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The supposed case against activist judges

John Geddes dissects allegations of “out-of-control lawmaking”


 

When Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, held a news conference on Parliament Hill this morning to raise the alarm about what he apparently views as an arrogantly aggressive Supreme Court of Canada, I paid close attention.

I figured McVety represents social conservative convictions that shouldn’t be underestimated in Ottawa these days, as demonstrated by the Conservative government’s stand against funding abortion with foreign aid dollars.

Speaking on behalf of an alliance of evangelical Christian and family-values groups, he called for Harper to “restore democracy” by filling any vacancies that might open up on the country’s top court with judges who won’t insist on writing their own laws.

McVety took aim in particular at Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. He portrayed McLachlin as a sort of judicial-activism evangelist spreading the word to judges across Canada that they should invent and impose laws to suit their own anti-democratic purposes.

I couldn’t make much sense of his argument at the news conference. But he did cite three issues on which his group contends that Canadian judges have indulged in “out-of-control lawmaking”—allowing same-sex marriage, lowering the age of consent for anal sex, and legalizing two types of child pornography.

Imagining that these cases must illustrate the activism McVety is so upset about, I read up on them. Here’s a summary of what I learned:

1. In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a landmark child pornography case. Both a British Columbia trial judge and the B.C. Court of Appeal had thrown out the prohibition of simple possession of child pornography as an unjustified violation the Charter of Rights. But the Supreme Court of Canada overruled the B.C. decisions, ruling that violating the Charter to prohibit child porn is justified to protect children.

I would have thought McVety would approve. I certainly do. But McLachlin, who wrote the judgment, did allow two exceptions: “(1) any written material or visual representation created by the accused alone, and held by the accused alone, exclusively for his or her own personal use; and (2) any visual recording, created by or depicting the accused, provided it does not depict unlawful sexual activity and is held by the accused exclusively for private use.”

Those are very narrowly defined exceptions—the first covering what might be found in a private diary, and the second making sure snapshots of kids in the tub aren’t outlawed. Is this really “out-of-control lawmaking”?

2. Same-sex marriage is, of course, a charged issue. Or at least, it was until most people got used to the idea. It’s true that in Canada the turning point came, not when any legislature passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, but when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled to allow it 2003. That was judicial activism of a sort, no doubt.

Yet the Ontario court was not pushing back against the will of today’s elected governments so much as against the opinions of yesteryear’s judges. The definition of marriage thrown out was Lord Penzance’s indelible 1866 statement, “I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.”

Now, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had judges inclined to allow gay marriage ultimately run up against determined efforts by politicians to reassert the venerable “one man and one woman” definition. But that never happened. The federal government didn’t appeal the Ontario decision to the Supreme Court.

Instead, the former Liberal government merely sent a so-called reference to the top court, politely asking if a new definition that encompassed same-sex marriages was okay. Yes, answered the court, unsurprisingly. Asked a hypothetical question about whether excluding same-sex marriage might also have been allowed under the Charter, the court declined to answer, since that option wasn’t on the legislative table. The Harper government has prudently decided against reviving the marriage debate, so it seems we’ll never know where the McLachlin court would stand if it ever had to wrestle with the matter.

3. I had no idea what McVety was talking about when he referred to those “out-of-control lawmaking judges” reducing the age of consent for anal sex to 14. Of course, I knew that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson recently succeeded in passing an amendment to the Criminal Code that raised the age of consent for any form of sex from 14 to 16, making it illegal for adults to have sex with someone under that age. (There’s a close-in-age exemption, by the way, so teens having consensual sex with other teens aren’t breaking the law.)

I phoned McVety after his news conference to ask what ruling on anal sex he was unhappy about. He directed me to an Ontario Court of Appeal decision from 1995. At that time, unmarried people under 18 could not legally consent to anal intercourse, even though they could to other forms of sex. The Ontario court struck down that distinction.

I can’t imagine why anyone would still be dwelling on this ruling 15 years later, much less putting it on a very short list of purported judicial excesses. Haven’t there been many more consequential judgments in the past decade and a half?

So I don’t see how any of the three cases McVety mentioned illustrate aggressive judicial activism, certainly not on the part of the McLachlin court. Prohibitions on child porn were upheld except in the narrowest circumstances; same-sex marriage was never appealed to the top court, as politicians of all stripes showed they don’t care to press the point; and the age of consent matter seems so marginal now it hardly warrants discussion.

If this is the best the social conservatives can do in taking on Canadian judges, there’s not much chance of this debate catching fire. I suppose I could safely have given that news conference a pass.


 

The supposed case against activist judges

  1. Dr. McVety's argument has little to nothing to do with the judicial process, as he shows by citing only examples that result in socially liberal outcomes. Surely if judicial activism is the principle at stake, he could at least cite a case that had nothing to do with his agenda.

    And the thing is, from his own standpoint of self-interest, he should support judicial activism. He's a minority, and the majority is hostile to him, and his ability to speak, worship and associate as he chooses may soon (and in some cases currently does) require Charter protection. I assume when that time comes he'll learn the real problem: the Supreme Court isn't nearly activist enough.

  2. As soon as you heard Charles McVety was holding a press conference you would have been wise to flee Parliament Hill lest you have to subject yourself to his form of hate speech.

  3. "I suppose I could safely have given that news conference a pass."

    No, it's good that you were there. This looks like an imported American tactic, painting a ridiculous caricature of somebody in power in order to get people ginned up. It doesn't matter that the actual rulings were delivered years ago, and not that controversial in their substance. They have sexy headlines that are easily distorted to imply that judges are legalizing unthinkable things.

    It's not enough to point out "others" with different values, Canadians (and Americans) can be pretty tolerant. The "other" has to be weird and extreme in those values, and has to be seen to be secretly eroding society to turn it into something else.

    American politicians have been playing this game for years, and they're well-stocked with accepted beliefs ("Al Gore is getting rich from global warming!", "Bill Clinton killed Vince Foster!", "homosexual agenda!", "liberal extremists!", "Saul Alinksy!") that make a segment of the population vulnerable to manipulation. It doesn't have to be true when your target audience is prepared to believe it.

    It looks to me like McVety is laying the groundwork for the same kind of divisive tactics. That's bad for all of us.

        • And I picked up a thumbs up for evey two TJ got, just for agreeing ;-) I even gave you one for agreeing with me. It's sort of like getting the second assist in hockey – sometimes it's merited, sometimes you slapped the puck off of some one's rear end and it hit your own player's skate before going to the guy who puts it in.

  4. Andrew:

    Your first mistake is in assuming that facts matter to these folks or are in any way relevant to their arguments.

    But thank you anyway for the effort. Sometimes it does need to be done out of concern that someone who doesn't know better or much might actually take them and their anti-Canadianism seriously.

    • Who is Andrew?

    • Hey, I've messed up on who I thought was the author of an article too ted.

  5. The other question that could be put to McVety:

    "What do you think judges including the Supreme Court of Canada SHOULD be doing about these issues you raise?

    I think you'll find out quickly that he and his supporters are big fans of judicial activism. I predict that instead of answering that courts should leave the question of abortion, gay marriage and age of consent for anal sex to the legislatures or popular opinion they will favour compelling adherence to a narrow, punitive and authoritian interpretation Chrisitianity.

  6. This sort of deliberate twisting of facts to create specious but effective social conservative arguments has become a primary weapon in the social conservative war on everything. Let's not kid ourselves, conservative talk radio and certain newspapers in Canada love this crap. They swallow it whole, often embellish and flog it relentlessly to their audiences. An example of politicians playing the same game is the "rampant crime" we hear repeatedly from the current government.

    I have no doubt that literally millions of Canadians take every word spewed by the likes of McVety as gospel.

    The most dangerously insidious aspect is that such manufactured assaults are nearly impossible to defend against. Politicans almost never challenge the McVety's of the world. It is simply too dangerous to fight faux with facts. In this particular case, the Judges and courts can hardly stand up and explain how McVety is attempting to mislead.

    The fabricators win almost without exception.

    • Not as long as we don't allow his like to dominate the stage or silence our voices.

  7. John, John, John (shaking head). See, you went wrong right here: "I read up on them." If you or other journalists (Jane Taber – we're looking at you) did this, where would we be?

    • Making unsupported statements of implied poor reporting skills?

    • Scott, maybe I am tired today but I didn't get what you meant by your remark. Jacobelli.

  8. John, thanks for your thoughtful analysis. This is excellent journalism and one of the reasons why I visit this website and read your, the two Andrews, Aaron and Paul's blogs.

  9. It's worth noting that the turning point in same sex marriage was probably 1997, when the Supreme Court gave gay people the right to common law spousal support under the Charter. (also worth noting that they had been denied government spousal benefits in an earlier supreme court case). After they gained Charter protection for these kind of domestic matters, marriage was just a Notice of Constitutional Question away.

  10. I wonder if McVety has a "luggage handler" from rentboy.com go with him on trips overseas, like George Alan Rekers?

    • The closet case against activist judges.

  11. Incidentally, Ezra Levant's conclusions and cited cases about human rights tribunals tend to be just as craptacular.

  12. The Charter of Rights is the law of the land. If Geddes is right that the SC ruled "that violating the Charter to prohibit child porn is justified to protect children" then they were overruling the Charter, which they have no right to do.

    The fact that I am against child porn and think the Charter is a load of crap should be irrelevant. It's the law. The judiciary has to confine itself to the law. Only elected reps are allowed to change the law.

    • I think that you might have missed a part; the Geddes article does suggest that:
      – at some time prior to the saga parliamentarians (not sure if that would have been provincial or federal) had enacted a law that made possession of child pornography; ie parliamentarians had already placed a limitation on a Charter Right, which is their "right"
      – two BC courts had essentially thrown out the law (as, I believe, they are justified in doing, using the basis that they used)
      – the SCC overruled those two courts, indicating that no, the parliamentarians were within their "rights" to have created the law

      So far, no problem that I can see. Sure, the SCC did tighten up the scope of the law a bit; is that the part that you are concerned about? From my perspective even that seems to fall within the scope of the SCC.

      What say you?

      • My understanding is that the BC legislature tried to make a law banning child pornography. I applaud the goal, but there seems to have been a conflict with the Charter. According to Geddes, the SC sided with the BC legislators rather than the Charter. Since the Charter is supposed to trump provincial legislation, this would be a case of judicial activism, I think. I happen to like the result, but that doesn't get past the problem that the SC seems to be making laws (in this case by upholding a law even though they deemed it in conflict with the Charter), which is a very big problem.

        • I think that you are on pretty shaky ground here..see NSC below…

          And even without NSCs point, it seems to me that judicial activism is still a bit of an "in the eye of the beholder" thing, as Geddes mentioned:
          – courts create interpretations that clearly go beyond what the legislators had intended (which I'm not necessarily against, but that's a different discussion); doesn't apply here, but that is obviously activist
          – courts allow laws to stand that don't fall within a pure interpretation of the Charter; this case, which could be perceived as activist if you are a constitutional purist
          – courts strike down anything that doesn't conform to a pure interpretation of the Charter; could be perceived as activist if you believe that parliamentarians had the right to pass the law in the first place.

          • What courts do and get away with is irrelevant: the question is what they should do.

            NSC's case below is much stronger than the one you are making, and it doesn't even bear comparison to the one Geddes stumbled through in the article.

          • As it turns out, I wasn't really making a case; after reading the post from NSC that I referred to, I just moved on to some observations. The lead in "And even without NSCs point…" was a poor choice of words on my part.

          • courts allow laws to stand that don't fall within a pure interpretation of the Charter; this case, which could be perceived as activist if you are a constitutional purist

            I really think this case is only "judicial activism" to a "constitutional purist" who reads the entire Charter absolutely literally, but completely ignores the very first clause. I'm still waiting to see the argument that a law limiting the legality of the possession of child pornography is not a "reasonable limit… as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". The SCOC only overstepped it's bounds in that case if you believe that the B.C. legislature's legislation was unreasonable, and that such a limit on the possession of child porn can not be justified in a free and democratic society. I actually tend to take a very libertarian view on this, and would be want to defend some pretty vile stuff on the grounds of "rights", and "freedom" but in this case, I'm pretty OK with it. I don't see anything unreasonable or unjustifiable in the statute.

            I do wonder though if McVety realizes that under the definition of "judicial activism" being discussed here by Gaunlion, McVetty is arguing that the SCoC should not have allowed there to be any limits whatsoever on the possession of child porn.

          • Let's just remember that Gaunilon only writes on behalf of the fool, and we would be foolish to use his reasoning as the basis for anything much beyond a good laugh and a healthy discussion. Mmmm-kay?

          • You really should just post under two aliases. "Gaunilon, writing on behalf of the fool but kind of expressing some of his own opinions", and "Gaunilon, writing on behalf of the fool for the sole purpose of satire".

            It seems to me that you have given yourself a rather convenient escape hatch that most of us decline to utilize. Perhaps I should start claiming to be "only kidding" or "only satiriical" whenever I get boxed into a corner.

          • Then again, perhaps it would be simpler if you were to read comments as written rather than putting words in people's mouths. I was not being satirical, and I was not kidding when expressing my opinions on this thread. However, neither am I a tower of wisdom from whom people like McVety or anyone else should be taking their cues.

            There is a difference between "taking one's self too seriously" and "expressing serious points" which you seem to have missed.

        • Since the Charter is supposed to trump provincial legislation this would be a case of judicial activism, I think.

          You're being entirely too absolutist with your "the Charter trumps statute" argument. Statutes can most certainly limit the Charter – that's actually in the very first clause of the Charter. The power of the Charter to trump a statute passed by a democratically elected legislature is by no means absolute. Parliament (or a provincial legislature) can most certainly place on the Charter "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". And who gets to decide if the limits set by a law are "reasonable" and "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society"? The Supreme Court of Canada. It's pretty much the most important reason for their existence. The Court ruling that a B.C. statute was slightly too absolute, but that generally the statute's limits upon an accused Charter rights were reasonable and justified in a free and democratic society isn't "judicial activism" it's exactly what the Supreme Court of Canada is mandated to do. In fact, in a very real sense it was the EXACT OPPOSITE of judicial activism in this case, as instead of overturning a law passed by a democratically elected legislature, and substituting their own view of what is "reasonable" with that of our democratically elected law makers (as the Court of Appeal would have done) the Supreme Court, essentially, gave DEFERENCE to the legislature's opinion, and ruled that the law they passed was essentially reasonable and constitutional.

          Honestly, imho, this is one of the worst examples of so-called "judicial activism" that one could possibly find. It's basically the polar opposite of the classic definition of "judicial activism".

          • Quite possibly. If the argument is that the SC was in fact just abiding by the law as written, then I stand corrected. On the other hand if the argument is that the SC made a decision that we like and therefore we don't care whether they were abiding with the law as written, then I stand opposed.

          • The only caveat I would add is that saying that the SC must "abide by the law as written" is a pretty big oversimplification of their role, and how they fulfill it.

            The constitution is written. Statutes are written. Sometimes, statutes and the constitution appear to be in conflict. In that case, what does it mean for the court to "abide by the law as written"? After all, basically the Court's ENTIRE ROLE is making these decisions when a written statute appears to be in a conflict with the written constitution. The Court must ask: is this a case where the written statute is a reasonable limit to the constitution, or a situation in which the written statute is unconstitutional, by virtue of placing an unreasonable limit on a Charter right? Generally, people who complain about "judicial activism" are complaining that the Court has substituted their own judgment as to what is reasonably allowed under the constitution for that of the legislators who wrote the (potentially) offending statute. Which is weird, because making that decision is what the Court is for. If the Court was just supposed to defer to the judgment of the legislatures, what would we even need a Supreme Court for?

            Basically, in every case that touches on the Constitution, the Court is almost GUARANTEED to privilege one written law over another (unless they simply rule that the statute in no way infringes on a constitutional right). If the Court rules that a law infringes upon a Charter right, then either that law is unconstitutional because it infringes upon a right guaranteed in the Constitution, or it's constitutional DESPITE the fact that it infringes upon a right guaranteed in the constitution (because that infringement is deemed by the court to be reasonable and justifiable in a free and democratic society). In either case, the Court is APPLYING the law as written, but it can appear to the layperson that they are either overturning a written statute, or ignoring a written constitution (or both, I suppose). My larger point being, this is EXACTLY what we pay Supreme Court judges to do. They're SUPPOSED to make these decisions.

          • I disagree. Judges are responsible for applying the law as written to specific cases. In situations where the law as written conflicts with a law of greater authority, they are responsible for holding the first until the matter is resolved by new legislation.

            To say that the Court has the authority to decide that infringements on the Constitution are ok if they're "reasonable and justifiable" in a free society", as ambiguous phrase as one can possibly get, is merely to put nine unelected lawyers in ultimate authority over our nation. We are a nation of laws, not tyrants. Elected representatives make the laws, judges apply the laws.

          • But "the law as written" includes section 1 of the Charter. Judges ARE applying "the law as written", but the law is often written in a way that doesn't make that easy. If you don't like the amount of leeway judges have in applying it (which is a perfectly reasonable position to take), then blame legislators, not judges.

            Additionally, Canada is a common law jurisdictions, made up of mostly common law jurisdictions, and so it's simply not accurate to say that judges don't make law. The case law (i.e., past judicial decisions) is an important part of our law. In a sense, judges are making law every time they make a decision.

    • Except that "violating the Charter" here is really shorthand for "violating one or more sections of the Charter"; this may sound like the same thing, but then there's section 1. That one "guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". That's not remarkably clear, so the courts have had to develop ways to determine what constitutes a "reasonable limit" that "can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" (if you're interested in those, start by Googling "Oakes test"). The SCC found that most, but not quite all, of the child pornography law's Charter violations were reasonable and demonstrably justified.

      Anyway, the point is that, far from "overruling the Charter", they were in fact applying it very carefully. The judiciary is confining itself to the law; the law does leave them a lot of room in some cases, but that's just what the legislators gave them, and it could be changed at any time (with great difficulty, but again, that's on the legislators).

      • Fair enough. If Geddes's description of the SC decision as "violating the Charter" is incorrect, then my assessment based on his description is also incorrect. I don't know one way or the other, but it does seem obvious to me that Geddes has quite thoroughly missed the point of McVety's argument.

        • I'm afraid I've created confusion by using the word “violated.” Sorry about that. What the court found, and the Crown didn't dispute, is that banning child pornography infringes (better word?) the Charter's guarantee of freedom of opinion and expression, but that such an infringement is justifiable under Section 1 of the Charter, which allows “reasonable limits” on rights and freedoms “as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” I believe Section 1 is often used in this way to put limits the way the Charter is applied.

          • That's an important point to clear up. A law is not invalidated simply because it "violates" the Charter. Democratically passed laws are ALLOWED to "violate" the Charter, it's just that they can only violate it in such a way that is "reasonable" and "demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society". Arguably, MANY laws "violate" the Charter. My freedom of expression is "violated" by libel laws. My freedom of association is "violated" by a parole requirement that I not associate with known convicted criminals. My freedom of religion is "violated" if my religion says that I can beat my daughter for staying out too late, and the police nonetheless arrest me for assault and child abuse. The point is that such limits are deemed reasonable and justifiable in a free and democratic society. We have important rights and freedoms in Canada that are guaranteed by the constitution, but they're not ABSOLUTE.

            Good use of the word "infringed" to clear that up! I think it makes things much clearer!

          • Thanks for the clarification. That makes a lot more sense.

          • I can't believe I didn't use the word "infringe". My constitutional law prof would be even more disappointed in me than he already is.

          • I also can't believe that you didn't use the word "infinge"; after all, your Caption Challenge victories are a testament to your wordsmithing ability (and I mean that in the best possible way).

  13. Charles McVety has been ranting lately about the notion of teenagers engaging in anal intercourse. He's against providing education on anal intercourse in schools yet he would advocate criminilazing it amongst teenagers. In his ideal state, how would teenagers be informed of the law without being educated in what the law is forbidding? I would be curious to know what he feels are the long-term effects of teenagers engaging in anal intercourse vs. teenagers engaging in anal intercourse without proper information? Or teenagers being criminally charged for having anal intercourse, experience a court trial on the matter and being tried?

    • Well, hell, Pete, if you educated them, they might discover that anal intercourse does not cause pregnancies, does not lead to consideration of abortion, or a shotgun wedding. And where would McVety be if THAT got out?

  14. I think Geddes has entirely missed the point. It doesn't matter whether the rulings of various courts are in agreement with his views, our views, or the views of the majority of Canadians. All that matters is whether they are in agreement with the law as it stood at that time. I don't know about the third example, but the first two certainly seem like cases where judges made law rather than applying it as written This is not the job of the judiciary – we have elected Parliamentarians for that.

    Geddes should be more concerned about whether our judges are restraining themselves to the powers granted them in our Parliamentary democracy and less concerned about whether he or McVety might agree with their particular decisions. Our society rests on the former. Only a few cheap shots directed at social conservatives rest on the latter.

    • Please tell me you're not arguing that the supreme court *should* have allowed the possession of child pornography?

      • If that was the law at the time, the Supreme Court should have confined themselves to it. It would then have fallen to Parliament to enact laws against possession of child pornography. The fact that I am against child pornography has nothing to do with the question of whether the SC overstepped their boundaries.

        • Hm. Fair enough I suppose, although that's a pretty big "if" in my eyes, because under the same type of ruling, possession of absolutely anything must be legal, and that's clearly not the case. I'm thinking the BC Court of Appeals got it wrong in the general sense, and the Supreme Court actually took a more nuanced stance while upholding the rights of individuals within the charter.

          As to the second SC decision, Geddes spells it out quite clearly that the decision was actually overturning judicial activism that had taken place before.

        • Except that it wasn't the law at the time. The law at the time was the law passed by the B.C. legislature. An appeals court OVERTURNED that law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. The SCoC ruled that no, protecting children is a obviously demonstrable justification for an entirely reasonable limit on freedom of expression – that being a ban on the possession of child pornography.

          I don't know how people are defining "judicial activism" but in this case, the Court of Appeal tried to overturn a democratically passed law, while the SCoC ruled in favour of the legislature that their statute was constitutional. I thought that refusing to overturn a law passed by a democratically elected legislature was the EXACT OPPOSITE of judicial activism.

    • Not sure how the child pornography case demonstrates activism on the part of the SCC….care to expand?

    • The whole point of the higher courts is exactly to evaluate laws. Also, many laws are constructed specifically with language that assumes limits will be tested in courts. Any law that talks about reasonableness, or justification was written by Parliament with the expectation that tricky cases or unforseen circumstances would be decided by the courts.

  15. McVety is absolutly right in branding certain judges as activists.
    Judge Mclachlin is an outspoken feminist who has used her position to futher the cause of the feminist agenda. One case in point: McLachlin nominatedand pushed Morgentaler to the order of Canada for buthering babies. Unbiased Judge? No way!

    • I agree that that was pretty awful, and I was disgusted. However it was not a case of judicial activism: she was not acting as a judge, and as the Chair of the OC board she was acting within her rights (at least by nominating – she may have stepped beyond her duties when she mandated that a non-consensus decision would be allowed, for the first time ever, for this special case that she happened to favour)

  16. This is so much strawmannnery, McVety is hardly the last word or vanguard of Canadian conservatism. I and about a million men could make a much more robust case against activist judges right here on your blog, except that your activist moderator would delete it, like he deletes many conservative comments here at Maclean's. The debate is over, and you lost, because you cried that conservative ideas about activist judges make you feel "unsafe".

    But enough about that, I'll let you and your merry band of gay sex obsessed anti-Christian (and therefore anti-Canada) hatemongers go back to speculating whether McVety has a "rent boy" and going on about how age of consent for children to have sex with adults is a, and I quote, "marginal" matter.

    • The marginal matter was:

      unmarried people under 18 could not legally consent to anal intercourse, even though they could to other forms of sex

      It has little to do with adults and children. Primarily the law was intended to stop teenagers having anal-sex with other teenagers.

      As for the rest of your post:

      Honestly, no one would be talking about 'gay sex' if it weren't for social conservatives continually bringing it up. Seriously, find a different topic. And, I'm not sure where you see the anti-Christian sentiment. There is certainly lots of people that are tired of social conservatives whining about all the weird sex people are having. Definitely, there are plenty of people who are tired of hypocritical religious leaders who turn out to be homosexual, or pedophiles.

      Lastly, in my experience, the only posts that are deleted from Mcleans are those that are abusive (and there's a pretty high bar for that) or would qualify as hate speech. I would guess that that has more to do with elevating the level of discourse than it does with censoring political opinion. Unless you mean to say that social conservatives are unable to make their case without being abusive or making derogatory remarks?

  17. Excuse me, but isn't McVety crossing the line here – religion/politics.

    "Dr." McVety – I doubt it. Are all his so-called degrees legit?

    • It seems not:http://dantoujours.blogspot.com/2008/06/chucks-go

      He apparantly has a B.A. and an M.A. from the Canadian Christian College.. of which he's President and which is recognized by Ontario.
      His claim to a doctorate is from the California State Christian University — which seems to be trying to claim that it was empowered to grant degrees on the last day of the existance of a board California developed for vocational schools with a predetermined sunset (good luck finding out if they actually were or not)

      He also lists honorary degrees from St. Petersburg State University.. that'd be in Russia. Have you heard of universities outside of North America granting honorary degrees? Especially for someone who's basically unknown outside of Canada?

  18. Gaunilon – and McVety – not surprisingly – only comprehend half of the story.
    Since our new constitution arrived on the scene – as the top of the pile of laws governing this land – existing laws on the books that predated that new constitution – have come up for review as cases worked their way through the system.
    While social conservatives may label the higher – on and up to the Supreme Court – judicial rulings that this throws up – as judicial activism – most balanced observers would see this correctly – as a process of bringing any inconsistencies into line.
    If the politicians feel that a ruling is out of line with current social thinking – they always have the remedy of enacting new law!
    Whether THAT would be construed as political activism would of course depend upon which side of the political spectrum you are on…

    • His degrees are from the college his dad founded, the middle-school sized California Christian College, and an honorary Phd from a Russian university.

  19. But he did cite three issues on which his group contends that Canadian judges have indulged in “out-of-control lawmaking”—allowing same-sex marriage, lowering the age of consent for anal sex, and legalizing two types of child pornography.

    What is with religious leaders and sex? Enough already. Why don't you try thinking of something else for a change? I suggest the good old standbys of baseball and cold showers. Probably not both at the same time though, or you may find yourself in dangerous territory.

    • Christian religious leaders are responsible for addressing the problems of their society's era. In Roman times that issue was killing, which is why "just war" doctrine was developed in that time period. In Medieval times the issues were doctrinal, involving the humanity of the Christ. In the Middle Ages it was freedom of religion. In our age it is sex.

      Don't make the common mistake of assuming that the issues of our era have been the issues of all eras. Christianity has been around a lot longer than our society – irresponsible sex is just the problem du jour that needs to be addressed, as evidenced by the fact that society would prefer not to address it.

      • I'm not going to argue history with you other than to say that the Christian Church is guilty of a great many historical evils that I'm not sure that you want to compare to its modern 'problem du jour.'

        irresponsible sex is just the problem du jour that needs to be addressed, as evidenced by the fact that society would prefer not to address it

        Are you suggesting that the reason that religious leaders continually rail against Adam and Steve is due to society's lack of moral compass re: irresponsible sex?

  20. I'm not going to argue history with you other than to say that the Christian Church is guilty of a great many historical evils that I'm not sure that you want to compare to its modern 'problem du jour.'

    irresponsible sex is just the problem du jour that needs to be addressed, as evidenced by the fact that society would prefer not to address it

    Are you suggesting that the reason that religious leaders continually rail against Adam and Steve is due to society's lack of moral compass re: irresponsible sex?

  21. Quick note to commenters: I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the case mentioned in point 1 is R. v. Sharpe, which dealt with the constitutionality of Criminal Code provisions regarding child pornography, not with any British Columbia statute. Which makes sense, as a provincial law against child pornography would likely be struck down on jurisdictional grounds, without any need to consider the Charter.

    • I'm also not 100% sure, but Robin Sharpe was the name that came to mind when I read the column.

  22. Judge McLachrin should be kicked out of the court together with other liberal judges who try to change the goof law with their own ideology.
    For the best of our country, and the best of humanbeing.
    Madeleine

  23. Actually, I find guys like McVety to be a source of humour, so long as you don't take them too seriously. I also note that the couple of posters who agree with him can't spell worth a damn, which tends to give some indication of their education levels.

    I have always maintained that Harper's Reform Conservatives play a very important role in Canada – they give the feeble minded something to vote for!

    • He'd be funny if he wasn't so influential.

  24. How in the world are you going to find any controversy when you are actually refusing to see any controversy?
    The truth however, is on how much the courts are taking personal freedoms and breaking them and even subjugating them to the invented rights of sodomites and certain women that claim to have the right to chose to kill. I know, you do not find any controversy. You are liberal and you are collectivist and so, your mind is subjected to what the ends requires.
    Same sex marriage, it is beyond controversy, it is a fallacy and an assault on natural law, not to mention the law of God, which you might find controversial.
    The charter of rights which was actually 'interpreted' by your protected non-activist judges towards making every term as general as it could be applied to any while completely disregarding the true definition of individual not as the expression of individualism collectivists are so used to in the progress towards social submission, but the identity and individuality of the human person.
    Much more could be taken and you might want to keep sticking to the concerns of your subject in the article, however, the truth remains untouched. Our judges are major players in the disintegration of Canada as nation of law and order as our representatives on the so many years of abuse by liberal governments, from Trudeau and on, have been very proactive in making their own religion as well as their own laws of low morality.
    Still, even after your poor representation of the truth or to put it to you more softly, your playing with words; a human being is alive and a person from conception to natural death and marriage can only be when it is a union before God of one man and one woman with the exclusion of everyone else.
    Hey, that was the definition the Liberal government had and passed and approved through parliament only two years before some sodomite out there decided that the court had to have its interpretation… no activism there but surely intended.

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