How the government will argue Charter S. 1 against the @ADCSovereignty Charter lawsuit

Many years ago I became familiar with the story of William Sampson who was a Canadian born engineer who, worked in Saudi Arabia, was tortured in a Saudi Arabian prison, eventually was released and died at very young age. I had the privilege of briefly meeting him. He was actually considering attending law school (and I know that he was accepted by at least one Canadian law school). I highly recommend his book – “Confessions Of An Innocent Man“. To learn more see this documentary.

At the very least …

you will appreciate the importance of rule of law (somehow I don’t think the ADCS Charter challenge would be an option in Saudi Arabia and many other countries.) By the way, I do know that FATCA and U.S. citizenship taxation are causing problems for many Saudi citizens (who by the way are allowed only one citizenship). Many Saudi citizens fear that the imposition of U.S. citizenship will cause problems with both the U.S. Government and the Saudi Government.

This morning I received an email linking me to this article which detailed some of the recent “Saudi human rights abuses”.

Okay, so …

The above references an interesting article that appeared in today’s Globe and Mail. The article was written by Michael Bell who is a Carleton Professor and apparently an adviser to the Trudeau Liberals.

For the record, I am in NO WAY equating the treatment of Canadian citizens  under FATCA with the human rights violations that are alleged to have been committed by the Saudi Government. What I found interesting was the willingness of the writer to tolerate those individual human rights abuses because it was in the common good to do so. What I find particularly interesting (and I hope that I am not being unfair to him) is that he seems to assume that “collective rights” (society) take precedence over “individual rights” (Charter rights). Interesting question. I had always understood that the whole point of a Charter of Rights was to give individually protected Charter rights a priority over group rights (within reason and that’s why S. 1 of the Charter exists).  As I think about the article I wonder whether Mr. Bell would apply the same reasoning to a a gross violation (and NO CANADIAN is subject to the kinds of violations that occur in some other parts of the world) to the rights of Canadian citizens in Canada.

As a reminder, Charter S. 1 provides the template for when the violation of individual rights should be justified. S. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads as follows:

Rights and freedoms in Canada

 The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Those of you who are interested in what this is interpreted to mean should read the Oakes decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. Wikipedia comes to the rescue (maybe) here.

I recommend Mr. Bell’s article (it is quite short) and urge you to read the comments.

I am referring specifically to the following excerpt from  his article:


If the Saudi royal family were to fall, it would result in a massive destabilization of the Arabian Peninsula. Does this mean we should write them off in a world when hardball is the only game, where no regional standards meet ours? Are we to write off the interest displayed by the smaller Gulf States – Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – in acquiring LAVs because of their alleged human rights violations (which are less spectacularly evident in the international media)?

To do so would mean single-issue politics, in this case human rights, should invariably trump all other considerations, including international and regional stability, security and our own economic well-being. If so, we should immediately consider the future of our relationship with other noteworthy human rights violators, perhaps beginning with China.

Unfortunately, we live in a highly imperfect world where it is beyond our capacity to change the primordial behaviour of other states within their own borders, no matter the legitimacy of our concerns. As members of the international community we live in a web of immensely complicated contending interests where to be effective we must be realists.

We have to ask ourselves whether a rough balance of power in the Middle East, as shambolic as it is, better suits Canadian interests than the fall of the Saudi dynasty, which would further destabilize an entire region. These LAVs may just maintain a semblance of equilibrium. Nor can we ignore that this latest deal (we have been selling LAVs to the Saudis for decades) affects 3,000 jobs over 15 years, and is worth $15-billion to the Canadian economy. Hefty penalties would apply were we to renege.

What do you think? Should the Trudeau government sell arms to Saudi Arabia?

Thank you for your continued support. As Stephen continues to report – we do need generous funding to continue.

John Richardson

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