by Brian Peckford
June 7, 2022
Last fall I indicated that all the Premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada had a mechanism at their disposal to test the Constitutionality of their harsh Covid measures. It is called the reference procedure. After all, it was these leaders who were assuring the public that all the measures they were enacting were legal , were constitutional.
So I wrote the 10 Premiers and the Prime Minister asking if they would refer their measures to their highest court ( as is provided in existing legislation) to ask if their measures were indeed constitutional.
Well, wouldn’t you know not one Premier or the Prime Minister agreed to follow this procedure. Most never even answered and when they did it was a perfunctory , electronic acknowledgement.
Except one . My native Province , Newfoundland and Labrador. The Government, through their Minister of Justice of that Province, informed me that their answer was they could not give me an answer.. Their reason for the non answer was because of the client/lawyer relationship. You know the Minister of Justice being the lawyer of the Ministry of Health . Here is a part of that reply dated October 14, 2021 :
‘As you can appreciate, given your correspondence relates to the constitutionality of measures undertaken by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2/COVID-19 pandemic, we are not in a position to offer any specific response, as advice provided by the Department of Justice and Public Safety to client departments on these matters is subject to solicitor-client privilege and is therefore confidential.’
So on this inquiry of mine no Premier or the Prime Minister was the least bit concerned about the constitutionality of their measures . They had all the answers and hence there was no need to test what they were doing. Or they were afraid to test their measures .
Well, fast forward a few months to April 2022 .
I initiated another question to all 14 First Ministers , including now the first ministers of the three territories. This question was whether they would support an independent National Inquiry to determine whether the pandemic measures were necessary and constitutional. That it would involve qualified people outside the Government.
One again the silence was deafening . All answers received , about half of the First Ministers responded with just an electronic acknowledgement .
Except one. This time the Government of New Brunswick. Their answer was that they were doing their own review through the Auditor General. That is, an officer of the Legislature would review the actions of the Government and the Legislature. The legislators examining themselves. Here is part of that response dated May 6, 2022.
‘To That end , the Auditor General of New Brunswick will conduct a review of the province’s management of the CVID-19 during the pandemic and will report its findings to the Legislative Assembly. I am sure you will agree that this is the most appropriate course of action that any government may take in these circumstances.’
This represents starkly the state of our democracy .
Most Governments don’t even respond to an important question of public policy and the ones that do , it is an electronic reply . So much for accountability !
And the two leaders that did respond in any detail , one invokes a client lawyer relationship to deny the public Government’s reasoning for not testing the constitutionality of a Government measure , and the other to have an officer of the Legislature examine its own actions, not to mention the lack of expertise of the Auditor General on constitutional and medical matters .
The idea of a National Inquiry led by independent citizens takes on added credibility and necessity when one examines this evidence.
To think that Governments , now so far into a false narrative , will suddenly see the error of their ways , is refuted by these experiences of mine.
Please Cry For Me —-Oh Canada !
The Honourable Brian Peckford
Only Living First Minister Who Helped Craft The Constitution Act /Charter of Rights and Freedoms