I must admit I am quite pleased over the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding the proposed appointment of Marc Nadon to their midst. The SCOC did what they were designed to do, protect the law and, by extension, the Constitution. I feel bad for Mr. Nadon because, unfortunately, he appeared to be nothing more than a pawn in this saga. However the SCOC did what they are there to do and made the proper call. Mr. Nadon did not meet the criteria.
Based on the types of comments I am seeing on message board and comment news threads it is scarily obvious that many Canadians have little understanding of how our democracy works. The whole process of dumbing down our education system that has been going on for the past twenty-five years appears to be working. For a condense and quick refresher on “social studies” (that’s what we called the study of Canadian history when I went to school) here we go.
Canada became a nation when Upper (British) Canada and Lower (French) Canada amalgamated to become the Commonwealth of Canada, in other words, Confederation. A condition of Confederation was that Lower Canada maintained one of their traditions (the Napoleonic law code) while the rest of the new country would maintain Westminster law. Two different approaches but both legal. Having the three judges from Quebec allows for the knowledge base needed to interpret the Napoleonic code. People can interpret that as “special” treatment if they so decide but it was part and parcel of the creation of the Commonwealth. It has been this way for the past 147 years. End of story, that’s part of our history and has been since Confederation but you better read up on it soon before this Government rewrites that little piece of history as well. To now change that means changing the Constitution.
That brings us to the real issue the SCOC ruled on. In the Harper governments attempt to legitimize the appointment of Nadon they had quietly buried a couple of nice little clauses in one of their omnibus bills that in effect would have changed the Constitution. There is a legal process one needs to adhere to for Constitutional change and this government side stepped that. In effect they tried to rewrite the law through a backdoor, and clandestine manner I must add, process to get Mr. Nadon onto the Supreme Court of Canada. The SCOC caught that and did what they are there to do, which is to make sure due process is maintained. Due process is the backbone of any democratic country! To deny it is to limit democracy. The SCOC has shone a light on this one and that will have long lasting effects of a few challenge still pending.
The SCOC rose to the challenge, moved past ideology and maintained the rule of law. Again based on many news boards and comments too many citizens believe the courts are “suppose” to listen to the politicians because those politicians make the laws. And, in part, that is true. However the court system is there to make sure those laws are maintained according to due process. The Supreme Court of Canada makes decision that affect the whole of the country. They are not there dealing with impaired drivers and making judgements on whether someone is guilty of murder or not. They are there to make sure that the impaired driver or the accused murderer has been given their due process. They are also there to ensure the laws created by our politicians were done legitimately.
This is what separates an ideology from a political process. And in the event leading up to the appointment of Nadon, the decision not only ruled the Prime Minister’s appointment did not meet the criteria but that the government used an illegal process to further their ideological agenda. The decision in effect “consecrates the constitutional nature of the court”, according to constitutional lawyer Julius Grey. This decision has basically said that the constitutional nature of the SCOC cannot be changed on the whimsy of the government of the day.
A big win for democracy in Canada due, in part, to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court of Canada and not their ideological leanings. The members of the SCOC are as entitled to their ideological beliefs as any Canadian however their decisions have to be based on the interpretation of the law and not their personal belief system. Jurisprudence is the difference between politics and partisanship.
A big loss for Canadian democracy would be if this Fair Elections Act ever makes it through the House. If it does then it is time for the Senate to prove their worthiness. They have the ability to overrule this proposed piece of legislation and, like the SCOC, they will have the opportunity to shine as well.
They will finally be able to show why they are considered the “House of sober second thought” and not a bunch of trough feeding ideological parasites. There was a time when there was honour in the Senate but those days appear to be long gone. Here is the opportunity for these appointees to stand up for democracy while showing Canada that maybe there is a role for them contrary to what little Pierre Poilievre would have us believe. In the meantime go pick up your package of “smug wipes“!
Just one man’s opinion!