Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Bill Curry reports on what looks like a thoroughly warped view of the role of the Minister of Justice and Parliament in assessing the constitutionality of legislation (h/t to bigcitylib):
Ottawa is crafting legislation that risks running afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms without informing Parliament, a federal lawyer charges.

In a highly unusual case, Department of Justice lawyer Edgar Schmidt is challenging his own department in Federal Court and revealing details about the internal guidelines used by federal lawyers. The department accuses Mr. Schmidt of violating his duties as a lawyer and public servant and has suspended him without pay.
Both sides agree that the Minister of Justice has a duty to report to the House of Commons if proposed legislation or regulations are inconsistent with the Charter. Where Mr. Schmidt and his superiors disagree is over how that requirement should be interpreted.

Mr. Schmidt argues that Parliament originally expected the test for this would be whether, on balance, a measure is likely not in compliance. However Mr. Schmidt says that since as far back as 1993, government lawyers have been directed to approve all measures as long as they can imagine an argument in favour of compliance that would have a 5 per cent chance of success. The government does not confirm this, arguing any internal instructions must be kept secret as solicitor client privilege and cabinet confidences. 

- Meanwhile, Jeremy Nuttall reports that the Cons are choosing to serve as puppets for HD Mining in arguing that nobody has any right to question the assertions of an applicant for a temporary foreign worker permit - including the department responsible to evaluate an application.
- Kady O'Malley and Sixth Estate both discuss Julian Fantino's gross misuse of public resources for partisan attacks - with the latter post also raising this rather noteworthy point about Fantino's general competence:
Here’s the first one, written to the NDP. Notice that in the final paragraph Julian Fantino singles out Canada’s aid program in Haiti as a particularly successful one, worthy of attention. A few days ago, Fantino announced that he was not satisfied with the Haiti program and that Canada should eliminate its aid to that country. How you want to square these remarks is up to you.
- Lest anybody think Canada's Senate is the only obvious example of a non-elected actor which can interfere in legislative processes, Robert Booth reports on the stunningly regular exercise of veto power by the Queen over bills passed in the UK.

- And finally, speaking of unaccountable interference by privileged political actors, David Climenhaga discusses the continued links between the Koch brothers and the Fraser Institute - which of course hasn't come under the same scrutiny as analogous charities who aren't such regular cheerleaders for the Cons or right-wing causes.


  1. Anonymous1:43 a.m.

    The thing about The Queen and the Prince of Wales veto power has to do with the mechanics of the UK. They mostly have to do with the Dutchy of Cornwall. But every time I try to explain it, people think I'm getting into gonzo "freemen on the land" stuff and tune out. :(

    1. That sounds consistent with the article - that in principle any consent requirement (or by implication, any veto) is limited to matters related to the Duchy itself, but that it's been applied far more broadly.

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