May 16, 2005

God Bless America

Categories: Random cool stuff

I was just re-reading the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights (doesn't everyone do this from time to time?). Amazing stuff. Even now, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights constitute the most extensive list of guaranteed freedoms in the world. This is a significant statement. These documents guarantee freedoms, they don't confer them. From the Declaration of Independence, we recognize that power comes from the people; it is not given by a monarch or God.

It's also important that there is a single document (with amendments) that outlines the law of the land and how our government works. This seems obvious, but even our Canadian friends didn't figure this out as late as 1982 when they passed the Constitution Act, freeing them from needing permission from Britain to amend the Canadian Constitution. (Does it surprise you too that this happened so recently?)

Even today, the Canadians don't have a single document that comprises their constitution; it's a mix of dozens of documents and a pile of unwritten conventions. What the hell kind of way is that to run a country? Unwritten conventions? Give me a break.

Oh, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (their faux Bill of Rights) can be overriden by the federal or local gov't as they see fit thanks to Article 33. So the thing starts by saying that individual liberties are guaranteed, except when the law says it's not and then it ends by saying that the government can ignore whatever it wants.

Furthermore, the amendment process is unclear (another one of those unwritten conventions) and all laws are subject to judicial review by unelected judges that are almost impossible to remove. Nice checks and balances. And, of course, none of it is checked by the right of people to keep and bear arms. So, basically, Canadians have democracy only as long as the government thinks it's OK.

Of course, everyone still has to swear allegiance to the Queen. Of England.

God Bless America.

[Updated] Should have provided links to these important documents for your reading pleasure.

The Constitution of the United States of America
The Bill of Rights
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Posted by Tony at May 16, 2005 10:11 PM | TrackBack

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