The Truckers Freedom Convoy of the past two weeks has lifted the veil, or the mask, on just how fundamentally flawed Canada is and always was. Amid the blaring of truck horns cries of “mandate freedom” are echoing down Wellington Street in Ottawa. Unfortunately, Parliamentarians are deaf to these pleas and if one knows anything of Canadian history, as does our guest Professor Salim Mansur, Parliamentarians have never had freedom on their agenda.
If one understands Canada’s Constitution and is familiar with its laws and practices then one realizes that Canada is not, nor was it ever, a nation of individual rights and “We The People”, rather, Canada was always a nation of We The Parliament, or We The State.
In the British tradition, Canada’s Parliament is supreme. It can, and often does, pass laws that violate the individual rights of its citizens. “Peace, order, and good government” is the mantra of Parliament used by Conservatives and Liberals alike. It is the motive for governance enshrined in Canada’s Constitution (Sect. 91). Contrast this to the founding motivation for the American revolution and the structure of its government—individual rights. We The People, the first words of the U.S. Constitution, set the USA apart from every other nation on Earth and which still, to this day, is the only country founded on the principle that individual rights lie outside of government and that the primary role of government is to protect those rights.
Canadians often turn to the Canadian Bill of Rights (1960) or to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) as assurance that their individual rights are protected in law. In Canada, however, our individual rights lie not outside of our laws to be protected by the government, they lie inside of government, are limited by the government, and are often violated by the government.
The Bill of Rights is simply a federal statute applying to the federal government which has historically been ignored by the courts. The Charter is a document where peoples’ rights are bracketed by two sections (1 and 33) which, in effect, give power to the Parliament to override any individual right at its discretion.
As Professor Mansur expounds in this discussion, there are no federal parties in Parliament whose raison d’être is to defend the rights of Canadians. The Conservative Party often thought to be the party on the side of individual rights is in fact, as Professor Mansur makes clear, in Parliament to conserve the institutions of Parliament and its credo of “peace, order, and good government.”
“The Conservative Party has been conserving the formulation of the 1867 Act that is peace, order, and good government. (It) is not a party of freedom-loving people. They are not a party that has put the freedom issue at the top of the political agenda.”
A more robust understanding of Canada’s Constitution and how Canada’s Parliament works should reveal to Canadians that they live at the privilege of Cabinet. Their individual rights are an after-thought to the structure of Canadian governance and not a fundamental focus of legislation.
It remains to be seen in this chaotic and tumultuous time whether Canada will ever evolve from a nation of We The State and peace, order, and good governance to a nation of We The People and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Truckers’ Freedom Convoy may just be the spark that ignites the freedom revolution that Canada so desperately needs.
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