What’s going on in Canada is ugly. But it’s also a reminder of the fundamental difference between our Constitution and other western documents which do not provide absolute rights.
In an op-ed for the CBC titled, “The Ottawa truck convoy has revealed the ugly side of freedom”, Beverley McLachlin, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and former Chief Justice, writes that “Freedom is not absolute. We live in a social matrix, where one person’s exercise of freedom may conflict with another person’s exercise of freedom. Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states this plainly. The Charter gives Canadians a bundle of rights and freedoms. But it prefaces them with this caution – these rights and freedoms, precious as they are, are not absolute. Governments, it proclaims, can limit freedoms, provided the limits are “reasonable” and can be “justified in a free and democratic society.”
Who sets the limits on our freedoms?
“In the first instance, it is our governments – our duly elected representatives in Parliament, and the executive branch that has the responsibility to maintain “peace, order and good government,” to quote the Constitution, for the good of all. Our governments must draw the difficult lines that mark the limits of freedom in a particular situation.”
And that’s widely true of most non-American constitutions which offer freedom of speech and of the press, the right to protest and petition the government, within the limits set by the government.
What Trudeau is doing is a direct result of that worldview in which rights come from the government and are therefore constrained by the government.
That’s the fundamental difference between the American constitutional framework, in which rights come from God, and that of most systems where rights come from government.
It’s also the difference between conservatives and the Left in America.
We can see in Canada what their understanding of civil rights leads to.