(This column was published in the North Shore News on Nov. 6, 2002)


The Supremes cast another loony decision

 By Leo Knight

LAST week's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada giving federal inmates the right to vote in elections demonstrates exactly what I said in my last column.


The Supreme Court of Canada wonders who inhabit the highest bench in the land have shown their true colours. For several years now, they have not been content with merely interpreting the law as made by our elected representatives, they have taken a firm step towards entrenching Canada as a full-fledged "judocracy."


Quite apart from the fact that every poll, scientific or otherwise, taken since the ludicrous decision has said Canadians are against giving prisoners the right to vote by a three or four to one margin, the stance the court has taken, in my view, is actually ultra vires - not within their jurisdiction of authority. But, unfortunately there is no avenue of appeal.


The Supremes, in order to make this decision, had to bend over backwards to establish jurisdiction so they could render this socialist opinion. Understand this, by design and by statute, the Supreme Court of Canada is meant to be the final arbiter for disputes on points of law. The duty of enacting legislation is rightly the purview of those we elect, for good or for bad, to represent us in Parliament.


What this decision has done is declared an act of Parliament unlawful pursuant to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Liberal government of Jean Chretien who appointed these people, has merely stated they will study the decision. What is there is to study?


Parliament has decreed that prisoners forfeit many of the rights conferred upon them as law-abiding citizens when they are found guilty of breaching the rules of a civilized society. It remains thus until they have completed the term of imprisonment set down by the court. Clearly the vast majority of Canadians agree. So too, I might add, did four members of the Supreme Court with their dissenting opinion.


An act of Parliament says prisoners cannot exercise their franchise as a Canadian citizen by virtue of their criminal activity and incarceration. The Charter does not specify any such right for individuals who have done something to have other rights taken away, most notably their right to liberty.


How can five out of the nine judges, masquerading as social engineers - or is it the other way around - determine the right to vote is somehow more important than the right to liberty?


The decision defies logic and jurisprudence. The government needs to act swiftly to undo this. They do not need to "study" the decision as they announced in the Commons in response to opposition pressure.


Judges have spoken out in the past saying they are not responsible to public opinion. To a degree, I would accept that position. However, they should not be immune to it either. After all, it is our country.


If we, as a moderately democratic society, say through our elected representatives, let alone the polls, that convicts give up their rights including their right to vote, then that is a reflection of the society we want. Who are the Supremes to tell us different?


The argument they provide has to do with giving the "disenfranchised" the right to vote in the vague hope they will somehow see their role as a responsible citizen as some sort of epiphany.The fact they had the right to vote when they were engaging in the crimes which got them before the courts in the first place, seems to have escaped their notice. Let's face it, once they have been judged by the courts to be so far beyond redemption that they actually get significant time in jail, there is no chance for rehabilitation. It is an absolute waste of money to do anything other than warehouse them for the protection of the remainder of society from their ravages.


That is reality. Long before they get serious time, they have been through a myriad of counselling, probation, group therapy and probably even group hugs along with all the other insidious nonsense the system can and does provide.


By continuing their anti-social behaviour they have clearly demonstrated they don't give a toss for our civilized society. How is it possible the members of the "judocracy" don't get it?


Alberta wheat farmer Darren Winczura, jailed last week as a result of a 1996 protest for trying to sell wheat outside the auspices of the Canadian Wheat Board, was quoted in the Globe and Mail saying, "it's not like we're growing marijuana and trying to export it; we're growing wheat."


Of course not. Had he been growing marijuana he would not be in jail. This is

Chretien's Canada after all.





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