Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Edgar Schmidt Case Is Scarier Than You Thought

Edgar Schmidt is the government lawyer who revealed this week that his department has been told not to inform the government or opposition MPs when upcoming legislation is likely to fail subsequent legal scrutiny.  Such has been the policy since 1993.  Dennis Gruending tells the story in greater detail than the Globe piece, and he's not behind some stupid pay-wall:

The basis of Schmidt’s case is as follows: The Justice Department is required by law to “pre-examine” new laws and regulations to ensure that they conform to the Charter and Bill of Rights, which exist to protect the fundamental freedoms and rights of citizens. Schmidt says that, in practice, the department has since at least 1993 had its lawyers apply only a flawed and minimal screening test. It does not identify and report on legislation that the department itself considers almost certainly to be illegal and unconstitutional.

In other words the department rarely, if ever, warns the Justice Minister about a bill that is likely to offend the Charter of Rights. Nor does the minister inform Members of Parliament of such a possibility before they vote on new legislation. In his statement of claim, Schmidt says that the department would not warn the minister even if it found there to be a 95 per cent chance that legislation does not comply with the Charter and Bill of Rights.

And, by the way, for taking this matter to court, Schmidt has been suspended without pay.

Oh, and speaking of jack-booted thuggery, you ever hear of  Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada?

In 2007, Blackstock filed a human rights complaint accusing the federal government of willfully underfunding child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves.

The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network later used Access to Information requests to discover that the government sent its employees to listen in on between 75 and 100 meetings at which Blackstock was a participant. They monitored her every word and reported back to their bosses at Indian and Northern Affairs.

Government employees in that department and in the Justice Department also monitored Blackstock’s Facebook page, both during and after working hours. Her Status Indian file was accessed along with its personal information, including data on her family. Blackstock has responded by launching a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is scheduled to be heard in February 2013.

The government has been following this lady, and not in the cute twitter sense either, and all because she wants to close a funding gap between native and non-native child welfare services.


susansmith said...

Schmidt also said that this began in 1993. Now that was revealing in itself.

bigcitylib said...

Both Libs and Tories. Yup.

ij said...

The word Stasi comes to mind.

ij said...

... regarding Cindy Blackstock, while Edgar Schmidt comes across as a man with a conscience, esp. in his interview on As It Happens.