Aug 29 2011

wherefore art thou, Canadian Constitution? local Corporate Government operating in Federal Jurisdiction

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The Nature of Corporate Government – Part 3

It appears that Lumby Council’s Noise By-law regulation circumvents basic rights offered to breathing people under the Canadian Constitution.  Lumby’s Noise regulation allows a Bylaw Officer to enter someone’s property to ensure compliance.

First of all, in Canada – no one has the right to enter private property without due process under Federal law.  Searching private property is not a matter of Provincial jurisdiction or the Local Government.  Citizens are promised protection from unreasonable search in our Canadian Charter.*

From the standpoint of reasonableness – a Noise By-law deals with noise emanating away from private property.  The infraction doesn’t happen in a building – infractions happen away from private property so compliance is perfectly obvious when standing on the street.

Entering private property to LOOK for noise is clearly unnecessary and therefore unreasonable and whether that’s been legislated or not, it appears to be in violation of our inherent Constitutional Rights.  This is the most obvious example of why it’s wrong to confer Federal powers on a local government.  I don’t believe any corporation has yet been given the powers to amend the Constitution – at least not yet.  Legislation that may (in good faith) be used to LOOK at noise today may in fact, be used to LOOK for other things in the future.

It seems that other Municipalities are in this same process.  Consider the new By-law put forward by Langford Council – to enter private property – by force if necessary – to ensure their By-laws are being upheld AND they expect residents to accept unspecified future amendments.  That is patently unreasonable. No rational person would ever agree to a law that hasn’t yet been written – it may not be legal to ask people to agree to a contract that does not exist.

By not understanding the extraordinary powers granted to local governments, citizens cast a ballot for arbitrary rule.  Laws that were once understood to be Provincial or Federal laws have now become unknown and changeable through inter-government private consultations at the local level.  Provincial Legislation admits that Council can act on draft by-laws and resolutions.  Possibly this is why citizens complain that local governments are unresponsive and dictatorial.

Power conferred on higher levels of Government requires high levels of scrutiny when legislation is enacted.  Citizens of BC need to know that local governments have been given the authority to circumvent that scrutiny – that laws guaranteed to us by our citizenship are becoming a thing of the past.   Citizens need to know that a Municipal Council can – in private consult with any government – negotiate and adopt By-laws from ANY jurisdiction (even foreign jurisdictions).  Local Councils appear to have extraordinary power over Federal and Provincial authority.   It is a mistake to believe that Local Governments serve the local interests of our living breathing local community.

When Municipal Councillors can’t be held even to the standard expected of elementary school children in matters of bullying – it’s time to request accountability. The public needs to know that the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) is calling for even more power. This time is the right time for discussion. Municipal elections are coming up.

We are obliged to know the law and discuss the problems with Corporate  Municipalities that serve their own interest. Corporate self interest cannot be pursued at the expense of community. When Council chooses self interest over the community interest (a stated objective of the UBCM) there must be accountability.

In a few days I’ll have some of the statutes honed down into manageable bites so start looking at your community bylaws and keep track of ones that give you the shivers. Together we will work for social justice. Together we will take back our communities.

* The “Principles of Fundamental Justice” require that means used to achieve a societal purpose or objective must be reasonably necessary.  The principle of fundamental justice is violated when the government’s “legitimate objective”, uses a “means” that unnecessarily and disproportionately interfere with an individual’s rights. section 8 of the Charter guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

UPDATE: Constitution – Division of Powers



1 comment

  1. streamrambler

    Geez. This is a promising train of thought. (was I not up to my eyeballs in Valley-centric stuff, I’d zip out there on the Colinbus and study this with you). Such a by-law appears preposterous, both for its purpose as well as its precedent.

    On a tangent, why don’t I ever recall reading the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at any level of school? Shouldn’t the study of it or at least the acknowledgement of it be fairly fundamental to any educational process? They sure made sure I knew how to file my taxes…


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