Constitution no cause for celebration

The defining legacy of prime minister Trudeau has stripped away many of the freedoms Canadians once enjoyed

We are about to be assaulted with a media storm celebrating the 30th anniversary of the “repatriation” of Canada’s Constitution by then prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

Most media outlets will wax poetic about this event being seminal, and finally establishing Canada’s independence from Great Britain. There will be countless anecdotes of individuals and groups who have used the Charter to advance agenda and special interests. All this will be wrapped in a warm blanket of promoting diversity, tolerance and social justice. Trudeau’s final jab at Canadians will be portrayed as providing the country with a legislative framework that embraces democracy, freedom and fairness.

None of this is true. In the first instance, the notion the Constitution was “repatriated” suggests somehow that Trudeau forced his way into Buckingham Palace and wrested Canada’s Constitution from Queen Elizabeth’s bony hands. Our constitutional conventions resided here, and were evident in every law and court ruling until 1982. No “repatriation” was required.

Canada’s Constitution prior to repatriation was based on a series of acts of Parliament and conventions (Canadian and British) that defined the limited powers of the federal and provincial governments and how the two levels of governments interacted. Individual freedoms were protected by eight centuries of British common law, and God-given or natural (depending on your beliefs) rights were taken as a given. Freedoms of speech, religion, self-defence and property were defined and applied equally to all individuals. Canada had, prior to Trudeau’s meddling, the freest society in the Western world, and next to the American Constitution, the most clearly defined relationship between government and the people from whom government draws its authority to govern. That changed in 1982.

Trudeau’s 1982 Constitution had nothing to do with protecting rights and freedoms, but everything to do with the politics of Quebec and its relationship with Canada. Trudeau’s ill-conceived notions of “enshrining” rights drawn from differences of culture and language created a challenge for Trudeau and his bureaucrats. If Quebecers were to be bribed to stay in Canada by being offered special rights without appearing to be “favoured”, some mechanism would need to be manufactured to create an air of “fairness”. Thus we have the Charter, a part of the Constitution familiar to most Canadians, that provides all individuals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

The Trudeau regime funded a series of Charter challenges on behalf of Natives, gay advocates and environmental groups in an effort to justify the precedence of distinct group privileges over individual rights. The Supreme Court of Canada was, and is, only too happy to indulge Trudeau and his legacy, leaving us with court-sponsored heroin shooting galleries, different sentencing rules for Natives and “others” and human rights commissions. Individual rights are diminished or extinguished under the Charter.

In Trudeau’s Constitution, individuals do not enjoy private property rights. Freedom to worship became freedom of conscience and religion — two very different ideas. There is no express freedom of speech “enshrined” in the Constitution. In each case, within the document that is the Constitution, each traditional basic freedom Canadians enjoyed for two centuries, has been either redefined in language so vague as to invite wide interpretation, or qualified so as to be subservient to the application of “special” rights assigned to protected groups.

There is little, apart from the attitude of the current Conservative government regarding devolution of power, to stop a federal government backed by a Supreme Court from imposing tyranny on Canadians. Section 1 guarantees a series of fundamental freedoms (in Section 2), but only to the extent limits can be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. Section 33 allows a government, provincial or federal, to ignore interpretations of the Supreme Court of Canada by invoking the “notwithstanding clause” — but invoking Section 33 is a huge political risk, and is unlikely to happen, except in Quebec.

In the end, Quebec never signed onto the Constitution, and despite Trudeau’s attempts to simultaneously bully and appease Quebec separatists to stay in confederation, Quebec was still holding referenda on separating a decade after Trudeau remade Canadian society. The 1982 Constitution elevated defined and protected group privileges over individual rights and limited and qualified those remaining individual freedoms such that these freedoms are not guaranteed.

While the media and our elites in Toronto and Ottawa will celebrate Trudeau’s legacy, for the rest of us, there is little to celebrate in Trudeau’s blueprint for Canada, and much to fear.




Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.



Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

(Drive BC photo)
Vehicle incident closes Highway 3 east of Osoyoos

Drive BC says to avoid the area until the road is clear

Osoyoos chef Murray McDonald was ecstatic upon realizing he scored the $1 million guaranteed prize in the June 2, 2021 Lotto 6/49 draw. (Contributed)
Osoyoos chef ecstatic after bagging $1 million Lotto 6/49 win

Chef Murray McDonald was at home and ready to doze off to sleep when he got a text from his wife

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Most Read