Summer is over and it’s time to catch up on some older stories. The first I’d like to tackle is that of Edgar Schmidt, the Justice Canada lawyer who took a stand against the passing of laws that didn’t meet the Constitutional smell test. You may recall that he exposed an internal policy which set the bar for passing laws at a 5% chance that it might be deemed unconstitutional That is, Justice Canada was/is approving laws which could have an up to 95% change of being successfully challenged as being in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights. He was run out of the department for that and is now defending himself against reprisals, as well as challenging the Justice Canada policy in court.
You can read a summary of Schmidt’s case one his own website, which he is also using to fundraise for his legal challenge, and on news sites to which he provides links.
This is a very important story and court case. Schmidt is tackling a policy which allows bureaucrats and politicians to ignore our Charter rights. Since few people have the resources to challenge laws like this, and since the government invariably chooses to fight rather than admit fault (and has unlimited tax dollars to do so), it means that rights can be gradually curtailed, one law at a time.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on September 2, 2013
Canadians for Accountability has filed a complaint with the Canadian Bar Association, arguing that the federal government is requiring its lawyers to violate their moral and ethical obligations and requesting that it conduct an investigation into this matter.
The complaint arises from the suspension of Justice Canada lawyer Edgar Schmidt, who argued that the department was failing to provide Parliament with a full and proper assessment when proposed laws might breach the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He alleges that internal departmental guidance stipulates that such warnings do not need to be given if there is even a 5% chance that it would survive a legal challenge.
“The Minister of Justice has a duty to report to the House of Commons’ said Allan Cutler, President of Canadians for Accountability. “If they are prevented from doing so, we’re in danger of losing fundamental rights to overreaching legislation. The ordinary citizen doesn’t have the resources to launch a Charter challenge against the government – which has infinite resources.”
Schmidt has brought his case before Justice Simon Noël of the Federal Court. Justice Noël, while he has not yet ruled on the case, blasted Justice Canada for its heavy-handed response to Schmidt’s whistleblowing.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on February 8, 2013
Global Integrity, a non-governmental agency based in Washington, D.C., released its 2010 Global Integrity Report today. The news for Canada is that things here are getting worse, not better. .
The report found that while Canada has many good laws in place, the actual implementation and enforcement of them is lacking. In addition, they found a serious lack of accountability in government and the judiciary. Of note were observations on patronage appointments to key posts in government agencies
This isn’t news to accountability groups (or, indeed, to Canadian federal and provincial governments). If anything, we would downgrade Canada even further: the appointments process to the judiciary is seriously flawed and vulnerable to influence by politicians, and Global Integrity overrates our whistleblower protection laws. I suspect that the report was written before the Auditor General’s report on the disgraced former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (Christiane Ouimet). Ouimet dismissed all reports of wrongdoing that came to her office, many without proper analysis or justification.
The fact is that Canada has worsening problems in its senior civil service, in government transparency, and a lack of accountability in majority governments. I recommend Democracy Watch’s comments on the report to get more detail and to pick up on what Global Integrity missed.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on May 4, 2011