Happy Canada Day.
Today we celebrate our 148th birthday as a nation, marking the day in 1867 when the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario united to become the Dominion of Canada. ( B.C. joined in 1871).
The Dominion was somewhat under the political thumb of Great Britain until 1982, when the Canadian Constitution was patriated.
As flags wave at community events across the country, how many of us give much thought to what being a Canadian means? Many see Canada Day as just an other stat holiday. Most of us take our citizenship and all that goes with it (rights and freedoms) pretty much for granted. Maybe this is the year we should start paying attention. Some weird things have happened.
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) is the guardian of our constitution. Justices are appointed by whatever government is in power. Their job is to ensure those governments don’t get too cocky. Our current federal government has had some problems with this. A number of their proposed laws have been rejected by the high court. At one point the Prime Minster took personal shots at Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin over a ruling he didn’t like. Just recently the Health Minister was angry over a SCC ruling on medical marijuana.
Then there is the senate. Senators are also appointed by the government of the day. Under the Constitution, they are supposed to give “sober second thought” to proposed federal legislation. An investigation triggered by Senator Mike Duffy, who got too greedy, found other Senators weren’t playing by the rules either.
This has both politicians and taxpayers wondering how to keep that august body on track.
Rules and regulations, including the Constitution, are there to protect citizens. When governments and individuals chose not to follow the rules, it can be a costly process to set things right.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.