Legal Challenges to LegislationPublished on 16 September 2014 Your Question Period by Senator James Cowan (retired)
Please press play to listen to the audio of this question. Please note that the audio is provided in the language in which the senators spoke. Senators may speak either official language in the Senate Chamber. For the full text of the translated exchange please click here.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It’s one of a series of questions we’ve received in response to our invitation to Canadians to ask questions on their behalf. We continue to provide the opportunity for Canadians to do so.
Today my question was received from Mr. Evan Brazeau of Toronto, Ontario. His question is this:
Since gaining a majority in 2011 and pursuing its tough- on-crime agenda, the Conservative Government has been stymied time and time again by the courts. Never before have judicial challenges been so commonplace. It is clear Prime Minister Harper sees these well-regarded institutions as mere obstacles in his path.
The latest defeat came at the hands of Ontario’s top court. Provisions in the Truth in Sentencing Act that limit pretrial sentencing credit were struck down. The Appeal Court was quite clear in its ruling: “Like many attempts to replace the scalpel of discretion with a broadsword, its application misses the mark and results in unfairness, discrimination and ultimately unjust sentences.”
Perhaps these rulings are a reflection of the Government’s tendency to rush bills through Parliament in the absence of careful consideration. Instead of being encouraged, debate is often shut down. Rational amendments from opposition members are continually rejected. Simply put, this protocol is contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy.
No party should let their ideology undermine what’s best for its citizens. So I —
— and this is Mr. Brazeau —
— ask of you: When will this government begin to work alongside other Parliamentarians instead of against them?