On September 16, 2003, Mr. Toews said to then Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, “(a)s the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice does not have a responsibility to the government. He has a responsibility to the rule of law.” (See Hansard excerpt below.)
“Under the rule of law it is the courts that interpret our Constitution,” said Montreal human rights lawyer Julius Grey. “As Minister of Justice, Mr. Toews must ensure that all government legislation respects the Charter, as interpreted by the courts, and that Canada’s tradition of equality and justice should continue. The Canadian government must respect the right to equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as all ethnic and religious groups.”
“While in opposition, Mr. Toews said the Justice Minister’s responsibility is to the rule of law,” said Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director of Egale. “Now that Mr. Toews is Justice Minister, he must take that responsibility to heart. His actions must be informed by his new role as the defender of human rights in Canada.”
“Egale calls on both the Prime Minister and Justice Minister Toews to reassure Canadians that the Charter will be respected and upheld, and that any legislation introduced by this government will comply with the Charter, as interpreted by the courts,” said Laurie Arron, Egale’s Director of Advocacy. “Mr. Toews would be disrespecting the rule of law if he introduced legislation to take away what the courts have repeatedly said is a Charter right, namely the right of same-sex couples to access civil marriage.”
A survey released January 24 by CBC and Environics found that two-thirds of Canadians do not want a Harper government to bring the equal marriage issue back to Parliament for a free vote. (See http://www.cbc.ca/story/canadavotes2006/national/2006/01/24/vote-poll060124.)
Egale Canada advances equality and justice for LGBT people, and their families, across Canada. Founded in 1986, Egale’s work includes political action, legal interventions and public education and awareness.
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