Musings —02.22.2016 08:18 AM—
I’m glad they backed away from making the assisted-suicide vote a whipped vote. That would have been appalling, frankly. It wasn’t in the platform, it wasn’t promised by Trudeau, and it isn’t remotely necessary.
That said, this revelation in today’s Hill Times is worrying:
“But Mr. Oliphant and other Liberal MPs The Hill Times spoke with earlier in the week say they are comfortable with the whipped vote, because as they were told at the start of the session, the Liberal caucus will have whipped votes on: Charter issues, platform issues, and confidence matters.
Obviously its a Charter issue so I expect, and we’ve been told there are three things that will be whipped: Charter issues, platform issues, and confidence matters, and this is a Charter issue, Mr. Oliphant said before the news broke on Friday, but later he expressed relief.”
“We’ve been told that it will be whipped.” Rob Oliphant is a very thoughtful person, and he will immediately know what the problem is, here: namely, every single issue the Liberal caucus looks at is, by definition, a Charter issue. There is nothing they vote on, in fact, that isn’t.
Your fundamental freedoms. Your democratic rights. Your mobility rights. Your legal rights. Your equality rights. Your language rights. Your educational rights. Your aboriginal or multicultural heritage. Your gender rights. There is pretty much nothing, when you think of it, that an MP does that can’t have a Charter connection.
Don’t believe me? Then section 32 should help:
32. (1) This Charter applies
(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament
See the problem? The implication, here, is that everything will become an (aptly-named) “whipped” vote. If the democratic implications of that don’t unsettle you, then this should: right now, everywhere in Canada, judges are still attempting to apply the Charter’s provisions to real life. They are still interpreting it.
In other words, not even the learned experts at the Supreme Court of Canada knows what the constitutional outcome should be in cases they haven’t heard yet. How, then, is the Liberal caucus supposed to know which way to vote? How do they know what is the correct Charter interpretation, when the judges themselves don’t?
I anticipate Dominic LeBlanc will walk this one back – just as he has with the voting change diktat, and now assisted suicide.
Because everything – everything – is Charter-related.