Monday, June 13, 2005

It's Court Jeopardy!

… You Could Be The Lucky Winner Of A Share In $2.75 MILLION TAX DOLLARS! [Note: people who do not hold opinions shared by special social interest advocacy lobby groups are ineligible.]

It's not like the old days anymore when "mine is mine and yours is yours" prevailed and "rights" were pretty easily distinguishable from Munchausenian fancies and dark Parisian alley bastardized-Proudhon pulp tracts. Apparently the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is no more available to comprehension by parliamentarians than would be something like Ulysses or the EU constitution — that's why they need to take your tax dollars to hire some advocacy groups to challenge their own legislation. Nothin' says good citizen-lovin' like an arbitrary or timid Supreme Court order to make brand-new legislated dilution of common sense conceptions and proprieties politically palatable, after the requisite intellectual adulteration is made over for popular consumption. How can you, as a citizen of Trudeaupia, argue against the Supreme Court ?!

Over the last 20 years, Canadians have become used to advocacy groups challenging all kinds of laws and regulations in the courts. Many of the groups involved in these challenges have financial backing from a $2.75 million-a-year federal government program called the Court Challenges Program (CCP). In effect, for more than two decades now, the federal government has encouraged advocacy groups to pursue their causes in court.
The CCP is an independent non-profit foundation that does not need to reveal who it funds because of a Federal Court ruling that establishes its relationship with clients as a "lawyer-client" relationship, despite the fact that its funds come from the federal government and that presumably makes the public its "client." But its pre-2000 history and the composition of its board of directors and decision-making panels gives you a pretty good clue about the current direction.
[…] Equality-seeking groups have used CCP funds to establish, for example, that limiting free speech by outlawing hate literature or obscenity is acceptable under the Charter. They have also successfully pressed judges to expand government programs that they think are too narrowly focused. The CCP has encouraged some groups to by-pass the political process by using the courts instead. Pro-life and traditional family groups, however, have consistently been denied CCP funds.

[…] This is part of a 30-year effort to “animate” society, to coalesce and lobby “for programs thought desirable both by the state and by suitably ‘animated’ interest groups”. The CCP simply extends these efforts into the judicial realm.

[…] If the federal government continues to fund advocacy litigation,who should decide which causes get funded? Letting activists from the groups that have been funded in the past make decisions about who gets funded in the future seems unfair. The federal government should require the Court Challenges Program to follow strict conflict-of-interest rules,and appoint disinterested decision-making panels. Most importantly, when the CCP decides a case merits federal funding, then federal funding should be available to both sides of the case equally. If tax revenues end up being used to support the case for gay marriage, then tax revenues should also be available to those who oppose gay marriage. When the CCP supports pro-choice arguments in the courts,it should also support pro-lifegroups.

[…] The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), for example, both refuse to accept government money. The CCLA’s efforts to protect free speech rights and the NCC’s challenges to restrictive election spending laws fit easily into the frame of “public interest litigation.” Groups that receive government funding cannot claim that label so easily. Is federally-funded interest group litigation an example of marginalized individuals banding together to fight oppressive government policies? Or is it a complex dance of federal social animators and their favoured activists battling other government actions in court?
— Ian Brodie, The Court Challenges Program, Fraser Forum, October 2002.
Forcing all citizens to pay for the advancement of an agenda that many of whom would vehemently oppose if they had a choice serves only to undercut the legitimacy, or at least neutrality, of those arguments — by this, the perception of legitimacy and neutrality in the courts is compromised by entertaining and entering into evidence the fraudulently acquired assets of CCP-funded advocacy groups. It's unfortunate that some people with claims against the government are supported by a government and its funded advocacy arms while others, like M. Chaoulli, are hounded by those same institutions at every turn. Whose side is the government on, anyway? Only some Canadians…

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