Liberal Party Proposal to Cripple Democrcy

The President of Canada’s Liberal Party, Alfred Apps, hopes to resurrect and expand the Social Charter Canadians voted down in the national referendum of 1992 on the Charlottetown Accord.

The “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be amended to include positive rights for economic, cultural and social freedom,” he says. (See the National Post, June 14, which reproduces Mr. Apps’ speech of June 9th to the Empire Club of Canada.)

Exactly what “rights” does Apps have in mind? He has quite a list! “Guaranteed health care,” “education,” “retirement security,” the “right to child care,” “environmental security,” and “social freedom.” (I do not know what Apps means by “social freedom.”)

He describes his proposal as means to enhance Canadian democracy. “The inexorable progress of mankind demands the ever more democratic disbursal of power.” (I’m tempted to point out that if mankind’s progress is inevitable, we might just sit back and enjoy the ride. But I don’t want to be petty.)

Entrenching substantive political policies in the manner Apps proposes would not enhance but cripple Canadian democracy. It would limit executive powers to determine a coherent social and economic program. It would circumscribe debate in Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures. It would hamper debate and deliberation in the population at large. National and provincial policy on education, the environment, childcare, pensions, etc., would become  matters of mere administration, to be overseen by the courts.

In the most extraordinary statement of his address, Mr. Apps proposed not only that Canadians turn over to the courts the definition of social, economic and cultural priorities, but that we yield power to determine spending! The text of the speech reads: “In entrenching basic economic, social and cultural rights in Canada, their interpretation by the courts should be ‘subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified by fiscal prudence within a mixed market economy in a global marketplace.’” A bizarre picture emerges. The courts will tell the legislatures what Canadians have to do to fulfill the constitutional obligation to protect the environment, educate our children, and so on, while our governments and our elected representatives scramble to find the money to pay for it all.

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2 Responses to “Liberal Party Proposal to Cripple Democrcy”


  1. 2 Melvin Muskrat June 23, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    And the courts would be so busy they’d hand all the social and cultural stuff over to the HRC’s with their delightful “matrix” basket of rights. Certainly no need to reform the senate then – you wouldn’t be able to find it!


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