All posts tagged Edgar Schmidt

Has the federal government’s ethics program failed?

As 2013 comes to a close, it is  time to take stock of the state of the federal government. It  has been a year of years, with the Senate Scandal dominating. It wasn’t the only story involving dodgy ethics, either. Former Justice Canada lawyer Edgar Schmidt was pushed out of the Department for challenging a policy which lets the Conservative government propose any law unless a legal analysis shows a 95% chance that it will be ruled unconstitutional. Sylvie Therrien was fired for speaking out against an unethical government policy in which EI auditors were given quotas (see our earlier post on this).  There are more, simmering below the surface, either pushed aside by bigger stories.   or they have  become so routine that the media barely notices them anymore.

For those of us at Canadians for Accountability, this is a serious issue that goes beyond mere occasional scandal. Is the government ethics program a failure?

When unethical behaviour is unchecked – and even rewarded, for example with promotions – administrative evil is the result. Canada has seen its share in residential schools and eugenics programs (which Alberta had until 1972).

Fighting this tendency is a challenge as old as government.… Read the rest

CBA refuses to investigate – or even respond to – complaint on Edgar Schmidt case

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

Canadians for Accountability files complaint with Canadian Bar Association against Justice Canada

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