A lawless government

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Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Once again the law courts of the land have rejected a key piece of     legislation passed by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The    latest rebuff came from the Federal Court’s decision against the government’s cuts to health care funding for refugees. For this year alone, the Supreme Court has handed down five    additional judgements    that have rejected the              government’s policies and legislation.
In June, the Harper    government was told law enforcement officials needed warrants to release     personal data obtained from internet service providers. In April, the Supreme Court ruled the government cannot use federal legislation alone to introduce Senate reforms. Also in April, there was a ruling against the Truth in Sentencing Act that tried to stop judges from giving inmates extra credits for jail time spent before sentencing. In March, the government’s bill denying licences to individuals growing their own medical marijuana   suffered a setback. Also, in March, the government was given another serious rebuke when Harper’s appointment of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court was rejected.
And these are only court judgements in the first six months of this year. Last year the court struck down the prostitution laws and rejected a minimum three-year sentence for first offence as “cruel and unusual” punishment. Also, the federal government was ordered to grant an exemption from Canada’s drug laws to a safe injection site in Vancouver.
These court decisions do not include the many     challenges the First Nations peoples have made against the Harper Government’s policies and handling of issues directly affecting them. Nor does it include the Senate scandal brought on, in part, by Harper’s appointment of Senators who do not reside in the province they are supposed to represent. Also omitted from the list are a number of charges of illegal election expenses and the robo-call scandal. The obvious     question is “Why is the Harper government having so many clashes with the legal system?”
The American comedian, Stephen Colbert, coined the term ‘truthiness’ to refer to a claimed truth known intuitively, from the gut, because it ‘feels right’ without regard to evidence, logic, critical review or facts. Harper’s government gets its “truthiness” from its narrow conservative ideology. The result is shown in the government’s non-responses in question periods, its unwarranted attack attitude on the slightest opposition, and its refusal to be called to account for its wrong-doings and       misuse of parliamentary power.
“Truthiness” results in omnibus bills that are rushed through parliament without adequate debate. Another result is the unprecedented number of court challenges the government is now facing.
Our democracy depends on the opposite of “truthiness.” It requires careful examination of policies, close regard for facts, and respect for the laws and legal institutions of our country. One can hope the many legal reverses the Harper       government has faced             will bring about a change          in our government’s approach to legislation and parliamentary processes.