Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Few Insights Into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

Who's On Top In Canada?
By Lee Duigon
March 13, 2014
As the world’s governing classes hunt down liberty and kill it, the murder is often performed in the name of someone’s “rights.”
In our Declaration of Independence, rights are God-given and inalienable. In our Constitution, they are enumerated in the Bill of Rights. But libs and progs have discovered a lot of new “rights” since those documents were written.
Our sister country, Canada, has neither document. What Canada has is a vague Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a government that has taken it upon itself to “balance” one group’s rights against another’s. Or, as Julius Caesar’s assassins put it, to make some groups well, they must make others sick.
So was born Canada’s “human rights” industry. A marriage of utopian thinking and cockamamie legislation begat Canada’s “human rights” commissions and tribunals.
In practice, Canada’s “human rights” laws have stratified her citizens, with white Christians at the bottom of the heap. At the very top are homosexuals and Muslims, who have a “right” never to be offended, or made “uncomfortable,” or to have their feelings hurt by anything a Christian says, writes, or does.
Muslims and homosexuals are members of “protected classes” of Canadian citizens, which gives them license, via the “human rights” machine, to prey on citizens who don’t enjoy that distinction. As a bonus, the government pays 100 percent of the plaintiff’s legal costs and leaves the defendant twisting in the wind.
But there can be only one supreme class of citizens in any state. And in 2012, in Toronto, an aggressive lesbian tried to establish her own class as Number One.
She selected a Muslim-owned and operated barbershop, sauntered in, and demanded a “businessman’s haircut.” When the Muslim owner politely declined, on the grounds that his religion forbade him to touch a woman to whom he was not related, off she sprinted to her friendly “human rights” tribunal. The barber tried to appease her with a haircut at another shop he owned, where he had non-Muslim employees, but nothing doing. The lesbian was determined that this particular Muslim barber must obey her or suffer consequences.
I wonder if she thought she was in Oregon.
I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. It was the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object. Canada’s inane multicultural laws guarantee the Muslim an absolute right to refrain from doing anything contrary to his religion—a right that Christians do not have in Canada. But the same bozo legislation also guarantees this lesbian an absolute right never to be made uncomfortable or have her feelings hurt. What was a poor kangaroo court to do? How could it possibly resolve the conflict?
Last week the tribunal announced that the two parties had settled out of court, bound by a confidentiality agreement so that the rest of us will never know what happened.
My own opinion is that the lesbian is lucky to get out of this with her skin still on her bones. The Muslim barber seems to be a man of peace; but all it takes is one hot-head with a bullhorn on the street, and suddenly Toronto has its own little holy war.
Here in the USA, without benefit of the Canadian Human Rights Code, but with plenty of mischievous legislation of our own, almost every day the news presents us with another example of homosexuals lording it over Christians, just as they do in Canada. Assorted “human rights” agencies, in defiance of our founding documents and our tradition of religious liberty, empower the bullies, slapping onerous fines onto small businesses to destroy their Christian owners for declining to take active part in unholy parodies of marriage. It is as if the Declaration and the First Amendment had never been written.
Meanwhile, Canada and her “human rights” mandarins have sidestepped a conflict that might have erupted into civil disorder. The steel cage match between “gays” and Muslims has been postponed.
“Balancing rights” is a fool’s errand, and no one but a mutton-headed, utopian prig would undertake it. Eventually it will subvert the state, with religious freedom as the first and least expendable casualty.
Our governing fools and Canada’s are cut from the same cloth, and are headed down the same path.
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on
Syrian refugees will see free arts, cultural events in Canada Council initiative
Arts body and Sun Life Financial team up with initial $200K in funding
CBC News  Posted: Dec 11, 2015
Syrian refugees arriving in Canada will be treated to a taste of Canadian culture —  watching a stage play, taking in a concert or visiting an art exhibit, for instance — through a new initiative spearheaded by the Canada Council of the Arts.
The national arts body and Sun Life Financial have teamed up to create a program to provide refugees free access to a performance, exhibition or arts event in their new communities.
The Canada Council will provide $150,000 to the new program in 2016-2017, while Sun Life will provide $50,000.
"It's a modest piece of much broader collective and national efforts," Canada Council CEO Simon Brault said Friday, announcing the initiative at Théâtre d'aujourd'hui in Montreal at an event also attended by Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.
"The message is: 'Welcome. We welcome you to our spaces, performances and events – when you are ready.'"
"We made a very rough calculation that we could have, with $200,000, roughly 8,000 refugees attending one event during the year," said Brault.
"[It's] significant enough to open the door," he said, adding some organizations had already started thinking about ways to help Syrian refugees explore Canadian culture, and this initiative will encourage others to do so."
"We want to be a partner," Brault said.
​The program is slated to begin in April 2016.
Charter of rights in Arabic
Further details will be revealed in March, allowing newcomers from Syria a few months to adjust to life in Canada. The window will also give arts organizations interested in participating in the program time to get involved.
"We want to make sure that in general, refugees understand the importance of arts, the Canadian values and, more than that, the culture they will be living in for the rest of their lives, we hope," said Joly.
Joly said her ministry is giving each arriving family a welcome kit with Canadian children's books and short films from the National Film Board, as well as copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in French, English and Arabic.
She said Canadian publishers have donated thousands of books nominated for the Governor General Literary Awards books over the past several years to be included in those welcome kits.
Joly is MP for the riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, the riding which has received the greatest number of Syrian refugee families to date in Canada. She said she can see their evolution – especially the changes in the children – since the summer.
"It's touching to see the openness on the part of the refugees to get to know the culture and to find their anchors in Canada," Joly said. "I think that these kits and this mobilization will be very well received."
Bill C-51 Would Jeopardize the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
By Peter Jacobsen and Andrew MacDonald
Posted:  04/18/2015
On April 17, 1982, the rights and freedoms essential to a "free and democratic society" were entrenched into Canada's Constitution by the proclamation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by Queen Elizabeth II, at a ceremony on Parliament Hill. Much of the time, most of us are able to take these guarantees for granted -- we are fortunate to be able to do so.
But Bill C-51, dubbed the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, should cause Canadians deep concern. Its provisions, if passed into law, would jeopardize many of our most basic rights and liberties and would only serve to undermine the health of our democracy. On the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Charter, we should demand that Parliament scrap Bill C-51 altogether.
The guarantees of the Charter are not absolute. The Charter itself is clear on this point. However, any limits imposed by Parliament on our basic rights and fundamental freedoms must be "reasonable"; they must not be overly broad; and they must be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."
As many commentators have pointed out, Bill C-51 fails on all of these counts. Below, we highlight some of the most troubling aspects of the proposed legislation.
The proposed new Criminal Code offence of "promoting terrorism" is vastly overbroad and would capture innocent speech made for innocent purposes, including private conversations. In prohibiting the perceived promotion of "terrorism offences in general," its scope goes well beyond that of the already-existing, terrorism-related offences -- including the prohibition on counselling someone to commit a terrorist attack -- and would unduly and unnecessarily limit Canadians' freedom of expression and ability to engage in proper democratic debate.
Similarly, in proposing to amend existing provisions that allow for preventive arrest and detention, Bill C-51 is unreasonable and dangerous. The new law would not only allow police to detain people for seven days as opposed to the current three days, it would do so based only on the peace officer's suspicion that a terrorist activity may be carried out and that the arrest is likely to prevent it. The current Criminal Code standard requires the police officer to show a judge that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist activity will be carried out and that the arrest is necessary to prevent it. The proposed amendments grant far too much latitude and discretion to law enforcement and are contrary to Charter values and the rule of law.
As has been pointed out by privacy commissioners and advocates across the country, Bill C-51 would also allow and direct a large number of government departments and agencies to share individuals' private information without any of the oversight necessary to ensure that this power is not abused. Granting bureaucrats this unfettered power to share confidential information without any oversight will almost inevitably result in an overuse and abuse of this power.
Finally, Bill C-51 would increase the powers of CSIS in ways that are ill-defined and contrary to a basic understanding of what constitutes a "free and democratic society." Instead of being confined to its role in gathering intelligence -- the mandate for which it was created in 1984 -- under the new law, CSIS would be authorized to "take measures" to reduce a perceived "threat to the security of Canada." We take no comfort in the fact that Bill C-51 would constrain CSIS from intentionally causing death or violating sexual integrity. This proposed expansion of powers is especially concerning because the legislation would do nothing to bolster oversight mechanisms that are already clearly insufficient.
Further, if CSIS believed that it needed to "take measures" that would contravene any Charter guarantee, Bill C-51 would allow a judge to authorize, in advance, that infringement in a hearing held in secret. This fundamentally misunderstands the role of judges in our democratic system and the nature of constitutionally-entrenched rights. A judge's role is to prevent Charter infringements and to adjudicate alleged breaches by another branch of government in open court, not to authorize them behind closed doors.
Proponents of Bill C-51 claim that terrorists want to attack Canada and Canadians because they hate our society and its values. The solution Bill C-51 offers is not more effective protections against terrorists, but an unnecessary and dangerous dilution of the rights and freedoms essential to a free and democratic society -- the very values terrorists are said to hate.
Canadian society and its values require that security laws respect the individual liberty, dignity and privacy the Charter is aimed at protecting. Bill C-51 does not meet this test.
By Peter Jacobsen and Andrew MacDonald
Peter Jacobsen is a Founding partner at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP, and CJFE Board member. He chairs CJFE's Canadian Issues Committee.
Andrew MacDonald is an Associate at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP.
Justin Trudeau won’t say if Bill C-51 is constitutional despite Liberal support for legislation
The Canadian Press | September 3, 2015
BROSSARD, Que. — Justin Trudeau won’t say if Bill C-51 — the controversial anti-terror bill introduced by the Conservatives — is constitutional, even though the Liberals backed it in Parliament.
At a morning campaign event Thursday, he said his party will always defend the Charter of Rights, enacted when his father was prime minister in 1982.
But the Liberal leader would not clearly weigh in on the constitutionality of the anti-terror legislation, which has been questioned by some legal experts and the New Democrats who refused to support the bill.
“That’s a debate that’s ongoing, but the fact is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is there to ensure that our rights are not violated, that we are protected,” Trudeau told reporters.
“The Liberal party will always defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the same time as we defend Canadians’ security … we don’t have to make a choice between one or the other.”
RCMP need warrantless access to online subscriber info: Paulson
Police say telecos demand court approval for nearly all types of requests for basic identifying information
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press 
Posted: Nov 25, 2015
Police need warrantless access to Internet subscriber information to keep pace with child predators and other online criminals, says RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.
The top Mountie said Wednesday that a Supreme Court of Canada ruling curtailing the flow of basic data about customers — such as name and address — has "put a chill on our ability to initiate investigations."
"I'm all for warrantless access to subscriber info," Paulson told a security conference in Ottawa, comparing the process to his beat-cop days of entering licence-plate data into a computer and coming up with a vehicle owner's name.
"If I had to get a judge on the phone every time I wanted to run a licence plate when I was doing my policing, there wouldn't have been much policing getting done."
Mounting public concern
In June last year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled police must have a judge's authorization to obtain customer data linked to online activities.
The high court rejected the notion the federal privacy law governing companies allowed them to hand over subscriber identities voluntarily.
Police say telecommunications companies and other service providers — such as banks and rental companies — now demand court approval for nearly all types of requests from authorities for basic identifying information.
The Supreme Court judgment came amid mounting public concern about authorities quietly gaining access to customer data with little oversight or independent scrutiny.
Paulson said after his speech that he advocates giving police ready access to basic subscriber information while respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
'We've been consistent'
"I think we've been consistent in recognizing that we are very respectful of the charter and people's charter rights and nobody is recommending that we go any further," he said. "But there needs to be some sort of administrative access to basic subscriber information."
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police revealed in August that government officials were mulling just such a scheme — though it's not clear exactly how it would square with the court ruling.
The chiefs said a discussion paper spearheaded by the Department of Justice was presented to the federal, provincial and territorial cybercrime working group of senior officials.
The paper outlined three legislative options for allowing access to basic subscriber information:
An administrative scheme that would not involve court approval.
A new judicial order process or a tweak to the existing regime.
A judicial order process for subscriber information with a greater expectation of privacy and an administrative, non-judicial one for less sensitive subscriber data.
Paulson said while the Internet is a marvellous boon to communication, education and commerce, it is also a place where a vast array of crime takes place, including rampant sexual abuse of youngsters.
Time for a public conversation
Children are "being hurt at a pace and a frequency that is alarming," the commissioner said.
"Technology is fuelling that. So now these people can encrypt their communications and they can exploit children for sexual purposes and it's a little harder to get at them from a police point of view."
Many people want the Internet to be completely free, without rules, Paulson noted. "That's fine if we don't want justice there."
It's time for a public conversation about how best to prevent all kinds of exploitation in cyberspace, he said.
Allies in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand are confronting the same issues, Paulson added.
"We're all struggling with this. It's hard to keep people safe on the internet right now."
Durham advocates for physician assisted dying say they want seriously ill patients to have options
Due to a Supreme Court ruling, physician-assisted dying will be legal on Feb. 6
Oshawa This Week
By Reka Szekely
Nov 14, 2015
Dying with Dignity Jason Liebregts / Metroland
OSHAWA -- Lynn Murrell told a personal story as Dying with Dignity Canada supporters were in front of city hall to raise awareness pf their National Day of Action and Solidarity for the Right to Die with Dignity. November 4, 2015
OSHAWA -- They were a small group -- fewer than 10 -- but they were raising awareness of a weighty issue as Dying with Dignity Canada members held a small protest outside Oshawa City Hall last week.
Arian Rafati of Dying with Dignity Canada said the Oshawa action was one of 10 across Canada last week. She pointed out that Canada’s Supreme Court ruled last February that the ban on physician-assisted dying violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gave the federal government and the provinces a year to implement legislation on the issue.
With the deadline of Feb. 6 approaching, Dying with Dignity Canada has expressed concerns about whether sick patients will be able to “exercise their hard-won right to die with dignity.”
Pickering resident Lynn Murrell attended the event because of her husband Garrett, who died in February 2014 at the age of 55.
“He was diagnosed five months before he died, it was stage four gastric cancer, so stomach and esophagus, and by the time he was diagnosed it was everywhere,” explained Ms. Murrell. “For the last five months of it his life was very poor quality.”
While medication helped with the pain, it did nothing for the nausea and vomiting. Ms. Murrell said her husband had an amazing palliative care team that did everything it could, but her husband was miserable.

“I guess about seven days before he died, he’d had enough and there was nothing we could do and the palliative care team made it clear they could not help him end his life, so he decided to stop eating and drinking.”

It was a lengthy and painful death.

“The last few days were horrific, he couldn’t communicate anymore,” explained Ms. Murrell, emotion thick in her voice.

She kept thinking back to the day her husband decided to stop eating and drinking. With the help of a hospice volunteer, both Ms. Murrell and the couple’s 17-year-old daughter said goodbye.

“If we could’ve ended it then it would have been so much more peaceful and beautiful,” she said.

Now, Ms. Murrell is a firm believer that Canadians need to have physician-assisted suicide as an option.

“I really wanted to make sure other people didn’t suffer this way,” she said, adding that the availability of physician-assisted death doesn’t mean everyone has to make that choice, it’s simply an option.
Cecile Bensimon is the director of ethics for the Canadian Medical Association and has a PhD in bioethics. She explained that when the Feb. 6 deadline hits, both physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia will be legal. The former involves the physician prescribing medication that the patient can take on their own while the latter involves the physician administering an injection or medication.
“The CMA is strongly supporting a pan-Canadian approach to the implementation of assisted dying so that we don’t end up with a patchwork of provincial legislation,” said Ms. Bensimon.
A survey conducted among the group’s physician members found 29 per cent are willing to provide assistance in dying.
“We don’t know what the reasons are for the ones who wouldn’t provide it,” she said. “We do know there are some physicians who will conscientiously object and choose not to provide assistance in dying, but we don’t know how many.”
Still, the 29 per cent who would be willing represents thousands of physicians across the country and Ms. Bensimon said the organization believes that would be enough to respond to requests for assistance in dying.
The CMA has released a principles-based recommendation on dealing with the issue which includes a position that organizations and physicians who have a conscientious objection should not have to provide the service but the service should still be available to their patients. Further, physicians who work for an organization that objects should not prevented from providing the service at another location and the physician should not face discrimination for proving the service.
The CMA also believes there should be clarity about the requirements for assisted dying. The Supreme Court ruled that it should be available to people whose suffering is “grievous and irremediable” meaning incurable but does not specify that it is terminal.
“It’s very challenging to determine a patient’s eligibility on whether they have a grievous and irremediable condition because these are not clinical terms. That being said, the Supreme Court of Canada was very clear the determination of patient eligibility is based on the patient’s experience, or the patient’s perception of his or her own intolerable suffering.”
She adds that the criteria encompasses both physical and psychological suffering.
“The criteria the Supreme Court has outlined is so broad that Canada may end up with one of the most permissive systems for assisted dying in the world ... but we don’t know yet because we don’t have legislation or regulations,” she said.
As it stands, the former Conservative federal government created a panel of experts to make a recommendation on the issue. The new government has said it will wait for those recommendations.
A Quebec palliative care centre has committed to delivering physician-assisted dying once it becomes legal and may be the first organization in the country to do so.
Meanwhile in Oshawa, resident Walter Maryniuk said he was participating in the protest because he had seen family members suffer in the last days of their lives, including his mother and uncle.
“They knew there was no hope for recovery and they had to suffer until they passed,” he said.
He too describes himself as an advocate of choice.
“I know it’s not right for everybody, but it should be an option, it should be available,” he said.
How This Impacts You
• The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled Canadians have a right to physician-assisted dying under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
• Prior to the ruling, physician-assisted suicide was a crime.
• Regardless of whether new rules are put in place, physician-assisted dying will become legal on Feb. 6, 2016 unless the federal government requests an extension from the Supreme Court.
• People who are experiencing a grievous and irremediable condition, meaning incurable, would be eligible.
Reporter Reka Szekely covers the City of Oshawa for Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division. Reka's social media column appears every other week. Contact her on Facebook, Twitter (@rszekely)

NDP candidate Jean-François Delisle wants to reopen Constitution to deal with Senate and niqab
Nominee for Quebec's Mégantic—L'Érable riding against wearing of niqab during citizenship oath
By Melanie Marquis, The Canadian Press 
Posted: Sep 18, 2015
An NDP candidate in Quebec with a personal beef against the wearing of niqabs during citizenship ceremonies wants the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms amended.
Jean-François Delisle said if elected, his party will negotiate with the provinces to reopen the Constitution in order to abolish the Senate.
He suggests the party could kill two birds with one stone by using the opportunity to deal with the niqab issue.
"Thomas Mulcair is ready to open the Constitution for the Senate, so why wouldn't he be ready to open it up on this issue?" Delisle asked during an interview with The Canadian Press at a cafe in Lac-Megantic, Que., on Friday.
Delisle doesn't hide his disagreement with the wearing of a niqab while swearing the oath of citizenship.
(Right: Jean-François Delisle)
NDP candidate Jean-François Delisle says he doesn't think the niqab should be allowed to be worn during the citizenship oath. (LinkedIn)
"To have one's face covered for a swearing-in ceremony, I'm not in agreement with that," said Delisle, who is seeking to win Mégantic—L'Érable, the riding held by outgoing Conservative cabinet minister Christian Paradis.
"I'm comfortable saying that and I think my party is also comfortable saying that."
However, most NDP candidates in Quebec have been walking on eggshells compared to their Conservative and Bloc Quebecois counterparts, who have been categorically opposed to faces being covered during such ceremonies.
The Liberals have invoked the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in saying the wearing of niqabs at these events constitutes an individual right that the majority cannot deprive of minority groups.
Asked about the niqab issue in Saskatchewan on Friday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the party would let the legal challenge drop if it forms the government and would respect the courts.
Delisle said freedom of religion as preached by the legislators of the day in the 1980s may have a different context today.
"Currently, there is a Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said. "The charter then gives rights to people, and as a politician and as a legislator, if we want to change that, we have to change the Constitution."
He says radical movements have become more commonplace and it would be a shame if these types of groups were granted greater freedom than the majority.
Delisle accused the Conservatives of drumming up the niqab issue rather than discussing pertinent issues.
Bloc Québécois targets NDP over niqabs, pipelines in controversial new ad
Woman fighting ban on face-covering at citizenship ceremonies gets support from Ontario
On Friday, the Bloc Quebecois released a video on YouTube suggesting a vote for the New Democrats is a vote in favour of pipelines and niqabs.
To that, Mulcair's spokesman Karl Bélanger tweeted: "The National Front has entered the campaign," referring to France's far-right political party.
Canadian workers have fundamental right to strike, top court rules 
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jan. 30, 2015
The Supreme Court of Canada has declared the right to strike to be fundamental and protected by the Constitution, thus handing organized labour its second stunning victory this month.
The 5-2 ruling has wide implications across Canada for governments that limit the right of public-sector workers and others to strike.
Following a ruling that said Mounties and other Canadian workers have the right to unionize to protect their interests, the court has revolutionized Canadian labour law.
Saskatchewan had warned the court that the right to strike would be a change of “seismic proportions,” and several provinces had intervened to argue against that right, in support of laws that limit the right of public workers deemed essential to walk off the job.
Nearly 30 years ago, in the early period of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Supreme Court set out broad protections for many rights, including freedom of speech and religion. But it took a narrow view of what the Charter’s protection of freedom of association meant for workers – no right to collective bargaining and no right to strike. In the space of two weeks, the court has now insisted twice that government put only minimal limits on those rights.
Just like other Charter rights, the majority said, freedom of association protects the right to autonomy and dignity of vulnerable people. “This collective action [a strike] at the moment of impasse is an affirmation of the dignity and autonomy of employees in their working lives,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority.
The court’s turnaround provoked a strong backlash from two dissenting judges, Justice Marshall Rothstein and Justice Richard Wagner, who suggested that the majority was blind to the realpolitik of labour negotiations in which governments do not hold all the cards. They also said the majority’s view of labour relations was stuck back in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, when workers were powerless.
“Under the rubric of ‘workplace justice,’ our colleagues, relying on a 19th-century conception of the relationship between employers and workers, enshrine a political understanding of this concept that favours the interests of employees over those of employers and even over those of the public,” they wrote.
But in a blistering response, Justice Abella said the right to strike is essential in evening the playing field between workers and employers.
“In essentially attributing equivalence between the power of employees and employers, this reasoning, with respect, turns labour relations on its head, and ignores the fundamental power imbalance which the entire history of modern labour legislation has been scrupulously devoted to rectifying.”
She said the reasoning of the two dissenting judges “drives us inevitably to Anatole France’s aphoristic fallacy: ‘The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.’ ”
The ruling came in a Saskatchewan case in which public-sector unions challenged a 2008 provincial law passed by Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party that limited the right to strike by workers deemed by the government to be in essential services, such as jail guards. In the previous two decades, Saskatchewan had ordered striking public-sector workers back to the job on 10 separate occasions. But the law gave the government the unilateral right to decide which workers were essential, and it denied them access to effective alternatives for resolving labour disputes, Justice Abella said.
Justice Abella, a former head of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the wife of labour historian Irving Abella, spelled out the history of the right to strike in some detail. In England in the 19th century, strikers were subject to arrest and prosecution as criminal conspirators. In Canada, going on strike was a crime for some trade unionists until 1892. Modern labour law, backed by international human rights agreements, was meant to protect workers from this difficult past, she said.
Justices Rothstein and Wagner fired back that the majority was making a policy choice that should be left to government.
Don Morgan, Saskatchewan’s Labour Relations Minister, called the ruling “a marked change from the jurisprudence in Canada,” and he said, “We do not feel that the safety and security of our citizens should be compromised by labour disruptions.” Nurses went on strike in 1999, and snowplow operators, corrections officers and highway workers struck in 2006 and 2007.
Labour groups cheered the ruling. “Without the right to strike, employers have an unfair advantage,” the Canadian Union of Public Employees said.
The ruling proved the truth of the aphorism that today’s dissent is tomorrow’s majority ruling. In 1987, the liberal-minded chief justice Brian Dickson wrote a strong defence of labour rights, cited by the court’s majority in proclaiming a right to strike and, two weeks ago, a right to unionize.
University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, a former law clerk of chief justice Dickson’s, said the court’s views have changed as governments have become more hostile to unions. “Since the 1980s, organized labour has lost ground as a result of unsympathetic government policies and laws, not to mention economic changes, such as globalization. The court recognizes that as workers’ freedom of association is eroded by economic shifts and hostile governments, the judiciary becomes more essential for protecting this fundamental right. It’s a classic case – like segregation in the U.S. South, or abortion or sexual orientation equality in Canada – where governments cannot be relied upon to respect constitutional rights and freedoms, so the courts step in.”
Marni Soupcoff, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, an advocacy group, said the ruling is “a dangerous thing,” explaining that it “will interfere with the government’s ability to maintain essential services in a way that uses taxpayers money reasonably.”
Jamie Cameron, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the ruling “sends the message that the court has an active role to play in shaping labour relations and labour policy in this country.”
The Charter proves to be Canada's gift to world 
John Ibbitson
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Apr. 15, 2012
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed 30 years ago Tuesday. Since then, not only has it become a national bedrock, but the Charter has replaced the American Bill of Rights as the constitutional document most emulated by other nations.
“Could it be that Canada has surpassed or even supplanted the United States as a leading global exporter of constitutional law? The data suggest that the answer may be yes.” So conclude two U.S. law professors whose analysis of the declining influence of the American constitution on other nations will be published in New York University Law Review in June.
As the first Commonwealth nation to adopt a bill of rights, Canada has influenced other former British colonies as they create or revise their own constitutions, the study finds. Israel, Hong Kong and Eastern European countries have also drawn from the Canadian example.
Both the Charter itself and the nation that gave birth to it serve as an example to the world. “Some countries may be especially prone to borrow from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because they perceive themselves as sharing the same goals and values as Canadian society,” write David S. Law, who is professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, and Mila Versteeg, who teaches law at University of Virginia.
In contrast, professors Law and Versteeg conclude that the American constitution, once the foundational document for new nations in search of a government, has fallen out of favour. It fails to protect rights, such as freedom from discrimination based on race or sex, that are considered fundamental in our time; it enshrines rights, such as the right to bear arms, that other nations don’t value; its courts increasingly interpret the American document so perversely – by claiming that it must only be applied as the founding fathers originally intended – as to render it useless as a tool for tackling modern problems.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms not only prohibits discrimination based on race or gender, it protects mobility and language rights and enshrines the presumption of innocence. It balances the rights of legislatures and courts through the “notwithstanding” clause, which gives the federal and provincial parliaments limited powers to override court decisions.
Beyond the Charter itself, the Canadian Supreme Court is considered an exemplar in balancing constitutional and legislative powers, a role the American Supreme Court lost entirely after Republicans and Democrats turned it into an ideological battleground.
“The Charter is widely admired, and so are the decisions of the Canadian court,” observes Peter Hogg, one of Canada’s foremost constitutional authorities. “And one reason is that Canada is not the United States.”
The U.S. study, which offers a meticulous comparison of how constitutions around the world reflect and influence each other, leads the authors to conclude that “other common-law countries are looking either directly or indirectly at the Charter,” as they draft and amend their own constitutions, Prof. Law explained in an interview Sunday.
“Overall, the evolution of global constitutionalism has tilted more toward the mild-mannered country to the north than its superpower neighbour to the south,” the report concludes.
Jean Chrétien was a founding father of the Charter. He, as federal justice minister, Roy Romanow, then attorney-general of Saskatchewan and Roy McMurtry, then attorney-general of Ontario, crafted the “Kitchen Accord” that Pierre Trudeau, who was determined to get a bill of rights, and the premiers, who were determined to protect their own powers, could all live with. Only Quebec refused to sign the document, though a recent poll showed Quebeckers overwhelmingly endorse the Charter.
Mr. Chrétien is saddened by the Harper government’s decision not to mark in any meaningful way the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Charter, which may be altogether too Liberal an achievement for the Conservatives’ taste.
“I would celebrate it; they don’t,” Mr. Chrétien said Sunday on Global TV’s The West Block.
Conservative premiers played a major role in the crafting of the Charter, especially Bill Davis of Ontario. As Mr. Chrétien observed, without him there might never have been a deal.
The Charter doesn’t belong to the Liberals or to Conservatives. It belongs to all Canadians. And, increasingly, to the world.
Follow John Ibbitson on Twitter: @JohnIbbitson