The Government of Canada today announced the selection of KPMG, from Toronto, Ontario, to provide support as a third-party expert for upcoming National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) projects.
The Canadian press and Edmonton Journal EDMONTON — Two Edmonton men have been charged with kidnapping after a man alleged he was abducted during a meeting about selling his car. Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer police were all involved in […]
Wonderful little story. I hope the Australians have not gone total bonkers like the Brits who ignore the real perils of shariah but clamp down hard on good decent people who are non-Muslim.
Yup … like you (and don’t pretend you didn’t think the same thing) on reading the first few sentences I too thought the lovely Baa Baa was kept for ulterior reasons but then was relieved to see she was a pet and not a lover.
Tim Stanley writing at the TelegraphUK:
…When a man’s best friend is his sheep, he’ll do anything to keep her. And rightly so.
About eleven years ago a mechanic called Vu Ho, of Springvale, Australia, decided to buy himself a pet. He made the unusual choice of a sheep, which he named Baa. Baa is now thought to be 16 and she and Vu are Best Friends Forever. He takes her around town in his BMW (he puts the backseat down so that she can fit in snuggly), she nuzzles him and he pets and feeds her. There’s no hint of romance; Baa’s dignity has never been compromised. It’s all very wholesome and very Australian.
A couple of years ago a ranger told Vu that he had to get rid of Baa. Why? Because her presence in his house violated a Greater Dandenong council by-law stating that livestock cannot be kept on land of less than half a hectare without a permit. “Fine”, said Vu, “I’ll get a permit.” To his shock, he was refused one – because some bigots in city hall don’t regard a sheep as an acceptable pet. Discovering that state law took his side over the council, Vu decided to get legal and took his case to court. Incredibly – rather than turning a blind eye – the council decided to lawyer up too and take Vu on. Obstinacy squared off against obstinacy until the case went to the state’s highest courts at an estimated cost of $150,000. Refused legal aid, Vu defended himself and lost. But he’s still not giving up. “God is on my side,” he told reporters. And he’s almost certainly right.
For this story is an example of two things: a) the petty authoritarianism of government and b) the brilliant bloody-mindedness of some of its victims. Vu, by the way, is used to fighting tyrants. When the council chose to make an example of him it probably didn’t realise it was taking on one of Vietnam’s toughest dissidents. In the 1970s, Vu tried to start his own democratic revolution in communist Vietnam, by printing forged documents for the resistance out of a secret headquarters that he set up opposite Saigon police quarters. His cojones only got bigger over time. Vu built himself a gun that looked like a pen and taught himself how to make explosives. The commies caught him and threw him in prison where he was sentenced to four years in Hell. He convinced the guards to put him in charge of security (how?!) and slipped away into the jungle on New Year’s Eve. Vu ran through the jungle for two hours with a broken foot, took a truck to Saigon, laid low, fashioned a boat, carried the vessel along the coast to avoid the police and then sailed to Thailand. From there he gained refugee status in Australia, where he’s lived since 1981 as a quiet, unassuming mechanic with broken English. In short, Vu Ho is a freaking legend.
It’s extraordinary that, having fled a totalitarian nightmare for the supposedly free world, Vu now finds himself once again pitched against an Orwellian bureaucracy in his defence of his right to drive a sheep around in his BMW. But it’s probably his experience of authoritarianism in Vietnam that has made such a determined defender of freedom in Australia. He doesn’t care about the costs (“I risked my life to get here [to Australia] so it’s nothing to lose money.”) and he’s happy to go it alone (his brilliant 115 page submission was so good that the judge said, “I haven’t seen such well-directed research by an unrepresented litigant … for some time.”) Vu is a classic example of an individual who has spent his life resisting the prejudices and bullying of others. He’s a one-man Tea Party. The government will take his sheep from his cold dead hands……..
The most contentious part of France’s three-strikes law has been the suspension clause: one (alleged) piracy offense too many and you’re cut off from the internet. The country is backing off from that aggressive policy with a new decree banning di…
James Cameron was recently sued yet again for Avatar, the latest in a long line of plagiarism accusations against the director stretching back to Terminator. But is Cameron a serial plagiarist, or just a popular target for copyright lawsuits?Read more….
The jury could see their physical similarities, but also heard of their genetic closeness as well, making for a case that might forge legal precedence on the issue of genetic identity
Today’s news speaks to some fairly basic constitutional ideas:
The Harper government said Monday it will not include Governor-General David Johnston in any future policy discussions with First Nations, further clouding its battle of wills with aboriginal leaders. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Monday Stephen Harper will meet with Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Shawn Atleo “in the coming weeks,” and has no plans to abide aboriginal leaders’ demands for a summit Thursday. “[First Nations people] are very insistent on having the Governor-General there, but the Governor-General says this is a policy matter with the government and that [he] shouldn’t be there,” Andrew MacDougall said. “We agree with that.”
This is interesting stuff. What is a Prime Minister and what is a Governor-General? In his book Federalism and the Constitution of Canada, David E. Smith uses the proper name of one institution the Prime Minister leads: the Crown-in-Parliament. Even though the Glorious Revolution of 1688 changed a lot of the constitutional principles it did not great autonomous spheres of power so much as rearrange the existing ones. As a result, Smith can write:
Sovereignty in a constitutional monarchy rests in the Crown-in-Parliament (or, legislature), except where the subject is the reserve powers (dissolution of Parliament, for instance) that remain as a matter of prerogative in the hands of the Crown’s representative.
So, unless the topic is one reserved to the G.-G., it is a matter of Parliamentary oversight. In section 91 of our Constitution of 1867, part of the division of powers discussion it states “the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,” and then lists a number of topics. It is generally taken that the list serves to distinguish between the Federal level and the Provincial one but the assignment of the classes of subjects is to the Parliament of Canada. Item number 24 in the list is “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians.” Later in the constitution it states under the heading “Treaty Obligations” that:
The Parliament and Government of Canada shall have all Powers necessary or proper for performing the Obligations of Canada or of any Province thereof, as Part of the British Empire, towards Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between the Empire and such Foreign Countries.
Interestingly, as Smith points out in his book, this only means that the Feds have the power to conclude treaties not to implement them. Where the subject matter is not in the list of subject matters assigned to the Federal Parliament, it is up to the Provinces to implement. And, in any event, the power relates to foreign countries. What was the nature of the “in Empire” domestic treaty that the British and then Canada happily signed from East to West as European Canada asserted itself? Mr. Harper is asserting that whatever it is, it is something that section 91(24) assigns to Parliament and he is the head of Parliament. Clearly an argument available to be made. Because he, like the G.-G. represents the Crown in his own way, too.
Rarely do I write a piece that remains on The Star’s internal greatest web hits list three days running. In fact, until last Sunday’s feature on Rape Culture, I don’t think it’s ever happened. This is a testament, I think, to how it resonates with so m…
This just in: A Toronto judge has struck down Canada’s prostitution laws, effectively decriminalizing activities associated with the world’s oldest trade. “These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Justice Susan Himel of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice said in Tuesday’s landmark decision. The long-awaited judgment had been on reserve for nearly…
This week, I am writing a series of posts on the general themes of religion, morality, and politics. In today’s post, I will argue that Canada should adopt a constitutional separation of church and state. First, I will elaborate a bit on what the separation of church and state means. Second, I will explain why the Constitution of Canada does not include the separation of church and state. Finally, I will briefly outline my reasons for supporting a constitutional amendment which would establish it. As a reminder, I am writing religion-themed posts this week in support of the “A” Week on Facebook campaign.
The separation of church and state is the doctrine that the governmental and political institutions of a state should be kept separate and independent from religious institutions. It can be seen as consisting of two central components: freedom of religion and secular government (or, the lack of an intertwining of state and religious institutions). This dual aspect of the separation doctrine is well-expressed in the first amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The disjunctive sentence structure implies two distinct principles: first, that there shall be no state-established religion; second, there shall be freedom of religion.
Freedom of religion alone is an insufficient condition for the separation of church and state. There must also be what Thomas Jefferson described as “a wall of separation between church and state” meaning that the structure, finances, and legal status of religious institutions must be wholly seperate from those of government institutions.
The separation of church and state must also be distinguished from the principle of religious equality. James Madison, who wrote the first amendment, argued that all forms of state support for religious institutions are wrong, regardless of whether that support was selective (“discriminatory”) or general (“nondiscriminatory”). He believed that even if the state were even-handed in dispensing governmental benefits to the various religions, it would still be wrong of the government to compel citizens, as taxpayers, to finance religious institutions. Conversely, he felt there would always be a latent possibility that state-established religions could exert a pernicious and anti-democratic effect on the public policy-making of the state.
As we examine the constitution of Canada, we should bear in mind the dual nature of the separation of church and state.
According to section 2(a) the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians enjoy the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion. Moreover, section 15 of the Charter ostensibly guaratees that laws should be applied equally to all, regardless of religion. However, as I stated above, freedom of religion is only one side of the coin when it comes to the separation of church and state – there must also be structural and financial independence between politcal/governmental institutions and religious institutions. It is also worth noting that the Charter does trump other parts of the constitution. As we will see, this means that the Charter does not and cannot nullify constitutional provisions which explicitly disregard religious freedom and equality of the law.
The preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly known as the British North America Act) expresses the idea that the Dominion of Canada shall have “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom”. Constitutional jurisprudence confirms that the effect of this section is to import the principles of the United Kingdom’s constitution (as it was in 1867) into Canada’s constitutional framework. This includes both written constitional instruments and unwritten constitutional conventions. This turns out to be extremely significant to the discussion of separation of church and state in Canada.
In 1867 (and still to this day), the United Kingdom had an official state religion: the Church of England. Formed in the 16th century when King Henry VIII was denied an annulment of his marriage by Pope Clement VII, the Church of England is constitutionally entrenched as the official state religion of the United Kingdom. The King or Queen holds the title of Supreme Head of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith; the monarch sits as both head of state and head of the official state religion. As a result of the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867, Canada inherited the Church of England as a state-established church and official religion. Just as in the case of the United Kingdom, our head of state is also the head of our official state religion. Because the Charter does not take precedence over other parts of the constitutional, the provisions regarding freedom of religion and equality do not affect the Church of England’s status as an official state religion in Canada.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Canada’s constitution also requires the government to directly fund religious institutions through tax revenue. For example, section 93(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 establishes the right to separate, publicly-fundeed Catholic schools in both Ontario and Québec. This is why Catholic education continues to be 100% taxpayer funded in both provinces to this day. The combination of this constitutional provision and the Charter is that the government is both required to fund Catholic education and (arguably) prohibited from funding any other form of religious education. In this sense, religious discrimination is required by the Canadian constitution.
In both cases (our state-established religion and financial interdependence with the Catholic church), Canada fails to meet to meet one of the required conditions of a constitutional separation of chuch and state. The apparatus and finances of the state are intermingled with those of the Church of England and the Catholic Church. Both of these things would be manifestly unconstitutional in a country such as the United States which, on this particular issue, is centuries more enlightened than Canada.
It is time for Canada to step into the 18th century and adopt a constitutional separation of church and state. The status quo is untenable: non-Catholics are required as taxpayers to subsidize Catholic religious institutions and to pay for the Catholic church to promulgate its teachings. While I take no particular issue with the existence of Catholic schools, I find it unconscionable and an affront to human equality that such school should be paid for by taxpayers in a liberal democracy.
Because the status of the Church of England and the mandatory funding of Catholic schools are entrenched in the constitution of Canada, these things can only be altered by way of a constitutional amendment. I would propose an amendment striking out s. 93(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (and a couple other offending provisions), adding a clause to the Charter prohibiting the establishment of a state religion, and an additional section explicitly revoking the constitutional status of the Church of England in Canada. This would result in either the privatization of Catholic schools in Ontario and Québec or their amalgamation into the secular public school system.