Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shall we do the Cha-Cha.

I’m not a constitutional lawyer, nor have any expertise in law or anything at all, but I have been around quite a while, and have what we can call a real experience thru observations and life learning.

I can only talk of something that affect our society, but society, especially the one patterned to the so-called Democratic system have a lot of similarities.

Canada which is now my country for more than 30 years, is a constitutional democracy, based on British Model with a little bit of French mix, (civil law in Quebec is the Napoleonic code). It was created by the British North America Act of l867 and that was the basis of Her existence since that time, from the Nation of Three Provinces to now composed of Federation of Ten Provinces and Three Territories . The act which is the basis of all laws and structure of the Nation was amended as we go along developing a Nation. But the amendments were done in the British Parliament, until the Act was repatriated in l982 and the Constitution Act of l982 (Charter of Rights and Freedoms) was passed as amendment.

The process of Amendment was not as painless and not without controversies, but in the end except for the Province of Quebec who withhold her consent on conditions, the house under the Leadership of PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau passed the made in Canada Constitutions, which so many Critiques during the time stated that was not worth the paper it was written on. (All of 17 pages).

The critiques specifically mentioned Section 1 (numero uno) that states: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

And another contentious issue that convinced the provinces approval that was met with skeptical criticism is section 33 to wit:

33. (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

Twenty Four Years had come and gone and so far the critiques had proven not right after all.

Section 1 which give the Parliament and the Provinces Legislatures the right to pass laws to limit the rights set out in the Charter, except otherwise stated, not only enhanced our Rights and Freedoms, but make us so much responsible in exercising such rights, that limitations deemed unreasonable were challenged and most were declared unconstitutional and if not, the courts usually clarify the issue and why they should stand.

Section 33 better known as “The Notwithstanding Clause” is the Exemption given to the Parliament or the Provincial Legislature to declare an Act of each exempted from Judicial Review for a specified period of time. So far only the Province of Quebec used the “clause’ when her legislature passed the language law that give French the preference in signs (business signage). And a few other instances in provincial legislatures, that were never an issue at all. The Parliament has not used the “clause”. Take note: The “clause” specifies which sections are subject to exemption.

So my take, no Charter or Constitution is perfect, but whatever deficiencies there are, we can mitigate them by not taking advantage and abuse them. Had any government take advantage and abuse Section 1 and Section 33 of our Charter, then the voters, instead of the government may demand a Cha-Cha, but the only cha-cha we do here is on the ballroom and it’s a beautiful dance, though I prefer the rumba and the waltz..