Monday, December 19, 2005

Two tier democracy

Paul Martin says we must have higher expectations of our PM than we do of our MPs. The Prime Minister must not contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- but individual MPs are welcome to their own 'vision'.

It's funny, but he didn't think all of his MPs were entitled to their own 'vision' when he imposed his vision on Cabinet Ministers and made them vote with him on same-sex marriage under threat of expulsion.

That the same-sex marriage issue has exposed the 'bigoted', 'ignorant', 'regressive' opinions of individual MPs who represent the Liberal Party, doesn't phase Mr. Martin. Their rejection of the 'Charter' is not a worry to him because only HE is obligated to uphold the Charter -- but then, if Mr. Martin accepts candidates who believe that certain Canadians are not entitled to Charter protection -- is he really defending the Charter? It would appear that in his rush to vilify Mr. Harper, Mr. Martin has illuminated the dark secret of the Liberal Party -- some Canadians who are represented by Liberals, are represented by people who would not stand up for their 'Charter rights.'

From the Toronto Star:

Last spring, 34 Liberal MPs voted for a Conservative motion that would have halted Liberal legislation to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Martin brushed aside the apparent contradiction, saying, "The issue is not what does an individual MP say — an individual MP is entitled to his or her vision. "The issue is what is the role and responsibility of the prime minister of the country. And the role of the prime minister of the country is to support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it is not in any way, shape or form to call the Charter into doubt, that's the fundamental difference."

The inconsistency of his position seems to be lost on Martin. Apparently, he doesn't understand that in this twisted view of the world, he would actually be 'defending the Charter' from his own MPs. And if these men and women are against fundamental Charter rights for a segment of the population -- then how does he justify allowing them to serve under his party's banner?

Could it be that Martin knows in his heart that the issue of same-sex marriage -- far from being a Charter issue -- is actually a legislative issue. His assertion that same-sex marriage is a Charter right goes out the window with his acceptance of any members of his caucus voting against it. A right is a right, and if Martin truly believed that gay marriage was a 'right' he couldn't allow dissent on the issue.

Martin has proved this weekend that he doesn't even believe what he says on the same-sex issue, but it provides him with the ammunition to call Stephen Harper all sorts of names: 'unfit' 'regressive' and to spout off about 'rights' as though if it weren't for Liberals, Canadians would have none at all.

Charter rights, are 'human rights' and cannot be a matter of opinion. They can't by opted out of by churches on the basis of religious freedom, they can't be opted out of by MPs on the basis of freedom of conscience. Charter rights are rights about which there can be no choice. The either exist or they don't -- an individual's 'vision' doesn't come into it.

Mr. Martin has proved he knows this -- and yet he still wields his sword of disingenuous piety. Martin is a man without principles. His stand on this issue stretches credulity -- and yet he had the effrontery to suggest Stephen Harper was unfit for the PMO.

Martin's views are offensive to those on both sides of the issue and his lack of a core belief system is scary when put in conjunction with the enormous amount of power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office.



The Truth Hurts said...

I'm not pro-Liberal per se, in fact in my latest blog I outline an analysis that shows the wheels to the Liberal campaign may be coming off. However, I think it makes perfect sense for Martin to have bound his Cabinet members on this vote. In Parliamentary tradition when a member of Cabinet brings forth legislation all members of the Cabinet are required to support it. In essence, the Cabinet acts as one on its own proposals.

Mark said...


Agree with you wholeheartedly, as usual.

The trouble IMO is that Harper hasn't laid out your rationale in any sort of public way. I believe regular Joe Canadian would understand the hypocrisy if Harper argued as you have, but for whatever reason his rebuttals to Paul Martin's empty rhetoric do not come out a clear.

The public senses something is wrong with Paul Martin's "Captain Canada" facade but can't place a finger on it. It's time Harper did... and perhaps with some emotion to boot.

Shane said...

I find it funny that Mr. Martin wants to make the PMO into an "executive" branch of government akin to the Presidency in the USA. The Prime Minister position by its nature is that of the leader of a group of equals. They should all have the same expectations and be bound by the same rules. The leader of such should not SET policy but REFLECT the policy of the members he leads.

Of course, if Martin got his wish and became a Canadian "president" then... he would be "Americanizing" Canada... and heaven knows we don't want that...

Canadi-anna said...

the truth hurts -- If Martin believes that SSM is a charter right, it was his obligation to insist that all of his members vote with the government. You can't cherry-pick rights. If it's a right, why did he allow ANYONE to vote against the Charter rights of his fellow Canadians.
Rights are an all or nothing deal. They exist or they don't. He can't say that they exist, but it's okay that some Liberal MPs don't think so. That's hypocritical. If he is going to defend the charter from the 'ignorance' of Conservatives who voted against, he first has to make sure his own house is clean.
All he has done is prove that he does not believe same-sex marriage is a right.

bob said...

C, I would submit that conscience matters only when you have one. It is painfully obvious that Mr Martin Jr does not.
Merry Christmas!

valiantmauz said...

I have to agree with you on this one, Canadianna. One problem I've had with the Libs on this issue was their lukewarm Charter argument - as in we have to do it because the Charter says so, cherry-picking rights ... blah blah blah.

A man with balls would stand up and say we're going to do this because we believe it is the right thing to do. Right in the sense of moral and fair, and not simply because "the judges made us do it" or "the Charter made us do it". We're going to put it in our platform, get candidates who believe in the platform, and we're go to do it properly.

This half-assed whipped Cabinet, conscience for everybody else business is ridiculous. You are right: if it is a Charter issue, then the Liberals should have done as the NDP did and demanded across-the-board support for the bill.

Which would of course have given Stephen Harper even more traction for his free-vote argument.

At bottom, I think Martin's problem is simply that he does not really believe what he is saying. I don't think he believes same-sex marriage is a right, or even that it is right. I think he got saddled with a terribly contentious issue by Jean Chretien (who must be snickering up his sleeve right about now) - and you know what? He deserves it for his blatant back-stabbing manipulation of himself into the PMO's office.

I hate seeing something of such fundamental importance to me being politcally exploited.

Brian Lemon said...

Remember when Martin said his conscience told him that SSM was probably wrong but he had to defend the rights of the minority as PM.

I think it was Steyn who said that Martin believes that a conscience is a good thing to have but a bad thing to use.

Matthew said...

"A man with balls would stand up and say we're going to do this because we believe it is the right thing to do. "

I think this pretty much sums up why Section 33 is in the Charter. Of course, the Liberals would have you believe that that section, and thus the Constitution, is unconstitutional!


Debris Trail said...

Careful Canadianna; you are almost characterizing Martin as a sociopath who will say anything and do anything for power. Careful there, you may be onto something.

Justthinkin said...

Well said Canadianna...hope you forward this to Harper's war room. God knows they need some help. Or are they just saving everything up until the real shit starts after the New Year?

Merry Christmas

Nicol DuMoulin said...

A wonderful post.

Martin's increasing hypocrisy is frightening. It is one thing to have a leader you disagree with but know where they stand, Martin is the worst type of leader; a demogogue only interested in power for powers sake.

Civitatensis said...

Meery Xmas to you and your family.

Tim said...