Friday, June 01, 2012

Why we need to pray for, and about, the Supreme Court of Canada

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on Oct 1 2011] I like to give credit where credit is due and today, Faytene Grasseschi may be pleasantly surprised to realize that it is her turn. I haven't changed all my views, mind you, but I'd like to credit the former Faytene Kryskow for her apparent prescience in one matter, where she may have been "ahead of the curve." What brings this to mind is the Supreme ruling about the Vancouver "safe injection" site, Insite, yesterday. Bene D was right on it with his insightful post yesterday. The judges ruled that even though the Conservative government is ideologically opposed to allowing a place where drugs can be safely injected without legal harrassment, they have to allow Insite to exist. Bene D, judging by his post, is pleased with the decision. But the decision could only be made because there were judges on the court who wanted to rule that way, and that is where Faytene's insight comes in, in a backhanded way that she would not expect. Faytene Grasseschi, in her summer 2011 newsletter called for an interesting item of prayer. Do keep in mind that she addresses the issue from her own perspective: She wrote: Moreover, with the shift of Canada’s government into a majority scenario we have before us a window of opportunity both domestic & abroad. At home (in Canada) we have a window of time to see more amazing legislation brought forth on things like human trafficking, first nation’s justice issues, protecting pregnant women, the elderly & unborn. We also have a window over the next few months to see righteous supreme court judges appointed (see the call to fasting in the left column).... And her call to fast on the courts issue reads like this: SHUFFLING CANADA’S HIGHEST COURT: Please join us in fasting every Monday for righteous judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. There are potentially 8 seats opening by the end of the year. These judges have the ability to deeply impact our nation for the next 30-40 years. Let’s pray for Godly judges to be seated in this court. I think Faytene is onto something here. Readers of the book Mighty Judgment, which was released this spring, might share her concern. The book's author is Philip Slayton, a retired prominent lawyer and former dean of the University of Western Ontario law school. He subtitles his book "How The Supreme Court of Canada Runs Your Life" because he seeks to make the argument that since the adoption of our new constitution and its Charter of Rights, Canada's judges have a growing amount of influence. The promotional blurb for the book, says, in part: "....In the Morgentaler case (1988), the court struck down laws restricting abortion, leaving Canada the only Western country without any abortion laws. In the Same-Sex Marriage Reference (2004), it decided that gays and lesbians could marry. In the Secession Reference (1998), it laid down the conditions under which Quebec could secede from Canada. In the Patrick case (2009), the court decided that the right of privacy does not stop the police from rifling through our garbage...." And yesterday the court made its ruling on Insite. Now, those with a progressive point of view may see this as a long overdue and positive change. But there are those who would perhaps worry about the unchecked power of the judges. Which brings me back to Faytene's comment. She seems to recognize that if the Supreme court Judges can be so influential, who they are and what they believe is very important to pray about. My own guess is that she might want to "go in reverse" in such matters, and she has every right to argue for that. But prayer can go either way, of course. Wouldn't it be important for those who appreciate what they see as major, progressive gains due to what the courts have ruled to make it an issue of prayerful concern? Something worth thinking, talking and praying about? At least Faytene is thinking about the issue. Shortly after the book's, release, The Globe and Mail printed a point/counterpoint review of Mighty Judgment in the spring, which I find to be quite useful. The second reviewer, Jeff Gray, notes an apparent promise by Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to "stack the court with ideologues" (as a Faytene would perhaps like) and then adds this: The issue did not exactly burn up the campaign trail. But it should have. As Slayton writes, approaching retirements mean whoever “is prime minister over the next three or four years will have the chance to remake the court.” [Editor’s note: Two Supreme Court judges – Mr. Justice Ian Binnie and Madam Justice Louise Charron – announced their retirement [the day that the review appeared in the newspaper--RH], after the Books section had been sent to the printing press.] I hope I am wrong, but did I miss talk in the blogopshere during the election to the effect of "We have to stop the Tories because of the judges they could appoint." Hope I just missed what there was, though. Whatever we may think of the sort of "righteous judges" that Faytene Grasseschi might want to see, at least she sees the potential importance of the issue where others may not have. And for that, I tip my hat to her.