country, everyone has the last word. Can you imagine 11 people lost in the desert. They have to stay together, as they make up a group called a ‘country’ and are inseparable. 10 of them want to go east to find water, but the eleventh person disagrees, and appeals to the supreme court. The court says that the eleventh person has equal rights, so the group cannot go east. The 10 concede and go west, and they all die of thirst. At least they all died equally thirsty. That is our charter in a nutshell.
Almost everytime you hear the word unconstitutional, it is in reference to a court challenge or decision against the laws of this land, and thereby against the will and desire of its inhabitants. I find it a sad fact that someone can come here and get off of a plane and have the same rights as someone who is born here, to be able to shape the destiny of the country that they just arrived in. It makes no sense to me, and it is not a racist viewpoint. For me to go abroad and expect to have the same input in a foreign country as the citizens there would be absurd, but that is what happens here. What it is doing though, is removing Canada’s identity. Each country has its own customs, cultures, and traditions, as well as values. Those things are what make them unique. Ours are being ruled unconstitutional daily. They are disappearing or are already gone.
There should be balance in the Charter, and there is none. It is extreme and absolute, and should not be. It does go too far.