Letter: MP Albas should learn ins and outs of Parliament

To the editor:

In a recent report to constituents, Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla Dan Albas argues that Parliament (comprised of the Governor General for The Queen, the House of Commons and the Senate) are the supreme power in Canadian democracy and that “unelected judges” have no business in running the democratic process.

Mr. Albas is a novice MP with no known background in law or federal politics, other than having been on the Penticton city council for a few years.

Mr. Albas, by now, should have understood that Canadian democracy consists of three equally important branches—legislative (Parliament), executive (government), and judicial. While Parliament is well within its right to pass legislation, its role is also to oversee and provide a balance to the executive.

At present, there is very little such balance since Parliament seems to have been turned into a body which is subservient to the government by virtue of holding a majority.

A former Alberta Conservative MP, Brent Rathgeber, has termed the government members as “trained seals”, i.e. they take their orders from the executive branch.

The Senate, once envisioned as the house of “sober second thought” has also been stacked with unquestioning unelected supporters of the government, as well as members who seem to have behaved in a very questionable manner.

Mr. Albas correctly insinuates that Parliament can, as it does, pass legislation—the House can even override a veto by the Senate.

However, legislation from Parliament cannot override the Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—these were not just pieces of legislation, rather they are the fundamental law.

Following Mr. Albas’s line of thinking, Parliament could introduce the death penalty, make torture a legal instrument, remove the right to vote from women or minorities, etc. Such legislation would be disallowed in a court challenge by “unelected judges.”

One wonders which country Mr. Albas is thinking of—Canada has no elected judges.

The government might be well advised to investigate conformance with the Constitution and Charter of any piece of legislation it considers passing. Otherwise it will have to continue spending taxpayers’ money on appeals to court rulings that went against it.

Harri Henschler

West Kelowna


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