There is an otherwise (see below) excellent article on CBC News webpage today, discussing how the Harper government seems bent on a confrontation with Canada’s legal system by deliberately bringing forward legislation that Justice lawyers advise have only even a 1% chance or slightly higher of surviving a constitutional or Charter challenge.
I am a retired federal public servant who occasionally worked with Justice lawyers on legal matters and legislation though not in the Department of Justice itself. And I am not a lawyer. But — I do know from personal experience and discussion with Justice lawyers back then, that the Harper government approach, putting forward legislation that career lawyers in Justice doubt has even a 1% chance of surviving a court challenge, is a complete reversal of the standard used by all previous federal governments under which I served, including the three Progressive Conservative governments of Clark, Mulroney and Campbell.
The article lists, near the bottom, several recent pieces of legislation likely to be challenged in court and unlikely to survive court scrutiny. Disturbingly, however, Bill C-31 Section 5 (the FATCA/IGA implementation provisions buried in the omnibus budget bill) is not included in that list. CBC should have known to include that, given past stories and contacts we’ve had with some of their news writers.
This is an opportunity for Brockers and Sandoxers to blog a CBC story and to help raise reader awareness of the Charter and other legal issues that Harper and crowd have patently been ignoring re the IGA and FATCA. It also helps explain the careful choice of words the Finance officials were using in answering Opposition questions about Justice review of the legislation’s constitutionality under the Charter. My suspicion is that the advice that Justice gave Finance is that the probability the legislation could survive a Charter challenge was maybe more than 1% but probably not a lot more, certainly no more than perhaps 10% or so I’d guess.
This raises broader issues of Harper and crowds’ total disregard for “rule of law” in Canada and misunderstanding of the role our courts are supposed to play under our constitution, parliamentary democracy, and the Charter.
I’ve posted my own comment to the above effect in the story, still awaiting CBC moderation though. There are already hundreds of comments, most extremely critical of Harper and Justice Minister Mackay on this point, but I didn’t see any other FATCA related ones than mine, though I don’t pretend to have the time nor patience to wade through all those comments to check.
Another excellent reason to vote ABC (Anybody but the Conservative) in the next election, as well as another opportunity for Brocker and Sandbox bees to swarm and post to raise Canadians’ awareness of the issue.