Democratic End-Runs

In the last week or so we’ve heard a number of Conservative MPs complain about a growing “trend” of people, in complicity with “unelected judges,” doing “end-runs” around the democratic process.  The latest salvo here being from Dan Albas (MP, Okanagan-Coquihalla), per the CBC, he:

“… believes an increasing number of groups are using litigation to advance policies the government will not put forward…  ‘often the Plan B is to do an end-run around our democratic process and turn to the courts where it seems some judges are quite happy to engage.  This can result in decisions contrary to what have been decided in our democratic process,’ “

This is only their latest volley along these lines against our courts.  The cynical will note that these complaints about courts thwarting their democratic zeal, or making laws instead of just interpreting them, seem only to arise when they don’t like the court’s interpretation!

It boils down, however, that the practical effect of any law is settled, not by its originating legislature, but by its eventual interpretation and application — by the courts, who must figure out what it really means.  This is where all the fuzzy language, contradictions, unconstitutionality, and gaping holes bulldozed-through by an arrogant, autocratic majority, come back out for a proper airing;   where their breezy disregard and casual disdain of the Constitution, their blunt abridgement of Parliamentary processes, their bullheaded refusal to hear any critique or suggestion for change, starkly resurfaces.  It all comes out in the wash.  Here.

While their complaints seem always prefaced with “we respect the courts and the Charter,” this is only lip-service, for in practice it’s clear that they respect neither.

It is clear, now that they have a Parliamentary majority, that what they really want is unfettered majority power, without being reined-in by those pesky “unelected judges,” who they claim to be so hell-bent on subverting their noble “democratic” crusade by having the audacity to actually apply the law — the whole law.

If our Conservative compatriots abhor their rising tally of adverse court rulings, it behooves them to make better policy and better law, not blame the courts, and to make the effort to understand and apply the Constitution as a whole and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in particular, in so doing;  it behooves them to listen mindfully to suggestions and criticisms as opportunities to address deficiencies and unintended consequences, and properly support the whole democratic process, all along the way.

It takes more than a simple majority for a healthy, thriving democracy.

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