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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

How governments justify violating Canadians’ rights

The Editor,

Mr. Randy Hillier, ex-member of the provincial parliament in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (2007 to 2022), is before the Superior Court of Ontario arguing his and everyone's Charter rights were violated by the government during the pandemic. Both parties have presented their cases, and we are told the presiding judge has taken the evidence in deliberation.

While we await the verdict, it is worth noting that the Crown defending the government’s actions fully and readily acknowledges that the Charter rights of every Canadian were violated as alleged by Mr. Hiller. Accordingly, the issue is not whether these violations occurred or not but rather that the violations were justified in the circumstances. Before any court of law, the yardstick known as the “Oakes test” is presented to justify the reasonableness of the violations (Supreme Court decision R v. Oakes [1986] 1 SCR 103).

But not this time.

This time, the Crown presented a whole new set of criteria, which I humbly offer for the reader’s perusal. These new criteria, if accepted, will form the new yardstick going forward for any Charter rights violations. The Crown has carefully outlined four arguments, which I have paraphrased and summarized below. In order, they are the following:

  1. “A single belief equals proof” — that is, as long as a single government employee believes the violations are warranted, then the violations are necessary. In other words, if a single employee believes something bad is good, then the belief is sufficient to justify the government's actions;

  2. “Statistical projections are truth” — Charter violations are justified because they are the results of the work of experts. These experts come up with statistical projections and, as long as the government relies on those models, then there are no requirements for the government to adjust to reality. Statistical projections, even distorted ones, justify the violations of human rights because the numbers coming from experts are the truth. Reality doesn't matter, only the work of "experts";

  3. “Governments are God-like” — when the government intervenes in people’s lives, it does so free of any consequences, and because of this, Charter violations are non-existent. The Crown argues that as the government's policies impact people’s lives, it does so perfectly and consequence-free every single time;

  4. “Two makes both disappear” — if a violation of an individual’s rights simultaneously coexists with a group’s identical rights violations, then both cancel each other out. That is, an individual violation when present while a collective violation exists makes both disappear.

I’ll let Thomas Pain’s own words close this off: “Reason obeys itself, and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Patrick Beaudry

Low, QC

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