In a "We Say" editorial ("Charter Applies to Witches, Too") The Daily News, (Saturday, Sept 8) argued that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews should not have cancelled services of a priest of witches inside Canada's prisons because the decision conflicts with the "freedom of religion" as interpreted under the Charter of Rights. I think the position taken in the editorial is wrong.
We had in Canada until 1982, when Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government established the Charter of Rights, a legal system based on common law.
Under common law, the legal system is based on historical precedent so that we come to be governed by the wisdom of our ancestors as applied to specific cases that have come before the courts. That system was abandoned with the establishment of the Charter - a system of codified law in which the law is established as general principles as they are determined by legal experts (usually judges on the Supreme Court).
This has set loose on the country legal activists who decide for the rest of us what the law should be. As Pierre Trudeau said after the establishment of the Charter, the wheel of the ship of state has been spun and the passengers sipping their tea up on the deck are going to arrive at a different destination than they think.
The question of whether the citizens of this country should be required to provide the services of a priest of witches inside our prisons should be decided by considering that specific question under our former system of common law. It should not be decided by expert legal opinion on the general meaning of "freedom of religion."
The wheel of our ship of state should be spun back to its former position. Our law should be established as common law based on historical precedent, not by the opinion of legal activists.