Tories protect victims, as defined by Tories


During his increasingly infamous “secret speech” to some Conservative folks in Sault Ste. Marie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper obviously said a few things that caught the attention of national media.

When I watched the video, one passage that hasn’t been reported very widely caught my attention (it starts at about 3:38):

The previous government was … subsidizing lawyers to bring forth court challenges by left-wing fringe groups. We have been bringing in laws to crack down on criminals and support victims in this country.

I immediately thought to ask: Why can’t a federal government do both? Funding court challenges doesn’t prevent a government from also “cracking down on criminals.” Moreover, many of those “left-wing fringe groups” who accessed the Court Challenges Program (CCP) when it existed probably considered themselves victims of injustice.

And just recently, the Conservatives introduced a new program — the Language Rights Support Program (LRSP), which will be administered by the University of Ottawa — that goes some way to replace the CCP. Although it doesn’t help equality rights seekers fight their legal battles, it does help the other users of the CCP; namely, those who fought for language rights.

There is even a special process that helps those who qualified for the CCP access the LRSP:

Individuals or groups representing individuals or groups participating in any case initiated before the Program is operational and which, had it not been for the repeal of the Court Challenges Program (CCP), could have been subject to funding under the terms of the CCP, can apply for retroactive funding under the new Program, regardless of the stage of the procedures before the courts.

At the end of it all, I’m simply confused by the prime minister’s remarks. Although he might be ideologically or politically opposed to subsidized court challenges, his rhetoric is illogical and his government’s record is not congruent with his own views.

UPDATE: Here is more from the Toronto Star‘s Antonia Zerbisias.


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