Jeffrey Simpson ran a yawner of an opinion piece on the power of the courts in the Globe this morning. Another rant on how the courts in this country have too much power, this time suggesting that our elected politicians do nothing to earn their keep, and that in fact it is the courts that are running the country.
Wailing and gnashing of teeth aside, who does speak for Canadians today? Are the politicians in touch with what average Canadians want and feel, or is it the courts? I’m reading Michael Adams book Fire and Ice at the moment. What an eye opener! Adams has followed the sentiments of a mere 15,000 or so Canadians and Americans over the last 25 years, tracking changing attitudes on over 100 different scales. Canadians, it turns out, are more idealistic and focused on self-actualization than ever. We have systematically chosen to reject authoritarian, hierarchical, and patriarchal elements of society in favour of equality, consensus, and self-discovery.
The folks on the Hill don’t get it. Neither does Simpson. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms that by all accounts most Canadians have wholeheartedly embraced was fundamentally designed to protect minority rights from the “tyranny of the majority”. The Charter’s purpose is to protect and enhance the fundamental value of equality that Adams says is one of the most important facets of the Canadian outlook.
So who’s out of step? The folks on the Hill calling for referenda on issues like Gay marriage? The commentators in the media wringing their hands over the (apparent) impotence of Parliament? The leadership of those hierarchical and patriarchal religious institutions that Canadians have apparently rejected? Or the judges interpreting a set of laws that, by all accounts, seem to reflect the values of the majority of Canadians?
Adams book is an important work. Get it, read it, internalize it. That goes for you too, Jeffrey Simpson.