This year’s constitutional crisis

by Aaron Wherry

The Liberals want the Governor General the block the Canadian Wheat Board bill.

The government will almost certainly seek Royal Assent for this legislation in the coming days. As Leader of the Liberal party, I would ask most respectfully that full consideration be given to awaiting final disposition of this matter by the courts before the legislation receives Royal Assent.

Though long before the Federal Court ruling, David Johnston has actually already been asked about the possibility that he would deny royal assent to a bill concerning the Canadian Wheat Board.

After pausing and then saying he couldn’t say much without “definitely crossing some lines,” Johnston said he felt it would no longer be appropriate for the Governor General to veto a bill that had passed in both the House of Commons and the Senate. “To take it away from that particular matter, and put it in a more general context, we do have responsible government,” Johnston said. “Canada really is the birth of responsible government…. They may have had it in the States, but it took a civil war between 1860 and 1865 to solve some of those issues. Canada’s had responsible government since 1842, and that’s really what’s at stake” if a Governor General were to veto a bill.




Browse

This year’s constitutional crisis

  1. Suggested New Years Resolution for Stephen Harper:

    Try to go one year without causing a ridiculous constitutional fiasco. It should be far easier and have far less creepy results than last year’s “Smile more.” 

    • And here I thought it was the Liberals that were trying to make this into a constitutional issue. Silly me.

      • That’s just because you think everything is the Liberals fault, including all those kids on your lawn.

        • Really. On what basis do I believe that? Here I thought I was sticking to the substance of the topic. You? Or maybe it’s not the Liberals who are taking the unusual step of asking the GG to stop what the elected Parliament is doing. Maybe it’s a group of aliens disguising themselves as the Liberals? Actually, that would probably make more sense! Ha ha.

          • I base my belief on your previous posts. For example, you have recently blamed the Liberals for the current constitutional mess, even though it is clearly the Harper Conservatives that are in the wrong here. I was tempted to explain it, but then I remembered your love of shifting goal posts and utter refusal to admit that Dear Leader may not be quite as perfect as you believe.

            In other words, you’re not worth the effort.

          • In other words, you can’t defend your position on this issue, so you have to attack my credibility, even though you can’t provide one shred of evidence in support.

            Why do some people come on here with the belief that nobody can disagree with them?

            They did this in communism. But in Canada? Wow.

          • @Dennis_F:disqus : Sigh..

            Fine, you win. I’m a big commie, hiding under your bed, stealing your secrets. I’m also the one who hides your TV remote. Not only that, each night I sneak into your house and shoot you with the special Commie-izer beam to convert you, and to make you a part of the big Konspiracy.

            Yes, I am a part of the Konspiracy. I, along with the MSM, the Liberals, NDP, Bloc, Green, former PCs who didn’t join the CPC, the unions, teh MOOOZLIMS, Starbucks, Al Gore, that guy you hate, the other guy you hate, those girls you don’t really like, that kid at the grocery store that looks at you funny… all of us. We are out to get you and the CPC. 

            Muah-ha-ha-ha!

            (For the record, this is not an attack on your credibility. You cannot attack something that does not exist.)

  2. Constitutional crisis’ have jumped the shark in this country.  This is like the After M*A*S*H version of interacting with the GG.

    • Is it really? Maybe so. I don’t like what Rae is doing here. On the face of it it appears to be theatre – cheap politics. I’m sure there’s an element of that to it, but surely there was a way for SH to honor his electoral promise without breaking the law when you consider what the law actually said in this case? The libs put in a kicker that you must ask the farmers in a democratic plebiscite what they want to do. Again i don’t like this kind of law making from the grave or attempt to bind future govts, but in this particular case was the stipulation so unreasonable? Harper could have avoided all this by holding a plebiscite, he chose the divisive route, tough for him.
      That said who gave Rae this advise? Surely the downside of dragging the GG into a political squabble outweighs the up side. Rae may end up wearing this one.

      • The matter is still being dealt with by our judicial branch. I think it’s reasonable to ask whoever can delay the passing of the bill until the court system has run it’s course.
        Having the government raise all this brouhaha over the Wheat Board bill only to have the courts strike it down at the end (which is still in the air, the courts may side with the government) is just bad for everybody. I think Rae is doing the responsible thing and showing the government how things need to be done.

        • I’m not suggesting Rae’s wrong in pursuing this as a point of principle; i’m just questioning his method – is it responsible?
          But really maybe i’m missing something here? When you’re fighting a junk yard dog shouldn’t you fight with every political tool in the kit bag? 

          The SCoC decision will be really interesting. Up until now i thought it would be a slam dunk – Parliament can do what it wants period. But Harper clearly avoided a reasonable and responsible course of action, favouring partisan politics and dogmatism over democratic due process. If this bites him in the ass it will be a good day for responsible govt in this country.

          • I agree with the sentiment, but I’m not sure why what Mr Rae is doing would be irresponsible.

      • He could have avoided it by holding the plebescite, but that might go against him.

        He could also have avoided it by simply taking out that section of the law first.  But it would have been much harder to muddy the waters then when people asked, “why are you taking away the western farmers ability to control the CWB?”

        Remember, that portion of the legislation was put in place specifically to block “easterners” from killing the CWB without consulting the farmers of the west.

        That’s why he did it all at once. Killing the restriction first makes it obvious he doesn’t like democracy, and holding the vote would have shown why he doesn’t like it.

        • “Remember, that portion of the legislation was put in place specifically to block “easterners” from killing the CWB without consulting the farmers of the west.”

          That’s a very good point. Many of us i’m guessing no nothing about the context of the liberal’s decision. All we hear about are attempts to rule from the grave. It would greatly help Rae’s case if the context supported his actions. Do you have a source for the actual context of the law? I’m sure we are going to hear some screaming and howling from the PMO presently, followed shortly by A.Coyne blowing a gasket. :)

          Didn’t Dalton go that route [ removing  the law, or superceeding it with a new one] when by- passing Harris’s attempt to bind future legislatures to balanced budgets?

          • The purpose of that section of the Act would appear to be much narrower than you are suggesting. It would be very unlikely for the notion of “easterners” killing the Wheat Board to have been part of anyone’s thinking – since, first of all, the Wheat Board is hardly top of mind with any “easterners” (setting aside the other point that from BC’s perspective the Wheat Board only involves “easterners” as it has no application in BC), but more importantly, no government would ever contemplate attempting to limit the ability of any subsequent government to repeal or amend legislation.  The section in question was more narrowly intended to govern whether the Wheat Board should extend or relinquish its mandate over other crops, such as oats, barley, canola, etc.

            No parliament can hand-cuff a future parliament. If it could it would be the end of democratic government.

          • I wasn’t suggeting anything. I was asking Thwim for clarification or evidence to support his assertion. Thx for your info.
            As to your last point, as i said it has already been attempted  at least once in Ontario with Harris and for all i know dozens of others times. The point is there is a process to overturn lawmaking from the grave – Mcguinty followed the process, Harper hasn’t. Why not?

          • You are wrong. The CWB has jurisdiction over Wheat and Barley Producers in the BC Peace Region.

  3. I hope that if the government feels it must end the board without consulting farmers, it amends the current bill or appeals the court decision, rather than continue on this path.

    • What amendment would fix the current bill?

      • Amend it to specifically remove section 47.1 before shutting down the CWB.

        • I guess I’ m confused. You’re referring to section 47.1 of the CWB Act. Isn’t the current bill the government has introduced separate? Did the original commenter mean that the Act should be amended, and not the current bill before the Senate?

        • Or have the current bill ammend the Act? I guess I get the gist of the sentiment, if not the particulars.

          • Yup. That’s exactly what I was getting at. Instead of having it shut down the CWB, have it amend that portion of the act. Now while this has the downside of needing two rounds to get it done, it’s not like the CPC is short on time at the moment.

      • I believe he means the current CWB legislation that requires a legally binding plebiscite (or “expensive survey” if you prefer the Conservative Double Speak Plus translation…)

        The amendment would be the removal of that clause.

        • I would think that by repealing the current Act, that would have the same effect as repealing the section in question.  The fact that the government could clearly have taken a two-step procedure – repealing s.47.1 and then the Act as a whole shows what a senseless argument Bob Rae is making.

          • If Harper’s purpose in avoiding a two step process was to avoid having to answer awkward political questions such as: “Why are you not conducting a plebiscite?” –  in effect removing consent from opposing farmers, then in that context Rae’s argument makes sense – at least politically. He’s calling Harper’s bluff, albeit very late in the game.

          • I don’t think he is worried about the “political questions”, since those were answered pretty deicsively in last May’s elections. Having run on a platform of abolishing the Wheat Board monopoly, and winning a huge majority in the only provinces affected by it, why would he bother with a plebisicite, or be concerned about political back-lash?  The government  is simply enacting its platform.  Rae’s party tried to make the same arguments before the election – and the results speak prettty much for themselves.

          • No. They were not answered decisively in last May’s election, no matter how much you want to trot that pony around.

            As strange as it may seem, there was more than one issue in last May’s elections, and farmers may have felt not only that the CWB wasnt’ the biggest issue, but that Mr. Harper would at least proceed with the rule of law and ask them first.

          • MikeRedmond.

            Now you’re conflating ballot question with voter’s party preference. Even farmers that oppose the Harper plan may not disapprove enough to vote lib or ndp.That is exactly why he wouldn’t bother with a vote – why give your supporters a legitimate reason to air their grievance with your party?
             So, if you turn your argument around ie., he has their approval aready what’s the harm in following the WB law, aside from the cost? Obviously there’s a political cost involved. 
            And…there is the fact of an outstanding court ruling, which casts this in a much different light. One can easily see Rae’s point, even if it contains an element of political gamemanship.
             Is it entirely irresponsible on Rae’s part? Depends on which arguement you favour – mandate!! or responsible governance.
            But to me it is clear who provoked this silly piece of political theatre. 

            “On December 7, 2011, the Federal Court issued a ruling finding the Government of Canada’s refusal to respect the statutory mandate to convene a plebiscite for farmers prior to dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board contravened s. 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act. Judge Campbell characterized “the most important effect” of granting the Breach Declaration as holding the responsible Minister “accountable for is disregard of the rule of law”.
            “As the intent of Bill C-18 is inextricably linked to the question of whether the Government fulfilled its obligations to consult with affected farmers, it would be entirely within the Governor General’s prerogative to withhold royal assent until the outstanding questions of law and any on-going court processes were sorted,” said Mr. Rae.”

        • I am guessing you could probably even say all of this is notwithstanding s. 47.1 of the Act.  Remember, requiring a successful vote may be on shaky ground anyway (although a consultative process requiring a non-binding vote may not be). Where possible the courts would probably give leeway to attempt to avoid this kind of wrangle, but the government would actually have to attempt it rather then pretending it doesn’t exist.

      • There is nothing in the current bill they can ammend solve this problem. The Government must either hold a formal vote among wheat board members, or amend the Canada Wheat Board Act to remove the provision that wheat board members need be consulted, and THEN proceed with a similar bill.   The Act reads:

        Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. A-9)

        47.1 The Minister shall not cause to be introduced in Parliament a bill that would exclude any kind, type, class or grade of wheat or barley, or wheat or barley produced in any area in Canada, from the provisions of Part IV, either in whole or in part, or generally, or for any period, or that would extend the application of Part III or Part IV or both Parts III and IV to any other grain, unless
        (a) the Minister has consulted with the board about the exclusion or extension; and
        (b) the producers of the grain have voted in favour of the exclusion or extension, the voting process having been determined by the Minister. 1998, c. 17, s. 25.

        • Just to be clear, one of the points of contention is whether or not a plebiscite has already been done. I thought it was, then this issue came along, and now I’m being reminded that my initial thoughts had merit. There was a vote. I guess the question is if it was valid.

          • I believe the only plebiscite was one sponsored by the Wheat Board itself, without authorization of the minister, so it would not be a vot within the meaing of the section.  The section, however, also only speaks of excluding classes of wheat or barly form Part IV or extending the provisions to any other grain, not holding a referendum on abolition of the Act or the Wheat Board’s monopoly as a whole. While Justice Campbell thought it should apply that widely I don’t think with all due respect, it bears that interpretation.  Even if it did, there is no remedy set out in the Act that would punish the government or minister for acting in violation of the section.

        • Would they need a plebiscite before amending the Act to remove the requirement to hold a plebiscite?  If not, isn’t this exercise simply a pointless debate over procedure?  If the government could have enacted a one-paragraph clause amending the current Act at the same time it introduced legislation to abolish that Act entirely, what’s the point? Other than political posturing, of course.

          • So if that’s the only difference, why didn’t they do exactly that? Other than political cowardice, of course.

          • I don’t see the “cowardice” part of simply doing what they said they would do as part of their election platform. The procedural process may fascinate some people, but the end result of the legislation, whether by two bills or one, is that the Wheat Board will lose its monopoly. That has been a clear goal of the government all along. If it is really unpopular they will bear the political burden.  It has hardly been done in secret.
            As for why do it the way they have?  I expect because their legal advice was that it was an appopriate way to proceed and the current Act doesn’t bear the interpretation placed on it by Justice Campbell.

          • The rule of law.

  4. Johnson will do the same as GG Lord Elgin did in 1849 and not interfer – Rae should know better.

      • Yes, and by doing so, confirmed the supremacy of parliament and the right of Canadians to govern themselves.  It wasn’t a popular decision, but it was the right one.  Bob Rae is suggesting an utterly irresponsible position.

        • Um…it was 1849…pre-confederation, and long before the King-Byng fling

          As long as we have a monarch, we’ll have this question

          • What difference does it make if it was pre-confederation?  Or are you one of those people who think the history of Canada and its constitutional development started from a blank piece of paper on July 1, 1867?  As long as we have a constitutional monarchy we won’t have this question at all- the governor general will do his or her job – and ignore Mr. Rae’s attempt to undo 167 years of democratic government.

          • LOL as usual you are trying to have your cake and eat it too.

            1849 was under different rules and world views than 1867….and things have changed again in the 21st century.

            You monarchists want our Parliament to be supreme, so we are ‘masters in our own house’….and yet as soon as we get in trouble, or need a referee you run home to mother England for a decision.

            This is how a 16 year old operates.

          • It’s Bob Rae who wants the Crown to interfere with the functioning of Parliament, not me. Take your argument up with him.

            As for 1849 being different than today, of course. The constitution is a living tree and our concept of democracy and parliamentary responsibility has grown over time.  Which is why it is odd for Bob Rae to want to turn back the clock that far.

          • We’ve had the right to petition the Queen since about 1215…which is what the Libs are doing.

            It’s not interference, it’s how a parliamentary system works.

            Oh NOW it’s a ‘living tree’…..LOL

            Except people petitioned when they thought we’d have a coalition govt with Dion.

            Cake…eating it too….etc.

          • You can petition the Queen, but she must act on the advice of her ministers.  That’s how a parliamentary system works.  If parliament has freely passed legislation, the crown will give assent.  It is ludicrous in this situation to suggest it would do anything else. But I suppose proposing ludicrous things is one way for Mr. Rae to get in the news.

          • She can listen to advice, but ultimately the decision is hers.

            If the Queen/GG rubberstamps everything, then we don’t need either office, because you have in effect made the PM the head of state.

            You are trying to mix your partisanship with your monarchism, and it doesn’t work.

          • No, the decision is not hers.  She is bound to act constitutionally, as is the GG.  That means she must take the advice of her minister, so long as the ministry has the confidence of the House.  She has no personal discretion to refuse assent or to delay it.  If a bill is unconsitutional that is something that will be decided by the Her Majesty’s courts, not Crown personally.  If it is politically unwise, that will be determined by the people at the next election.  The crown does not have the right to exercise personal opinion in matters of law and state policy.

          • Then we don’t need either a monarch or a GG.

            The PM is now the head of state.

            I see you became a republican after all.

    • This comparison has been made all day, but it’s not entirely apt. The 1849 Bill had not been ruled illegal by the courts, where the current one has.

      Elgin was asked to deny assent to a Bill because public opinion was against it. Johnston has been asked to deny consent to a Bill because the process of its promulgation has been ruled illegal in the courts.

      There is a pretty significant difference there.

      • So glad to see someone finally point out this distinction!

      • The courts haven’t ruled that its illegal, they’ve simply suggested that the introduction of it by the minister was so. That on its own is controversial and challenges the supremacy of parliament and its members. It’s important to keep in mind that no legal action to stop the bill has been presented by this court ruling, and thus there is really nothing that makes the continuitation of the passing of the bill illegal.

    • I look forward to when the Liberals decide to keep at this direct-appeal-to-the-GG thing, and start flat-out asking to be decreed the government. Because, well, he technically can do that, right?

      • Why don’t you bother to read the very comment above yours that makes the distinction that this is the subject of a court ruling, not just a fanciful whim of the LPC? But by all means continue with your pointless daydream.
        I don’t know if this is an appropriate option for Rae myself but it isn’t as cut and dried as you state.  

  5. This is the last step the Libs are able to take, so of course they have to make the effort.
     
    However this GG will sign the bill, and life will go on.
     
    Votes have consequences. Be careful how you use yours.

  6. Rae is example of collapsing Laurentian consensus. White elites in Ont and Que are raging at the dying of their lights. It is ever so sad. 

    I presume Rae does know better and this is just effort to give Liberal msm chance to write more about Liberals and how they are standing up to big bad meany that is PM Harper. 

    Why Libs hate elections and democracy? Also, how big is Rae’s head?

    Ambrose Bierce ~ The Devil’s Dictionary:

    Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.

    • Are you serious? The federal court has declared this legislation in violation of Canadian law. The government intends to appeal. How will it end? Nobody knows!

      Under the circumstances, regardless of “white elites”, the Laurentian consensus or the size of Bob Rae’s head, it only seems reasonable that the government halt progress on the legislation until the courts come to a final decision.

      And if the government can’t manage that basic level of responsible action, it should be up to the GG to enforce it.

      Sheesh, how hard will you work to ignore the issue in favour of your usual grousing?

      • Parliament is supreme.

        Read that again: Parliament is supreme. No court can prevent it from enacting legislation within its jurisdiction. The constitutionality of such laws can be reviewed after the fact,  and no doubt will be. But, holy balls, think of the consequences of what you’re arguing.

        • The referee in the system is the monarch, or her representative in Canada…the GG.

          Anyone can petition the Queen and/or the GG

          • She is not a “referee”. Parliament is supreme, and while the Queen is part of parliament she is required to act on the advice of her ministers, so long as they have the confidence of the House. It is not something over which she, or the GG have any discretion.

          • Yup…she makes the final call on a situation.

            There is no requirement that she does what ministers tell her to do.

          • You missed that whole “Glorious Revolution” thing did you?

            That’s pretty funn stuff “Emily”.

          • LOL you’re just trying to disguise the fact that you want a decoration instead of a head of state….in which case several million dollars is far too much to spend on a mere bauble.

          • Don’t blame me if you don’t understand our constitution. But as I recall you have never been a big fan of democracy anyway, have you?

          • I understand it just fine, Mike…but you could use a re-read.

          • There is an absolute requirement she does what her ministers tell her to do. Acting in any other way would be absolutely unconstitutional.

          • Rubbish.

            You’re going to LOVE King Charles.

          • I expect I will.  He has a better grasp of constitutional law than you appear to have.

          • Actually, he’s chucked the whole thing overboard and speaks out as he chooses.

            Blair even complained to the Queen about him.  LOL

            Don’t look to him to play expensive rubberstamp for you.

          • Of course he hasn’t done anything of the sort.  He’s expressed his opinion (and if it annoyed Tony Blair, good) but never hinted at acting in any unconstitutional manner.  Nor would he. 

          • Yeah, he has, and yes he will.

            As a monarchist, and therefore someone not interested in democracy, you should love that.

            Nobody is ‘royal’ Mike…all humans have the same DNA…and they all act like humans, so they do a lot of things that are ‘improper’ to the tut-tutters like yourself.

          • Oh, dear. Now you’re just making thing up.

          • Poor old Mike, still trying to square the circle.  LOL

          • I just watched the movie “young Victoria” about Queen Victoria.  They made it clear in the movie that even SHE didn’t have ANY right to interfere in the English parliament.  Now Mike, do not waste your time on Emily…she will always have the last word and she makes things up to fit into what she believes is true.

          • Oh I know all about “Emily”, as she now calls herself. It is fun sometimes to see how far she’ll go.

          • Parliament is Supreme!

             See Afghan detainee document release

        • “But, holy balls, think of the consequences of what you’re arguing.”

          What, pray tell, do you believe the consequences will be? What exactly do you believe I’m arguing here?

          • I think what AVR is saying is …what would happen to the workings of parliament…how would it be crippled if a precedence was set where bills would grind to a halt whenever a special interest group challenged a bill in court.  The bills could be tied up in the courts for years and no business would ever be done. 

        • Whether Parliament is acting ’within its jurisdiction’ is exactly what’s being challenged.

        • Parliament is supreme *within the law*.

          They have the power to change the law, but until they do must act within the law as it currently stands.

        • I love to know how often that phrase passed your lips during the detainee/contempt of parliament crisis?

          • B-I-N-G-O

  7. I’d like to address a point made by at least a couple of people. Specifically, it is being argued that the government should wait until the courts decide before passing the bill. This would be the “responsible” thing to do. Why? The two processes are separate: legislative and judicial. Bills get tabled and passed into law, and their legality is often questioned in the courts. It doesn’t mean you stop the legislative process altogether. Don’t see how this is irresponsible. In fact, the Liberals asking an unelected GG to stop a bill passed by an elected Parliament seems to be the irresponsible thing to do. Some people seem to think that everything people who disagree with them do is irresponsible. Since when is disagreeing on a matter irresponsible? Since when is having another position irresponsible? Since when is being the elected government of the day with a mandate irresponsible?

    • “Since when is disagreeing on a matter irresponsible? Since when is
      having another position irresponsible? Since when is being the elected
      government of the day with a mandate irresponsible”

      Let’s set aside these ridiculous questions. The issue seems to be that the government intends to create a law that the courts have ruled illegal. That seems irresponsible to me.

      • A TRIAL level court ruled it illegal.  There are two levels of appeal above the Federal Court Trial Division — the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada.

        You don’t just stop the legislative process in its tracks because some trial judge ruled against a piece of legislation, especially when the overwhelming odds are that that judgment will be appealed.

        • Of course it will be appealed. But until it’s settled in the courts, the government won’t know whether it’s good legislation.

          So what’s the harm in waiting for the courts to decide? Either it will be declared kosher, and can proceed unheeded, or it will be declared in violation of existing law, and the government will have to amend that law before proceeding with this legislation.

          Why the rush? I don’t see any harm in the delay that’s comparable to the harm of passing bad legislation (and acting upon it), then having to clean up the mess later.

          • I agree that the government COULD wait; but it is not bound to do so, either legally or in terms of procedural or historical precedent.

          • But I’m not talking about COULD vs MUST. The question is what the government SHOULD do.

            And considering that a court has said that this new legislation is inconsistent with existing law, it seems pretty obvious that they SHOULD wait before proclaiming it into law.

            Still, nobody has been able to tell me what harm might come from waiting until the cloud is lifted from this legislation.

      • Actually, the court did not rule that the proposed law would be “illegal”.  The judge clearly stated he was not making such a ruling.  He did say the Minister was breaching the existing law by introducing the new legislation. But he did not say the government could not proceed.  It was simply a declaration that the goverment was breaching the current legislation.  I think he came to the wrong interpretation of the current law, but that doesn’t really matter – there was no atteempt to order parliament to cease considering the new legislation and once it is passed it will be the law. It will not be, in any sense, “illegal”.

        • Pardon me. Please substitute “in breach of the law” for “illegal” in my earlier comment.

          • The end result is the same. The new law will replace the old one and there is no reason for the GG to refuse to pass it or to delay in granting assent.  Even if the original ruling is upheld on appeal (which seems unlikely) the result would not invalidate the new law. 

          • No, but it would open up the new law to fresh challenges. Meanwhile, the government would be taking actions under a questionable new law.

            I don’t understand the problem here – what’s wrong with expecting the government to follow a process in compliance with existing law? What’s the harm?

          • Apart from the expense, if they did follow the interpretation of the existing law that said they had to ask permission to abolish the Wheat Board monopoly, what if the plebisicit went against them?  Would they be prohibited from carrying through a policy they thought was right in principle – on which they had campaigned?  I don’t think it is really reasonable to interpret the current Act as restricting the right of parliament to legislate as it sees fit in an area of its constitutional responsibility. 

          • As I understand it, the court’s argument was NOT that the government must hold a plebiscite, but that they must follow a two-step process.

            Step 1: eliminate the law requiring a plebiscite before abolishing the CWB.

            Step 2: abolish the CWB without a plebiscite.

            The government is trying to jump straight to Step 2, which is incongruous with federal law.

            “I don’t think it is really reasonable to interpret the current Act as
            restricting the right of parliament to legislate as it sees fit in an
            area of its constitutional responsibility”

            Of course not. But the government can’t ignore the law that’s already on the books, and just ram its end results directly into being.

        • The courts have the power to review administrative action – including Ministerial decisions. If the Minister did something illegal when he introduced the Bill, it stands to reason that the legislative process of this Bill is flawed from the get-go. If the Minister lacked the power to introduce the Bill, then it (at least arguably) cannot be properly before Parliament.

          So the question becomes whether the adoption of a Bill by Parliament (and the speaker ruling that it is in order) cures the administrative defect, or can the court’s finding that the Bill could not be legally introduced remove Parliament’s jurisdiction to consider it.

    • I’m basically with Dennis on this.  Every situation has to be judged on the basis of its own unique facts, but . . . the fact of the matter is, there is tons of litigation going on in this country all the time.  Lots and lots of government legislation gets challenged in the courts all the time.  The logical implcations of Rae’s position are as follows:  every time a bill is challenged or struck down by a court (at the TRIAL level in this case, not even the appellate level) then the bill is effectively dead unless and until the bill is either amended, withdrawn or upheld by a higher court.  That is a crazy position to take, logically.  There’s no need for what Rae is proposing, and it’s stupid — the lawyer in him ought to  know better, but of course the politician in him is making him behave like a partisan twit.  The courts will sort this litigation out, and fashion an appropriate remedy, whatever the outcome – our appellate courts are good at that.  Alternatively, there will be a legislative solution.  But the GG’s interference is utterly unnecessary.

      • So. They pass the law. The appeals court decides the case was done properly and refuse to grant the appeal.  Then what? Which law are we operating under?

        How many conflicting laws can they put on the books before you go, “You know, maybe you guys should slow down a bit..”

        • There won’t be “conflicting laws”. Even if the appeals court upholds the declaration, it would have no power to order parliament itself to re-enact legislation that had been repealed. 

          • If it was illegal for the minister to repeal it. Did it really get repealed? Or is it just some criminal saying he’s repealed a law and it holds no weight.

          • It’s not being repealed by the Minister.  There was a vote by the majority of members of the House of Commons in favour of the new legislation and there will shortly be a vote by a majority of members of the Senate in favour of the same legislation.  That’s hardly one person’s opinion or actions.  The courts are not likely to state parliament did not have the power to do what it has enacted.  And, again, Justice Campbell’s ruling did not state the new legislation would be in any way illegal or unenforceable.

  8. The CWB already held a farmers’s plebiscite.  Results released on Sept 12.

    So why didn’t the Judge rule that the government must abide by that vote?

    I can’t figure out what’s in this for the Liberals.
    If they really want the Judges ruling on ‘laws binding next government’ PMSH can bind future governments until the end of time.
    If they really are against choice for Western Cdn  farmers that is hardly a ‘progressive’ stand.

    But the confusion over what the LPC really stands for is why they have been booted to 3rd party status.
    This ‘show’ just confirms that they earned being booted out of the decision making.

    • “If they really want the Judges ruling on ‘laws binding next government’ PMSH can bind future governments until the end of time”

      It isn’t a zero sum game Wison – Harper’s law or Judge’s law. Harper had other choices.

    • …hippies, commies and assorted fringe lunatic special interest groups who all share one thing in common…none of them donate to the CPC.

  9.  I wonder if I could make a request of our intrepid journalists:

    Could someone ask Mr. Harper, or one of his duly appointed spokespersons, whether the argument they’re currently making with regards to this Bill will affect the arguments they are currently making on the subject of Senate reform?

    It occurs to me that if a Minister’s right to introduce legislation can’t be restricted by regular legislation, the Prime Minister’s power to appoint Senators could not be so restricted either.

    • That’s a good point, but isn’t the deal with the senate not that future PM’s will be bound by law but more by the bad PR of ignorning an election?

      • The Senate Bill seeks to impose a legal requirement on the Prime Minister’s power of appointment (or, more precisely, power to recommend an appointment). Before you do X, you must do Y.

        That’s exactly the type of requirement the Government is arguing the Minister of Agriculture was within his rights to ignore.

        If it were just a moral requirement (i.e. do this or incur the wrath of the voters) then why bother imposing a legal requirement at all?

  10. Rae is a student of history. How could he be so stupid. Now he wants the Queen, through her representative to rule Canada. This should be enough to finish off the Liberal Party

    • Same thing happened to Ignatieff, intelligent and articulate…..became Liberal leader….within a few short months…stupid  

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *