Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CHP leader on Judicial Activism

Just picked up this letter from Ron Gray, leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.

My unpublished letter to Western Standard

I was sad to learn of the demise of Western Standard magazine. Publisher Ezra Levant, altough he never gave the CHP any space, was nevertheless a courageous journalist, and a breath of fresh air in the Canadian news business.

Just before WS folded, I had sent this letter to the editor of the magazine. It’s worth re-publishing as a CHP Communique:

The Western Standard,

Terry O’Neill’s perceptive article about Canada’s runaway judiciary (WS May 21, ‘DISORDER IN THE COURTS’) was a long-overdue wake-up call for Canadians. They should also be told that the Christian Heritage Party of Canada is the only federal party with a concrete policy for restraining judicial activism.

In 2002, the CHP proposed a plan to compel courts to stay in their proper sphere of activity: judging disputes according to the law as they find it written. Because the CHP had no MPs in Parliament, we sent the plan to both the Chr├ętien government and to the Alliance Opposition, led by Stephen Harper. Neither party took any action; the Liberals sent only form letters, and the Canadian Alliance didn't even reply.

The CHP plan is for Parliament to create a Standing Committee on the Judiciary, and arm it with the authority to review any court decision on the sole ground of conformity to the letter and spirit of the Canadian Constitution. This would preserve judicial independence in matters of law and fact, but make the courts adhere to the Constitution. If the Committee considered a court decision to be in violation of the Constitution, it would bring a bill into Parliament amending that decision—thus preventing contamination of precedent by an unconstitutional decision. This would make the courts accountable to the Committee, the Committee accountable to Parliament—and Parliament is accountable to the electorate.

This is not an entirely new idea: from Confederation until 1947, we Canadians had the right to appeal decisions of the Supreme Court to the Privy Council. The most famous example of this right being exercised was in 1927-29, after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not ‘persons’; five Alberta women whose statues now grace Parliament Hill—the ‘Famous Five’—appealed that decision and won.

The SCJ should also have the right to approve or reject proposed appointments to the Supreme Court bench, and authority to initiate impeachment proceedings against any judge for moral turpitude, bias, corruption or neglect of duties.

Ron Gray
National Leader
Christian Heritage Party of Canada

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