Police vs. Government
Governments don’t always respect their mandate. They don’t always follow the rules. Police, in some instances, also break the law. Who keeps these powerful groups accountable to the laws and to the Charter? Theoretically, the courts. But how?
Maybe you have heard someone say that the government (or the police) should not be able to do one thing or another, or maybe you have said something like this yourself. Is that an expression of rebellion? Not necessarily. Canada’s federal and provincial governments, as well as police forces, do have boundaries and laws that they must abide by, and citizens have the right—and sometimes the responsibility—to remind them of those boundaries. We are all equally under the law and must obey the laws. Questioning—especially in a court of law—whether our laws have been followed is part of Canada’s governance system. This is a “check and balance” to the powers held by our governments and police forces.
Two recent stories have the potential to pit the actions of a government against a police force, and vice-versa. One involves the federal government and the RCMP, and the other, a group of police officers from Ontario in a case against the Government of Ontario.
The issue at stake in the first story is the (theoretical) conflict between the Federal Government and the RCMP regarding the now-abandoned Long-Gun Registry. A recent case has caused evidence to come to light that: “…the RCMP had kept a copy of the gun registry despite Parliament ordering it destroyed in 2012. The long-gun registry was brought into being in 1995 with Bill C-68 but was done away with after the passage of Bill C-19 in 2012,” reports Brian Lilley. Unfortunately, there is no case before the courts yet to deal with the apparent failure of the RCMP to follow the orders of Canada’s Parliament. This is important because oversight of the RCMP falls to Parliament; thus, if they did not obey Parliament, the RCMP broke the law. It is doubtful that the current Parliament will press the issue as the government is currently working towards passing more stringent gun control laws.
But the possibility of investigating and bringing the RCMP to court for what appears to be failure to comply with Parliament should be pursued. This leads to the second story. There are a few lawyers in Canada who have taken on unusual cases like this, and Rocco Galati is one of them. He has launched an unusual case for police officers who are taking the Ontario Government (and others) to court for what they perceive as illegal orders given to the police by the Provincial Government.
“A group of 19 Ontario police officers has launched a constitutional challenge against the provincial and federal governments and several police chiefs, claiming that enforcing sweeping pandemic health restrictions puts them at odds with their oath to uphold the charter. Fifteen active and four retired members of law enforcement agencies—including the Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service and the RCMP—are behind the civil action. It was filed in the Superior Court of Justice against the premier, the attorneys general of Canada and Ontario, as well as five police chiefs.”
Cases like this are important as they test the actions of governments (and police chiefs) in a court of law; if this case comes to trial, it will allow the police officers to remind those who were giving them orders that their oath to uphold the Constitution (including the Charter) is a primary obligation on them. Other orders must not contradict this oath. Police officers are not there to carry out just any whim or order that the government or their chiefs might command. Our Constitution guarantees the “rights and freedoms in the Charter as the supreme law of the nation.”
The Charter must not be violated by police officers against citizens on orders from the Government, which is the principle that will be tested if this case comes to trial.
What we have to remember is that while the Charter exists to protect citizens from the power of the government, it is just a bunch of words, unable to enforce itself or remind governments of its existence. It needs to be brought to bear on Governments when they neglect to follow it, or breach it purposefully with reasons that they believe are justified. General elections are one way that this happens if the citizens stop voting for a government that is abusing its power, but it can also be accomplished through court cases against the government. That is an aspect of our system of courts and laws that we should be thankful for. Often these cases are not for the greater good, but the avenue of the courts is still very important in the struggle to defend the freedoms of citizens—and duties of police officers—from the overreach of governments.
Of course, it would be better if our elected governments would respect the God-given freedoms of everyone without needing to be reminded of the limits of their authority, but in this corrupt world, we need to have checks and balances such as the courts. Elections are another way to keep our governments accountable, and CHP is a vehicle that can help. Votes for CHP show our MPs that some Canadians prioritize life, family, and freedom—and government founded on Christian principles.
CHP recognizes that Canada’s Charter is based on this important but oft-ignored premise: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law . . .” Canadians from all walks of life need to be reminded of both of these principles. Your involvement in CHP can help to make that happen.
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Other Commentary by Peter Vogel:
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- Police contre gouvernement
- Police vs. Government
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