Thursday, February 03, 2005

Section 33 Dangerous to Charter?
Letter to the Editor, National Post

Dear Sir/Madam:

So Andrew Coyne sees Section 33 as dangerous to the Charter? Far from being "a constitutional hypocrisy, a perpetual invitation to mischief, a dagger pointed at the Charter's heart" it is the only thing that will preserve the very democracy and rule of law that Section 1 of the Charter sees as fundamental to Canada. With no check on the all too clear social engineering ambitions of this current Court (and the law professors who support the current approaches) the Charter and the rights within it are endangered more by rampant judicial activism than they ever would be by misuse of Section 33.

That Section allows for civil debate and puts a government of the day on the electoral chopping block since any declaration is time-limited. But it also serves as the only check on an over-weaning judiciary.

"Who governs?" is a key question and getting rid of Section 33 puts power ultimately only into the hands of unelected and largely unaccountable judges. I'd rather have messy public debate in relation to Section 33 declarations than the smug silence accompanying judicial fiat.

Sincerely,

Iain T. Benson
Barrister & Solicitor, Executive Director, Centre for Cultural Renewal, Ottawa

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