Politics may increasingly override the rights of Canadians, warns law professor
Benjamin Berger is concerned that a special clause in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms may be used in unjustified ways, to the detriment of the country.
"What worries me is that it reflects a different view of what democracy entails … a view of democracy that is decoupled from rights," Berger, a constitutional scholar, told The Sunday Edition's host Michael Enright.
The notwithstanding clause — also known as Section 33 — allows politicians to pass laws that override the rights of Canadians. It has been used rarely since the Charter became law in 1982.
However, the premiers of the country's two most populous provinces — Doug Ford in Ontario and François Legault in Quebec — have said they are fully prepared to invoke the notwithstanding clause whenever they please.
Berger calls for more sober reflection before the notwithstanding clause is invoked. He is concerned that Section 33 is being invoked in illegitimate ways, that could be to the detriment to the country.
"There is, I think, a phenomenon at play in Canada – we see it elsewhere in the world – are we seeing it a little bit in Canada?" he said.
Click 'listen' above to hear the interview.
Note: This post has been edited to clarify that Professor Berger believes Section 33's possible illegitimate or unjustified use could be harmful to the country - not the sheer number of times that it may be invoked.