Irrational Attempts to Define When and How Rights Can Be Violated in Ontario
On November 15, the Liberal MPP for Ottawa --Vanier, Lucille Collard, tabled Bill 37, the Notwithstanding Clause Limitation Act, 2022. This legislation came a day after the Ford government was forced to repeal its use of the notwithstanding clause contained in the Keeping Students in Class Act, legislation which violated the rights of all workers, including the 55,000 CUPE education workers.
It is the most ridiculous diversion to cover up that today, at both the federal and provincial levels, we have governments of police powers. They have concentrated decision-making powers in the hands of executives. In their dealings with the public sector workers, they do not negotiate but dictate wages and working conditions which are untenable. When the people resist, they legislate them back to work.
The use of the notwithstanding clause in the Keeping Students in Class Act was a stretch of Doug Ford's greedy little mind that he could get away with knocking the Ontario working class out of the playing field altogether, once and for all. The bill would "legally" turn workers into things subject to civil death. "Things" can be disposed of as the private interests see fit. It will not pass.
What is ridiculous is the squabble in the ranks of the rulers and their pundits and retinues that the use of the notwithstanding clause, which negates the limited rights contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, should now be limited. And who decides the limitations and the limitations on the limitations? Not the working people that is for sure. According to its description, Bill 37, the Notwithstanding Clause Limitation Act, 2022 provides that "bills cannot invoke the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms except in certain circumstances."
"If the clause is invoked by a minister of the Crown, the Attorney General is required to table a report in the Assembly detailing how its use can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society and describing why alternatives to its use were deemed inadequate."
It would add a special majority requirement of two-thirds of the legislative assembly members for bills invoking the notwithstanding clause to be adopted.
The democracy is broken and passing more laws is not going to fix it. To declare that Attorneys General are trustworthy because they are Attorneys General is like putting the proverbial fox in charge of the proverbial hen house. No government at any level is showing how anything can be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." Their notions of what constitutes a free and democratic society defend the constitutional order based on "the king's democracy," which means there are rulers who govern above the people and have the power to make all the decisions which affect our lives.
The material conditions the working people face are objective and the problems these material conditions give rise to require solutions. The rulers have no interest in providing them with solutions or limiting limitations. Doing so goes against the the trend of concentrating police powers into fewer hands. Police powers are the prerogative powers in the hands of ministers and also of the courts. They decide the limits to be imposed on rights and how to define what they claim to be reasonable. These police powers are by definition without limits except if and when either the legislatures or, in the absence of their functioning, the collective will of the people as expressed through political actions, can contain them. Passing more laws will not heal the broken democratic system which is based on giving the power to the rulers to declare what is reasonable.
It is all fraud to entertain themselves while they hope they can carry on merrily floating down the stream. It ain't going to happen.
This article was published in
Number 4 - November 21, 2022