"Canada is no longer a free country"
Following the comments in Natalie Solent's blogpost on samizdata.net ( a British libertarian site) [h/t] leads to this analysis of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, using the recent decision of the Alberta Human Rights Commission in the Boission case as a application of principle (Levant has commentary on this decision).
The very first section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads -
. 1. 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.
Doesn't that sound marvellous? You can rely on the quality of what we sell, eh? Guaranteed. Still, as with any sales talk, it's wise to look for the small print.
For a start, no guarantee can be absolute, can it? You have to be reasonable. And indeed the Charter says so. It's quite honest about it. Any limits have to be reasonable.
And where do you find those limits? Ah, they have to be in the law - "prescribed by law", as the Charter puts it.
And my goodness, not only that, but these limits must be such as can be "demonstrably justified". Nothing underhand about that is there? You gotta be able to demonstrate it. Don't all these nice things make you feel secure?
And to put icing on the cake, this demonstrable justification has to be the sort of justification that you find in a "free and democratic society". Which is what we are, aren't we?
Now, can we all dance around singing "we're free, we're free"? Well, not quite.
Move on to section 2 -
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.
You would expect that if for example, a Christian Pastor believed that some kinds of behaviour were sinful, then section 2 (a) would allow him to believe that. He has freedom of conscience and religion doesn't he?
You'd expect him to be free to state his beliefs openly, from his pulpit, or in his Parish magazine. Or in any magazine, for that matter, or on the radio or via the Internet.
Oops, big mistake. You see you've mis-read section 1, and you've ignored the fact that Alberta has a law that prescribes something different. In a free and democratic society he is not allowed to state his beliefs like that. He's not even allowed to hold those beliefs.. He must renounce them, publicly.
How do we know this? Because Lori Andreachuk from the Alberta Human Rights Commission says so.
You see, the expression "a free and democratic society" doesn't mean what we thought it meant. It really means "a politically correct society" . And what does that mean? It means whatever any Judge thinks it ought to mean, and whatever any Human Rights official, such as Lori Andreachuk thinks it ought to mean.
So don't go looking for gift-wrapped freedoms of the sort you thought you could get from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms store. The shelves are empty.
Posted by Herbert Thornton at June 8, 2008 06:19 PM
Quite so. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms isn't worth the paper its printed on. A constitutional charter can't, by definition, be an "evergreen" document, subject to the whims, hubris and outright malevolence of politically correct parliaments and jurisprudence. Its very existence is to prevent statist abuses, not entrench them. The CCRF provides no "guarantees" whatsoever, except that you can be guaranteed, that with the support of less than a plurality, a Canadian parliament can erase your freedoms with a whipped vote. The CCRF says so. Certainly, if you are a firearms owner, you know that your freedom to have a firearm, in the minds of the legislators and their hangers-on, became a privilege overnight.
Democratic states do not grant "privileges" to their people, the people give privilege to the state, in order to preserve the rights of the people. Authoritarian states give privileges to the people in order to preserve the rights of the state. Where do you want to live?