Hits

As if the words of nullification and interposition,of division and discord, of Bill 96 weren’t enough, it’s primary author and champion Minister of Justice (an almost oxymoronic title for him) Simon Jolin-Barrette decided to pour fuel on the fire.

In his “sagesse,” he felt compelled to add on to the destruction of constitutionally-protected language rights already compromised and unburden himself of his desire to wipe out the rest of Canadian constitutional protections. He had the audacity to suggest that in order to “govern itself” Quebec needed to eliminate the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and only apply the Quebec Charter.

In and of itself, the Quebec Charter is superior to Canada’s in certain aspects. What made Jolin-Barrette’s suggestion so odious is that the reason he gave for it was that in his mind the Minister feels that the Legault government has championed the concept of “collective rights” of Francophones and that they are to be enforced above minorities “collective” rights and even that of individual rights.

This is fascist talk. And we use that word advisedly. Every society that has actively and aggressively enforced collective rights over individual rights has resulted in authoritarian governance and moral and physical destruction of individuals and minorities. Every society that has maintained the predominance of individual rights over the tyranny of the majority, has maintained a healthy democracy whose foundational underpinning is the rule of law. This was the organizing principle of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Indeed it is just for the purpose of protecting individual rights from majority tyranny that Charters and Bills of Rights are enacted. And those were the very same purposes espoused by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Premier Robert Bourassa when Canada and Quebec brought their Charters into existence. And even separatist Premiers Réné Levesque and Lucien Bouchard in particular championed Charter Rights for that reason.

Jolin-Barrette would make of law nothing more than dogma that can be fine-tuned for his political aims at his whim. His words reek. Our Minister of Justice said, “Since the advent of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everything was about individual rights. Many people have denied the existence of the Quebec nation. Many people have denied the collective rights of the Quebec nation. What we bring is a rebalancing.”This from a man with a graduate degree in constitutional law.

What Jolin-Barrette is saying quite clearly is that even if the majority of individuals in Quebec don’t want to sacrifice their personal rights for the sake of a “Quebec nation,” he is prepared to shove it down their throats by legislating away those rights even if it means creating a toothless Quebec Charter. He went so far as to question the legitimacy of the Canadian Charter because it hadn’t been adopted by the National Assembly. He omits to mention that it didn’t have to be. It’s federal legislation applicable to all Canadians which Quebecers still are.

He went further saying that because he considers the French language to be in danger, the elements (read “rights”) of the “moral contract” between citizen and state should not be determined by the courts but only by the legislature. He wants “parliamentary sovereignty” above all. Fascist talk.

We have called on Premier Legault to fire this Minister several times before on matters of specific legislation. This time, Jolin-Barrette has gone beyond the limits of democratic discourse. M.Legault, if you do not rid yourself of this man, his legacy of authoritarianism shall fall on you and wipe out any good you may have done. History will be a harsh judge.

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