Today’s Earth Day Campaigns Suck, We Need New Ones

Another Earth Day is upon us, with its moralizing and calls to superficial acts that signal collective concern for the natural environment. I’d like to examine how this sort of activism falls short, and see if libertarian philosophy has anything to add to deepening the conversation about living sustainably.

Looking at the official Earth Day Canada website, we are entreated to “consume less” and “play more”. The “play more” side of the campaign encourages kids to play outside, and they have a fundraising drive to raise money for enriched play playgrounds for kids. While this is certainly a worthy goal in terms of promoting the health and psychological development of children, I fail to see any direct connection with environmental sustainability.

The “consume less” side of the campaign tells us “reducing consumption is a moral imperative and will make you happy! Buying things and acquiring wealth does not make us happy.” Blanket statements like this fly in the face of psychological research and our own first-hand experience. Consuming less has been a focus of the environment movement for over two decades. If we look just at plastics, which this campaign targets, we see that global production was 335 billion tonnes, and it is increasing by 3.8% per year. With global population growth, and more of the poor moving into the middle class and into cities, consumption of plastics will continue to grow, as will consumption of meat, oil, gas, timber, concrete, and pretty much anything else people find useful. If consuming less is a moral imperative, it probably rests at lower priority than other imperatives, such as providing goods for one’s family at a reasonable cost. It also plays second fiddle to other psychological imperatives, such as seeking esteem from one’s society through displays of consumption.

As far as it goes, it’s fine for a non-profit organization to advocate for a reducing-personal- consumption mentality. Some people, those who are more altruistic to begin with, will certainly respond to such calls, and forgo some consumption. Heck, they may even be happier for it, assuming they made the choice voluntarily. But if an organization really wants to reduce harm to the planet’s ecosystems, surely there must be more effective ways to do so.

Libertarians tend to recognize the acquisitive nature of human beings. We see in it a psychological driver for capitalism, which we see as the best system humans have found to date for generating wealth. Without the desire to acquire things for personal consumption, the profit motive wouldn’t exist, and capitalism would never have got off the ground. And if acquisitiveness topped out at a certain point (say, after a person’s need for food, clothing and shelter were met), capitalism would stall out once people started earning more than a few dollars a day. What we see of course is that regular people are now consuming more than their ancestors would have dreamed possible even for royalty, and doing it for a fraction of what it cost in real terms in previous generations. The fact that the human population has bloomed to billions and is able to consume at such a level without triggering a Malthusian crash is a miracle to be celebrated.

But it presents us with important questions: is all this prosperity coming at the cost of the other creatures we share the earth with, or even the earth’s living systems themselves? If so, could this ultimately lead to the demise (or at least impoverishment) of humans, if and when these natural systems can no longer support us? What moral responsibility then do we have to ensure that the earth’s systems stay intact for future generations of humans and other creatures?

I realize that not everyone is ready to wrestle with philosophical questions like this, and so environmentalist campaigns need to simplify them. However, I think that focusing on reducing consumption misses the mark entirely–it will never really resonate with most people because of our acquisitive nature, something passed down to modern humans via natural selection through millennia of scarcity.

So how do we allow for increasing levels of consumption while reducing harm to the environment? To answer that we need to remind ourselves how the earth is harmed by consumption, lest we conclude that all consumption is inherently harmful. Firstly, the earth (and the potential prosperity of future generations) is harmed if we deplete non-renewable resources, like coal or titanium. Secondly, the earth is harmed if pollution is created or habitat destroyed/degraded in the extraction, transportation, and processing of these raw materials. Lastly, there’s the harm that come from the disposal of these resources after use, whether by taking up space in a landfill, leaching toxins during decomposition, or requiring additional resources to recycle. The second and third issues exist to a lesser degree with renewable resources, like corn and wood, but renewable resources are certainly more sustainable than non-renewables.

It’s not surprising then that the environmental movement has focused on renewable resources for some time, and has achieved a good deal of success. The cost of solar panels for example, has come down tremendously in recent years, as growing demand has spurred competition and technological innovation. In this way, the desire to consume isn’t the enemy of sustainability; rather under a free market system, it is a force for positive change.

Why then, does the pace of innovation seem slow in comparison to the pressing need to shift to environmentally sustainable modes of production? The typical examples one hears from today’s environmental movement are: “corporations don’t want to change, they just want to protect their profits” or “industry is resistant to change, so we need more government in green technology”. Often such criticisms are leveled against capitalism in general, because it is always pushing towards greater consumption. By way of rebuttal, I will only say that I do not believe that ending capitalism will rid humans of their acquisitive impulses, and the alternatives to capitalism that have been tried in the past were not any more ecologically sustainable, given the technology humanity had at the time.

One thing libertarianism has to offer in response to the problem of slow development of renewable alternatives is its understanding of the influence of government regulation on an economy. Regulation, when enforced by law, can be see as a joint effort by politicians and the dominant businesses in an industry to stop time. The large businesses that have the resources to lobby government seek to prevent market change by setting up rules that favour the current methods of production over any that may be invented in the future by upstart competitors. Though regulation is often touted as being forward looking, in reality it is backward looking, and normally hostile to innovation.

Building codes and municipal permitting processes are a good example of this. Built into them are assumptions that buildings should be constructed according to familiar designs using familiar materials like wood, concrete and glass. Perhaps a house built of mud and straw would have better thermal properties (and hence use less energy) than one made of wood, but good luck getting your local council to approve the design!

Another example is automobile safety standards, which prescribe in detail how a vehicle must but designed and manufactured to be allowed on US roads. While safety is certainly a worthy goal, and for many buyers will trump other concerns, it limits the flexibility automakers have in developing more sustainable vehicles. For example, the heavy steel frame which is now required in most vehicles (to save occupants in the very unlikely event the car flips upside down) adds significantly to the vehicle’s weight, reducing its fuel efficiency.

In addition to limiting design flexibility, regulation also adds additional costs, not just by mandating more costly designs, but also through permit costs, reporting costs, and lost time in approval processes. Regulation can also bar private enterprise from competing in certain sectors, particularly in Canada where a crown corporations or public bureaucracies often monopolize or control these sectors. Power generation and distribution, sanitation and water, public transportation, medical care and insurance, lotteries and gaming, alcohol sales and distribution, and so on.

To take power generation as an example, most provinces allow homeowners to install solar panels on their roofs, and that may be of interest to those who have the financial means to make the upfront investment and recoup the savings slowly over the years through reduced electricity bills. What would accelerate adoption of solar and other small-scale renewable energy production technologies would be to allow small producers to sell excess electricity to their neighbours. Currently the monopolization of the electricity grid by provincial hydro authorities effectively prevents this. Such public monopolies, while they may have the honourable goal of providing necessities at reasonable prices, inevitably result in wasteful misallocation of resources. Take water utilities for example: typically, users pay a flat fee no matter how much water they use, providing no economic incentive for conservation. This results in strange workarounds during times of scarcity, such as by-laws that ban lawn watering on certain days.

As a rough test on whether it’s true that government regulation deters innovation, we can compare the fruits of two industries. Perhaps the comparison is not completely fair, one being a young industry, the other quite a bit older, but it illustrates the general point. The information technology industry is by and large unregulated beyond the basic regulations that all businesses face. It has produced a great variety of products and services in the few decades it has been around, and continues to do so at an accelerating pace. While there are a few giants dominating much of the market, there are also plenty of new entrepreneurs, the barriers to entry being very low.

Let’s compare IT to what is arguably the most regulated sector of the economy: banking. Central banks control the most basic feature of this industry, the price of money (better known as the interest rates), and regulate in detail how banks are to serve their customers. Banks are protected from competition by rules that make starting a new bank very difficult, and regulatory compliance measures that make running one difficult and expensive. They’re also protected from failure by the government with depositor’s insurance, and in extreme cases (like in 2008/2009), bailouts. While Wall Street banks may have invented some new financial instruments in recent decades, and most banks now offer many of their services online, for most small depositors and borrowers, the services have not changed much, and the experience of dealing with a bank often feels overly bureaucratic when compared with customer service we get in other industries.

There are other ways that governments prop up incumbent businesses and deter new entrepreneurs, such as subsidies and taxes, but I hope the examples above illustrate how government regulation limits innovation. If we can’t get everyone to voluntarily reduce their consumption (we can’t), and forcing them to reduce it is unethical (it probably is), then we desperately need innovation in renewable energy and resources if we are to move towards a sustainable future. Removing or reducing regulations on industry is one way to do that. What about environmental regulations, do they have to go to? It depends on the type.

Fines that punish those that pollute the commons are legitimate, and provide economic incentives for industry to come up with cleaner technologies. However regulations that specify specific technologies that industry must use are not helpful in the long run because they attempt to freeze industries at current (or past) levels of technological development.

Another form of environmental regulation is quotas, such as the allowable catch of a particular marine species that fishermen are granted by the government. This seems to be a very crude way of forestalling a tragedy of the commons, due to the impossibility of determining what the optimal size of the species’ population is (fishermen, conservationists and tax/license fee collectors are not likely to agree on the number). In the case of fishing, quotas only incentivize how to catch the most fish in the shortest period of time–not really the type of innovation that would make the industry more sustainable.

So, if we agree hectoring people to consume less is not very effective, and greater innovation in renewables is needed to conserve resources, what could be a better focus of an Earth Day campaign? One could be an informational campaign to let people know about green technologies that are in development or exist already on a small scale. Because the current environmental movement is so focused on blaming business for environmental problems and looking to government for solutions, news about sustainable innovation in the private sector tends to get drowned out.

One very exciting innovation that I’ve heard about recently is the production of biodiesel from algae. Algae produces a much higher oil content than the terrestrial crops currently used for biodiesel, and requires no fertilizer or pesticides to grow. Also, as it isn’t grown in the soil, it doesn’t deplete it, and instead pulls large amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air. Algae farms on the ocean would not displace food crops for humans (like growing corn for biodiesel can), and would also provide useful habitat for other marine species.

A second innovation I’ll mention is the use of insects to turn food waste into animal food. The black soldier fly is able to quite efficiently convert compost in high protein larva, which could be used as a substitute for animal and fish protein in food for pets or livestock.

For these kinds of innovations to have a significant environmental impact, they would require existing industries to be disrupted and restructured. They require us to think differently about the products we use, and will likely meet with resistance from vested interests, so an educational campaign to get over the initial hump of resistance would be necessary, but pay off in the long term.

Another way to help such innovation would be to channel investment capital to environmental entrepreneurs. The number of crowdfunding platforms continues to grow, and many of them are moving towards being able to provide contributors tangible benefits, whether it’s tradeable crypto-currency tokens, shares of company, or rewards such as free or discounted products and services. Why not make such an investment drive the centerpiece of an Earth Day campaign?

The desire for profit and to consume are not the enemies of sustainability, they are the engines of innovation, if they are allowed to operate in a relatively free market. Though misanthropic notions that compare human beings to a cancer on the earth have infected the environmental movement, and many environmental non-profits have come to see coercive power of government as the primary savior of the earth, these views are short-sighted, and will not get us out of our current environmental/humanitarian predicament. Because of this, the cause of environmental sustainability needs libertarians and others who believe in the transformative power of free markets now more than ever. If we aren’t able to innovate our way towards a greener future, eco-warriors and their political allies will continue to heap regulations on society until innovation can barely move at a snail’s pace. For this Earth Day and future ones, let’s seek out and promote campaigns that eschew moralizing in favour of encouraging innovation. And if we can’t find any, let’s start our own.

Press Release: Pot Legalization to Increase Conflict and Prices

VANCOUVER – The government’s legalization framework creates new conflicts over cannabis production and distribution, will lead to higher prices for consumers, and won’t eliminate the black market. The licensed producer model being implemented by the federal government favours large politically connected producers in central Canada and will hurt smaller BC craft producers. The proposed level of taxes and regulations ensures that legal cannabis will be more expensive than current prices, meaning most existing cannabis users will choose to stay with their current providers. However, it is unclear what the government’s approach will be to producers and distributors who do not become licensed but continue to grow and sell cannabis.

Conflicts will arise regarding enforcement as unlicensed producers and distributors take market share away from licensed one. As investors have rushed into cannabis stocks, boosting the price of shares in Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, and other large growers, these investors will expect the government to protect this investment by enforcing the new the rules. The BC government will also have skin in the enforcement the game, as they plan to use a monopoly distributor model similar to that used for alcohol, which is a major contributor to public coffers.

As the crackdowns on stores and bars selling imported liquor not purchased through the Liquor Distribution Branch have shown, the NDP-Green government does not shy away from using heavy-handed tactics to protect its revenue streams. A similar approach to cannabis enforcement could mean that the relative peacefulness BC has seen in this area over the past couple decades is disrupted.

The BC Libertarian Party has issued a Cannabis Policy that opposes the government’s approach to legalization in favour of one that simply authorizes the free market to operate while banning sales to minors. The Party will be participating in the 420 Vancouver event this Friday at Sunset Beach to celebrate this major step towards the end of drug prohibition, while raising awareness of the potential pitfalls of the current legalization model. Party Leader Clayton Welwood and candidate in the recent Kelowna-West by-election Kyle Geronazzo will be staffing the Party table at the event and will be available for comment.

Quotes:

“We don’t want a repeat of the over-regulation and price gouging we already have with alcohol in this province. Instead, let’s have a legal cannabis industry built on free market principles, that allows small businesses to compete on a level playing field with big ones.”

  — Clayton Welwood, BC Libertarian Party Leader

Background:

Since 1986, the BC Libertarian Party been advocating for the rights of British Columbians to use cannabis without fear of government reprisal.  We have stood against all forms of prohibition, and have even run candidates for the BC Marijuana Party during its heyday. While we are pleased to see that as of July 1st, citizens will no longer be jailed just for possessing a plant, we feel that the overall approach to legalization taken by the federal and provincial governments is a missed opportunity. We propose a more liberal approach for the implementation of cannabis legalization in BC, as detailed in the attached Policy.

Policy Highlights:

  • Avoid adding to federal regulations and rules.

  • Allow decentralized distribution to continue, keep regulations as simple as possible.

  • Apply no new marijuana taxes; provincial sales tax only.

  • Allow communities to make relevant regulations surrounding marijuana businesses.

Contact:

Clayton Welwood, Party Leader

mobile: 778-877-8832

Email: leader@libertarian.bc.ca

British Columbia Libertarian Party

703-1180 Falcon Dr., Coquitlam, BC, V3E 2K7

www.libertarian.bc.ca

Libertarian Thoughts #5 – TAXATION FREQUENCY

In the first of these commentaries, I noted that there were three primary assaults on our freedom caused by government laws and regulations.  First, actions we may wish to take would now be prohibited; next, actions we may NOT wish to take would now be compelled; and finally, taxation (of all sorts) by government diminishes our ability to spend OUR funds as we might freely wish.

It is the third of these that is the subject of this commentary.

When we confront our non-libertarian contemporaries, I believe that our arguments can be strongly enhanced by the recitation of indisputable fact, particularly when those of our opponents   are backed up by non-factual emotional declarations – and little else.

Regarding matters of taxation, most people seem to ‘feel’ there is a vague threat that governments are taxing the public ‘too much’ and perhaps too frequently.  However, unless we can PROVE this is indeed the case, it is difficult to gain advantage for the Libertarian side.

My goal in this paper is to provide the PROOF that governments are recommending or enacting taxation, fees or other similar measures at a rate which can only be regarded as astonishing.  What follows is a documented list of such actions which have been either enacted or proposed SINCE THE BEGINNING OF 2018 (!). The data is taken from (somewhat) reliable publications – which are identified.

There is no attempt to provide arguments regarding the right and wrong of each measure – but only to provide proof of their frequency – and thereby to allow an informed judgement regarding their probable collective impact on society.  The list will include the date, name of publication and a short description of the measure. Also, I believe that every increase in revenue to the government based on direct taxation, indirect taxation, fees, fines and payment for government services qualifies as a ‘taxation measure.’

(Personal note:  Since I live on Vancouver Island, many articles are taken from the Victoria Times-Colonist (TC) which I read daily.  Many of those articles are sourced from various news agencies such as the Canadian Press (CP) and Associated Press (AP).

2018

March 21 – Yahoo-Finance – “The European Union on Wednesday unveiled new plans to make high tech companies pay more taxes…”

March 20 – Parksville–Qualicum Beach News – The Regional District of Nanaimo is considering its own fees for applications for a non-medical cannabis distribution license.

March 16 – National Post – Discussion of increases in already-existing provincial Carbon Taxes.  Also, discussion of proposed NEW federal carbon tax.

March 15 – TC, CP – “Speculation Tax” opposition grows.”  The tax would, “…apply to properties owned by people who do not pay B.C. income tax.”

March 8 – Nanaimo News Bulletin (NNB) – “This month, ICBC increased penalties for drivers who have been repeatedly ticketed for distracted driving…”

March 8 – NNB – “Vancouver Island University steers toward increasing parking rates by 50%…”

March 8 – TC, CP – Headline, “Thousands facing tax for their empty homes” discusses impact of Vancouver’s new ‘empty homes tax’.

March 2 – TC – “Hydro rates to rise 3% after freeze rejected.”

February 28 – TC – “Tax hurts small business” – discusses impact of new health tax on employers with payrolls of over $500,000…”

February 22 – TC – “Gas-Tax hike to fuel region transit boost…government to raise the tax from 3.5 cents per litre to 5.5 cents…”

February 21 – TC – Headline:  “B.C. Budget – Raft of tax measures to help pay for child care, homes and health…”

February 21 – Financial Post, CP – “British Columbia is raising its foreign-buyers tax and expanding it to areas outside of Vancouver while bringing in a new tax on speculators…”

February 17 – TC, CP – “Trump weighing options for global tariffs on steel…”

February 6 – Wall Street Journal (WSJ) – “…Cash-strapped American cities are increasingly asking (demanding???-LM) their residents to pay higher amounts for mundane services…In 73 U.S. cities fees and fines increased by a collective US$182 million in 2017…”

January 31 – WSJ – Headline:  “Connecticut governor proposes Raising Gas Tax, Adding Highway Tolls.”

January 17 – TC, CP – Discusses ‘positive impact’ of a new Federal tax measure which, “…limits the use of passive investment income by the top three percent of the wealthiest incorporated individuals…”

January 9 – National Post – Joe Oliver, Former Minister of Finance, declares, “…Carbon tax policy is about to spiral from dysfunctional into madness…”

January 4 – Financial Post headline – “Alberta’s carbon tax rises by 50% – tied with B.C. for highest rate in the country.”

…………

It is hard to imagine this many articles relating to increasing government revenues in less than one-quarter of a year, but there they are – and I have the printed proof for every one of these on the list.  Also, I can assure readers that my files for 2017 and previous years show a similar astonishing rate of accumulation of articles relating to increasing taxation. And, it must be noted, these items have been gleaned from a very few publications and when one considers how many others have likely been reported in hundreds of other local or national news media sources, the situation could easily become increasingly perilous going forward.

It all relates to the following famous quote, attributed to the late President Reagan:

“If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  And, if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Libertarian-Thoughts #4 – Rothbard and “Conceived in Liberty”

Many thanks to Paul Matthews for organizing the libertarian get-together in Nanaimo the other night. It was most enjoyable and, as always, it was a pleasure to get together with other libertarians.

During the conversation, I suggested that if anyone wanted to read a serious volume which discusses liberty in its most basic terms, they could hardly do better than to study “Conceived in Liberty” written by one of the libertarian world’s most renowned scholars, the late Professor Murray Rothbard. This very lengthy (1,600+ pages) book details America’s transition from virtual slavery under the British monarch and his minions in the early 17th Century to the emergence of the United States of America in 1789 as a Constitutional Republic.

Within the volume, Rothbard provides many examples of his concepts of liberty and I believe there is value in studying these commentaries. Accordingly, I offer several of them below.

Just as in modern times, the most powerful tool of repressive governments is the unlimited ability to tax the citizenry – and the American Colonies under the Crown were not different, as Rothbard describes:

“Despite the intimidation and terror, a large number of grievances were sent to the Assembly and commissioners by the people of Virginia. The most common grievance concerned the levying of heavy and unjust taxes by officials, taxes that were used for expenditures over which the people had no control. Typical was a petition from Surrey Country which prayed the authorities to ease us His Majesty’s poor subjects of our great burdens and taxes.”

Just as in our current era, the Colonies were heavy laden with a monstrous array of complex regulations which were rigidly enforced by the Crown. One in particular, the “Navigation Act”, placed crippling limitations on the growth of commerce and industries in the Colonies. Rothbard describes the Navigation Act in the following manner:

“Most grievous was the ‘Navigation Act’ of 1673, which placed a prohibitory tax of one penny per pound on all international trading of tobacco. The tobacco farmers of North Carolina, growing over one million pounds of tobacco a year, were heavily dependent upon New England shipping for exporting their tobacco, and, in turn, for importing other products needed by the Carolinians. The tax crippled Carolinian trade, and the result was continual evasion and the sporadic attempts by the government to crack down on the now illegal trade.”

The Colonies continued to live under their British ‘Lords and Masters’ for over a century until finally the American public gradually became aware of ‘Classical Liberalism’ or libertarianism. Some writers were homegrown and some imported from Europe.

Rothbard notes that one ‘imported’ voice which was increasingly heard was that of John Locke who wrote that the rights of legislative bodies should indeed be limited, stating: “The reason men enter into society is the preservation of their property; and the end why they choose and authorize a legislature is that there may be laws made, and rules set as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society. Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people…”

By the 1760s, two opposing forces were at work. On the one hand, the culture of liberty was spreading throughout the Colonies but on the other hand, the attempts to keep control of the Colonies by the Monarchy were growing, both in strength and intrusiveness. The issue which finally brought matters to a head was the “Stamp Act.” This was the mechanism whereby the Crown attempted to control commerce in the Colonies and also to enrich the home country via oppressive levies. The Stamp Act called for the purchase of ‘stamps’ which henceforward would be required to accompany every commercial and social action which required documentation of any sort. As Rothbard notes, “…every document and paper would require a specially stamped paper the citizen would have to buy himself.

The Stamp Act was ratified by the British Parliament’s House of Commons in March, 1765 and determined resistance immediately took hold, and it was that resistance that ultimately led to the American Revolution. As Rothbard writes, “…To be defeated now, the Stamp Act would therefore have to be nullified by the direct action of the American people – by mass civil disobedience. The tax, in short, could not be actually resisted in the assemblies; it could only be resisted and nullified in the streets!”

The powder keg of revolution was ready to be lit, and Rothbard notes that the flame which ultimately led to the Revolutionary War of 1775-84 was the words of Thomas Paine. His great contribution was to overcome the almost God-like reverence still inherent in virtually all people of the time that the “KING” was a virtually divine creature who must be obeyed. Paine wrote that this was nonsense and described King George III and his predecessors in these terse words:

“We should find the first of them (kings) nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtilty obtained him the title of chief among plunderers, and who, by increasing in power and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenseless and now the Kings were but ‘crowned ruffians’.

Rothbard then adds this trenchant thought: “…In this way, Paine not only laid bare the roots of monarchy, but provided a brilliant insight into the nature and origins of the State itself.”

I would add that while reviewing much of this material, I could not help but find myself in total agreement with Rothbard’s comment – that the workings of the modern-day nation-state, with all its power and with its ability to instill terrifying levels of fear, bears striking resemblance to the time of the all-powerful monarchies which in earlier times ruled the world.

The book may be lengthy and at times it may even overwhelm the reader with staggering amounts of details, but as a study in the progression from tyranny to liberty, “Conceived in Liberty” is, in my mind, a true libertarian classic.

Canadian Constitution of No Authority

In Robin Koerner’s book #ifyoucankeepit, he talks a bit about the idea that governments, in large part, are and have been restrained by tradition more than law.

The act of going against traditional limits of power have in large part been met with violent or strong public backlash and revolution by the people being ruled. This got me thinking about the constitution of Canada versus America.

In the United States, at least in theory, government is restrained by the constitution (albeit largely ignored to push government agendas) with no legal loopholes or opt out clauses

In the Canadian constitution there are “notwithstanding” clauses that allow governments not be bound by by other provisions of the document. For example section 33 of the Canadian constitution states:

33. (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

Marginal note:Operation of exception

(2) An Act or a provision of an Act in respect of which a declaration made under this section is in effect shall have such operation as it would have but for the provision of this Charter referred to in the declaration.

Marginal note:Five year limitation

(3) A declaration made under subsection (1) shall cease to have effect five years after it comes into force or on such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration.

Marginal note:Re-enactment

(4) Parliament or the legislature of a province may re-enact a declaration made under subsection (1).”

Sections 7-15 being referred to as the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms.

In addition to that, the Charter also contains provisions that basically state that no Canadian province or territory is legally bound to this Charter if they do not care to be.

While rare (and traditionally not used, largely because the public as a whole would not stand for it) this section 33 has been used against citizens, as we have seen in the example of the Quebec niqab ban in which the province of Quebec invoked the notwithstanding clause in section 33. Effectively, our constitution has no legal protections for citizens based on the whims of the government.

Some other examples include the Ministry of Child and Family Development here in BC which has a legal mandate to act however they see fit and can legally kidnap your children with no warrant, no criminal charges against you, no reasonable probable grounds, no lawyer, no court proceedings, no evidence, no crime in progress etc… merely because the social worker has decided the kids are not safe or even because you are first nations (as a recent case here in BC has shown as well as one other current case of a woman who had her daughter taken, then adopted out to a new family without even so much as notifying this girl’s mother).

In effect our constitution is about as worthless as the paper it is written on. Only through the collective will of the people is government restrained; there are no legal binding laws that government is restrained by.

Sources:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-supreme-court-order-providing-indigenous-mother-daily-access-to-newborn-could-set-national-precedent/article38078772/

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/judge-orders-better-access-for-mother-whose-baby-was-seized-three-days-after-birth

https://www.facebook.com/pg/mcfdlegalkidnapped/about/?ref=page_internal

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/constitutionality-of-quebec-s-bill-62-difficult-to-defend-legal-expert-says-1.3645585