Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jan 2001
Source: National Post (Canada)
Section: Page A17
Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc.
Contact:  300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Fax: (416) 442-2209
Author: Jan Skirrow, Duncan, BC


Re: What Are Judges For, Jan 15.

Politicians generally appear unwilling to lead. They refuse to take action 
on what they recognize as social wrongs because to do so might create a 
reaction aimed at them. Far better, surely, to let a court do the deed. 
Then the fuss can be redirected to Canada's judiciary, which cannot defend 
itself. Canada's shameful record on aboriginal issues surely is illustrative.

Governments, provincial and federal, rarely represent more than a minority 
of the popular vote, and an even smaller proportion of eligible voters. Few 
Canadians feel their elected representative in fact represents anything 
other than party interests and the leader, or is responsive to anything 
other than special interest groups. It is not surprising that Canadians 
tend to support the courts acting on issues in the face of a lack of 
political courage. In some ways, the courts appear more representative of 
the mainstream of Canadian values as compared to the often narrow views and 
regressive values of those the politicians apparently fear. Changes in the 
most flagrantly unconstitutional aspects of Canada's drug laws, and the 
procedures used to enforce them, have come about almost completely from 
judicial decisions made in the face of political refusal to act.

In my experience as a former senior civil servant, this is not an 
unconscious process. I participated in discussions with politicians related 
to issues and pending legislation where the notion of "let's leave it to 
the courts" was explicitly on the table.
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MAP posted-by: Beth