Canada Rex Murphy: Trudeau Liberals no longer care about Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms

01:31  15 january  2022
01:31  15 january  2022 Source:   nationalpost.com

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B.C., or Before COVID, if you were searching for pure rhapsody in political circles, then you had little to explore. Head to any high-toned Liberal gathering, one of their festal summits where the glories and landmarks of Liberal tenure were, almost liturgically, being celebrated, and inevitably some chosen hero of the Liberal moment would expatiate on the monumental achievements of 1982.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. © Provided by National Post The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ah. 1982. The moment Canada came of age. The pivot point at which the tired Dominion threw off the cables from mothership Great Britain, took back — repatriated is the sacral term in Liberal conclaves — the Constitution, and “enshrined” — another term of divine reverence, the prime deed of all Canadian democratic government — the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Rights and freedoms. These are trumpet terms. These are both the heart and soul of any democratic polity. And it was a Liberal government, under a powerfully intelligent prime minister, who brought this shield and buckler to the defence against any incursion by the state upon the integrity and autonomy of every single Canadian citizen.

Here was the titanium element in the Canadian Constitution, the Charter that locked the state in subservience to the citizen. I.e., demos — the people; cracy — rule. Democracy.

Liberals trembled with pleasure even at its mention; looked skyward when thinking of Pierre Trudeau’s dogged and fearless efforts to bring it to birth; hailed it, like Christians would the Holy Grail found and returned, as the triumph and apogee, the ultimate orbit of Liberalism’s contribution to the very idea of our nation.

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There is the state: the Canadian government. And there is the Charter, the map and declaration that the citizens own the state, and the state, never the citizens. This is worth amplification.

The Charter lands ultimate competence, ultimate authority, in the rights of the citizens of Canada. And should a contest ever come, it is the state that must genuflect to the citizen, and never the reverse. That, in the plainest terms, is what the Charter of Rights and Freedoms means.

Or — is supposed to mean.

Now before I unlock that somewhat cryptic qualification, it’s worth a review of what the son of the prime minister who brought the Charter into being, has had to say of the Charter, before certain recent days in Quebec and the time of COVID-19.

There is this from a speech on the 35th anniversary of repatriation: “For the past 35 years, the Charter has helped build a country where people from all over the world can come together as equals and create opportunities for one another.”

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Fine words. It has been a “country-building” instrument.

Even more recognition and praise from the same speech: “The spirit and substance of the Charter are at the heart of Canada’s success, and should inspire us all as we work toward a fairer, more just and compassionate society.”

It is at the “heart” of our success, and should “inspire” us all.

Even more declarative, more exuberant, even jubilant, about its very centrality to the idea of a Canadian nation was this: “Today, I remind Canadians that we have no task greater than to stand on guard for one another’s liberties.” Meaning, and meaning nothing else, that the Charter is the document and writ for which we stand on guard. That the statement of individual rights is the most precious commodity in all of politics.

And Justin Trudeau, ever so commendably, capped that trumpet-blast on the sanctity of individual rights, with a final statement: “The words enshrined in the Charter are our rights, freedoms, and — above all — our collective responsibility.”

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No wonder Liberals are proud of the Charter. One of theirs brought the concept of individual liberty, free from the incursions of state power, from bullying of majorities, or capitulation to popular sentiment during periods of stress, or the whispers of what “works” in the polls — one of theirs, Trudeau the elder — laid it down in the Constitution: here government can go, and it can go NO further.

Well, as I said above, that’s what the Charter was supposed to mean, or used to mean.

Until it fitted with the politics and polling of the COVID moment to single out one set of citizens and impose or seek to impose on them restrictions, taxes, ostracism and scorn.

If a prime minister lashes out at a whole set of people who, for a range of reasons, not simply ignorance as he implies, decline to be vaccinated, describing them as “racists and misogynists and science-deniers,” is this not targeting, divisive and exclusionary? Is it not another way of saying — “They are not us?”

More to the point: Is it not a way of saying, these pariah types, these racists and misogynists, do not deserve the steel shield of our wonderful Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

To such a pass have we come. And the more frightful element in all of this is that many are alright with it.

Love of country exists in parallel with respect for its citizens. All of them as individuals, not as markers for some subset that may be pushed aside.

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This is interesting!