Countering Justifications for Political Inaction

I applaud the court challenges being launched across Canada in resistance to abuses of power by authorities bent on eliminating the basic freedoms of those who oppose them, and I hope every one of those court challenges succeeds.

My belief is that it would be unwise to place our fate solely in the hands of the judiciary. I have several reasons:

  1. It should never be the purview of any judge or court to limit any basic freedom. To put it another way, we should be quiteic unwilling to accept, for example, a ruling which eliminates freedom of conscience in matters of deeply held convtion in Canada.

  1. Judges being as human as anyone else, they are sometimes influenced by the prevailing winds. Our opportunity for success with judges must be enhanced by efforts to ensure our voice is heard in the wider marketplace of ideas. The judges will be listening, and if they hear nothing of our viewpoint outside of a courtroom, they will draw conclusions about what matters to Canadians and, for some, what they can get away with.

  2. When the boat is leaking, only an unwise man would refuse to put every hand on bailing duty, regardless of the size of their cup. In other words, we should employ every option, and not limit ourselves to just the judicial option.

  3. There is no law, or any other reasonable expectation, that litigants who challenge a law or regulation in Court must tie their hands and take no other advocacy measures outside Court, providing that one doesn’t cast any aspersions upon the judicial process. Judges are well aware that oppressive laws or regulations can be remedied by political action, as well as judicial action.

I am mentioning this reasoning to fortify you against the inevitable opposition to public political action that you will face from some of your friends. Some will raise any number of justifications for refusing to lend their public support in defence of basic democratic freedoms.

It is understandable, if regrettable, that action which some might regard as provocative or controversial will inspire timidity and reluctance. Nonetheless, unless we change the public conversation in defence of basic freedoms we will continue to face considerable headwinds and politicians will continue to do nothing.

There are at least two formidable justifications for not engaging in aggressive public conversation. One is that many organizations are shackled by the ball and chain of the Charitable Tax Credit, which is lost to any organization that devotes more than ten percent of its resources toward political activity. This, of course, does not justify refusing even the small networking or other support that would easily fit under that ten percent threshold.

Another formidable justification for avoiding aggressive public conversation on these matters is the fear of failure: “Wouldn’t we look ridiculous if we called a rally and no one, or too few, cared enough to come?” Regardless of such fears, the only path to enlarging support for basic democratic freedoms is to engage in public conversation vocally, visibly and repeatedly.  How else will public opinion ever enlarge in our favour?

Forgive me for being a little bit lengthy. I hope that you are reading because you are someone who cares about the erosion of basic freedoms in Canada, and I could use your assistance. To begin with, your feedback on my comments would be helpful. If I’m too far off course, I appreciate correction.

On this website, www.democracydefence.ca, you will gain further context about our efforts. Please let us know what you think.

Stephen Woodworth

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