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The 11th of March was the anniversary of the death of Douglas Christie – a particularly sad day for those of us in the world who value the rule of law and the protections it offers to individuals seeking to express the contents of their mind freely and honestly. Mr Christie was more than just an advocate of the law, he was an advocate for the rights of the common men and women, the average citizenry who had designed and built the open society that many envious eyes in far flung countries now look to with the aspiration to emulate. For Doug Christie the law was more than a collection of rules and regulations, it was the framework around which a tolerant, free and fair open society could be constructed. Through successive generations the house of Canada had stood the test of time, weathered the winds of change that had buffeted it’s neighbour to the south, secure on the firm foundations that had been set down by it’s founding fathers.
If ever Canada needed a mind that understood the importance of the sanctity of the law and the value of free speech, it is now. When the occupant of the highest legal posting in the land is ejected from her chair as a punishment for displaying the resolve to preserve the independence and integrity of the office from it’s political masters, a breach has been made in the understanding that exists between the government and those it seeks to govern. The pressure that led to this contravention had been building for some considerable time – perhaps decades. Judges sitting on the benches of Canada’s highest courts had already been subjected to governmental scrutiny of their personal morality and private opinions that are tantamount to thought control. Deviation from the ideological agenda being instituted by the liberal elites that are represented in the parties on both sides of the aisle, is now considered to be neither tolerable nor acceptable. The right and duty of the judiciary to remain independent of the legislature and the executive, and to be a non-participant in party political programmes have been continually eroded to the point where now judges are no longer able to think and express themselves in language other than that that is sanctioned by politicians in government. The judiciary has become one dimensional and ideological; no longer allowed to consider both sides of an argument being presented before them. No longer free to judge.
The Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, Jody Wilson-Raybould has stated before a parliamentary committee that, “for a period of 4 months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement…”
At long last a voice has been raised against this insidious and incessant interference by government in the due process of law. It is ironic that it was the voice of an elected politician from the Prime Minister’s own party whose voice was able to be heard above the uproar among the citizenry. It is a tragedy that many learned advocates, as well as the honourable judges of the High Courts and their peers elevated to preside in the Supreme Court, had failed to summon up the courage to utter any words of protest in defence of their own freedom to assert their opinions. As Douglas Christie reminded us, “censorship in the end destroys civility and it destroys the very reason for free speech.” The Prime Minister’s attempt to subvert the law in order to protect a donor to his Liberal Party has not only undermined civility but also the trust of the voters in their elected representatives.
The Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau has come to believe in it’s own rhetoric and righteousness to such a degree that it feels entitled to subvert the Canadian constitution, Canadian law, the office of the Attorney General and centuries of accumulated conventions that comprise English Common Law. His government’s decision to control the language of qualified lawyers (and by implication, what they can think) by revising the Law Society of Ontario’s code of conduct, which now requires lawyers to submit to a “Statement of Principles” that they must commit to abiding by in the future, had set a precedent. The legal establishment would no longer tolerate opinion or dissent. Legal representatives ought to “KNOW AND DO” what the government expects of them. All this apparently, to take into account an “Accelerating Cultural Shift”, as the new program was called. The culture has shifted all right, when the Prime Minister’s Office can bully cabinet members to turn a blind eye to illegality and to ignore the protocols and conventions of the law they have sworn an oath to protect.
The latest torch bearer for the right of individuals to speak their minds, Mr J Peterson stated, “I am not a free speech advocate…I am a true speech advocate, which is to say that people should say what they believe to be true.” Furthermore, “true speech is not possible without free speech.” Jody Wilson-Raybould has stepped up to the plate now others must follow. If the integrity of the law and the society that it protects is to be honoured, then words must be spoken sincerely and the only way that they can be is if free speech is cherished and legislated for. If it is not, and words can come to mean anything that governments prefer, then tyranny is not too far away.