It was one of those days where time flies by like a bumblebee; nonchalantly. The temperature was finally starting to look like spring. As usual my workload was nearly unmanageable, but my coworkers were taking care of the surplus work I had. Feeling less stress than the average day, I felt compel to accept a lunch (averaging 2 hours in length) offer from my mother. We ate, of course, and I even drank a beer, oh frivolous me. We talked politic on that beautiful Thursday as we always do. The topic of the day was the never-ending student strike and the inability of the complaisant and ineffective Québec government to deal effectively with the problem it created in the first place. We were blissfully unaware of the content of the so called special law that the National Assembly was going to pass. Life was relatively good. The next day … not so much.
« Une société vraiment libre peut accepter une grande diversité de croyances, de goûts, de visées, de coutumes et de normes de conduite. » le juge Dickson.
Qu’arrive-t-il lorsque l’État décide de promouvoir cette diversité à l’école malgré l’opposition de certains parents? La Cour suprême a partiellement répondu à cette question dans son arrêt SL c Commission scolaire des Chênes. Pour ceux et celles qui ne sont pas familiers avec cette affaire, il s’agit d’une famille catholique du Québec qui a tenté de soustraire ses enfants du cours d’éthique et cultures religieuses rendu obligatoire en 2008 par le Ministère de l’éducation. Ce cours a pour but de laïciser le système d’éducation en remplaçant les anciens cours sur la religion catholique, sur la religion protestante et sur la morale par un seul cours portant sur les religions du monde et sur l’éthique. Le cours a donc pour but de mettre fin à un enseignement religieux chrétien ne correspondant plus à notre société pluriconfessionnelle et laïque.
On 30 September 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada released the Insite decision. This case began when the Government of Canada made it clear that it wouldn’t renew Insite’s – a supervised drug injection clinic in the Down Town Eastside of Vancouver – exemption from the application of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the CDSA). Insite and its many supporters decided to challenge the constitutionality of the CDSA applicability to Insite and of the refusal of the Minister of Health to grant the exemption. A few weeks ago, the judicial battle ended with a victory for society, and for Insite and its patients.
I am happy for the people who are involved with Insite; it is a great victory for them and probably a great relief as they won’t have this Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads anymore. It was, however, a predictable victory. The Supreme Court of British Columbia and the British Columbia Court of Appeal had already found that the applicability of the CDSA to Insite violated section 7 of the Charter (right to liberty, life and personal security of the person). The facts of this case were overwhelmingly in favour of Insite. The project had the support of the community, the business close to Down Town East Side, the public health authorities, the City ofVancouver and theProvince ofBritish Columbia. The federal government, to no surprise, only had demagogical arguments. It was thus a predictable victory as I couldn’t conceive how the Supreme Court, in anyway shape or form, could agree with the federal government. The CDSA was not found inapplicable but the refusal of the Minister of Health was found to violate section 7 and the Court ordered the government to exempt Insite and to give an exemption to any safe injection site that would meet certain criteria.