On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Chief Justice Hinkson of the British Columbia Supreme Court gave effect to the arguments of an association called Drug War Survivors (“DWS”) that the City of Abbotsford’s bylaws that forbade sleeping in the City’s parks or the temporary erection of shelters without permits to be contrary to s. 7’s protection of security of the person under the Charter and were therefore of no force or effect. In an 81 page reasons for judgment in Abbotsford (City) v. Shantz, 2015 BCSC 1909 that reviewed the evolving jurisprudence under s. 7 of the Charter and specifically previous British Columbian decisions respecting a similar challenge of the City of Victoria’s bylaws, Chief Justice Hinkson made it clear that, while there was not a positive obligation on the part of the municipality to provide shelter to its homeless population, so long as there was insufficient shelter available, the municipality could not prohibit the homeless from doing what they needed to do in order to ensure their own life, liberty and security of their persons.
I do not think that anyone forecast a Liberal majority of the magnitude that swept the country last night. Sixty-eight and a half percent of eligible Canadian electors voted last night. Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau said that Canadians wanted “change – real change”. I think he is right. But what sort of change will that include and will it involve constitutional issues? The answer I think is “yes”. I will touch upon only four issues which require constitutional review or involves constitutional values.
Today is Election Day in Canada. Canadian citizens have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
Just as a reminder, section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides:
3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.
If you can vote today in this election, please do so. Not all people are so lucky as to have this right,… and this responsibility.
Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson wrote a compelling article in yesterday’s Globe & Mail. Her article, entitled “Minority governments: Time for the G-G to come out from behind the scenes” deals with the issue as to whether or not the decision-making process of the Governor General should be secretive or open.
On October 19, 2015, Canada goes to the polls. The hurly burly of the Canadian version of democracy has been on display since early August when Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and to call this election. What many of us do not appreciate is that this spectacle is probably one of the best examples of our constitution at work.
This last week, lawyer and Ph.D. candidate and Vanier and Trudeau scholar, Kerri Froc, was interviewed by Jim Brown on the CBC program, The 180, about gender equality and the rationale behind s. 28 of the Charter. Section 28 states:
Rights guaranteed equally to both sexes
28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
Ms. Froc’s interview can be found at The 180 website and is well worth listening to.