Saturday, January 19, 2019

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Charters

At the heart of the 1982 constitutional repatriation was Pierre Trudeau’s Federalist wish to formalize democratic processes and institutions in the face of an uncertain future, and to place them in the hands of a strong central government. The two major elements of that were a.) an agreement that would bind Quebec to Confederation, and b.) the creation of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms with specifics similar to those in the U.S. Constitution as the core of Canada’s legal and constitutional structure. The repatriation process floundered when Quebec recognized that the Charter would impinge on elements of its civil code. Moreover, Quebec could not agree to those provisions of the constitution that governed future constitutional alterations, and the series of subsequent conciliatory maneuvers meant to bring the province in and to pacify its separatists has been used by the ascendant monetarists in Ottawa to weaken the federal government by devolving its powers to the provinces. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms itself has been employed mainly by the professional classes to ensure that existing and incoming lawyers will remain fully employed until the 22nd Century. It also guarantees the right of everyone to be offended by any and everything, and to litigate their grievances. Quebec, meanwhile, which has operated under The Napoleonic code in matters of civil law since 1763 has continued to be uncooperative about the Charter, possibly because it would infringe on the long-cherished wish of certain Quebecois males to return Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV to power. Eventually every group in Canada with a membership larger than three persons will demand its own charter, at which point we will wake up and remember that charters, after all, are just pieces of paper with unreasonably idealistic demands written on them.

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