More Light On
Canada's Bill Of Rights
I am writing from Ontario, Canada, and would like to offer some comments on "How Canada Compares to the US," a letter from an individual named Eric Williams. Eric was correct in suggesting that people of all persuasions tend to be a little less dogmatic and pushy with their beliefs here.
Eric made some erroneous comments about the Canadian consitution, however. First of all, the Bill of Rights was a document introduced in the 1960s. It was a "toothless" document, i.e. not binding on any level of government. It was merely "aspirational."
What Eric erroneously referred to as the Bill of Rights is actually the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms." It was introduced in 1982 and is binding on all levels of government. The Charter makes various guarantees of civil liberties and would look quite recognizable to one who had examined the US constitution. Conveniently, however, s.1 of the Charter "guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it only to such reasonable limits, prescribed by law, as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." The drafters perhaps hoped to avoid some of the messy litigation that resulted in the US over "absolute" constitutional rights.
Eric incorrectly stated that the "notwithstanding" clause "allows a provincial or Federal government to ignore a constitutional law with a majority vote in the legislative house." Rather, the clause allows a government to maintain a law, "notwithstanding" that said law has been pronounced unconstitutional by the judiciary.
I know this is on a major tangent from the theme of your website, but I couldn't resist.
PS Love your site! Do you teach formal logic at a university?
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