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The Charter at 40: Success or MIA?

Where do you want power to lie?

A Canada Strong & Free Network discussion on the Charter at 40 moderated by John Robson and featuring Suzanne Anton QC, former attorney general of British Columbia and former crown prosecutor, Bruce Pardy, executive director of Rights Probe and a professor of law at Queen’s University, and the last living drafter and signatory of the 1982 Constitution, Brian Peckford PC.

Bruce Pardy – the Charter was MIA during Covid – notes:

“The Charter was written as a roster of negative liberal rights designed to keep the government away from you.”

Over the last 40 years, Pardy says the Charter has been “transformed into a progressive blueprint to legitimize collective action and that what we have during Covid is collective action.”

In Canada, he says, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms restrains the legislature, “in theory,” but it does not restrain the courts and what we have at present is now “a system of judicial supremacy”.

In the words of Rosalie Abella, writing for The Globe & Mail:

The Supreme Court is “the final adjudicator of which contested values in a society should triumph”.

For Pardy, the question is: “Where do you want power to lie?”

Is it the state (the courts, elected representatives and the executive) or is it the individual?

“The state should be out of it, for the most part,” says Pardy, “And people should own their lives. Until you get that idea back into the country, we’re going to be caught in an indefinite conversation about where the checks and balances lie. It’s time for the Canadian population to say, ‘We do not want to be managed anymore'” by an expansive administrative state.

Enjoy the discussion here, recorded on April 14.

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