David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for national security and an expert on FISA, didn’t mince words when he reacted to the news.
“The release of FISAs like this is off the charts,” he wrote. “It is especially unprecedented considering that the FISAs have already gone through declassification review and the President is overruling the judgments of his subordinates to require expanded disclosure.”
Joyce Alene Vance, a longtime former federal prosecutor, largely agreed.
“Releasing FISA materials compromises national security,” she wrote. “Publicly releasing evidence during an ongoing criminal investigation is unprecedented.”
These are not isolated stories. As early as February 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicted a decline in net farm income to its lowest level since 2002 (adjusted for inflation), with median farm income projected at negative $1,316. For well over a year, worries about a new farm crisis have rippled across rural America. The very term is synonymous with the 1980s, when the bottom dropped out of the agricultural economy, sending thousands of farms into foreclosure and shuttering businesses.
Grain and dairy farmers were beginning to see a repeat of the ‘80s as their prices dropped this spring — and then President Trump started a trade war. Retaliatory agricultural tariffs have kicked this new farm crisis into high gear. The president is offering $12 billion in farm aid to ease the pain, but neither those payments nor the farm bill being hammered out in Congress will substantially change the outlook for farm country. Ever since federal farm policy told farmers to “get big or get out” in the ‘70s, the push toward consolidation has created decades of slow-burning crisis for many farmers. The problem has some rural residents re-envisioning rural policy from the ground up.
In fact, the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.
Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few hundred years.
2 Content of Section 33
Section 33(1) of the Charter of Rights permits Parliament or a provincial legislature to adopt legislation to override section 2 of the Charter (containing such fundamental rights as freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of association and freedom of assembly) and sections 7–15 of the Charter (containing the right to life, liberty and security of the person, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, a number of other legal rights, and the right to equality). Such a use of the notwithstanding power must be contained in an Act, and not subordinate legislation (regulations), and must be express rather than implied.
Under section 33(2) of the Charter of Rights, on the invocation of section 33(1) by Parliament or a legislature, the overriding legislation renders the relevant Charter right or rights “not entrenched” for the purposes of that legislation. In effect, parliamentary sovereignty is revived by the exercise of the override power in that specific legislative context. Section 33(3) provides that each exercise of the notwithstanding power has a lifespan of five years or less, after which it expires, unless Parliament or the legislature re-enacts it under section 33(4) for a further period of five years or less.
A number of rights entrenched in the Charter are not subject to recourse to section 33 by Parliament or a legislature. These are democratic rights (sections 3–5 of the Charter), mobility rights (section 6), language rights (sections 16–22), minority language education rights (section 23), and the guaranteed equality of men and women (section 28). Also excluded from the section 33 override are section 24 (enforcement of the Charter), section 27 (multicultural heritage), and section 29 (denominational schools) – these provisions do not, strictly speaking, guarantee rights.
All rights and freedoms set out in the Charter are guaranteed, subject to reasonable limitations under the terms of section 1. This has the effect, in combination with section 32 of the Charter (making the Charter binding on Parliament and the legislatures) and section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 6 (making the Constitution, of which the Charter is a part, the supreme law of Canada), of entrenching the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter. The invocation of section 33, and especially of section 33(2), pierces the wall of constitutional entrenchment and resurrects, in particular circumstances, the sovereignty of Parliament or a legislature. Consequently, the Charter is a unique combination of rights and freedoms, some of which are fully entrenched, others of which are entrenched unless overridden by Parliament or a legislature.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford stated that his government would invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that it could proceed with reducing the size of Toronto city council — even though Bill 5, which legislated the reduction, was deemed “unconstitutional” by a Superior Court justice. Most experts say that Ford is on firm legal ground.
But is this what the framers of our constitutional compromise of 1981 had in mind when they added Section 33 to the Charter?
One of the parties to that compromise says no.
As a rule, former Progressive Conservative premier Bill Davis has avoided weighing in on controversial issues since he retired from public life in 1985. He is still interested in political developments but has been content to wield whatever influence he may have almost entirely behind the scenes.
Still, of the 11 first ministers who, 37 years ago, hammered out that historic constitutional compromise, only three are still alive. The 89-year-old Davis is one of them — and he knows what his colleagues had in mind when they created the notwithstanding clause all those years ago.
“Making the Charter a central part of our Constitution, Canada’s basic law, was a deliberate and focused decision by the prime minister and premiers,” Ontario’s 18th premier explained over the phone yesterday.
“THE TOP 5 PERCENT WILL HAVE REAPED 75 PERCENT OF THE TAX CUT BENEFIT, BUT THE REMAINING 95 PERCENT WILL BE STUCK WITH THE FULL BILL.”
And when the next recession comes, it will be again up to the Fed to save the day, as Congress will have done nothing on the structural front but have fully pleased their lobbyist overlords. And only in the fullness of time will many people realize the truth: That tax cuts at this time were not implemented with the intent to be the right policy at the right time, but to serve as a robbing of the U.S. Treasury wrapped under the guise of free money for all.
“When should we as a society paternalistically decide [that employees should be protected from] the risk of significant physical injury?” Kavanagh wrote in his dissent. Not only was this an extreme position—one few have espoused on the bench—but it completely contravenes Congress’s intent when it passed the workplace safety law more than four decades ago.
A bipartisan Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, and President Richard Nixon signed the legislation into law. It provided workers with the fundamental right to go to work and come home every day; workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for a paycheck. The law is clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.