Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 14, 2018
Why would Trudeau leave it to Mulroney to defend the Charter of Rights?
When one Canadian province decides to opt out of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you expect prime ministers to speak out strongly.
But it probably tells us something that the most spirited words against the use of the “notwithstanding” clause this week have come from a former prime minister, not the current one.
It was Brian Mulroney who came out swinging on Tuesday against the idea of provinces sidestepping the Charter — “how the hell did this thing get in our Constitution?” — while the current prime minister seemed to be trying to say as little as possible.
While Justin Trudeau can be hard line about people adhering to the Charter of Rights when it comes to summer-job applications or candidacy for the Liberal party, it took the prime minister more than a day after Premier Doug Ford’s staggering announcement on Monday to say anything publicly. And when Trudeau did speak on Tuesday, he chose a relatively mild adjective: “disappointing.”
Mulroney, on the other hand, seems to feel fewer constraints, despite a potentially awkward family conflict.
In a free-wheeling conversation at the National Library and Archives on Tuesday, Mulroney made abundantly clear that he has never been a fan of this opt-out provision in the Charter — and he’s no more fond of it now that it’s being used in a province where his own daughter, Caroline Mulroney, is the attorney-general.