Editorial: Taking it to court

Governments spending time and money in court

Our legal system, courts, judges and lawyers are integral to keeping our society functioning smoothly.

Beyond the basics of deciding who the criminals are and meting out the appropriate punishment, a court is the final step in defining our rights and privileges, and sorting out when they clash.

Governments, on the other hand, are tasked with creating those laws, regulations and policies in the first place. We elect our parliamentarians to give careful thought to developing these articles, while the courts should only have to step in to resolve contradictions.

But there seems to be a trend lately for governments to be spending more time in courts, asking them to decide matters of policy. The federal carbon tax is a good example.

Some provinces decided to make the carbon tax a political football. That’s normal enough, but instead of the political maneuvering, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan took the argument straight to the courts.

Our elected lawmakers should be spending more time talking, negotiation and finding ways to move forward together before going to the somewhat nuclear option of one level of government suing the other.

It’s like sweeping all the chess pieces off the board three moves into the game.

Likewise, the ongoing pipeline spat B.C. and Alberta are involved in shouldn’t be ending up in the courts. Horgan’s move to get the courts to decide whether B.C. had the power to limit the permits needed to build a pipeline was in itself a delaying tactic — just not something governments should have to ask a court whether it was in their powers.

But Alberta’s turn off the taps legislation was intended to end up going to court. Neither Notley or Kenney’s governments could have thought they would get away with legislation causing significant harm to other Canadians without being challenged.

B.C.’s injunction suit wasn’t a surprise then. All that’s really happened is threats and response, that will now be tied up in the courts, with neither side gaining anything other than political points with their constituents.

There are two reasons making this use of the courts as threats and clubs a real problem. The first is the time—while these cases are being argued and decided, the court has less time to spend on more vital decisions.

Then there is cost—remember the lawyers arguing the government’s cases, along with the judges and everything associated, is costing taxpayer dollars.

Is this what you want your money spent on? Or would you prefer politicians did their job and used tools like fair dealing, negotiation and compromise?

– Black Press

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