Charter Values, Charter Rights

From my latest op-ed on iPolitics:

I take the position that the Supreme Court’s decisions [in the TWU law school case] were themselves unreasonable and are a harbinger for serious disputes to come.

First, until this decision, the law societies had no statutory authority to investigate the admissions policies of law schools. Their role was to ascertain whether graduates will be competent to practice law. No one has contested the academic calibre of TWU’s program, with its innovative focus on practical training, charity law, and justice for the marginalized and impoverished.

Despite this, the Court majority claimed that the law societies were operating in the “public interest” and were therefore entitled to go beyond their mandate to promote the “Charter value” of “equality”. According to the Court, such “values” are now “accepted principles of constitutional interpretation.”

This is a worrying development. Here’s why. Charter “values” are subjective. As dissenting justices Côté and Brown observe, Charter values are “entirely the product of the idiosyncrasies of the judicial mind that pronounces them to be so.” One judge may have a different set of values than another and they may or may not be shared by all Canadians.

Read the rest of the article in the Weekender, here.

For a more in-depth discussion of these points, watch my latest Intersection Video.

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