Happy anniversary, Thomas Mulcair. Why do you hate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

On April 17, 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became the law of the land. Love it or hate it, it’s a very important document that’s had an important influence on our country’s development.

We are now at the 30th anniversary of the Charter and there are some who say that the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, is not celebrating this anniversary in appropriate style. Well, it’s not really “some” people. It’s really one person, former prime minister Jean Chretien, who, as justice minister in 1982, was one of the signatories of that document. On Wednesday, Chretien and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae will lead a Liberal celebration of the Charter in Toronto.

Chretien has been giving interviews to just about any news outlet that wants one and a recurrent theme is his moaning that Harper is disrespecting the Charter by not doing enough to celebrate this anniversary. And yet, on the 20th anniversary of this Charter, Chretien “declined interviews in advance of the anniversary”, Tonda MacCharles reported on page A6 of the Toronto Star‘s April 18, 2002 edition.

The Harper government may issue a press release on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Charter. Chretien, on the 20th anniversary, couldn’t even be bothered to do that.

So while you can’t shut him up now about about what a lousy job Harper is doing to mark the 30th anniversary, Chrétien wouldn’t grant any interviews when he was PM during the 20th anniversary celebrations nor did he even issue a press release.

Update: Mind you, as several of my Twitter followers have pointed out: Chretien did read a statement in the House of Commons and posed for pictures with the document.

And then there’s Thomas Mulcair, the New Democrat who is the new Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. Ten years ago, he was a Liberal member of the National Assembly. On April 17, 2002, then Premier Bernard Landry put this motion to the National Assembly:

THAT the National Assembly reaffirm that it never acceded to the Constitution Act, 1982, whose effect was to lessen the powers and rights of Québec without the consent of the Québec Government, of the National Assembly, and that this Act is still unacceptable for Québec [PDF].

Mulcair — along with current Liberal premier Jean Charest, current PQ leader Pauline Marois and current CAQ leader François Legault — all voted in favour of Landry’ s motion.

So an important question for Mulcair — who will be presenting himself to Canadians in 2015 as an alternative to Stephen Harper for prime minister — Why does he think the Constitution Act “is still unacceptable for Quebec?”


25 thoughts on “Happy anniversary, Thomas Mulcair. Why do you hate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

  1. On of the very first things Thomas Mulcair did as newly elected leader of the NDP was to vote against the National Flag of Canada Act (Bill C-288) which was a bill encouraging Canadians to “proudly display the National Flag of Canada.” It’s glaringly clear what this duplicitous, scheming NDP-PQ conspirator is all about and the scent of it is most unpleasant.

  2. Quebec is quick to deny that they signed on to the Constitution Act and the related Charter. However, they have no hesitation in using it to promote their causes.

    Mulcair has some explaining to do. Lets see if the bearded dual citizen is up to the challenge.

  3. On the Chretien issue, the Liberal are in opposition so they complain and oppose, as they should and as Harper would if the Tory were in opposition. Your comment is a dumb one.

    As for the cheap shot on Mulcair, I’m not NDP, I don’t mean to defend Mulcair here but…

    You are another English Canadian who shows off how he does not understand the Quebec culture. Is this contagious, from Harper down? Or is there no hope of ever understanding and accepting each other and our differences?

    I’m a strong federalist from Quebec with conservative/centrist views, and even I would have voted for the motion. It’s a fact that Quebec did not sign it, it’s also a fact that Canada has never sincerely tried to bridge the gap to convince us to sign it.

    And I would agree that the Act is still not acceptable for Quebec. Proof? We still haven’t signed it.

    I’m not saying its a horrible Act. But we never agreed to it, and you clearly don’t care about that. Is that how you run your marriage?

  4. Just look up “night of the Long Knives”…Right or wrong, Quebecers of all political orientation feel they were betrayed by not only the federal government, but by the other premiers of the federation. This has influenced ALL political parties in Quebec since then.

    The issue for Quebec then ultimately is the power of the federal government, its freedoms, as well as its limitations. If you sir, are unaware of the dynamic between federal and provincial jurisdictions, especially when it comes to Quebec, then you have NO business writing about Canadian politics.

    OR.. So far Mulclair hasn’t stepped in it yet (he will) and the whole business of his dual citizenship doesn’t seem to be gaining traction….so you’re just going to throw this attention grabbing headline out there. Mostly, that’s fine, but a little less bombast couldn’t hurt, could it? You know, at least try to couch your rhetoric with some pretense of “serious dialogue’.

    Hey did you hear Dalton McGuinty eats kittens?

  5. @Pascal. It’s not that the ROC doesn’t understand Quebec’s culture, such as what’s left of it, it’s that Quebecers want to be considered special, as in better. That won’t happen. I’m French born and raised in Montreal, living I B.C. And I can tell you that when I visit Montreal, I am made to feel like a backwoods yahoo, just because I don’ live in “enlightened” and “sophisticated” Montreal, even though all I hear in restaurants and the Metro is joual and Americanized everything.

  6. Why would anyone celebrate a document that destroyed individual freedoms and gave us government mandated discrimination?, made the Supreme court more powerful than Parliament and stole our right to private property.
    I don’t celebrate socialist BS designed to divide the country by race, sex, origin, minority status and now sexual orientation.
    True freedoms treat everyone the same, they don’t discriminate and they don’t belong to groups, the are for every INDIVIDUAL.
    Burn the Charter for freedom.

  7. Hate the charter?

    If he does, it is his right

    He would not be alone – may have come to realize how the charter has screwed up Canada

  8. I’d like to hear Durward and “World Citizen” give examples of how bad the Charter has been. I don’t think either of you actually know what you’re talking about.

  9. BAh. This is just more political theatre. If the charter anniversary is soooo important, make it a stat holiday and celebrate the night of long knives every year. Riiiight.

  10. This article is happily ignorant of Quebec history. Anyone with at least some political knowledge of the two solitudes would know that reaffirming the above motion against the charter is the common sentiment of the electorate in Quebec.

  11. Thank goodness we have the charter, without it Harper and his band of neanderthals would have driven this country back into the dark ages overnight, at least the charter will slow them down hopefully long enough to get rid of them. Quebec was not betrayed by the way it was Rene Levesque who broke his word with the other 7 premiers and proceeded to play some victim theatre for the seperatistas. Poor little Quebec afraid to let go of Canada’s hand, and hand-outs.

  12. Quebec is NOT special Quebec is equal.That attitude has gotten their province in a hell of a mess.Corruption,radical students,becoming more of a have not province,Anarchists eg.black bloc.

  13. I enjoyed the comments so much more than the article. The comments were more enlightening, better written, and more accurate.

    If you don’t like the charter stop being so problem focused; come up with something better. If you don’t have a better solution then I guess our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, envied around the world, will have to do.

    Perhaps someday Canadians will all love, value and respect one another not despite our differences but because of them. Perhaps one day we will have politicians that won’t abuse their power when they have a majority of seats in the house of commons and our charter won’t be necessary. Until then I am happy to celebrate the existence of our charter, flawed as it is, unacceptable to Quebec as it is, and disliked as it is by virtually all political parties. Flaws notwithstanding, it is the document that makes us a nation that gets along, however reluctantly.

  14. Oh, by the way, I hope you up-date this article, Mr. Aitkin, with a quote from Mr. Mulcair that isn’t a decade old. His quote as official opposion leader, released today, as you well know, is different from the one you reference here from 2002.
    Could you not wait until today to get a quote from the actual anniversary? Or did you perhaps prefer to use an out of date quote that would be more controversial?
    And may I quote you by asking “did it take you all day to write that?”

  15. Canada was already one of the most overgoverned countries in the world, all the Charter did was add another layer.

    Mrs. Thatcher was dead on in her opposition to it. The baloney about Quebec being equal to the 9 other provinces denies Canadian history. The fact is English Canada imposed its charter on French Canada and now complains that French Canada still isn’t happy and won’t embrace what others think is good for it.

    History wil show that the imposition of the Charter was the most divisive political act in Canadian history and will one day come back to haunt it. Clearly, the Ottawa chatterin class, including the LPC, thinks it was the greatest day in our history, you are welcome to your illusions , but you won’t convince Quebec any day soon.

  16. We should build a firewall around Alberta. I still haven’t heard an apology for that serpartist remark.

  17. Look if you’re gonna commemorate April 17th 1982, you should be commemorating the legal and political signifigance of the entire Repatriation process and not just one element of the constitution (namely the Charter) which was merely created for that date. On April 17th 1982 Canada brought its constitution home and hence could ammend it from Ottawa, that is a point perhaps to celebrate. The Charter, the fact that it comes with an escape hatch the Notwistanding clause section 33 means that it was then as it is today a very contentious document, and not a point a great national joy.

    I get ancy about this “celebration of the Charter”, simply because I see this; progressives who have seen their social and philosophical agenda advanced through their use of the Charter and the fact that most judges agree with their views. That’s what they are REALLY celebrating. It surprises me why they are so hell bent on celebrating a constitutional process which didn’t get Quebec’s signature and which we’ve been trying to fix (Meech 1987) and (Charlettown 1992) without success ever since.

    If you’re the John Howard Society or Allan Young, (Terry Jean Beford’s lawyer and Canada’s asnwer to the ACLU in one man), you want April 17th to become a statutory holiday for adults and “Charter Education Day” for school children. For the rest of us, the law abiding, those of us whose lifestyles would not be deemed profane by even the most liberal of us, if you were an adult when the Charter really came into force (1985), you likely would not have realised its presence in your life since its inception.

  18. Just like Duceppe and the Bloc, Mulcair is now the necessary evil that Canadian politics will have to endure as the representative of Quebec’s “specificity”, at least until the next election. The new hero of all the usual whiners will tear his shirt in public to make sure nobody forgets how in his and their opinion, Quebec got screwed by Trudeau and the ROC on that infamous night.
    The fact of the matter is that 2 years earlier, a majority of Quebecers had said no to Levesque and his bunch of “elite intellectuals” with overinflated egos who were convinced they could make the voters believe in their fairy tale. Fifteen years later, the answer was the same.
    Ah CANADA! Can’t live with it, and can’t live without it!

  19. Mr. Akin you speculate and assume BUT if you truly want to know what Mr. Mulcair thinks or feels why don’t you bury your hatchet confront him and ask him face to face…It’s called “Intestinal Fortitude” So! I would suggest you and Palladeau’s crowd Stop the Blood letting and stop assuming write the truth and people will start to believe you are not on a witch hunt with bazzokas

  20. “We should build a firewall around Alberta. I still haven’t heard an apology for that serpartist remark.”

    Really Stephen??? Every province including Ontario has made some kind of disparaging remake towards other provinces or the federation at one point. Nobody however has held two referendums on whether or not to unilaterally leave the federation, or gone as far to distinguish themselves from the rest of the country. Quebec’s sepeartist efforts far exceed ANYTHING done elsewhere in Canada and you know it.

  21. David you are right on with your commits, lets build a wall around Quebec and let them go it alone without any handouts from Ottawa, the next time they vote to separate, lets go to Quebec and make sure that they get enough votes!

  22. If Quebec does not like the Charter “imposed” by the rest of Canada- then return the checks (cheques) that they receive from Ottawa-Niagara is wine country- but Quebec is also whine country.

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