Thursday, January 20, 2005

Cut to the Chase

Let us cut to the chase. Irwin Cotler, Canada's Justice Minister, is rejecting the call of Cardinal Amrozic to use the Constitution's "notwithstanding clause" in order to allow time for debate and reflection on the possible effects on society of same-sex marriages. Cotler's response (supported by Prime Minister Martin)is predicated on the spurious premise that the notwithstanding clause should never be used to take away rights.

I take issue with the idea that there is a "right" to same sex-marriage. What we have here is a judicially altered Charter of Rights, which adds homosexuals to the equality provisions of the charter. The courts "read" this provision into the Charter after Parliament had several times rejected it's inclusion. Having undemocratically established the basis for further expansion of "rights," the Ontario Court of Appeal then felt it was on firm legal grounds to strike down the common law view of marriage, which has formed the basis of our civilization, in order to give effect to a judicially created new "right."

I know judges are fond of describing the Canadian constitution as a "living tree." I just wonder why it is that unelected judges are the only ones who get to fertilize the tree?

The Liberal government of Jean Chretien greatly assisted in this agenda by refusing to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Martin is further assisting in the transformation of marriage by bringing in legislation to implement the decisions of the courts.

But our constitution gives parliament, not the courts, the final say on whether there is such a thing as a right to same-sex marriage. That exercise of authority may be undertaken through the invocation of the notwithstanding clause, which allows the elected branch of government (and, therefore in theory, the people) to over ride (for a period of five years at a time) any provision of the Charter. The final constitutional power respecting such matters is supposed to rest not with the unelected judicial elites, but with the people, via their elected parliament.

The use of the notwithstanding clause is the peoples' check on the otherwise unfettered judicial elites. Through this process our elected representatives exercise their constitutional obligation to uphold the public interest by determining whether there is in fact a right at issue here. To suggest that the same-sex rights Charter issue has been determined with finality by the courts is a deceitful political spin designed to undermine any political opposition to the proposed same-sex legislation.

The Liberal spin doctors know well that the Canadian public is (correctly) adverse to removing rights from anyone. Accordingly, they have positioned the use of the notwithstanding clause as an act removing an established right, rather than as a final piece of the consitutional process determining whether there is a right to same-sex marriage at all. That is both clever and disingenuous.

So we are inculcated with the untruthful view that the Liberals are merely giving legislative effect to an established political right which has been judicially determined with finality. It's not the devil making them do it, you see, it's the courts.

The other canard is that this matter is being put to a free vote in the House of Commons. This part of the Liberal spin is intended to give the whole process the appearance, but not the substance, of democratic action. How? First, it permits recalcitrant backbench members of the Liberal caucus to vote against the proposed legislation without seriously damaging the chances of the bill passing in the House of Commons. Passage is for all practical purposes assured by requiring the Liberal cabinet (38 members) and the parliamentary secretaries (28 members) to vote for the bill.

Just ask Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, whether the vote is free. He has obliged all NDP members of his caucus to vote for the bill. No free vote among these paragons of progressive social thinking.

Perhaps the most revealing thing is the horror with which these rights advocates view the people actually having a direct say in determining the matter. We are told that rights should never be the subject of a majority vote. How greatly they must hold the people of Canada in contempt.

Take my word for it. This goose is well cooked before it is even placed in the legislative oven. Only a sustained outcry from the despised people of this nation can now stop it being served to us as the main course.


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