Letters: Update Canadian Charter

What can we do to better state our values and protect them, and perhaps avoid the problems we see in Europe?

Editor, The News:

Recently, a woman demanded  that  she take the oath of Canadian citizenship while wearing a niqab, a symbol of the subjugation of women as mandated by Islamic theology.

There was an immediate reaction, both pro and con.

To his credit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper voiced his alarm at this prospect.  Alarm  is warranted. The difficulties many European countries are experiencing today are a result of the inclusion of cultures holding values inimical to those of the host society.

What can we do to better state our values and protect them, and perhaps avoid  the problems we see in Europe?

Well, there is a precedent to the south of us.

Two and a half centuries ago, the United States of America got it right. They established the first  secular republic.  They were able to do this because The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were forged in a perfect storm of European enlightenment,  philosophical and political progress, with the influence of such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and John Locke.

Carefully they crafted documents which allowed no influence by religion on any level.

The preamble to the Constitution identifies the power driving the new society as, “We the People.”

The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Just in case you didn’t get the point by now,  Article 6 of the Constitution states that: “ … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust.”

It was, is,  a remarkable document.

Fast forward two centuries, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes no such brilliance.

To be remarkable,  a  document  must go where others have not. It  must advance the cause of human rights beyond  what exists at the time. The Magna Carta did that. It was remarkable. The Constitution of the United States was a document like no other. It extended and refined the surge of enlightenment values and left monarchy and religion behind.  It remains remarkable.

The Canadian Charter, not so much. The problem starts with the preamble.  It states: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

Two centuries after the first amendment to the constitution, we include superstition in our charter. And why did we do that? Because some aggressive  religious  types demanded it, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau gave in to them to gain their agreement to the document,  in general. To his credit, Trudeau was heard to grumble that, “ I don’t think that God gives a damn whether he is in the constitution or not”.

The rest of the Charter is basically a copy of what others have done before.  It is OK. It advances nothing, and , with respect to the preamble, it is retrogressive.

It is time to clean it up.  We can make a statement to the world and pay  belated homage to those who carried the heavy loads before us  by  removing  a couple of words from the preamble.

Will Kolenchuk

Maple Ridge


Just Posted

Marauders to play in championship Saturday

Pitt Meadows hosting senior boys basketball tournament

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows part of speculation and vacancy tax

Watch the mail, fill out the form, or you’ll be taxed

Another Burrard wins a field lacrosse scholarship

Cooke playing for Newbury Wolves in South Carolina

Bella is tops for Maple Ridge dogs

City’s website offers pet trivia

Maple Ridge urged to help cannabis business grow

Big dollars in processing pot, says advocate

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Most Read