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

Crash on Haney bypass in Maple Ridge

Vehicle plunges down embankment

New rail underpass and overpass comes with costs

Pitt Meadows residents will see 0.75 per cent tax increase for rail crossings

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, vehicle crashes

Happened in early evening, injuries unknown

Court supports Maple Ridge role in tent city

Rejects Pivot application to allow people to return

City video updates Maple Ridge Leisure Centre re-do

Rusty support columns delaying project by a few months

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Missing Greater Victoria man last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Jonah Donato, 40, travelled to the mainland in June

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Most Read