I think I may have discovered the most ludicrous caveat in the game.
Canada has been in the news lately – because of President Trump’s antagonism with the country over NAFTA, and because next month they are set to legalize marijuana nationally. Also, occasionally because their leader is a male model.
But perhaps Canada is not the mild-mannered friendly neighbor they are known to be.
See, within Canada’s Constitution is a caveat – called the ‘notwithstanding clause’ – which allows the government to override or remove certain fundamental rights and freedoms without reason and whenever they so desire.
This is a real thing.
The idea is that both national and provincial governments can pass laws which infringe upon or remove enshrined rights, so long as they add the word ‘notwithstanding’ at the end – as in, ‘we are going to go ahead and restrict your free speech … notwithstanding this infringes upon an established right.’
The clause can be applied to things like freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and so on.
Interestingly, the notwithstanding clause cannot be applied to at least one thing – the ‘democratic’ process.
Canadians will tell you this is to protect them from a road to dictatorship, but at first glance, it does appear as though everyone’s rights are up for grabs, except the rights which ensure the existence of the power structure.
The reason the notwithstanding clause was in the news recently was because of Doug Ford. He is the Premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and home to cities like Toronto and the country’s capital, Ottawa. He is also the brother of former crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
This week, Doug Ford invoked the notwithstanding clause to overturn a judicial decision in an effort to reduce the size of Toronto’s city council. The city is the base of power for ‘Ford Nation.’
Considering the type of rights which are on the chopping block, the notwithstanding clause seems like the absolute slipperiest of slopes, particularly when it is being used by someone like Doug Ford, a man already known for his Trumpian tendencies.
Come on Canada, I thought you guys were supposed to be the hippy socialists!!
I was chatting with an acquaintance this week when suddenly, in the midst of small-talk, they blurted out, ‘what’s wrong with the world right now?’
I stood dumbfounded, pretty much the only thing you can do at this point.
I am not sure what is wrong. But I intend to find out.
Coming soon: Nigel Clarke goes to Dixie.