Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Law, Legislation and Civil Liberty – BAD LAW - DANGEROUS LAW - UNJUST PROCESS

It is the case that in the practice of law, that the minutia tends to take us away from justice, the big picture. In Canada we have a circumstance in play that has the erosion of fundamental law occurring at an alarming rate. If you have a deep belief in common law and its fundamental tenets that are the foundation of our system, then you will share my concern with respect to this disturbing trend, a trend that has expediency trump due process. There are a number of examples of this trend throughout the system, no more glaring however, than the BC Mental Health Act. An act that has drifted away from fundamental law, and that was drafted and is now administered is a manner that flouts common law traditions and the charter. We need to be very wary of the “tribunalisation” of legal process, as it has been applied here a number of ills have emerged; not the least of which is the stagnation of statute absent exposure to court process and alterations due to its administration in the face of precedent effect. We need to ensure that people have the benefit of the “full due process” that courts provide. We need to protect evidentiary process. We need to ensure that the standard of review is commensurate with state sanction. We need clarity in law. We need the absence of arbitrariness. As the BC Mental health act is written and administered there is a litany of breaches and infringements on expected process, fundamental law and the charter. The BC Mental Health Act, as it is administered, counts evidence in a manner that would be analogous to Crown Counsel writing “guilty” on a piece of paper, handing to the judge, and having it accepted. I have prepared a summary of a case of an individual severally affected by the mis-application of the BC Mental Health Act, please take the time to review this case by clicking on the link below. I am sure you will find this act and its administration as concerning as I do.  

There has never been a better legal system than “common law”, it is fair, it is responsive and through the use of precedent a single “law” can evolve at a  measured pace. One can attribute common law’s fairness in large measure, I believe, to the fact that the people who devised the process knew they would never be subject to it. As common law is now applied, as directed by our charter, “universally”; we have certain protections and obligations. It is my assertion that the hard earned protections afforded us, years of tradition that has built the foundation of our system – or the bank of fundamentals that make our common law jurisdiction’s residents’ safe from intrusion by others or government – are all being seriously challenged by a complex of factors; the apathy of the people to long accustom to legal fundamentals of freedom being in place, legislation greatly influenced by “special interests” that are in effect radicalized to the point of lobbing to weaken the fundamentals of freedom, technology in the hands of government and other actors that circumvent traditional legal and societal protocols. There has been an insidious slide backward to state authority gaining greater and greater influence over the full continuum of human existence, we are all complicit in this, we need to be more diligent in arresting further state intrusion into the citizenry's private lives by ensuring the fundamentals of freedom; presumption of innocence, habitus corpus, protection against arbitrariness, overreaching legislation, charter protections, property rights etc. are upheld – the law must be administered off the foundation of first principles, as opposed to contemporary concerns and nouveau tangents.

A most glaring example of this is the British Columbia Mental Health Act. (BCMHA), where lobbing has effected a circumstance that has the interests of a few, very few, overridding the fundamental rights of the entire population. Through the experiences of a friend, I have witnessed a travesty of justice – where the most draconian measures available in Canadian society, incarceration, were utilized inappropriately and on the judgment of what amounts to a single individual. This is a terrifying piece of legislation because it attacks the fundamental rights and freedoms of the entire population, and worse, discriminates against people at the mere accusation of mental infirmity (oft times accusations by lay people) and then discriminates by the mechanics of the systems as it disempowers the accused to a greater extent the  more they object. These types of legislations the world over have been the favoured tool of oppressors, as they both incarcerate and discredit in one fowl swoop; Soviet Russia, China, jurisdictions in the United States and Europe have seen abuse of these types of statues, we need now to work to see that in Canada, that statutes of this nature are brought into accord with fundamental justice and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In Canada we are in a trend of lessening liberty as opposed to increasing liberty, I intend, with the BCMHA as a lens, to enlighten those who are interested how our liberty is being eroded, how institutional inertia is taking the law further away from base principles and how easy it is for legislation to be misapplied and power abused. The BCMHA was conceived and promoted by people injured by what can be a ravaging experience, they have my empathy, however; in the creation and administration of the law a sober mind is required, and as much attention needs to be given to a law’s misuse as it’s intended use. The only way to ensure law is properly directed, is to build it on base principles which have at their core the protection of the individual against misapplied state power and or the actions of others.  It is a most grievous circumstance, that in Canada, we have legislation in place that both endangers the general populous, and both, arrests the rights of ill and discriminates against the ill.



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