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Marie-Andrée Chouinard July 21, 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/355066/loi-78-dur-camouflet
Now that we know that the guardian of rights and freedoms in Québec judges bill 78 to be incompatible with the Charter, it would take a lot of gall to apply it without a tribunal having really come to a decision on its legitimacy.
This is a moral maxim, nothing more, but it has an unusual weight. The Commission on human rights and youth rights, the government’s expert in matters of rights and freedoms, verified the conformity of the special bill 78 (become law 12) with fundamental liberties. Its verdict is final: for the objective of returning to class aimed for by the legislation, not only are the means used disproportionately, but they don’t respect the charters.
Nothing obliges the Charest government to follow this independent organization’s good advice – ah! Independence! A very dear virtue nowadays. So it is in effect before a tribunal where the law is contested that the battle will come to an end with a verdict in due form, without moral color. But all this won’t take place before next year. Between now and then, classes will restart. An election will be called.
While waiting for judgment, it would be insupportable and odious for the government, in complete contradiction of the Commission’s opinion, to apply law 12 as if it didn’t carry the vices it is accused of, to flout the freedoms of conscience, of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association guaranteed by the Charter.
As soon as the special law was put in place, postponing until mid-august the end of a session disrupted by a strike movement without precedent, the denunciations of its abusive character erupted from all over. Except from Coalition avenir Québec, which is now in the awkward position of promising “adjustments” that will be imposed, this law has been vilified.
The casseroles rang out in rejection of such legislation, their song rising precisely in reaction to the truncheon law, excessive means for its aim. The Commission, which said it had an unhealthy impression at the time of the bill’s publication, confirms the unacceptable usage of arbitrariness through the supported analysis. The popular sentiment, welcomed by the government with cold indifference, was valid.
Law 12, which premier Charest again on Thursday, has been associating plain and simple with a way to protect the “right to education”, uses heavy artillery where there is no need to. Its sanctions are too severe. Its imprecise character enlarges the scope of its action, contrary to a law’s claims, of which clarity is required in order to be in a position to respect it.
It has made a lot of ink flow, this detestable law, but, as of today, it still hasn’t been applied. A sign of the legislator’s hesitancy before its own law? A strategy adopted to have a striking effect later? Let’s hope that we will never need to find out the answer. Let’s allow the tribunals to judge its conformity, which seems very doubtful, and while we wait, let it remain an empty shell.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.