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Wednesday, July 28, 1999

Lamer replies (and other letters to the editor)

Antonio Lamer
Letter to the Editor
National Post

Re: Who Runs Canada? July 24.

It is not my practice to send letters to the editor. However, I must respond to Neil Seeman's article, which, among numerous other errors, attributes to me comments I never made.

Mr. Seeman says I "criticized Parliament for failing to step up to the plate and pass laws on topics such as abortion and assisted suicide." The article also says: "Jean Chretien has backed away from controversy by handing hot issues to the Supreme Court, says Antonio Lamer."

Presumably, since I never spoke to Mr. Seeman, his source for these quotes is likely an interview I gave to Janice Tibbetts of Southam News which was published in the National Post on July 12. In that interview, I stated: "It's not for me to criticize legislators, but if they choose not to legislate, that's their doing. If they prefer to leave it up to the court, that's their choice."

To repeat, I do not criticize legislators for making choices about the areas in which they wish to pass laws. That is their prerogative.

The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada, Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa.

Neil Seeman's article on the expropriation of power by the courts was right on the money and long overdue. Who can observe this disgraceful and unwarranted trespass into the realm of parliamentary authority without anger and alarm?

A historical note might be of interest to everyone concerned, particularly Chief Justice Antonio Lamer. In the British tradition, to which Canada adheres, this issue was last disputed during the English civil war, when the Cromwellians proposed a constitution that vested final authority in a high court. Parliament quite understandably disagreed, and in the end prevailed. The impertinent jurists were convicted of treason and had their heads chopped off, and the question has not been raised since! Alas, such effective measures have now fallen out of use.

Still, the press would do very well to keep this matter alive and in the public consciousness, so that these arrogant oligarchs might be reminded that not everyone is indifferent to their usurpation, and that one day they may be called to account.

Michel Murray, Sidney, B.C.

Copyright Southam Inc.