2019 (9): Rights and Freedoms

What a silly, immature, puffed up young twerp we (some of us, anyway) elected to be our prime minister. As John Ibbitson points out in an article in the Globe and Mail, “Thousands of student summer-job grants, along with a brand-new community-service program, have been rendered unavailable to organizations and people of faith, thanks to an obnoxious new Liberal values oath … [because] … This oath is not only offensive; on its face, it’s a clear violation of the very Charter rights that it claims to defend … [but] … The Liberals say they will work with churches and other charities to ensure they can still apply for grants … [although] … There is a much better way. The government should scrap the odious clause from the application forms where it has popped up, apologize to Canadians for violating their right to freedom of religion and come up with something that doesn’t place people in an intolerable moral conflict.

Mr Ibbitson and I agree that Prime Minister Trudeau is, without a doubt, sincere in his own, personal, beliefs about a woman’s right to choose … and I, in fact, share them. What Mr Ibbitson and I agree is wrong is for anyone, including the head of government, to try to impose his or her beliefs on others.

He explains that: “Mr. Trudeau told the National Post’s John Ivison, “We are not limiting freedom of expression or freedom of belief in any way, shape or form … [but] … “We are simply saying that organizations who have the explicit purpose of limiting and eliminating Charter rights like women’s rights do not qualify for government funding” … [and] … Government officials insist that churches and other faith-based groups can apply so long as they do not intend to create jobs specifically dedicated to such things as preventing women from obtaining an abortion … [but, again] … for Jason MacLean, a law professor at University of Saskatchewan, the wording of the declaration is what it is … [and] … “Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s backtracking, the language to me is overbroad,” he observed. Prof. MacLean says the declaration would probably not survive a Charter challenge “because it infringes the fundamental right of freedom of religion and conscience in a way that is not justifiable” … [further] … Important jobs are at stake here – jobs that would see students working to help settle refugees, helping at-risk youth, assisting the homeless at shelters and soup kitchens – jobs that teach valuable life lessons. Jobs that could go unfilled because of this foolish pledge.

Writing in MacLean’s John Geddes says thatPrime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has plunged into the deep, murky waters of debate about human rights and religious freedoms by attaching values-laden conditions to, of all things, the application form for federal funding for summer jobs … [because] … The controversy has injected the word “attestation” into the news, since the government is demanding that any group applying for a job grant “attest” that its “core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights” … [and] … The application form goes on to spell out that the rights applying groups must declare they respect “include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression” …[but] … This new requirement poses a huge problem for religious organizations, including many Catholic and evangelical groups that offer summer jobs for students, but also staunchly oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. They argue the government should not try to compel them to make any sort of declaration about their core mandate or which rights they respect … [however] … In an interview with Maclean’s today, however, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, whose portfolio includes the $113-million annual summer jobs program, said faith-based groups misunderstand what the government means by “core mandate” … [and] … Hajdu said most of them should have no problem agreeing to the attestation. “For example, the core mandate of the Catholic church—you can look it up—it’s around spreading the word of God and Jesus Christ,” she said. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops disagrees, protesting that the attestation amounts to an “obvious and regrettable infringement of freedom of conscience and religion” … [but] … Hajdu said “core mandate” should be interpreted to mean what a group mainly sets out to accomplish, rather than whether or not it is against, say, abortion or gay rights. “There are also organizations, faith-based and others, that have core mandates around administering to homeless people, suffering people, needy people, etc.,” she said.”

What Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done is decided, for us, that some rights, the ones he likes, are superior to some other rights, the ones he doesn’t like quite so much. Well, he has no right to do that.

But it’s a bit hard to blame him … part of his problem lies in the very nature of written constitutions: they tend to reflect the issues of the day when they were written and they have difficulty with a “long” view. Another problem is that the “rights industry,” which began in earnest with the abominably silly UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why do I cal it “abominably silly?” Well, the first dozen or so rights are OK but look, for example, at §23 and §24: does anyone with the brains that the gods gave ti green peppers actually think those are “universal human rights?” A good rough and ready definition of a “universal human right” may be something that you and I agree we should send our sons and daughters to fight and die in order to protect it for someone else? Are you really eager to send my son and his ship into harm’s way to protect someone’s “right” to “periodic holidays with pay?” Our Constitution Act of 1982 is full of similar “rights” which are spelled out in nauseating detail in §16, reflecting the very real concerns of Canadians in the 1970s.

What the Trudeaus, père et fils, and their worshippers in the Laurentian Elites fail to understand is that:

  • First: all real rights accrue to individuals, never, under any circumstance to any collective, especially not to governments, which are almost always the biggest and strongest collective and which need restraining, not rights; and
  • Second: even the most fundamental of the real rights are always limited because they must, almost always, conflict with other rights and with the duties of the state to its people.

I know I’m at grave risk of repeating myself, but, for real Conservatives, there are, I suggest, only four fundamental rights:

  • Life, Liberty and Property as defined in 17th century Britain by John Locke; and
  • Privacy ~ the right to be left alone, as defined by Brandeis and Warren in 19th century America.

There is some semblance of order in how Locke’s rights are usually listed: one’s property is not of too much use if one’s liberty is arbitrarily constrained and one’s liberty is without value if one’s head is in the noose, but, in fact, one is not superior or inferior to the other. Ditto for privacy which is the underlying right to a woman’s “right to choose.” Justin Trudeau has a perfect right to believe that a woman’s right to choose over-rides a good Roman Catholic’s belief that life begins at the moment of conception. he has no right to use the apparatus of the state to try to impose his beliefs on others ~ that is the sort of arrogant nonsense that I often ascribe to social conservatives and the religious right but it applies, equally, to the intellectually shallow progressives in the who subscribe to the Laurentian Consensus.

Everyone is at liberty to believe whatever they wish, no matter how odious or nonsensical others may find their beliefs. No one, and certainly no government, has a right to impose her, his or its beliefs on others. Rights, including the four fundamental rights, collide. The old principle is that while I have an acknowledged right to swing my fist that right (and my fist) must stop where your nose begins. Even the individual’s right to life might be challenged; I, for example, would argue that our total prohibition against capital punishment is wrong and that it should be retained in both the civilian criminal code and in military law for the (very rare) crime of high treason in time of war. Many would disagree with me and I, of course, will bow to the will of the majority … but that does not alter, not even by one iota, my belief that high treason ought to be punishable by death. Equally, I believe that when we deprive someone of her or his liberty or property because they are guilty of a crime we should also deprive them off other civil rights, like the right to vote, for example. I believe that property rights can be restricted for the public good ~ to build a new road, for example, or, as the old English music hall song said, to “move father’s grave to build a sewer.”

Privacy, by its very nature, is the right that is least likely to bump into trouble with conflicting rights ~ except in this particular case. As I said above, a woman’s right to choose is, in fact, one aspect of her fundamental right to privacy. We, through our courts, have decided that, notwithstanding the sincere beliefs of many, many people, that a foetus is not a person until some instant when it is viable out of the womb. A woman may, therefore, treat a foetus, up to some point, as an unwanted tumour and have it removed. Not everyone agrees that she should do that ~ her right to do it is clear enough, whether or not doing it is the “right thing” is another matter. Beliefs collide with laws.

Now, to return to that issue, I am certain that Justin Trudeau is very sincere in his belief that a woman’s right to choose is sacrosanct. I happen to share a similar belief, albeit, perhaps, I hope, a bit mode nuanced. But he is, also, terribly wrong in his views …

handsomedevil

… now  no one, inside or beyond the Liberal Party should give an official flying fig about what Justin Trudeau believes about anything ~ his beliefs might be an indicator of his acceptability to voters but no one should ever think or hope that he can impose his beliefs on others. In fact a real leader says, “my personal beliefs are not really any of your business, but I promise that I will not reopen the legally settled issues like same sex marriage or abortion; members of any party may bring them up for debate but every minister in any government I lead will support maintaining the status quo as defined in our laws.” Justin Trudeau is, like the vacuous progressives in the “rights industry,” an über-entitled man-child who wants to have the candy in the check out line.

Finally, the Globe and Mail, in an editorial, makes the key point that “the Liberal justification for denying grants is nonetheless incoherent and troubling … [because] … Mr. Trudeau says that groups who “have the explicit purpose of limiting and eliminating Charter rights” will not be eligible for summer job grants … [but] … Even assuming that abortion is a Charter right – and scholars disagree – most pro-life groups are not physically limiting anyone’s access to it. If they were, they would be breaking the law … [and] … Most of these groups are simply mounting arguments, sometimes in obnoxious or even disturbing ways, but peacefully and within their free-speech rights.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some (many? most?) of his key advisors and ministers are wilfully and woefully ignorant of the very nature of rights, freedoms and democracy … they are, in short, unfit to govern and must be consigned to the rubbish heap of political history in 2019. I don’t expect everyone, certainly not a majority of Canadians to agree with me that Conservatives are the best (at least better) choice, some will prefer the Libertarians or the left wing Greens or NDP, and that’s fine, but I think that by now everyone who actually does think should be able to agree that the Trudeau Liberals are the worst choice for Canada in 2019.

 

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