July/August, 1999 Volume XIII Number 7
Oh, Canada; Oh, China!
Constitutions, charters, and the abortion distortion
By Jim Demers
Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA -- The encounter took place Christmas day 1996 on tier three-north of the super-secure Vancouver Pre-Trial Centre.
Edmond Wong of Hong Kong was being held by Canada Immigration on suspicion of illegal entry.
I was there for holding a large sign reading “Every human being has the inherent right to life” outside two Vancouver abortuaries within an anti-free-speech “Verboten Zone” written by Parliament.
Edmond cornered me by the microwave, he wanted to know what a nice guy – presumably like himself – was doing in such a rough joint. When I told him my offense was protesting and showed him pictures, he was incredulous. Canada, he exclaimed allows people – unlike his country – to protest without going to jail.
Well, welcome to the New Canada, Edmond! Stay a while and you’ll find it increasingly like the country you left.
While Edmond’s shock is understand able, observant Canadians have been watching for years as their country discards 3,000 years of legal principle and tradition in favor of the old humanistic maxim of “maximize pleasure, minimize pain, for the most people.”
In this new order everyone has every right--provided the collective approves.
For example; freedom of speech? Certainly, provided you don’t disturb the collective.
A right to life? Of course, provided that right does not interfere with the aspirations or pleasures of others.
Right of religion? Yes, but one must not offend others. All of which the collective will be responsible for balancing the interests in case of dispute.
The State giveth all rights, therefore the State may also taketh away – only, of course, where necessary. When Marx and Lenin said their philosophy would one day rule the world, we didn’t take them seriously enough.
So how do countries like the United States and Canada fall into such tyranny?
It’s the old story. Throw a frog into boiling water and, whoosh, an airborne amphibian. Put the same creature into the comfort of lukewarm water, slowly bring the temperature up, and presto—well-done frog. Boiled alive because, in his comfort, he didn’t realize his peril.
Unfortunately it works well with humans as well. How else can one explain the withering and subjugation of fundamental rights in post-Christian America? A hundred years ago Americans – and Canadians – all knew where their rights came from, and they were willing to fight to preserve them. In the past we developed and embraced ideas and principles like “every human being has the inherent right to life.” Today, our culture employs the clubs of “tolerance” and “pluralism,” to bludgeon such old fashioned concepts to death.
Ironically, in Canada official recognition of the new order and replacement of the old, came (as they usually do) as the proverbial wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing.
In 1982 Canada drafted its first home-made constitution and its appendage, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Prior to this, Canada’s highest written law was the British North American Act 1867 which was kept safely in England. The Constitution Act of 1982 became an act of the Canadian parliament.
On its face, it’s hard to imagine a better constitutional foundation than that spelled out in the preamble of the Charter; “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”
Given that Canada’s tradition of law – like the United States – is founded wholly in Judeo-Christian teaching, it should be no leap to conclude that the “God” referred to is the one of the Bible. Unfortunately, Canadian judges have in several cases, said that the supremacy of God clause is nothing more than a warm, fuzzy platitude recognizing some kind of spiritual value, but so general as to actually mean nothing.
Many Canadian Christian lawyers have taken a middle of the road position, arguing that the constitutional value being recognized, is simply that of a “higher power.” Proponents of this view say this approach allows for an advancement of the concept of God given inherent rights, while avoiding sectarian level squabbling about the nature of this “God.”
Countering this position are lawyers like American Jeff Tuomala who is assisting on my constitutional right-to-life case currently before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Tuomala a former professor of international law, now practising civil/criminal law in Ohio says that to properly understand the Charter one must first understand the meaning of “supremacy of God.”
“This is very important,” says Mr. Tuomala, “because a preamble states the very presuppositions that everything else in the document must be interpreted as being compatible with. For Canada to state it recognizes the ‘supremacy of God’ in its preamble and then have the courts say they don’t know which God this refers to, is absurd.”
This becomes an important issue when determining the most fundamental of constitutional rights. Because while the Canadian Charter gives all the standard protections--right to life, freedom of speech etc.--it also has a clause that allows the government to violate these rights. Section one of the Charter reads “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits proscribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
Contrast this with the constitutional rights of the Chinese. According to their Constitution of 1982 (coincidentally revised the same year as Canada’s) all citizens of China enjoy standard human rights like freedom of religion etc. The exercise of these rights, however, is purely at the discretion of the state. For example article 35 guarantees “...freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.” Here the state giveth. The drawback comes in article 51; “The exercise by citizens of the people’s Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society and of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.”
At this juncture, it becomes clear why a steel-clad understanding of the source of rights is necessary. China makes no pretext of its authority, its preamble speaks of the glorious revolution, the communist will to fight and of final victory. As Mao Zedong candidly put it so many years ago; “political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”
Whether Canadian courts and politicians are willing to slide further down this road of legal positivism is an open question.
On May 4th through 7th, this very issue was put to British Columbia Justice Sherman Hood in my case. As framed by the lower court judge, the issue to be determined is whether the term “everyone” who is guaranteed a right to life under section seven of the Canadian Charter, includes “...Unborn children whose mothers have decided to terminate their pregnancies.”
The uncontested expert evidence before the court proved that Unborn children are in science and reality, complete human beings, a point the government declared irrelevant.
Government prosecutor Roger Cutler argued that unless they are specifically included in government legislation, they are not protected – in other words, unless the government specifically “giveth,” the baby has no rights. How very Chinese!
He did not address the issue of the inherent right of human beings to life. We hope Justice Hood will not be as reticent.
Infection: The evil of abortion corrupts society
Oh, Canada; Oh, China!
Copyright © 1999 Advocates for Life Ministries