Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kangaroo Court

M.P. Maurice Vellacott has been accused, tried and convicted in the court of popular opinion, concerning his comments about Chief Justice Beverley MacLachlin's speech on Dec. 1, 2005 in Wellington, New Zealand. This issue has been discussed at nauseum in MSM and in blogs. For more background info check out Canadian Blue Lemons, among others.

I held off commenting on the situation myself until I had enough time to digest some of the different points of view and information. However, as with Garth Turner, I tend to champion the underdog.

I believe that Maurice Vellacott's only crime is that he uttered out loud what many of us are thinking - That the Supreme Court now has self-induced powers way beyond the original mandate. The courts are supposed to interpret the law of the elected representatives in our democracy; not change the law or massage it like a piece of dough to fit some social engineering strategy (e.g. same-sex marriage, swingers’ clubs, etc.)

Saturday’s National Post contained an excellent letter to the editor in this regard, “Vellacott deserves praise, not censure”. Rosemary Underwood writes:


”Bravo to Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott for expressing what most thinking Canadians already believe: that Supreme Court judges play God with the law. He has paid much too high a price for repeating what he has probably been hearing from his constituents. In a true democratic society, constituents send their local representatives to Parliament to express their views. These MPs are accountable to their constituency and, in the next election, the people have their chance to reward or punish them according to how well they have represented them…”

She goes on to point out that the Supreme Court is accountable to no one. “Its judges have a mandate to interpret laws; not create them…” Ms. Underwood feels that Maurice Vellacott is courageous, and should be applauded; not persecuted. I agree, Rosemary.

Last time I checked, Freedom of Speech was still in the Charter, and applied equally to all citizens – unless of course Judge Beverley sees fit to decree otherwise.

41 comments:

Zac said...

Oh Joanne...what are you doing?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol - It's called Freedom of Speech, Zac.

Red Tory said...

What do you find objectionable about Chief Justice Beverley MacLachlin's remarks? They seem like common sense to me.

Zac said...

They are, they make perfect judicial sense.

Her remarks reflect what judges in other countries do as well. Why haven't you jumped on Clarence Thomas? John Roberts? Samuel Alito?

Or better yet why haven't you ripped on Marshall Rothstein? Could it be because he is a conservative appointment?

Only Liberal appointments play god, right Joanne?

Jeff said...

"Only Liberal appointments play god, right Joanne?"

In general that is probably correct Zac. Conservative judges tend to rule by what is actually written in the constitution, not by flavour-of-the-month "read ins". In fact, that's one of the main definitions of a 'conservative' judge.

Soccermom said...

Zac, FYI, Rothstein was on a short-list the Liberals had submitted for consideration...Yes, he was appointed by Harper, but the name was put forward by your guys!

vicki said...

RT and zac...not upset with Mclachlin's attitude...speaks volumes about the liberal mindset. My understanding of the role of the SCOC is to interpret not law, not make the law.

Zac said...

Ok Tories, tell me exactly what she said in NZ and tell me how that is different than decisions made by judges in the UK or the US.

Inform me of how she stated that she plays God, or how she, in some way, has more power than elected officials.

PGP said...

The point I take away from this is that MacLachlin was publicly proclaiming her sense of divinity in perceiving "Truth" and her innate "Right" to excercise her personal views as law even in the face of 'Written Law' OR Common Law. In effect she stated that she believes herself endowed with the priviledge of "Making " law.
When accurately commented on by Vellacott her office attacked Mr. Vellacott and and falsely denied her recorded statements.

I strongly object to her point of view and believe that our Elected Government should take steps to protect the citizens of this country from the WHIMS of Un-elected judges.

Zac said...

"MacLachlin was publicly proclaiming her sense of divinity in perceiving "Truth" and her innate "Right" to excercise her personal views as law"

Percieving truth is what judges do PGP.

No judge has, or thinks they have, a "right" to exercise thier personal views as law. They take the law and apply it to situation, they interpret the law, in accordance with how it was mandated by elected officials.
+++++
"When accurately commented on by Vellacott her office attacked Mr. Vellacott and and falsely denied her recorded statements."

I don't recall her saying in any speech at any time that she was "god" or had "god-like" powers.
+++++
"I strongly object to her point of view and believe that our Elected Government should take steps to protect the citizens of this country from the WHIMS of Un-elected judges."

Perhaps you'd like us to begin electing judges? I'm sure that will go over very well.

Zac said...

I find it funny that Tories always scream about un-elected judges as if it is some subversion of democracy.

You guys crack me up sometimes.

Red Tory said...

pgp -- I take it from your comment that you have not bothered to read MacLachlin's remarks, but have instead formulated an opinion based on your own prejudice.

Sara said...

jo,
picture me behind you yelling "peanut butter jelly" shaking my ass with a pitcher of beer waiting for you lol....

Zac,
if my memory is correct it was Chretien who stacked the senate and the judges after Mulroney. Now I was a Chretien fan and still am but even to my vision of childcare I don't want stay at home parents getting more than any other... you get my drift?

and by the way when is the last time you went out and got smashed?

Lord Omar said...

and by the way when is the last time you went out and got smashed?

Haha...Sara I haven't heard that expression for quite sometime. "Smashed". Like getting "Bombed", but I suppose in this day and age getting bombed is probably not very politically correct.

Sara said...

omar,

haha true I never though of it that way... So I supposed I shouldn't say I'm going to a wedding in the bush this weekend and getting bombed afterwards eh? haha just killed two birds with one stone uh oh I think with that comment the fbi might be looking at jo's blog.. hehe see jo I got you more attention lol


to the fbi:

It was just a joke and not intentional, I realized what I said after the fact... and bush in Canada means trees and forest nothing else ok???

Zac said...

Smashed like drunk?

I'm in university Sara, so I would say quite often...let's go with last weekend. Why?

Gabby in QC said...

Re: Supreme Court Judges' activism. In MHO, the Charter has indeed been interpreted according to judges' ideology. According to the copy of the Charter given to me when I became a Canadian citizen, section 15 (Equality Rights) states:

«15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on race and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour. religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.»

Now, the Charter was written in the late 70s & signed by P.E. Trudeau in 1981. At that time, women's rights was a very hot issue, so that "sex" was included in the passage above. In today's parlance, the term "gender" might have been used. In other words, "sex" was not used to refer to what is done between the sheets, but rather to entrench equality rights [male and female].

Compare that to the Quebec Charter of Rights, which came into effect on September 30, 1983, i.e. AFTER the Canadian Charter. In section 10 (Equality Rights), the Quebec Charter states:
http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/commun/docs/charter.pdf

«Right to equal recognition and exercise of rights and freedoms
10. Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.»

Please notice that in the Quebec Charter of Rights both SEX and SEXUAL ORIENTATION are specifically mentioned, so that they are not interchangeable terminologies. The Supreme Court decided to expand the Charter to include sexual orientation in its 1995 Egan decision. All judges held that “sexual orientation” must be read into the Charter of Rights as a ground of discrimination analogous to existing grounds such as race, sex, religion, etc.

Please understand that using the above argument does not mean I am a homophobe. I am simply pointing out what many people believe - our country's legislation should be in accordance with the LETTER of the written law, and not with the SPIRIT of the law, which leaves the law open to the interpretation of judges and their ideology.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Oh, boy. A bit of catching up to do here. Had a few computer issues...

Thanks Sara, for trying to lighten things up. ;)

My take on this is not so much about the literal word of what the Divine Judge said in that particular oratory, but rather the general way the SCC seems to think it knows better than we plebes in which moral direction Canada should be heading.

Rather reminds me of Liberal arrogance surrounding daycare.

Judge Rothstein is one of the few that believes that the role of a judge is to interpret rather than make law.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thank you for clarifying that point so eloquently, Gabby. It is the exact issue that my M.P. and I had a disagreement about (I was right). :)

Gabby in QC said...

You're welcome, Joanne TB.

I guess I chose my alias well, judging by the length of my posts ... I do get carried away. I should try to be short & ... Nah, old habits die hard ...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby - Your posts are always welcome. They contain information and truth, so you keep going, please!

Zac said...

The reference I believe you are refering to Gaby is "Vriend v. Alberta", in which the SC found Alberta's exlusion of homosexuals from protection violated Section 15 (which it clearly does).

There are certain litmus tests that judges can apply to cases which come before them that address charter rights. For section 1, the court uses the "Oakes Test", the "Law Test" for section 15, and so on.

Based on precident, these tests provide an apt rationale for interpretation.

At no time will a justice use thier "ideology" to judge a case. There are certain factors, such as precident, which are considered when evaluating the merits of cases which violate, or are seen to be in violation of charter rights.

Justice's don't go back in thier meeting room to deliberate and think of how they personally feel on a certain matter. Although, in some examples there isn't a clearly defined law, there is always precident and rules applied by former justices and international courts that specify the role they play in decision making.

These aren't personal decisions, they are legal ones.

Gabby in QC said...

Sorry to contradict you, Zac. There were two different cases.

http://www.egale.ca/index.asp?lang=F&menu=1996&item=221&version=EN
«October 3, 1996
Supreme Court of Canada Agrees to Hear Alberta Sexual Orientation Case

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that it will hear an appeal from the Alberta Court of Appeal in the case of Vriend v. Alberta. The case concerns whether the Alberta human rights legislation must be extended to include "sexual orientation" as a prohibited ground of discrimination.»

http://www.egale.ca/index.asp?lang=E&item=1
«The Egan Decision
May 24, 1995
All judges held that “sexual orientation” must be read into the Charter of Rights as a ground of discrimination analogous to existing grounds such as race, sex, religion, etc.»

Notice that the Egan decision predated the Vriend v. Alberta referral by 14 months.

Thanks again, Joanne TB.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ah, this is great. I can just sit back and let Gabby do all the work. Excellent.

Boy, you know a lot about law, Gabby! Is that your field?

Zac said...

I'm not really sure what your point here is to be honest gabby.

I thought that you were referring to the Vriend decision, but I can speak on both.

Are you not sure how the court came to thier decision in the egan case? Or are you using it as evidence for the argument that the SC bases thier judgements on personal opinion?

Whichever way you meant it, I'll speak on both because I have to go to class and won't be around for a few hours to defend myself as people rip me to shreds.

Both cases are covered under section 15 of the Charter. Subsection (2) would exclude King's College because the word "individual" excludes "legal persons" such as corporations, in this case a private bible schools in the Vriend case.

As for Egan, there was legal precident in that case. Specifically McKinney V. University of Guelph.

I'm pretty sure that McLachlin was one of the dissenting voices on this case. She ruled with Cory and Iabbuci that the words "opposite sex" in the term "spouse" in the "Old Age Security Act" would exclude homosexual couples from claiming spousal benefits.

It would seem to me that this is one of the cases where McLachlin would seem to escape the "activist" label.

Zac said...

Perhaps we should begin to describe what exactly an "activist" judge is?

Is it just a judge who rulings you don't agree with? Because there are plenty of SC rulings that I don't agree with, yet I don't label them "activist".

The Zeliotis case, where the SC struck down Quebec's ban on private health care, is one that I don't agree with, but I wouldn't call McLachlin an activist even though she ruled that a ban on private care violated Charter rights.

So, can someone define an "activist judge" for me please. I'd like to be on the same page as the rest of you (if I'm not already).

But now I'm really going to class so I'll catch up later.

Lord Omar said...

Pssst....hey Jerry, you got a sister-in-law named Debi?

Thanks, O-mar

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Hello again, New-man. Sorry, that's in the Vault.

Gabby in QC said...

Far from it, Joanne TB, I am a rank amateur when it comes to the law (among other things).

I hope your class went well, Zac, and that you were concentrating on what was going on there rather than planning your responses to me or other posters.

Look, the only reason I referred to the Egan decision is because it has served to include something in the Charter that was not there at its inception.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/921-e.htm#adiscriminationtxt
«Although it had been decided not to include sexual orientation explicitly as a prohibited ground of discrimination, subsection 15(1) was worded to ensure that its guarantee of equality was open-ended ...»

All I am doing is arguing that the Supreme Court decided to put into the Charter in 1995 something that wasn't there when it was signed in 1981. Therefore, judges cannot claim that they don't bring their own POV into their decisions AND lately the appointees to the Supreme Court (Charron & Abella)seemed to espouse a left-leaning POV (cf. swingers' clubs).

from http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_1741500815_3/Supreme_Court_of_Canada.html

«In decisions following the passage of the charter, the Supreme Court explicitly stated that the charter should be given a large and liberal interpretation and that the government’s parliamentary and executive powers were subject to judicial review. In doing so, the Court rejected its earlier conservatism... After 1985 the Supreme Court became increasingly activist.»

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKinney_v._University_of_Guelph

McKinney v. U of Guelph had to do with age discrimination, which, if I'm reading the Charter correctly, is covered in the Charter. The SC thus did not put in something that was not THERE in that decision, which is the basis for my argument.

You see, we have to agree to disagree. I, unlike you, was pleasantly surprised by the Chaoulli/Zeliotis decision on healthcare. I figure I should be able to spend my earned after-tax money on private health insurance if I so choose.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby - Well, you sure have made some great contributions here. I'm going to have to study all this.

Sara said...

Zac,

I asked because sometimes you seem a bit tight,,, was just wondering if you relaxed once in a while. I don't mean tight as in mean just intense with life.

you are welcome jo, but it didn't work lol

new-man eh hehe

Zac said...

"McKinney v. U of Guelph had to do with age discrimination, which, if I'm reading the Charter correctly, is covered in the Charter."

Correct, age is in the charter. It was used as precident because workplace discrimination. The same sort of situation in Alberta. If age is covered, why not sexual orientation.

As many of my Tory foes on this, and other sites, have noticed is that I am very passionate about equal rights for homosexuals. So for me, these two cases are no brainers.

If you say that judges input thier personal POV into laws, parlimentarians do the same. Although the difference is that they are elected my the majority of voters in thier ridings. An argument could be that they do not represent the will of all voters in thier ridings. For example, I have a fundamentalist Christian as an MP. Obviously he and I don't see eye to eye on many things. My views aren't being addressed by him in Parliment, but that's democracy. The devil is in the details. I, like many other Canadians, accepts that.

Judges though don't rely entirely on thier own personal POV. They base rulings on a variety of factors, one being precident.

Another factor is the interpretation of the Charter and the ethos in which it was originally signed. The Charter was supposed to protect the rights of all Canadians to the extent that those rights do not infringe upon the rights of others. These two cases pass that very important test. Providing benefits for same sex couples protects the rights of a vulnerable minority without infringing on the rights of others.

On a side note though, what's with you guys at the Swingers Clubs. Man, I say swing away!

Perhaps its a morality thing. We've already established that I have none, so perhaps I'll never get it. I just don't see how that can be bad, in any respects. But meh, that debate can be for another day.

Zac said...

"I asked because sometimes you seem a bit tight,,, was just wondering if you relaxed once in a while."

I guess I seem a bit too serious for a twenty-something year old eh?

But not to worry Sara, I will try to get "smashed" soon enough for you.

You'll get to experience this when your kids are off the university. As one of my friends put it, "university is like one giant party with a $40,000 cover charge" or the more off colour "drunken orgies with the occasional test" line.

hmmm..perhaps then you'll join me in barking at the government for more student funding when your kids are here one day Sara. Perhaps, "choice for students". Sounds like a plan.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Zac - "Obviously he and I don't see eye to eye on many things. My views aren't being addressed by him in Parliment, but that's democracy."

I know how you feel.

"The Charter was supposed to protect the rights of all Canadians to the extent that those rights do not infringe upon the rights of others."

By "others" you mean non-fetal humans and cormorants?

Zac said...

No.

Zac said...

First we would have to establish if a fetus is a person. As you can tell we've have all had problems doing that online in a small format over the past two weeks. Imagine a national debate? How long would that take.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

It would never end.

Sara said...

hmmm..perhaps then you'll join me in barking at the government for more student funding when your kids are here one day Sara. Perhaps, "choice for students". Sounds like a plan.

by the time that happens you'll be doing "choice for childcare" because you'll have a family. Or joining fathers for justice fighting for you kids... so yah the circle will go on and on but hey someday we might change the world, one day at a time.

I'll have a drink for you this weekend zac, I have that hick wedding to attend...

the abortion issues is the fetus, if you make the fetus a human then it will stop. Will the majority change its mind? NO... the majority never wanted it but the feminists did..
One believes abortion is freedom and the other believes its murder so no the debate will never stop..

TangoJuliette said...

Zac; Here's the pdf file text of Justice MacLachlin's NZ speech in 2005. Happy reading.

By the way Zac, you still haven't given me your definition of that "NeoCon" label you had tossed around so glibly, awhile back.

There seems to be some trouble posting the html tag on this blog, so what follows needs to have a .pdf stripped onto the end, and the proper 3w's and http's tacked onto the front end.

eugenemeehan.com/english/speeches/UnwrittenConstitutionalPrinciples

I also have a feeling that, over the next while, almost any issue that gets raised by most Liberals and Liberal supporters, is going to be very open to trivialization, ridicule and charges of attempts to deflect the coming fire and heat over the book-cooking festival on the L.G. Registry, and just how these same methods may well be found to have been applied to other key and sensitive files.
There comes a time when even the most dedicated individual must face the reality behind the question: "How much longer can I continue to defend the indefensible?"

To put the weapons question into perspective, I submit: As a child, I grew up in an immigrant home where guns were not tolerated. My eastern-European
father had been in military service during the First War, where he was wounded and imprisoned, almost dying of his wounds. He also suffered
tremendously from abuse and malnutrition. My mother's life as a civilian during this same period reflected similar trials and tribulations.

1960 to 1965 I was trained in the proper use, storage and handling of a wide variety of firearms and weapons, while in the Canadian Army. I haven't used any sort of a weapon since that time. Oh. Water Pistol at some fair,
extinguishing candles for a chance to win a stuffed animal for my honey. I am not a hunter, nor a gun nut. certainly not a member of any gun lobby. Having spent much time in rural Canada, I understand the need some people
have for firearms. But whatever topic comes up now, the Liberals will have slim traction, for
their credibility has been scorched. Seriously burned.
Where once the Liberals gained ground with their hints and innuendoes at "hidden agendas," linked to the non-liberals, reality has now turned the
tables.

The Liberal party of Canada, and most of it's affiliates, will now be faced with the daunting, uphill battle of trying to overcome the revelations of their venal, corrupt and self-serving thievery all dressed up as "The Natural Governing Party's Tremendous Concern and Compassion for the
Betterment of All Canadians." When, all along, it was nothing more than a smoke-screen, some flashy smoke and mirrors caper whose sole purpose was to get more Liberal hands into the pockets of all Canadians, and to build up
the bank accounts of key Liberal big-shots.

It's all coming unglued kiddies.

Whatta-Load/master Chuckie-boy Guite, and other low-lifes like him, will sing when squeezed. Head will roll. Liberals will wear (horizontal)pin-stripes.

Doncha just love it!?!?!??!


Ciao -- 10 - 4 -- there ain't no more--I'm out the door !
L.H.&K.

TangoJuliette said...

ZAC:

Hello again.

OOps!!
There IS a bit more:

Add the correct headers (http://www. ) to this:

eugenemeehan.com/english/speeches/
UnwrittenConstitutional
Principles.pdf

that should get you to the text of the New Zealand speech in question.

Don't know about you guys, but add in the vote last nite, with Really Angry & Appoplectic White Guy Billy G twisting hisself inside out to facillitate swallowing his tongue and voting FOR the Harper call...?/ !!

I'M LUVVIN IT !!


L.H.&K.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks for those references, Tango. I just came across my recent Western Standard magazine which had gone missing for a while.

Looking forward to reading the "Judge Beverley" interview with a nice hot cup of Earl Grey.