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remembering trudeau pirouetting behind the queen
April 17, 2012 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Canada marks the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights. The charter is credited with advancing gay rights and reproductive freedom, reducing police powers and increasing judicial activism. And of course, trudeau's famous pirouette behind the Queen's back after she signed the charter. The anniversary brings a flash mob of lawyers, a tepid celebration from the conservative government, and some reflection on rights and, of course, hockey!.
posted by chapps (39 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fucking flash mobs.
posted by docgonzo at 7:06 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You hate flash mobs more than you hate Stephen Harper?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:09 PM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


What if it were a flash mob for Stephen Harper, consisting of people dressing as Stephen Harper?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 7:13 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ewww... now I'm imagining Harper flashing me. Thanks alot, Metafilter.
posted by mannequito at 7:14 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty interesting how Trudeau hated Mulroney's attempts to get Quebec to sign on to the Constitution as he essentially believed in a strong(er) federal government, while Mulroney was willing to give away powers to provincial governments.

Rereading the Wikipedia article about Meech Lake, I'm struck by how much of an attempted backroom deal it was - just the 11 first ministers and a select few mandarins gathered in a hotel room.

Anyway, this is one of those rare times when I tend to agree with Harper... The patriation of the Constitution is really controversial, and is still unresolved.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:15 PM on April 17, 2012


And listening to Trudeau's speech rebroadcast on CBC a few times today, it's no wonder the West hated him. While I get that he came from a different era, he comes across as pretty pompous and I can't imagine a contemporary politician getting away with his rhetorical style, except for Jack Layton.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2012


Canada is an incredibly decentralised nation as it is, and there has been some distinct change in power from the east to the west, and i dont know if that is a result of the constituion, or some economoic factors, or the opposite
posted by PinkMoose at 7:25 PM on April 17, 2012


I'm pretty it's safe to say Canada's been decentralized from the very beginning, when we were just a bunch of British colonies spread out across North America.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:28 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This G&M piece on the global influence of the Charter is worth a read (unless you've reddit already)
posted by anthill at 7:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love it!

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed 30 years ago Tuesday. Since then, not only has it become a national bedrock, but the Charter has replaced the American Bill of Rights as the constitutional document most emulated by other nations.

“Could it be that Canada has surpassed or even supplanted the United States as a leading global exporter of constitutional law? The data suggest that the answer may be yes.” So conclude two U.S. law professors whose analysis of the declining influence of the American constitution on other nations will be published in New York University Law Review in June.

posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 PM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't see he notwithstanding clause as a fine piece of balance - it is, in one small sentence, a sellout of all the supposed rights and freedoms we are guaranteed. It makes the whole thing a joke.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:05 PM on April 17, 2012


I don't see he notwithstanding clause as a fine piece of balance - it is, in one small sentence, a sellout of all the supposed rights and freedoms we are guaranteed. It makes the whole thing a joke.

I'm not a fan of the Charter, but that's nonsense. The notwithstanding clause is almost never used outside Quebec, and it doesn't apply to everything in the Charter anyway. It's just not as important as non-lawyers think it is. If you're going to criticize something for making the whole thing a joke, criticize s.1 (although that, too, is better than American-style absolute rights).
posted by smorange at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does the absolutist language that's pretty much unsupportable in the US Constitution make it a joke?

There's a reason people compare drafting legislation to sausage making.
posted by GuyZero at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2012


And listening to Trudeau's speech rebroadcast on CBC a few times today, it's no wonder the West hated him. While I get that he came from a different era, he comes across as pretty pompous and I can't imagine a contemporary politician getting away with his rhetorical style, except for Jack Layton.

Be that as it may, dig this fucking guy. Look at that strut. Trudeau's so goddamn cool in that photo he even makes John Turner (to the immediate right in the photo) look badass.

Now compare and contrast with this dorkwad tourist who got lost on a beach in Colombia this week.

Gimme pompous swagger over wonky smirking crypto-fascism any ole day, I say.
posted by gompa at 8:59 PM on April 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


Gimme pompous swagger over wonky smirking crypto-fascism any ole day, I say.

then I recommend Will Fergusen's Bastards and Boneheads. (And I also demand an updated edition, which can answer: Harper, Bastard or bonehead?)
posted by chapps at 9:04 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Be that as it may, dig this fucking guy.

I have long maintained that he was just the coolest 20th century politician, as least in the Western Hemisphere. No pandering, no apologies. "Hey, I'm right; fuck you!" goes a long way when you're generally right. I hope the stars line up again and I see that mix of self-confidence and proper direction in another politician in my lifetime. I'm sick of cryptofascists and pandering assholes.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:08 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gimme pompous swagger over wonky smirking crypto-fascism any ole day, I say.

Not to be all "rah-rah" Harper, but judging a politician by his wardrobe is more than a little shallow.

Then again, Harper got elected largely for wearing a sweater so, you know...
posted by asnider at 10:10 PM on April 17, 2012


He sure didn't care much about the economy, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 PM on April 17, 2012


Not to be all "rah-rah" Harper, but judging a politician by his wardrobe is more than a little shallow.

I judge him by his appalling policy record, his unquenchable thirst for more power, his shameless willingness to exploit and expand division, his deceitfulness and dishonesty, and an unconscionable stance on climate change that would doom my children to a future profoundly lacking in the quality of life we now enjoy so that he and his cronies can make more hay. For reasons I could fill miles of the blue with, I think Stephen Harper is the worst prime minister in Canadian history, and he'd be the nastiest piece of calculating slug filth on the national stage in Canadian politics if he hadn't surrounded himself with utter human excrement like John Baird and Tony Clement and Joe Oliver. Whole weeks go by where all I do is judge Stephen Harper on his myopic, calculating thoughts and contemptible actions.

But tonight, on the 30th anniversary of the passage of one of the greatest documents in the nation's history, signed into life by a flawed but nonetheless brilliant and passionate advocate of much of what I love about my home and native land, I decided to post a picture of Pierre Trudeau looking more awesome than any politician rightfully should, in marked contrast to the current occupant of his old office, who looks fundamentally uncomfortable in his own skin even on the best days.

So, yeah. "Shallow." Sure.
posted by gompa at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2012 [31 favorites]


I prefer to think of Harper as the "Mayor" of Canada. I don't think his peer group thinks highly of him, either. A shame, because I feel Canada once held their respect.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2012


Insert picture of Harper in his awkward cowboy outfit here.

What's cool is that our Charter is built to grow toward greater equality of rights and freedoms. Its aim is toward the more progressive. That's a very modern idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 PM on April 17, 2012


I'm too tired(read lazy) to properly source this but back in the day a chief justice of the supreme court in Canada, Bora Laskin, I believe, said that Trudeau had the finest legal mind he had ever encountered in his career. What he did with the constitution was really quite amazing, when you look at the fumbling before and since.

And the current PM? I think it's time to start thinking in terms of fascism. And no I don't think I'm being alarmist here.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:08 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


A cleaner version of the pirouette picture.
posted by aurelian at 12:33 AM on April 18, 2012


Thanks aurelian.

I should have looked up the photo credit earlier. It's by Doug Ball. Here's some more info on the pirouette photo back story.
posted by chapps at 12:48 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


its courts increasingly interpret the American document so perversely – by claiming that it must only be applied as the founding fathers originally intended – as to render it useless as a tool for tackling modern problems.

There's no risk, of course, that Canadian judges will ever adopt perverse interpretations or that the Canadian document could get out of key with the times after a couple of centuries.
posted by Segundus at 1:20 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The notwithstanding clause is almost never used outside Quebec,

But it's used quite a lot here, and it's hugely problematic. "You have a right to something. Notwithstanding that right, we don't want to give it to you, so screw you." Just because it only affects 7 or 8 million people instead of 34 million people doesn't mean it suddenly isn't important.
posted by jeather at 3:59 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it still a flash mob when it's announced in advance via press release?
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 6:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harper and Chretien are very similar in a number of ways, although I'm reasonably sure Chretien would kick Harper's ass in a street fight. BTW, has anyone noticed how fat most of the Conservatives are? Baird, Kenney, Moore, Harper... They're fleshy masses in expensive suits.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 AM on April 18, 2012


Chretien would kick Harper's ass in a street fight.

Harper's ass? Once Chretien got to Harper's throat it would be game over.
posted by GuyZero at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it still a flash mob when it's announced in advance via press release?

perhaps the only flashmob ever with a media release but no youtube video?
posted by chapps at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2012


gompa: Your original comment was little more than a comparison between the fashion of Trudeau and Harper. That is shallow.

Your follow-up comment isn't something I'll disagree with. I'm not fan of Harper. But, yes, you were making a shallow judgment the first time around.
posted by asnider at 10:13 AM on April 18, 2012


I really, really hope the people painting Mr. Harper in such dire terms are doing more about it than just typing on the internets.
posted by docgonzo at 10:49 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not me, docgonzo, I'm just the online fashion police.
posted by gompa at 11:06 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately he took away my vote so I can't even vote against him any longer. (As a Canadian resident in the US)
posted by GuyZero at 11:15 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really, really hope the people painting Mr. Harper in such dire terms are doing more about it than just typing on the internets.

Hey, I've volunteered in two election campaigns, how about you?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:23 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Meatafoecure at 11:27 PM on April 18, 2012


The notwithstanding clause is almost never used outside Quebec,

But it's used quite a lot here, and it's hugely problematic. "You have a right to something. Notwithstanding that right, we don't want to give it to you, so screw you." Just because it only affects 7 or 8 million people instead of 34 million people doesn't mean it suddenly isn't important.


As smorange said, it's pretty much never used outside Quebec. Honestly, "almost never" is an understatement. Here's when it's been used:

1) The Yukon in relation to nominating Yukon Indians to land planning boards. This statute never came into effect, so the override didn't really happen.
2) Saskatchewan to protect some back-to-work legislation. The Court of Appeal (highest provincial court) had ruled it unconstitutional, so they used the override. Except the SCC, around the same time, held that the legislation was constitutional, so this override was superfluous.
3) Alberta trying to define marriage as between opposite-sex people. But defining marriage is for the federal government, so this override was meaningless.
4) Alberta tried to limit compensation for those people forcibly sterilized by the province. But there was a public outcry (rightly so) and they withdrew it.

That's it. So essentially the only times it's been used outside of Quebec it's been either meaningless or superfluous.

It's been used in Quebec about a dozen times, with regards to language rights, pension plans, religious education, and agriculture. But the thing is, of those 12 uses, only three times was it renewed. So the 9 that didn't were only overridden for 5 years. All of those uses were within 10 years of the Charter.

And the big omnibus bill that Quebec did back in the day, which essentially used the override for everything, did not override the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Why? Because that omnibus wasn't to abridge rights, but to protest the imposed (Canadian) Charter.

One way that I like to think of the override clause is as a safety valve preventing bad court decisions. Back in WW2, we (Canada, but the same applies to the US) interned the germans and japanese, and did all sorts of civil liberties violations. The courts ruled them to be ok. And then set a shitty, shitty precedent. It would be better if the courts wouldn't allow it at all, but that's just not going to happen - they'll accept the emergency situation. But with an override, they can (theoretically) refuse to roll over for the government and call out the civil rights violations. At which point the government overrides, sure. But that lasts only 5 years, and has to be explicit each time. So you'll get at least some public debate over it, and the courts 20 years later aren't stuck with this garbage ruling that they have to work around.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:40 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for that, Lemurrhea, I am not sold but it makes the whole thing sound a lot more reasonable now.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:18 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no risk, of course, that Canadian judges will ever adopt perverse interpretations or that the Canadian document could get out of key with the times after a couple of centuries.

Not to dismiss this, because I think it's a valid point, but the danger of this happening in Canada isn't as great as in the US. That's because the so-called "Persons Case" (Edwards v Canada) established the "living tree" doctrine, and now it's long-established law in Canada. That doesn't mean that it could never be overturned, but the general approach to constitutional interpretation just isn't controversial here like it is in the US.
posted by smorange at 8:21 AM on April 19, 2012


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