Has Ontario’s Premier Ever Read The Document?
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Posted April 17th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms –
“For the past 35 years, the Charter has helped build a country where people from all over the world can come together as equals and create opportunities for one another.
“The Charter protects the rights and freedoms that are essential to our identity as Canadians. It allows us to express ourselves as individuals and to celebrate our differences, while bringing us closer as a country.
“This year, we also mark the 35th anniversary of Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and treaty rights. There is no relationship more important to our government than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We are committed to a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-to-Crown, and government-to-government relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
“The spirit and substance of the Charter are at the heart of Canada’s success, and should inspire us all as we work toward a fairer, more just and compassionate society.
“Today, I remind Canadians that we have no task greater than to stand on guard for one another’s liberties. The words enshrined in the Charter are our rights, freedoms, and – above all – our collective responsibility.”
A Brief Follow-up Commentary on the Prime Minister’s statement from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –
In all due respect to Canada’s Prime Minister, I’ve always been in the habit of not taking a politician’s words at face value. It is how those words make a meaningful difference in the lives of everyday people, right down on the ground in the communities where we live, that matter to me.
So when I read the part of the Prime Minister’s statement that talks about Canada’s Charter, or Constitution if you will, protecting an individual’s right to express themselves, I am immediately drawn to the ongoing case of a Niagara citizen – a retired Canadian Armed Forces officer named Ed Smith – who has exercised what he, and many of the rest of us thought, was his right to raise questions and concerns about how a government body in this country is doing business.
And what does he get in return? A lawsuit slapped against him by that same government body, paid for with public money.
In the legal parlance, there is something called a “strategic lawsuit against public participation – SLAPP suit, for short – which is generally defined as a lawsuit that is designed to intimidate, silence or censor an individual or group, and apparently such a thing is quite alright in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario, especially if it is a suit aimed at slamming a citizen that raises questions or concerns about the operations of government.
Citizens across the Niagara and Hamilton regions have called upon Wynne and her government to address the concerns and questions raised by the citizen facing the lawsuit. Further to that, MPPs and municipal councillors collectively representing more than half a million residents in Niagara and Hamilton urged Wynne’s government this past winter to get to the bottom of these concerns by launching a full audit and investigation of the government body in question – the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
In response to all this, the same Ontario premier who had no problem using whatever powers she has to tell the mayor of Toronto he cannot place tolls on a few major roads owned by his city – tolls Toronto would collect for the purposes of raising revenue to maintain those heavily used roads – has her Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, telling all of those citizens, municipal councils and MPPs in Niagara and Hamilton that her government has no power to act.
So the Slapp suit remains ongoing and the questions and concerns remain unanswered, and I have citizens day after day in this region saying to this reporter that they are afraid to speak out themselves because of it.
That is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at work in Wynne’s Ontario. What an a sad comment on our democratic rights and freedoms this is n – especially for younger people who, along with so many of the rest of us, have rallied over and over again, for at least a year now, for answers to the questions and concerns Wynne and her government so arrogantly and insultingly chooses to ignore.
Perhaps Canada’s Prime Minister ought to send her a copy of the Charter with orders to read it.
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