Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government announced Tuesday that it is reviving and expanding the controversial Court Challenges Program (CCP), which uses taxpayer dollars to fund groups who want to change existing laws by re-writing the Canadian Charter of Rights.
The previous Conservative government scrapped the program, which has been called “one of the most corrupt, discriminatory and biased programs developed in Canada.”
Critics said it only considered and approved liberal challenges and that it produced frivolous rights claims that tied up the court system.
According to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, legislation can have “unforeseen impacts” on rights and that’s why the government needs to provide the initial funding of $5 million a year to allow people to challenge that legislation. Fully $1 million of that will be spent on “administration” alone.
“Protecting against these unintended consequences and ensuring that more vulnerable groups within society have the means to challenge the legislation under the Constitution and under the Official Languages Act is the right thing for a government to do,” Wilson-Raybould said.
The expanded program offers a smorgasbord of charter challenges including those based on freedom of religion, expression, association and assembly; democratic rights; and the right to life, liberty and security of the person, to as well as previous sections covering equality and official language rights. It will also induce more challenges to the Official Languages Act, which usually involves enforcing official bilingualism in areas of the country where only one language is commonly spoken.
But because the The Liberal government will select the members who sit on the two “expert” panels — one assessing language rights and the other human rights — critics say the the only litigants who ever receive any funding are those who share the Liberal agenda.
Gwen Landolt, legal counsel and vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, told The Daily Caller, “Justin Trudeau has proven himself adept at getting his buddies and so-called experts appointed to various boards but the only thing they are experts at is being left-wing extremists,” she said.
“The Court Challenges Program has been a nightmare and nothing but a slush-fund for those who want to avoid parliamentary debate by getting the courts to change social values,” she said Wednesday.
“The practical effect of the CCP was that the equality rights were undermined by the program and it became one of the most corrupt, discriminatory and biased programs developed in Canada,” wrote Landolt, in response to the decision.
“Although funded by the taxpayer, the program was not accountable to the public, did not report to Parliament, and was not subject to the Access to Information Act. The program by its biased practices was an embarrassment in that it betrayed human rights and democracy.”
Landolt says government has never bothered to define who the “disadvantaged” groups are that the program aims to assist. “This omission became the basis of many of the problems with the CCP as it defined these expressions in a ideological basis, which denied access to justice to groups that did not share the ideology of those managing the program,” she says.
The previous Court Challenges Program is notorious for initiating the first challenge to the traditional definition of marriage, eventually triggering a Supreme Court of Canada decision in favor of same-sex marriage that ultimately forced Parliament to change the law.